Competitors bring verses to life in Poetry Out Loud finals

Colebourn places first, moves on to state semis

Lila Shields, Assistant Opinion Editor

Senior Kyle Colebourn won first place at the Poetry Out Loud school finals on Jan. 24 after reciting the poems “To Be Of Use” by Marge Murray and “If We Must Die” by Claude McKay. Sophomore Karma Bebawy placed second and junior Ava Arcona placed third in the competition, which featured eight finalists. 

Poetry Out Loud is a national competition, which begins with classroom-level recitation competitions, with school winners moving on to state semi-finals followed by state finals. State finalists move on to the national finals where they compete for $50,000 in awards. Colebourn will be competing at the Massachusetts semi-finals on March 12.

“I feel like [my performance] could’ve been better,” Colebourn said.

Colebourn plans to go into states with an open mind and no expectations. He plans to prepare by reviewing his performances at the school and studying difficult parts throughout the poems.

“I’ll do what I did here, and if I move on [to the state finals], I move on,” Colebourn said.

Besides Colebourn, Bebawy and Arcona, the other finalists included freshman Aditya Tripathi, sophomores Jax Jackson, Sarah Leonard, Liam Snyder and senior Mason Drew.

All of the finalists were required to recite two poems and they prepared in a variety of ways including repetition, analyzing the meaning of the poem and practicing their recitations as often as possible

“I would practice [the poems] anytime I could,” Arcona said.

While performing, there were multiple components contestants had to focus on, in addition to reciting the poem accurately. Physical presence, voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, dramatic appropriateness, accuracy and overall performance contributed to the overall score of each performance. 

Going into the performance, many participants said they felt nervous, but prepared after so much practice and familiarity. The competition took place in front of an audience of students and teachers in the auditorium, a nerve-wracking, yet exciting environment for the competitors.

“The experience was like going on a rollercoaster,” Bebawy said. “You feel the thrill [while performing].”

Many of the contestants had different reasons for participating in Poetry Out Loud this year, including an interest in poetry, personal goals, and academic success.

“My teacher said we would get an A-plus for an assignment [if we did Poetry Out Loud],” Colebourn said.

Algonquin’s runners-up expressed hopes to compete in the years to come, due to the positive environment and friendly competition. For many of the contestants, the performance was less about winning or losing, and more about a shared love of poetry.

“[Poetry is] a fun way to show emotions and how you feel about certain things,” Bebawy said.