Poetry Out Loud kicking off first year at Holmes

Poetry Out Loud, a program not new to the high school that lets students memorize poetry and perform it in front of judges with the hope of going to the state competition, is debuting at the junior highs under the guidance of Holmes English teacher Danae Dieken.

Dieken said students compete with students from other schools at local, state and national competitions and she is enthused to be a part of this program. “We have an awesome group, so I’m excited to watch them be successful.” 

Students who work hard to memorize and perform don’t go home empty-handed. Dieken said that “[if you] win the local contest, you compete at the state level. If you win the state contest, you move on to Nationals in Washington, D.C., and have a chance to win $20,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place, $5,000 for third place and $1,000 for fourth-ninth places.”

There are many students participating in this program. Henry Funk and Ruth Koumondji are just two of them. 

Funk said, “I’m doing this program because it sounded fun and I can win some money.” Koumondji, on the other hand, is doing this for her ”love of poetry.” 

Each participant needs to memorize two poems, one 25 lines or less and one that was written before the 20th century. Funk chose “The Name Before The Name Before Mine” by Jay Besemer and “300 Goats” by Naomi Shihab Nye. Koumondji is performing “Awaking In New York” by Maya Angelou and “A Caged Bird” by Kin.

Nerves become a big factor in this competition. Funk said he is worried about “making a complete fool of myself on stage and ruining my chances,” and Koumondji said she just hates talking in front of people, so she will be practicing a ton. 

The local level competition is on a Sunday in January at the Hearst Center for the Arts. Funk, Koumondji and Dieken will all be there, nervously waiting for the judges’ decisions.

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