Poetry Out Loud: Polarizing but Helpful

Students & Staff Split on Benefits of Required Poetry Out Lout Competition

Alexandra Godfrey, Staff Writer

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Poetry Out Loud is one of those ideas you either love or you don’t. Some students think it is a great way to try something new and get people involved in poetry, but others see it as difficult, stressful, and uninteresting. Poetry has never seemed to be a popular section in english class, and it seems as though that has not changed. However, for people who love to perform, or need that little boost of confidence, reading poetry can be a great thing for them.

In our school, there are many people, specifically students, who do not see the need for Poetry Out Loud in the curriculum and believe that it is simply added stress. A high school senior says, “I don’t care for it. I feel that it makes students who don’t like standing in from of the class anxious.” This is true. For anyone who has stage fright/ a fear of public speaking, doing this activity is scary and nerve racking, especially since you have to memorize your poems.

Another thing that a few students talked about was that they were not given enough time to practice and prepare. With so many students having such busy schedules, it is important that they get enough time to practice their poems and memorize, especially if they chose a long one, and some people felt as though they didn’t. If that student is focused on getting a very good grade, they can stress over it a lot.

A few other opinions students had included; it was not something everyone was interested in, sometimes they do not get to explore the meanings behind their poems enough, and a freshman said that it is a lot of memorization at once. A majority of the students in the school do not like Poetry Out Loud. They think of it as yet another grade that goes into aspen that they simply have to spend extra time on. Some think that it “doesn’t help us in anyway”, a sophomore student says, but this isn’t always true.

Though so many do not agree with Poetry Out Loud, due to anxiety and stress, some people see the positives in it as well. Students like this Plymouth South High School sophomore think that it, “allows us to take a step out of comfort zones and try something new.”

This is true as well, because by having to go in front of the class and performing these poems with life and enthusiasm, they are doing something they usually may not do. A lot of the time, unless you are a part of theater, chorus, band, etc, you will not be doing performances like this. It is a good opportunity for those people, because they get to try something new and who knows, they may find a passion for it!

A junior mentions that “you don’t really get to study poetry at all in high school unless you take a poetry class” and therefore they “think it’s important to broaden the horizons of literature for students.” You never know if you truly like something unless you try it first. The opposition for this statement however would say that if you are truly afraid of doing something like this, then you shouldn’t have to present it, whether you study it or not. Though, there we students out there that disagreed with that statement.

          The teachers I talked to said that Poetry Out Loud is a great opportunity for kids to express themselves and shine. They say it is a great way to bring the classes together, expose them to poetry in an interesting way, and encourage students to be confident. Multiple teachers I talked to mentioned how much they love seeing what their students pick for poems and how they present them, for they show so much about their personalities and likes/dislikes.

Mr. Walker, the head of the English department says that “it really helps students see poetry as a living, breathing part of our language and lives. We’ve seen some students who aren’t as involved in reading fiction or nonfiction truly shine in this unit.” Students are given the chance to stand out among the rest in this activity.

Poetry Out Loud is something that many students disagree on. Some students think of it as a great way to try something new and get people involved in poetry, but other students see it as something that is very difficult, stressful, and uninteresting. In the end, however, the majority of people do not like it due to fear of public speaking.

Whether it is your favorite thing or least favorite thing to do in the classroom, it does help students in their presenting abilities, but it can cause anxiety and stress.

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