An audience fills the seats of the Little Theatre on Jan. 31; they wait for the second round of the Poetry Out Loud competition to begin.

Annual “Poetry Out Loud” persists despite weather; senior Lia Repucci advances to regional competition.

By Hallie Underwood, ’20

On Jan. 31, the cold day prompted most of the student body and staff to sleep in and stay far from the hallways of UAHS. Some, however, spent their evening at the Little Theatre, reciting, listening to, or judging poetry. The UAHS Language Arts Department hosted its twelfth annual Poetry Out Loud competition, which was presented by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council. Language arts teachers and accuracy judges Sean Martin and Melissa Hasebrook watched for errors in memorization while judges Corrie Kentner, Leah Miller and Dameion Wagner scored participants in various categories: physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding and overall performance. UAHS students competed in two rounds of student recitations.

Junior Emma Bhatt auditioned after memorizing one poem as an assignment in her IB Language class. “As lame as it is, I really love poetry … I thought it’d be really cool to try it out,” Bhatt said.

Bhatt recites “Unfunky UFO” by Adrian Matejka in the second round of the competition.

Freshman Andrew Lehman placed third with his recitations of Robert Frost’s “Acquainted by the Night” and “The Cross of Snow” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Sophomore Caitlyn Curran placed second with her recitations of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls” and Robert Graves’ “Vain and Careless”. Senior Lia Repucci placed first with her recitations of Emily Dickinson’s “I heard a Fly buzz-when I died- (591)” and William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming”. Repucci will advance to the regional finals Feb. 12 at 6:30 at the Kings Arts Complex.

Repucci will represent the school by reciting the same two poems at regionals and will have the opportunity to then advance to perform at states, where a third poem is added. Nationals will be held in Washington, D.C. for competitors who advance past the state competition, where they can earn cash prizes for poetry books for the school and scholarships.

Although Repucci’s less-than-25-line and pre-20th-century poems are memorized, she continues to perfect her recitations. “[I plan to] keep up with regular practice, pulling in some of our POL school judges for tips and the like,” Repucci said. “Also, I’ll be drinking a lot of tea these next few weeks to help keep my voice up to the challenge!”

Repucci’s passion for poetry does not stop at recitations, however. Since participating in her first competition her sophomore year, Repucci has been inspired by Poetry Out Loud and has had her own poetry published in local community books. “I never considered how a collection of thoughts could be so meaningful before POL,” Repucci said. “now the creative gathering of my own rambling ideas has become a fanciful hobby of mine.”

Repucci recites “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats in the second round of the competition.