RMHS Senior Qualifies For Poetry Out Loud State Competition


Hundreds of eyes narrow as the speaker utters her first sound. The series of words she repeats are carefully crafted to blend, though each syllable is individually annunciated. The melodic tune provokes thought and challenge, and while she hits every note, she is not singing a song but instead, reciting poetry.

Poetry is one of many forms of expression that RMHS students partake in. Though the skill is often overlooked, the Poetry Out Loud program seeks to encourage the study of poetry through a nationwide recitation competition in high schools. 

RMHS hosted their second annual school-wide competition last week, as students in English and Fine Arts classes were asked to select a poem they would like to recite. The competition started in the classroom, as each teacher chose winners from each class to perform their poem school-wide in the theater. Next, the panel of RMHS teachers selected a winner to be represented at the State level. 

Senior Nereyda Anguiano won runner-up for the Metro Regional Poetry Out Loud competition qualifying her for the IL State Poetry Out Loud Contest. Honorable mentions were awarded to sophomore runner up Kaitlyn Hannon, senior Audrey Bixby, sophomore Rosie Piscitello and freshman Maggie Bell.

Anguiano recited the poem “Eagle Poem” by Joy Harjo, a poem about prayer and life, revolving around the beauty of nature and a circle of communication.

Prayer is something amazing and important to me, and I feel that Eagle Poem really portrays prayer as beautiful in nature,” Anguiano said.

The intention of Poetry Out Loud is to help engage high school students more in the realm of poetic art, and help them craft their own techniques to eloquent speech.

Poetry Out Loud is a truly unique way of learning how to read, analyze, and understand poetry,” English teacher Izabella Wnek said. “In addition, students learn how to memorize and recite poetry. Building comprehension, analysis, and oral communication skills is valuable both in and out of the classroom, in high school, in college, and out in the real world.  Essentially, Poetry Out Loud is a fun and dynamic way to introduce students to poetry that builds self-confidence and encourages students to do their best and support their peers. It is my hope that Poetry Out Loud will allow RMHS students to become lifelong lovers of poetry.”

The top two regional winners need to memorize a third poem and head down to Springfield to compete in the Ill. state competition, and the top state winner gets an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete at the national competition, where the winner gets $20,000 dollars. Anguiano won top three at the regional level and is heading down to Springfield today, March 2, in hopes to continue her Poetry Out Loud career.