McCarthy chosen as WHS representative to Poetry Out Loud competition

Nandita Subbiah

Pictured above is sophomore Abby McCarthy reciting one of her poems. McCarthy will be participating in the regional Poetry Out Load Competition. “I’m really excited to go onto the competition and meet people who are doing the same thing because it is an obscure activity,” McCarthy said.

They recited their poems, the judges scored the performances and the scores were announced: Sophomore Abby McCarthy and senior Maria Arenas finished in a tie. Last week in a run-off they recited one last poem, and McCarthy came out on top to move on to the semifinal regional competition of Poetry Out Loud.

The rematch took place during advisory on February 4. Having a tie in the first round was seen as unusual because the scoring system is so complex. Participants are judged on various aspects of their performance, including their physical presence, their voice and articulation, their level of understanding of the poem and the level of complexity of the poems. Points are also deducted if words are omitted or added or if lines are switched.

“Winning is a good feeling,” McCarthy said. “I’m really excited to go onto the competition and meet people who are doing the same thing because it is an obscure activity.”

To compete at regionals, participants need to prepare three poems: one that was written before the 20th century, one with 25 lines or less and another of their choosing. McCarthy has already chosen her three poems: The Glories of Our Blood and State by James Shirley, More Lies by Karin Gottshall and The Mower by Philip Larkin.

“These are all three of my favorite poems that I was reading in class,” McCarthy said.“I just have to improve upon the poetry I know now and keep going with it.”

This is Wayland’s first time participating in the Poetry Out Loud competition. The competition’s participants come from the Poetry Out Loud elective, which is being offered for the first time at WHS this year. The class is led by English Department head Brian Keaney.

“I just wanted to see if anyone would be interested, and a few students signed up, so we just went with what we got,” Keaney said. “I figured I needed to do something to just overcome inertia and get momentum going.”

After his efforts to have Wayland participate, Keaney is excited to send McCarthy to the regional stage, which will take place on February 28 and March 1. In the future, he hopes to get students more involved in Poetry Out Loud.

“I hope Abby can go as far as she can, and we’ll see what happens,” Keaney said.