Friday, February 15, 2008

A good, good day

Poetry Outloud is a national poetry recitation contest. Our school had its own contest today to choose our winner who will be sent on to Regionals, and then perhaps States and Nationals.

Today, I had 200 teenagers in the auditorium all day listening to each other recite poems (that the performers chose from the Poetry Outloud database and memorized). The poets ranged from Maya Angelou to Robert Frost, Lord Byron, Wilfred Owen, Billy Collins. I was a proud mama of these kids today, who were so genuinely enthusiastic about poetry that you might have thought, as my Mom noted (she came to watch), that they were at a football pep rally. They cheered and hooted and hollered for each other!

the 56 performers

the top 10 (they performed again in the finals to determine the winner)

the winner!

and here I will include the poem she won with, because it is so damn good and I've fallen in love with it over the past few weeks. If only I could post the video of her reading it? I'll work on that.

So This Is Nebraska

By Ted Kooser

The gravel road rides with a slow gallop
over the fields, the telephone lines
streaming behind, its billow of dust
full of the sparks of redwing blackbirds.

On either side, those dear old ladies,
the loosening barns, their little windows
dulled by cataracts of hay and cobwebs
hide broken tractors under their skirts.

So this is Nebraska. A Sunday
afternoon; July. Driving along
with your hand out squeezing the air,
a meadowlark waiting on every post.

Behind a shelterbelt of cedars,
top-deep in hollyhocks, pollen and bees,
a pickup kicks its fenders off
and settles back to read the clouds.

You feel like that; you feel like letting
your tires go flat, like letting the mice
build a nest in your muffler, like being
no more than a truck in the weeds,

clucking with chickens or sticky with honey
or holding a skinny old man in your lap
while he watches the road, waiting
for someone to wave to. You feel like

waving. You feel like stopping the car
and dancing around on the road. You wave
instead and leave your hand out gliding
larklike over the wheat, over the houses.

Hey Adrienne, does this not remind you of our California to Michigan road trip, when we left the west behind us and entered Iowa? Remember how we felt that day?

The first time we heard this girl read this poem to us, my creative writing class all closed their eyes, sighed collectively and said.... let's go to Nebraska. Now, nothing against Nebraska, but that is the power of a good poem.

Happy February Vacation, also known as, "the most stressful week of the Manharts' lives"


Stephani Nola said...

i love, love, love that poem. i'm also rejoicing to hear that the poetry fever is spreading past the lower A wing of BHS!

beth said...

Hearing thse kids recite their poems with such passion, enthusiasm and with so much peer support made my day!! It is encouraging and heartwarming to see high school students so unabashedly excited about poetry. No wonder you love those kids,
Emilie--and no wonder they love you. You have oopened so many doors for them.

Adrienne said...

totally does. i love that you did this. congratulations to you and to the kids. amazing.

SNW said...

Dad mentioned it was slam time again, so I had to revisit this keeper. GOD. So good. Plus, Lydia has good taste in UM activities, like Thursday readings and the intensive english institute and HONORS. :)