Getting Loud in the library
Last week, it was OK to get loud in Eagle River High’s Library.
Alexa Heald successfully defended her poetry recitation title during the school’s eighth annual Poetry Out Loud contest Jan. 24.
“It’s really amazing,” said Heald, who won ERHS’s competition for the second straight year. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s really rewarding.”
Heald and runner-up Skye Spindler will move on to the regional competition next week in Anchorage for a chance to move on to the state final in Juneau on March 19.
The state final winner will compete in the national championship in Washington, D.C., on April 29-30 for a chance to claim the $20,000 prize.
Heald, who reached the semifinals of the regional competition last year, was attracted to poetry because of its stark contrast to textbooks.
“It’s a lot more figurative and free,” said the junior.
Heald has participated in the contest each year of high school.
“I’ve always had language arts as my favorite class,” she said.
An actress as well, Heald said she has an advantage in recitation competitions.
“Being an actor really helps you get into the poem itself,” she said. “It’s not just memorizing it. You have to get into the poem and live it.”
Spindler, who’s also acted in plays, agreed.
“Poems can be hard to understand,” she said, which is why the speaker must convey the poem’s emotion.
The contest gave Spindler another opportunity on stage.
“I like performing,” she said.
Heald said she chose her first poem, William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet XVIII: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” to reflect her love of romance and her bubbly personality.
Her second poem, “Father,” by Edgar Albert Guest, gave Heald the chance to elicit laughter from the audience.
“It was really humorous to read,” she said.
William Blake’s “A Poison Tree” allowed Spindler to portray the poem’s wickedness.
“It made me feel so evil,” she said.
Whereas her longing to fly attracted Spindler to Maya Angelou’s “A Caged Bird.”
“I’ve always wanted to fly,” she said. “It was birds, but it made a good point.”
There’s many benefits to memorizing poetry, said ERHS language arts teacher Clinton Holloway.
“Hopefully, these poems will be with them a long, long time,” he told the audience as the judges tallied the scores. “Poetry is a communal thing. But when you memorize it, it becomes an individual thing.”
Reading a poet’s specific work over and over only enriches the reader’s life, Holloway said.
“The more you go back and read that text, the more you get out of it,” he said.