Before Emily Weathers memorized a poem to recite in class, she signed up to receive a poem every day from Poets.org/.
So, when Farragut High School teacher Valarie Cagle told her AP English class that everyone would have to memorize and recite a poem to help prepare for the upcoming advanced placement test, Weathers was ready, thanks to her e-mails.
“I’m still getting it,” she said about the daily e-mail. “It’s really cool.”
The classroom contest was part of Poetry Out Loud, a national recitation contest presented by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, and in this state with Tennessee Arts Commission.
Weathers, a senior, recited “Did You See the Sky” by Rachel Jamison Webster, knowing she would be judged on communicating her understanding of the poem and her ability to channel her emotions in the delivery, and she won.
Weathers said other classes also had poetry competitions. The winners, and other students who hadn’t had the chance to compete, participated in the school-wide contest. There Weathers recited “Barter” by Sara Teasdale and “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron, and won.
In Nashville March 4, she faced 18 competitors from across the state at the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum. She recited “Barter” in the first round and “She Walks in Beauty” in the second round and made it to the third round, where she did “I Am Offering this Poem” by Jimmy Santiago Baca.
“The competition in Nashville was incredible,” Weathers said.
The day before the contest, participants had an optional day in Nashville where they went to Hatch Show Print [creators of the Poetry Out Loud poster] and learned to make prints by hand. They also toured the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum.
“She loves the arts and plays viola for the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra,” said her mom, Julienne Weathers. “She loves photography. She’s loved writing stories since she was a little girl. We’ve always encouraged that.”