Poetry Out Loud Competition moves school-wide

The last day of qualifiers occurred on Nov. 20th, and nominees moved onto a school-level competition to receive a bid to the district tournament and beyond.


Dami Awofisayo

Sophomore Dami Awofisayo practices the physical aspects of her performance by planning some movements. “I take a video myself to see where I felt awkward and assessed my physical presence,” Awofisayo said.

Jessica Feng, Staff Writer

Room 219 has been a sanctuary filled with intimate performances of poems starting Wednesday, Nov. 20. For classes not participating in Poetry Out Loud, students can come and retell their favorite poems with their own flare. Poetry Out Loud is an annual competition in which students memorize a poem of their choice and perform it in front of others. Especially in a school filled with countless science, technology, and math clubs, participants can share their love for poetry with others.

Sophomore Damilola Awofisayo placed first in a qualifying competition to move on to a school-wide competition. Performing poetry is a way for her to stay in touch with her creative side.

“In middle school, I did a lot of drama and acting, but when I got to TJ it was a big commitment and I liked sports, so I sacrificed acting. This is a way for me to still be a part of that activity,” Awofisayo said.

According to sponsor Michael Miller, Poetry Out Loud is targeted to improve reading comprehension and public speaking. 

“It is a program that helps students develop their confidence in public speaking, a love of poetry, and the ability to critically read and interpret poetry,” Miller said.

Reading the poem isn’t the hard part, it’s presenting it to the judges in a way that conveys emotion while also being understandable.

“The most daunting this about performing for me is conveying a message. As I present, it is my job to convey the poet’s message through my tone and physical gestures, which ultimately keeps people engaged. I need to choose what I would do or how I would present the poem to convey what the poet is trying to say while also showing my own connection and understanding of the poem.” Awofisayo said. 

There are many types of poems and students are encouraged to choose anything that speaks to them. 

“My favorite poem to perform has been the poem I am performing this year called Requiem. The poem is about the writer getting hit by a bus and basically having a realization about the world,” Awofisayo said, “I like this poem because it takes a very gruesome event, getting hit by a bus, and taking it piece by piece, describing the event calmly through the eyes of the victim. So there are a lot of emotions that go through this simple poem and I think it’s fun to try and portray them all.”

Awofisayo’s next competition is December 4th, where the winners from the other qualifying competitions compete head-to-head in an effort to secure a bid to the district competition. For her, constant practice and feedback are keys to effectively conveying the poem.

“To prepare I bore the death out my dad, saying the poem to him at least twice a day if not more. As I get closer to the competition, I say the poem over and over to my friend who says what she likes and didn’t like and I’ll adjust based on that,” Awofisayo said.