Three ASFA-CW students — Myra Grizzard, Egg McClure, and Kenzie Price — competed in the Region III Poetry Out Loud competition in Tuscaloosa today. In what Tuscaloosa County Arts Council Education Director Sharron Rudowski described as the strongest field of competitors ever to participate in the Region III competition, Egg and Myra advanced to the state competition to be held in Montgomery next February. Egg won first place in the anthology (recitation) category and third place in the original poetry category, while Myra was chosen as one of five competitors to advance in the original category. Congrats to all the competitors on representing their schools — and poetry — so admirably!
All schools are their own little galaxies — with their own sets of stressors and opportunities, triumphs and challenges, values and traditions — and, as such, they can sometimes feel like self-contained centers of the universe. Within each school community, the poets tend to find their niche on the fringes; their orbits tend to be elliptical to their school-galaxy’s epicenter.
That’s why programs like Poetry Out Loud are so great: they’re intergalactic. All those elliptical young poets come together from far and wide to compete — but, more important, to meet — with each other. In the process, they get to form their own epicenter for a little while, smack-dab in the middle of the parallel universe of poetry.
One such epicenter formed yesterday at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, where the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Alabama Alliance for Arts Education partnered to present this year’s state finals of the Poetry Out Loud competition. In the morning round, ASFA-CW’s Ashley Tate joined fourteen other talented poets in the Alabama Original Poetry Recitation category, then later in the afternoon, eleven other equally talented students competed in the main event — the National Poetry Out Loud category, in which students recite poems by poets as diverse as Philip Larkin, Nick Flynn, Kazim Ali, and Margaret Walker. The parallel universe of poetry was well-served, and we were glad to be a small part of it. Thanks to all the sponsors, teachers, and most of all the young poets who made it happen.
As you might have noticed, we’ve been branching out around here over the past couple of years. The students and teachers of the ASFA-CW Universe are pretty well sold on the idea that creative writing isn’t a subject matter, per se. It’s a way of thinking, of observing, of listening, of engaging with the world. How all of that gets expressed isn’t limited to the page. Other art forms, other disciplines, can — and should — inform what and how we write.
Our 3-D Poetry Initiative and our collaborations with other ASFA specialty departments are all a part of that expanding creative umbrella. Now, this year, we’re stepping out in another direction: spoken word poetry. Continue reading