By Brigid Clifford, Editor-in-Chief
Freshman Gabriella Sorrentino won Trinity Hall’s first ever “Poetry Out Loud” competition on Jan. 8. Four other students entered the contest and competed in two rounds; in the preliminary round, all five contestants recited one poem in front of a panel of English teachers, who chose two finalists – Sorrentino and sophomore Maggie Hough – to advance to the final round, where they performed two poems in front of the student body and a panel of faculty judges.
Sorrentino recited Kenneth Patchen’s “Be Music, Night,” an uplifting poem she chose for its story about wishing the best for someone in life. Wanting to select a “deeper” option for balance, Sorrentino also chose and recited Simon J. Ortiz’s “Blind Curse.”
“It was nerve wracking, very nerve wracking,” Sorrentino said after reciting the poem for the whole student body. “It’s easier in front of a group of strangers because you’ll never see them again, but in front of classmates it’s scarier because you have to see them every day.”
Sorrentino has advanced to the regional competition which will take place at Count Basie Theater in Red Bank on Feb. 6. In addition to the two poems she recited for the school competition, she will also be reciting “I Remember, I Remember,” by Thomas Hood.
“I am really excited to be competing with a bunch of other people who share a common interest in poetry,” Sorrentino said about the upcoming regional contest, where she will competing against approximately 30 other students from high schools in Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex Counties. Two regional champions will advance to the NJ State Finals on March 12 where they will compete for the chance to perform at the National Finals in Washington, D.C. in April.
“The Humanities faculty decided to offer the Poetry Out Loud contest at our school because it gives our talented students another opportunity to express their creativity and develop their public speaking skills, not only within our own community but on a larger stage as well,” said Humanities teacher Alyssa Morreale, who served as the organizer for the school competition. “We’re very proud of Gabby and of all the students who courageously embraced that opportunity this year, and we hope their performances have inspired more students to enter in next year’s contest.”
Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest is administered with the State Arts Agencies of all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit poetryoutloud.org.