The Experience of Poetry Out Loud


Taken after poetry out loud with all my friends who came and Jenna, who placed second.

Elisha Langevin, Senior Editor

Just breathe, it’s only an audience of people, what’s the worst that could happen? I could choke; I could stutter; I could forget a line. It’s Thursday, January 17th, 2019 and the auditorium is filled with the faces of parents, teachers, and judges. Tonight is Poetry Out Loud and I’m anxiously waiting for my name to be called to the stage.

I’m 7th to perform out of 10 people; the number 7 races through my mind, then 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and finally my name is called. De Etienne is introducing me and I only hear pieces as I nervously prepare to recite my poem. I’m starting with E.E. Cummings’ “I Carry Your Heart with Me (I Carry it in);” the most challenging to recite out of the 2 I have chosen. My throat feels dry, yet my palms are sweating, and my hands and legs are shaking. I have to get control of myself.

I approach the stage, as I do I hear my competitors cheering me on and I breathe a sigh of relief. Though, as I reach the microphone I feel a wave of nerves wash over me. I fumble with the microphone to reach my height; it’s not easy to adjust it with my shaking hands.

I stand and face the crowd and I take one last breath before I begin to recite my poem. I go slowly, emphasizing parts with pauses and volume. I go slow to ensure I don’t miss a single word, pause, or emphasis. The faces in the crowd and the judges are all a blur and cast into shadows because the stage light is so blinding.

My heart is still pounding, but I ease through. I end the poem and step back from the microphone and the audience begins clapping. I feel proud of myself for even getting up on stage, but even more proud because I nailed the accuracy part and I was able to hide my nerves.

However, it’s not over yet. The numbers race through my mind again as the other competitors go up to recite the poems. Then it’s my turn again. I am reciting “Envy” by Mary Lamb.

The feeling approaching the stage is different; this time I feel powerful as the adrenaline rushes through me. The thought “this is my stage” went through my head; I took that thought as a reminder to own it. In this way it was make the stage my own. I did just that and the confidence I felt for the second round was incredible.

The first poem was only a warm up, this recitation was powerful and emotional, with traces of the anger I had picked up from Mary Lamb’s structure and diction in the poem.

When I was done I didn’t care if I had placed or not, I was unbelievably proud that I could get up on stage and conquer my fear of public speaking. I didn’t place in the end, but I did get a really nice journal and an opportunity to perform on stage, which I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.