Students compete in online readings
Poetry Out Loud became poetry online this year, as the annual poetry recitation competition took place on film rather than the traditional live performance at The Merc Playhouse.
Eight Liberty Bell High School students chosen as finalists in the competition were videotaped reciting their poetry last week at Methow Arts’ new film studio in Twisp. The individual performances were edited and compiled into a video by Methow Arts staff, and the video was sent to four judges last weekend.
The winner was expected to be announced on Wednesday (Dec. 16) at 6 p.m., and a video announcing the results of the competition, along with the student performances, will be released at that time for the public to watch. Finalists included six freshmen, one sophomore and one junior.
Poetry Out Loud is a national program to encourage appreciation of poetry. Students memorize and recite two poems and are judged on their memorization skills, as well as their confidence, projection and poise.
Adapting to changes
Sharing poetry in person is so much more powerful than by video, said Kelly Grayum, a Liberty Bell humanities teacher who coordinates Poetry Out Loud. However, students and judges, who are volunteer community members, all adapted to the changes made necessary by coronavirus restrictions this year.
“Methow Arts did a great job filming and editing the final product. The students were really well prepared and recited their poems with precision,” Grayum said. He said some students said they felt less nervous performing alone in front of a camera than before a live audience.
“I think the power of a live performance and the buzz that a performer gets from that is totally lost in this format,” Grayum said. “I think what they miss out on is the rush of the audience applauding and that feeling of getting spontaneous feedback from a live audience. I can’t wait to return to The Merc.”
However, the “silver lining” is that the student presentations will be available to a larger audience this year when the Poetry Out Loud video is posted online Wednesday, Grayum said. It will be available on the Methow Arts and Methow Valley School District websites and associated social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Methow Arts has a YouTube channel that will have the video, and people can also search Liberty Bell High School Poetry Out Loud 2020 on YouTube and find it, Grayum said.
The top scorer of the Liberty Bell competition advances to regional competition. Since Liberty Bell High School began participating in 2012, local students have performed well at regional competitions and several Liberty Bell students have advanced to the state contest. State winners go on to compete at a national level in May, usually held in Washington D.C.
Due to the pandemic, all competitions this year will be virtual, with students submitting videos of their performances.
Poetry Out Loud is presented in partnership with the Washington State Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation and Methow Arts.