RV students tap into their performance skills for this year’s Poetry Out Loud competition

Despite challenges to performing live, RV’s POL students come together to compete and express themselves


Photo courtesy of Mr. Maniglia

2019’s Poetry Out Loud winner Jadia Owens performs in front of the judges and crowd.

Abigail Rodriguez, Arts & Culture Editor

Now more than ever, students across the country are looking for ways to express themselves when many resources have been taken from them due to the current Covid pandemic. 

In true Red Devil fashion, the poets of RV’s Poetry Out Loud  club will not be silenced and hope to inspire future contestants. 

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition, and on Friday, January 8 freshman Maggie Blackburn, senior Brinda Patel and sophomore Glynnis Bastas will be competing in RV’s school contest. They will each be performing two poems, from poets such as Shakespeare, Robert Frost and Tess Gallagher. The students are competing in hopes of expressing themselves and possibly going on to regionals, states and then the overall goal of nationals in Washington D.C. English teachers Mrs. Stopek and Ms. Filauro are ecstatic to be the advisers for Poetry Out Loud this year.

The most rewarding part of being an adviser is “watching them go through the process of… how [they] are going to put [their] personal individual spin on it and make [their] personality come through in the performance,” Ms. Filauro said. 

Since November of 2020, the students involved in Poetry Out Loud have been working to analyze, memorize and perform their chosen poems. Second-year contestant Patel explains that the most exciting part of the process is when they are able to work on their performance with theater teacher Mr. Pliskin to help “connect to [their] poems as actors.” 

Notably, this year’s competition will be different, as the poems have to be virtually performed in front of solely the judges and advisers instead of the usual live audience in RV’s old auditorium. Advisers and contestants alike have expressed the difficulties in having to perform via Google Meet. 

“[Usually] you can see the way their body is moving, every facial expression they are making, you can hear every word so clearly,” said Filauro. But that will be difficult to fully convey this year through a laptop screen. Ms. Stopek adds that they have had to teach “a different level of types of techniques and strategies that they need to be successful on a Google Meet.” 

Poetry Out Loud at RV hopes to expand its number of participants in the years to come. “Poetry Out Loud appeals to such a broad range of students,” Ms. Filauro said. She explained that she’s had many different types of students in the past who showed great promise whether they were “the athlete, the natural public speaker,” or even someone who just simply enjoys reading poetry. 

From a contestant’s perspective, Patel adds that it is rewarding when “at the end of the school competition you feel really good…after putting on a good show with the other participants.” 

The advisers stress that anyone with even a slight interest should participate; when you do, you simply choose poems that connect to you to recite. They advise interested parties to remember that the goal is to express your emotions through your performance. Ms. Stopek can be reached at [email protected] or Ms. Filauro can be reached at [email protected].