Poetry Out Loud: COVID-19 Edition


Morgan Ortiz, Author

Poetry Out Loud is an event at Spring Mills High School and many other schools that occurs in January yearly. During this event, select students who are participating and have a poem memorized can compete in competition to go farther in their poetry journey.

Due to COVID-19, this year the Poetry Out Loud competition was held by submitting videos of poems to be judged virtually instead of a live audience. Unfortunately, this will not give the same experience as a live performance but is a new situation to experience, as we have had lots in this pandemic.

“Everyone is extremely supportive, and the energy is great,” said Sarah Sweeny, a graduate from SMHS who participated her senior year in the event. While public speaking can be nerve-wracking, participating in Poetry Out Loud can help students with their writing. It gives students a chance to be heard and to experience having an audience.

One inspirational teacher who participates in Poetry Out Loud is Ms. Madden. Madden is an English teacher at Spring Mills High School. Mrs. Hilliard is also an English teacher who participates in the production of the event. Madden and Hilliard also previously ran the poetry club in school, which provided a safe and comforting environment for poetry lovers at SMHS to write or share their poetry.

Before COVID-19 in the POL event, participants who have submitted poems and have been chosen to be in the top three compete in front of an audience, performing their poem that they have memorized. After everyone has performed, the judges vote on who they think should win, and that participant gets to go to states and compete against other participants from other schools to win a prize.

“When I was reading my poem in front of the audience, I was nervous until I saw how they were genuinely interested in what I had to say,” said Sweeny. It can be quite hard to share a poem, especially if it is personal, but at this event, the audience is there to listen. They are there to cheer students on and hear their poem, whatever the topic may be.

Overall, the event is very supportive for up-and-coming writers. Students get lots of feedback and constructive criticism to improve their writing and see some other forms while listening to other participants.