Tuesday night in auditorium, students competed in the school’s fifth Poetry Out Loud competition. And while the night was to find a winner to go on to the state tournament, the underlying message was simple: words matter.
“Hopefully tonight our students and our guests from town reminded us that these words matter,” said Waterford High School librarian Matt Cadorette, who hosted the event. “That putting words together in the right order in the right rhythm has a power to it.”
The message was received and conveyed by senior Maddie Lewis, who won the competition for the second year in a row. Her poem, Lover’s Infiniteness by John Donne, spoke to her and her on-again-off-again relationship with her boyfriend, and said performing the piece on stage was “powerful.”
“It is weird because I used to be really, really shy about getting on stage and stuff but now I’m not nervous at all,” Lewis said. “I’m actually really calm up there.”
What Is Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud is a national competition where students recite poetry from memory on stage and are judged. Waterford held its competition Tuesday night, where Robert Vose finished third, Nathaniel Ross finished second and Lewis won.
The competition is to help make “people walk away a little less afraid of poetry, a little bit more curious about it,” Cadorette said. The student competitors said they would likely be into poetry anyway, but would never perform it live on stage.
“I’d probably do it personally, but I would never think to do it in front of other people,” Lewis said. “So this definitely fostered sharing poetry with other people.”
Ross agreed. Performing poetry is fun, he said.
“When it is a poem that I enjoy, I enjoy sharing how I feel about the poem with other people,” Ross said. “I love it.”
Students picked their own poems, selecting ones that they connected with. Lewis picked Lover’s Infiniteness, a poem that questions if a person can ever fully love another, because it explained exactly what she was going through in her relationship.
“The first time I read it, I thought it was really sad,” Lewis said. “But as I read it more and more, and I discovered all these nuances with it, it sort of developed into this thing that I loved. It is really personal to me.”
“It is the winter time, and I love the beach,” Ross said. “So I just really identified with it.”
Cadorette also asked town leaders to recite poems Tuesday night. Both the leader of the town government, First Selectman Dan Steward, and the leader of the school district, Superintendent Jerome Belair, picked the same author to read: Shel Silverstein.
Board of Education Chairwoman Kathleen McCarty, Principal Pat Fedor, Principal Glenda Dexter and Waterford High School Principal Don Macrino also recited poems.
Rest of the Competitors