Written by Marcus McDermott and Erika Renkl
Videos by Marcus McDermott
Photographs by Kevin Moran and Liz Bradley
The fifth annual Poetry Out Loud took place at The Morgan School on Friday February 14th. Participants prepared two poems to recite to the judges and audience members. The winner of the school competition, Eli Phelps, will compete at the state competition on March 12, 2014, at Central Connecticut State University. Eli, who also won the school competition last year, will compete with the winners of all the high school competitions.
At Morgan, the competitors this year were Hayley Haggerty, Stacie Candela, Mackenzie Blanusa, Andrew Tran, Bailey Shea, Sarah Cockley, Eli Phelps, Juliana Ragonese, and Celia LaCross. The judges were Mr. Cross, Ms. Frydenborg, Mrs. Gallagher, Mrs. Kaestle, Mrs. Cozzolino, and Ms. Rizzo. Mrs. Luther was the prompter and Mr. Samet calculated the scores. Students and teachers alike love Poetry Out Loud.
Eli Phelps, The Morgan School Poetry Out Loud 2014 Champion:
“The Poet at Seventeen” by Larry Levis
“The Universe as Primal Screen” by Tracy K. Smith
Andrew Tran, The Morgan School Poetry Out Loud 2014 Runner Up:
The Legend” by Garrett Hongo
“For the Young Who Want To” by Marge Piercy
Stacie Candela, The Morgan School Poetry Out Loud 2014 Finalist:
“Death Be Not Proud” by John Donne
“Life” by Edith Wharton
Celia LaCross, The Morgan School Poetry Out Loud 2014 Finalist:
“Time Does Not Bring Relief: You All Have Lied” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
” The Spring” by Thomas Carew
Hayley Haggerty, The Morgan School Poetry Out Loud 2014 Participant:
“The Author To Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet
Mackenzie Blanusa, The Morgan School Poetry Out Loud 2014 Participant:
“The Light the Dead See” by Frank Stanford
Bailey Shea, The Morgan School Poetry Out Loud 2014 Participant:
“All Hallows’ Eve” by Dorothea Tanning
Sarah Cockley, The Morgan School Poetry Out Loud 2014 Partipant:
“Cold Blooded Creatures” by Elinor Wylie
Juliana Ragonese, The Morgan School Poetry Out Loud 2014 Participant:
“Abandoned Farmhouse” by Ted Kooser
Mrs. Kaestle one of the judges said, “I love it.” She volunteered as a judge two years ago. “We have to pre-read the poems beforehand, and it’s so different hearing someone present it while putting their own personal touch on it.” She also mentioned that she wished more students would participate.
Many of the contestants were nervous about their performances before the contest, but most of that dissolved, and they seemed happy with their recitations when they were done. Though he has competed before, Eli Phelps stated that he was “a little nervous, but I think that’s normal.” Some were more nervous than others, with Celia LaCross anxiously saying that she was “freaking out and was probably going to throw up on stage” (thankfully she didn’t). Many of the contestants felt more prepared than last year, and even the ones competing for the first time, were glad they were participating. “I’m feeling pretty good,” said Mackenzie Blanusa. “I’m only a freshman, so either way I’ll be proud of myself.” Overall, the students felt more relaxed as the competition got closer, knowing that even if they didn’t win, they were still accomplishing great things for themselves.
After the first break, the students who had already performed relaxed. “I think it went really well, but not as well as the practice,” said Hayley Haggerty. “My legs were shaking like crazy.” Some of the contestants recognized their mistakes but were simply proud to be done with the recitation. Even Mr. Cross, one of the judges, was enjoying the competition. “This is one of my favorite things every year. I’m always impressed by our students.”
During the intermission, the audience and judges enjoyed performances by Danny Khalifa and the chorus.
The Morgan School Chorus
Danny Khalifa “Why Is It You Still Wake Up and Don’t Find Any Love?”
When the finalists were announced, Stacie Candela, Celia LaCross, Eli Phelps, and Andrew Tran, all four students seemed genuinely surprised and excited that they had made it to the second round. Though they all knew their second poems well, some did not expect to have to recite them. They all said they liked their first poems more because they were better prepared for them. Andrew Tran stated that he liked his first poem more because it was skeptical on a level and gave insight into society. Regardless of their shock at proceeding to the second level, all of the contestants clearly deserved to advance to the next round.
The runner up for the competition was Andrew Tran, who said he was pleased to earn runner up. “This has been really fun, just memorizing poems and listening to other people. It’s beautiful.” Eli Phelps, champion of Poetry Out Loud again this year, stated, “I had a lot of fun, and I thought everyone did a great job.” Eli and Andrew will attend a Poetry Out Loud workshop on Tuesday February 25th. Eli will compete in the state competition on Thursday March 12th at Central Connecticut State University.
Congratulations to Eli and Andrew, as well as the rest of the competitors who had the courage to perform on stage and recite their poems!
The Fifth Annual Poetry Out Loud was a huge success. Thank you to all of the students and teachers who participated and to all of the spectators that came to watch. We hope to see you all next year!