Academic Excellence

Poetry Out Loud

By Sophia Liu (Class of 2020)

On Tuesday, January 17, 2017, six students from the girls division of Developing Virtue Secondary School competed in the Poetry Out Loud school competition. Held in the Chan Hall of the girls high school, the competition included moving and exciting performances of a wide range of poems, from philosophical to humorous.

Poetry Out Loud is a nationwide competition of poetry performance for high school students. Students select poems from an online anthology of poems on the Poetry Out Loud website and perform them, learning public speaking skills through expression of poetry.
This year, the six contestants were Suzanne Zhang (Class of 2017), Denise Cao (Class of 2018), Brandy Quach (Class of 2018), Jocelyn He (Class of 2020), Mindy Tieu (Class of 2020), and Sophia Liu (Class of 2020), each advancing from the class competition before winter break. There were four judges, including a songwriter/actor and staff from the girls school and Dharma Realm Buddhist University.

The performances were engaging and very interesting. According to Denise, “the event was homely and there was a welcoming atmosphere, which made me at ease with the audience.” Brandy agreed, stating that “The performers were very supportive of each other, and there was a nice ambiance.” In addition, Jocelyn related how the event was fun and that it was nice to watch the different styles of performances. The judges and audience also seemed to enjoy the experience. One judge commented how it was very brave of the students to stand up in front of everyone and perform their poems.

The entire event was a great learning experience for the contestants. Sophia commented how the Poetry Out Loud event was a great way for her to practice public speaking, while Mindy added, “I learned that it’s okay to embarrass yourself.” Denise put it in perspective, “I learned that it is important to be confident in your abilities and understand the purpose of poetry.”

When asked how they prepared for the competition, several of the performers mentioned repeating the poem over and over until it slipped naturally off their tongues. Brandy said, “I tried adding dramatics to my poem, and I practiced in front of a few people.” For Denise, she worked on techniques to enhance her performance. “When practicing, I would note the times to pause, emphasize, or have a break.” She also made sure she understood the poem well and “had a solid interpretation of the poem.”

The winners of the DVGS Poetry Out Loud event were announced the following day; Denise Cao* and Brandy Quach** will be advancing to the regional competition in Point Arena, CA on February 7.

Overall, it was a fun and valuable experience for the contestants, and an outstanding performance for the audience. Poetry Out Loud was an excellent opportunity for the performers to share and express their emotions and feelings through recitation of poems, in addition to building confidence. The event was inspiring for the young participants.

Best of luck to the DVGS girls who will be competing at regionals next month!

*  Reciting “Bleeding Heart” by Carmen Giménez Smith and “Dear Reader” by  Rita Mae Reese
**  Reciting “Larkinesque” by Michael Ryan and “Personal” by Tony Hoagland (subject to change)

Categories: Academic Excellence