Passionate Poetry Performances at Poetry Out Loud


Annika Polatsek

Winner Caroline Nouhan having her picture taken with runners-up Clara Nguyen and John Ricotta.

During the Homecoming Week of 2018, the annual poetry reading competition Poetry Out Loud was held in the Institute for Civic Involvement.  High school students from all grades performed in hopes of winning the Golden Microphone on Tuesday, October 18th. Parents, faculty, and students watched as participants Clara Nguyen ’19, Bryce Emmanuel ’19, Julian Naranjo ’19, Caroline Nouhan ’19, Rayna Gordon ’20, Cesar Ades ’20, Henrik Polatsek ’21, Daria Peppler ’21, Ariella Bernick ’21, Dylan Friedland ’22, John Ricotta ’22, Kelly Dunne ’22, and Alexis Peddy ’22 recited poetry, including a wide array of authors from Donald Davie to Emily Dickinson.  

The event, which National English Honors Society (NEHS) sponsor Mr. Gillego organized, was judged by social science teacher Dr. Herard, Spanish teacher Ms. Lichtenberg, Ilana Hutzler  ’20, Ryan Ding ’19, and English teachers Mrs. Jaramillo, Mrs. Mularkey, and Dr. Stewart.    

Elizabeth Brown ’19, the master of ceremonies for the event, said, “We had some very well known [poems] and some very modern [poems]. It was fun to have that variety.”

Dr. Stewart, who judged the students’ accuracy, said, “Poetry is a contact sport.  The poems the students chose were a really eclectic bunch. It was clear that everyone spent a lot of time practicing.”

Clara Nguyen ’19 and John Ricotta ’22 were the runners-up for their renditions of “La Figlia che Plange” by T.S. Eliot and “Under the Lemon Tree” by Marsha de la O, respectively.

Caroline Nouhan ’19 won the event for her performance of “Poem for Haruko” by June Jordan; she said,  “I chose from a group of contemporary feminists and landed on June Jordan, who’s an African American activist and writer.  I connected with the loneliness Jordan describes in the poem. I was really nervous while performing, but I think it added to the vulnerability of the reading.”

Participants won spirit points for their grade based on their cumulative score.  The ranking in descending order of point accumulation is as follows: seniors, freshman, sophomores, and juniors.  

Poetry Out Loud is just one of the many events organized by the English Department.  In November, students are invited to attend TEDWomen, which includes guest speakers and a live stream of the event in California, and NEHS members will attend the Miami Book Fair.  During second semester, there will be a poetry slam hosted by the Creative Writing Club and the TEDxPineCrest event during school.