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by Robert Creeley

Yesterday I wanted to speak of it,

That sense above the others to me

important because all that I know derives

from what it teaches me…

Thus begins one of the poems which, when interpreted, memorized, and recited, earned GCHS sophomore, Haley Bryan, a first place finish at the 2015 Kentucky Poetry Out Loud competition!

“Poetry is relatable,” says Bryan. “It’s not written just for the author, but also for the audience. There is no right or wrong interpretation. It’s a compilation of one’s feelings. You may relate not because you have had the same experience, but rather because you’ve had the same feelings. I love it.”

Bryan’s love of poetry is obvious.  As just a sophomore, this was already her second appearance at the state Poetry Out Loud competition -- having won first place at GCHS both her Freshman and Sophomore years. As a Freshman she entered the local competition because it was a requirement for her English Honors class; as a sophomore she was eager to return and dive into the experience.

The poems used in Poetry Out Loud competition are chosen from an online anthology of more than 800 poems available on their website. Participants are judged on the complexity and length of the selection, plus the participant’s accuracy in recitation, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, understanding and interpretation of the poem, stage presence and overall performance.

For the state competition held in March, 2015, at the Grand Theater in Frankfort, Bryan came prepared with three poems – two were required for the preliminary rounds, the third was in case she was picked for final competition. Her first two selections were: “Domestic Situation” by Ernest Hilbert and “For Love” by Robert Creeley. In finals, Bryan performed “Revenge” by Letitia Elizabeth Landon. She emerged with top state honors and a bid for a national title.

“It’s interesting,” states Bryan, “you may hear another participant do the exact same poem as you have selected, but with a totally different twist or interpretation. Also, some contestants have the soul of a poet and will choose a more somber approach or will accentuate the rhythm, while others may exhibit a little more flair for the theatrical. You never know what the judges will like.”

At the national event held April 28-29, 2015, at George Washington University in Washington D.C. all fifty states plus the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico were represented.  While only nine advanced to finals, Haley represented Grant County and the state of Kentucky with excellence. In addition to her outstanding Poetry Out Loud performances, Haley has also demonstrated her own skills as a poet, winning “honorable mention” in NKU’s Creative Writing Contest in 2014.

Grant County Schools wishes to extend its congratulations to Haley, and a special thanks to Mr. Scott Gibbons for his work each year in bringing Poetry Out Loud to Grant County High School.

Poetry Out Loud was created and is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, together with the United States state arts agencies. The program encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through exploration, memorization, and recitation. Over 365,000 students participated in 2014.

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