For Paradise Creek Regional High School senior Aariah Coile of Moscow, poetry hasn’t always been an interest.
It wasn’t until her freshman year when her then-substitute teacher Susan Hodgin gave a poetry unit in her speech class that Coile found a passion for it. Inspired, Coile competed in her first Poetry Out Loud event in which participants study a poem and its author, then bring the poem to life during a live presentation.
“It’s like music but without the limitations like sticking to a rhythm or tune,” Coile said.
This spring, Coile is her school’s representative for the Idaho Poetry Out Loud competition scheduled for March 18 in Garden City. The winner of the state competition will receive $200 cash and $500 for the school to purchase books.
Poetry Out Loud starts at the local level, with winners advancing to state and potemtially to nationals. To reach nationals, Coile will need to score better than 11 other students competing in Garden City.
More than 1,000 students participated in school-level competitions in Idaho. Hodgin, now an English teacher at Paradise Creek, said students submitted video recitations before 12 semifinalists were announced.
“(Coile) embraces the poetry and the opportunity to bring this poetry to life,” Hodgin said.
Hodgin said students often spend 20 to 40 hours on the poems between all the practice, recitation and memorization. The students also have to research the author and possible influences. Coile said she has spent countless hours reciting the poems to herself and others to get the best feel for them.
Competitors must choose three poems from the thousands listed on the official competition website. Coile will perform “Carnival,” by Rebecca Lindenberg, “to the notebook kid,” by Eve L. Ewing and if she makes it to the finals, will perform “God’s Grandeur,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Coile and the other competitors will be judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding and overall performance. Coile said she liked learning about the poems and interpreting what the author might have ment.
“There’s a surprising amount of research about these poems,” Coile said.
Coile said participating in the competition has helped her public speaking and given her a new interest. While in Garden City, Coile said she hopes to meet the other competitors and learn about what motivated them to compete.
“No one will look at one poem and see it the same way,” Coile said.