Poetry Out Loud: EHS Junior Takes Home State Title

Sam Lance, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Junior Scottlyn Ballard placed first at the Illinois state Poetry Out Loud in Springfield on March 8.

“It was exhilarating, mostly because I hadn’t bet on hearing my name,” she said. “When they called the runner up I was like ‘At least I did my best. Guess I’ll get them next time.’ But then they called my name. It just about knocked me off my feet.”

Ballard advanced to the national competition, which will take place in Washington, D.C. in April.

“Practicing is a must in the time between now and D.C,” she said. “I look up videos of people reciting poetry and see what life experiences help me connect with the poems more.”

At the state competition, Ballard recited “Worth” by Marilyn Nelson, “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy and “Self-Help” by Michael Ryan.

“‘Self Help’ was the first poem I knew I was going to do because it was just so sassy and a bit in-your-face from the get go,” Ballard said. “I found it at a time where I was really wondering whether to listen to my mind or my heart.”

Ballard added that both “Ode” and “Worth” had great messages that inspired her to recite them.

“I knew I wanted to do ‘Worth’ because it’s basically a refelctionsion of how one should value themselves,” she said. “‘Ode’ language was modern and it inspires me as a poet.”

Sheila Walk, the contest organizer, said that POL helps young women and men find something they are good at.

“These students are so talented and insightful,” Walk said to the Intelligencer, “They are so supportive of one another.”

Over 11,000 students competed in Illinois this year, and for Ballard to be at the top is a great honor.

“The whole experience felt like a dream,” Ballard said. “I had to stare, all wide-eyed and gaping like a fish over at Mrs. Haskins and my family just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.”


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