Melrose High School, Melrose, MA

Melrose High School, Melrose, MA

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Poetry Out Loud

           On Tuesday, January 14th, twenty-seven Melrose High students recited poems they had memorized as part of the annual Poetry Out Loud competition. Five English teachers judged the students based on accuracy, among other criteria. Senior Lilah Drafts-Johnson was declared the winner, and freshman Alana Williams was the runner-up.  The results were announced on Wednesday, January 15th.
           Melrose High School has participated in the Poetry Out Loud competition for about four years. In the past, only four or five teachers sent students to the school wide competition, and only about twelve to fifteen students participated. Mrs. Stearns, the lead teacher for MHS, wanted more students to participate this year to “increase the quality of the performances.” On the week of January 7th, English teachers held classroom competitions. The winners from the classroom competitions went on to compete in the school-wide competition.
            Students who win their school competitions need to prepare three poems for the state and national levels. One must be twenty-five lines or fewer, one must be written before the 20th century, and the student can choose another poem as their third poem. All poems must be from the Poetry Out Loud anthology. The anthology can be found online at
            Mrs. Stearns believes it is “valuable for students to memorize poems” because then they “own” that piece of poetry, in a way. She uses Nelson Mandela to illustrate the benefits of memorizing poetry. Mandela memorized poems and recited them in prison for entertainment. One of the poems he memorized and recited to other prisoners at Robben Island, “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, is part of the Poetry Out Loud anthology.
            Junior Megan Wolley, a member of the Imprint staff, said the competition made her go outside her comfort zone. She recited “The Maid’s Lament,” by Walter Savage Landor. She chose the poem because she had “never done a poem about mourning” and she wanted to try something different.
            Winner Lilah Drafts-Johnson recited “Cartoon Physics, Part 1” by Nick Flynn. Runner-up Alana Williams recited “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughs.
            The Massachusetts competition will be on March 1st, 2014. The location has yet to be determined.

By: Emma Morrison

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