Got Poetry?

Dimond Seniors Kaycie Thompson and Ashley Strauch represented Dimond in the regional Poetry Out Loud Competition Feb. 3 at the Wild Berry Theatre in the Wild Berry Products building on Juneau Street. By the end of the evening, Strauch was one of seven finalists. Christie Goodwin, from Eagle River High School, took second place as the runner up in the competition and Jessica Wilder, Chugiak High School, took home the gold, with the honor of first place. “Kaycie and Ashley did marvelously,” said Dimond librarian Suzanne Metcalfe, who attended the competition. Metcalfe said there was a nice variety of poems and that the judging was very stiff; it was hard to choose the finalists. Strauch and Thompson, along with Senior Erin Laichak, competed first at Dimond. Each performed two poems. After each recitation, judges and representatives scored them on their voice articulation, memorization, overall performance, etc. Metcalfe will be the accuracy judge at the state competion Feb. 23 in Juneau. The students who win in the state competitions will gather April 17 in Washington, D.C. to compete in nationals. The state level winner receives a $200 cash award, along with an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. Over $50,000 of stipends are awarded to students, as well as to their schools. In the contest, participants convey the meaning of the poems with only their voices. The competitions are “pyramid structures,” according to, starting at the classroom level, then continuing to school-wide, statewide and, eventually, nationals. Students continue on to the next level, or, are bumped out of the competition. Thompson found out about Poetry Out Loud from Susan Derrera, her Advanced Placement Literature teacher. Metcalfe and Derrera coached Thompson and Strauch for the regional competition. Thompson says about poetry, “I really enjoy reading it, writing it and learning about it.” Thompson participates in DDF school plays and said she has gained many helpful resources from DDF that would help her in ‘Poetry Out Loud’. Thompson performed three poems—“Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost, “One Perfect Rose” by Dorothy Parker, and “Sympathy” by Laurence Dunbar. Derrera, a former Poetry Out Loud judge, has provided much insight on the event. She says that her role as a teacher is to encourage students, and when students step up to the plate, she assists them in their practice and preparation for the competition. About an ideal competitor, Derrera says he or she is “someone who can convey the meaning of the poem to the audience with their voice.” In the class competition, students were using gestures, hand motions, etc. In the competitions to follow, only voice articulation and art would be accepted. Derrera says, “Anyone interested [about next year’s competition] should talk to their teacher.” Anyone may compete in this event. An evaluation is filled out, submitted and students are immediately entered into the competition. It is an experience where students are able to use their poetic abilities to compete against others with similar talents. For more information and updates on the competition, go to: