EHS Student Places Fifth at Poetry Out Loud State Competetion

Taylor Meek, A&E Editor

As Poetry Out Loud’s national second place winner in 2019, senior Scottlyn Ballard prevailed to the state competition yet again.

This year, Ballard did not place for nationals, but the experience was just as fruitful.

“State this year was a little bit different than last year because having done it all before you sort of know how the structure is,” Ballard said. “It doesn’t take any of the excitement away from it because when I was right there I was so happy to know that people there were new just like me once upon a time.”

English teacher Heather Haskins has been sponsoring POL at EHS for years, and Ballard was the first of her students to excel beyond state. She pushed and challenged Ballard’s poetry and was there as a major beam of support, according to Ballard.

The POL state competition took place at the Hooghly Center of the Arts in Springfield, where 16 competitors recited their chosen pieces.

Being a returning competitor has its perks experience-wise, but it also has its baggage.

“Having done all of it before, it made me nervous,” Ballard said. “Are they going to judge me more harshly because I did this before? Are expectations going to be larger for me because of how far I got? Those are pressures that I put on myself.

“When I got there, it was gone. Everyone was friendly with one another, and it no longer became so much of a competition as it was just camaraderie around people that loved the craft as much as you did, and when you step up to the mic and you’re staring out at the audience, none of it matters anymore. It’s just you and the poem and showing everyone how much you love it.”

Not only was Ballard encouraged by her teachers, she also has friends, like senior Natalie Loveridge, in her corner.

“Whenever she’s struck literary gold, I always get sent it,” Loveridge said. “I don’t have the raw talent she has, but I’m definitely able to appreciate what she sends me. She never stops, too, which always leads to constant improvement.”

Loveridge is always there for Ballard with encouraging words.

“I tell her all the time that she’s a genius,” Loveridge said. “Read one of her poems and listen to her recite a work, and you’ll know that statement is true.”