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Friday, March 14, 2014 10:57 am

State poetry competition today


The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The tide rises, the tide falls,

The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;

Along the sea-sands damp and brown

The traveller hastens toward the town,

      And the tide rises, the tide falls.


Darkness settles on roofs and walls,

But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;

The little waves, with their soft, white hands,

Efface the footprints in the sands,

      And the tide rises, the tide falls.


The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls

Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;

The day returns, but nevermore

Returns the traveller to the shore,

      And the tide rises, the tide falls.


This was one of two dozen poems selected out of hundreds available to students to recite during the Poetry Out Loud competition at the regional and school levels last month. Poems ranged from centuries of verse including poets such as Longfellow and Dickinson to contemporaries such as Illinois’ Lisel Mueller (a fav of mine).

Today, Friday, March 14, at 1 p.m., is the state competition at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. The public is invited and encouraged to come out and support these students as they stand before a crowd and recite memorized verse.

Sound easy? It is not. High school students' readings are judged on many criteria, such as difficulty of poem; clarity, volume and appropriateness of voice (not too dramatic, not too flat); and if they grasp the poem’s meaning and how well they convey that to the audience. One mark against their performance can be body movements that distract the listener. The pinnacle of a successful reading is when a poem floods the audience’s consciousness so much that everything else is forgotten but the words, images and meaning of the poem and its profound effect on emotion and thought.

Here is our regional winner Annie Kefalas from Decatur (pictured in this casual shot I took using my phone) who is vying in the state competition today along with runner-up, Annabelle Emuze from Southeast High School.

Here is the program from the regional competition that will give you an idea of what the state competition will consist of. The Springfield Area Arts Council coordinated the contest. The central Illinois regional contest was recorded by WUISSpringfield’s NPR affiliate. 


Music is played during judging. Pictured from the regional competition is saxophonist Virgil Rhodes (a blurry photo, I know, my apologies to Virgil, but I wanted to acknowledge his artistry).

Poetry Out Loud is a national contest for teens that challenges them to eloquently recite poems aloud from memory. (I wrote more about it here.) The Poetry Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts cosponsor the annual competition. Laura Scanlan from the National Endowment for the Arts will be present at the state contest today, along with Tatiana Gant from the Illinois Arts Council and representatives from the Poetry Foundation. 

Finals will be at Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University, April 30 (semifinals will take place on April 29). Admission is free. The public is encouraged to attend. Semis and finals will also be webcast live at arts.gov. 

Send poems or blog post ideas to astienstra@illinoistimes.com.


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