Poetry Out Loud

On January 11th, Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry reading competition, took place at Wayne Valley. Thirty-one students participated in this event after placing first in their own class competitions. I had the chance to talk to Thaise Gonzalez, a participant, about her experience. “In order to perfect my poem, it took more mental preparation than anything. So perhaps two or three weeks,” she said. On top of memorization, the students were also judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.

Even though the students initially presented in class, they still felt the pressure when the school competition began in the auditorium. I asked Thaise how she felt about the new environment and she said, “Being on stage felt more competitive, but it was easier to make eye contact with the audience since they’re further away.” Thaise also agreed that even though the classroom isn’t to win a spot to represent the school just yet, it felt more intimate and nerve racking. I asked Thaise if in the end if the whole experience was worth it for other students to try and she responded with, “Absolutely! I feel as though this program not only improves self confidence, but makes a more assertive natural speaking voice, which is a useful skill for the real world.”

In the end, out of 31 students, there can only be one winner. This year Wayne Valley’s winner was Natalie Cattuna, who read Karin Gottshall’s “More Lies.” She went on to represent Wayne Valley at the regional competitions held at the Bergen County Community College. We are so proud of her for accomplishing this feat.