Poetry Out Loud Competition: Bringing Life Back to Poetry


Mr. Stewart and Xitlalli celebrate on the stage.

Wakefield’s annual Poetry Out Loud competition was held in the auditorium yesterday. There was magic and light and love on the stage. As with all competitions, it wasn’t about who won or lost, it was about being in the moment and watching these wonderful students show off their hard work.

There was a winner, though. Sophomore Xitlalli (pronounced seat-lalee) Dawson entered the competition when her English teacher, Mr. Jalloh made it a required assignment. She had been waiting for that assignment though. “I would have done it whether or not it was an assignment. I like expressing myself through words, whether they are written or spoken. Any form of expression is art to me. I appreciate it no matter what form it is.”

Veteran English teacher, Mr. Stewart manages the Poetry Out Loud competition every year for Wakefield. When asked why he helps with this National Recitation Contest, he said, “It is…a true pleasure to let students…pull feelings from paper. Participants amaze the audience and themselves and that makes it all worth while.” There were moments where you could feel the audience hang on the words these young poets spoke into existence. George Whichard had a stand out performance with his rendition of Shane Koyczan’s The Crickets Have Arthritis.

Students from all grade levels represented in the competition. Freshmen related tales of war. Sophomores told about the finality and futility of death. Juniors demanded equal rights. Seniors recited poems about the beauty of doing nothing. Dawson said, “I thought George was going to win. His delivery was really, really good. I could feel the emotion in his words. He could act a lot longer than I could. He had 126 lines. I only had 26 lines, so I had to act more dramatically to get to the point.” She recited Dilruba Ahmed’s Snake Oil, Snake Bite.

When she won she felt, “shocked and really, really happy. I didn’t think I would win. I am really looking forward to finding a new poem and learning it for the semi finals. I just love poetry.”

Good Luck, Xitlalli!

Interested in writing your own (original) poetry? Stop by Poetry Club in C-116 right after school EVERY Thursday.