Shore advances

Who would have thought that poetry, arguably the most emotional and personal kind of literature, could be performed by high school students in a competition?
Tyler Shore, who won Concord High’s Poetry Out Loud Competition Dec. 12 and will compete in the regional semi-finals beginning March 2,  can tell you it takes some guts.
“It was really intimidating. (Poetry) is a realm I had never ventured into before,” said Shore, who recited “Ways of Talking” by Ha Jin to clinch the school title.
CHS has held a school-wide competition for nine years. School winners across the country go on to compete at regional and national levels.
New Hampshire’s regional semi-finals will be held in Lincoln, Manchester and Henniker March 2-11. For more information on those events, including dates, times and locations, visit New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.
State finals will be held at the New Hampshire Statehouse here in Concord on March 13 at 5:30 p.m. In the event of snow, the event will take place March 16.
POL2014_colorIncreasing numbers of students look forward to the school-level event in the CHS auditorium.
“I think the best part is seeing others who like poetry as much as I do,” said junior Alyssa Pepin, who recited “When I’m Asked” by Lisel Mueller.
This year’s judges were Doris Ballard from ConcordTV, Deborah Baker from the Concord Public Library, and Shelly Hudson, the director of Red River Theatre.
Contestants are judged on such criteria as voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of complexity and accuracy.
“Accuracy is a huge part of their score,” said veteran organizer and CHS English teacher Heather Oullette-Cygan. Colleague Kaileen Chilauskas served as accuracy judge. Another English teacher, Meredith Vickery, was the designated prompter.
Shore said recently that instead of worrying about competing at the regional level, he has decided to focus on exploring this branch of literature.
“I think it’s a really beautiful artform. It’s very human and real,” said Shore, currently a junior at CHS. “I’m honored to represent the school on a state level.”
Students in the audience at the school competition in December picked up on the way their peers connected to their chosen poems.
“They all had a true connection to what they were doing, and a true enjoyment. You could really tell they were proud of what they were doing,” said Meredith Dustin, another member of the Class of 2016. She watched Poetry Out Loud for the first time this year.
Last year as many as 365,000 students across America were involved in this great program, and many came back for a second shot, like CHS’ runner-up Marissa Splendore.
“This past year I wasn’t as serious about the competition and didn’t practice as much as in eleventh grade, but I got more emotionally invested in it,” said Splendore, who read “Domestic Situation,” by Ernest Hilbert for her last try before graduating in June.

Photo by Kyle Dwight
Photo by Kyle Dwight