Wednesday, February 21, 2024

From the left: Meaghan Reed, Sam Murfitt, Emma Clinton, Travis McKenney, Sabrina Mann, and Jezebel Robuck

Stillwater shows well at poetry event

The poetic verse and meter of greats such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Langston Hughes filled the Columbus High School cafeteria Saturday morning.
Twenty students from Columbus, Rapelje, Red Lodge, and Reed Point presented poems at Saturday’s regional Poetry Out Loud (POL) competition. Each was tasked with performing two memorized poems in front of judges and an audience.
Travis McKenney of Red Lodge won Saturday’s competition with “The Ocean” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Other top finishers include: Sabrina Mann, Red Lodge (2nd); Sam Murfitt, Red Lodge (3rd); Emma Clinton, Red Lodge (4th); Meaghan Reed, Columbus (5th); and Jezebel Robuck, Columbus (6th). Chloe Keating of Rapelje placed 7th and is the alternate.
The next step for the top six students at regionals is the state POL competition in Helena on March 4. At state, the students will perform three poems, with the added challenge of the requirement that one must be written before the 20th century.
The winner in Helena will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, for the POL national competition. In addition to the trip, the state champion’s school will receive a $500 stipend to purchase poetry books.
POL is a poetry recitation contest that reaches more than 3 million students, from 10,000 schools, in every state, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, according to its website. In Montana, 80 high schools are participating this year.
Partnering with individual state arts agencies to hold competitions are the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.
Students choose poems from an anthology compiled by POL. After working on memorization and performance techniques, students compete at school, regional, state, and national competitions.
During the competition, in addition to accuracy, students are judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.
Rapelje held a school-wide competition on Feb. 2 and Reed Point will hold its on Feb. 22. While individual CHS students have competed in the past, this is the first regional POL competition Columbus has held.
Norma Glock, the Columbus POL advisor and coordinator of the regional event, says that not only does POL help the students develop their minds through memorization, but it also promotes the fine arts. POL introduces students to multiple aspects of poetry, from meaning to word choice, a facet of literature that Glock feels is losing importance among today’s young people.
Meaghan Reed, a freshman at Columbus High School, said she enjoys participating in POL because in an era of expressing oneself through impersonal technology, reciting poetry in front of an audience allows people to “watch you pour your heart into something.”