The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

Hatch, Washington Advance to POL Regionals

Sophomore Maya Hatch and junior Norah Washington placed first and second at the school-wide Poetry Out Loud competition, earning both a spot at regionals.

After winning separate classroom-level competitions, sophomore Maya Hatch and junior Norah Washington placed first and second in the school-wide Poetry Out Loud competition. POL, a national organization, exposes students to the art of poem recitation. The basis of the competition is memorization, combined with skillful performance.

Senior Kate Huang, sophomore Maya Hatch and junior Norah Washington earn first, second and third place. (Zach Kennett)

Washington, a transfer student from Roxana, earned runner-up at the school-wide competition. Encouraged by teacher and POL sponsor Cara Lane, Washington participated in her classroom-level competition and won. 

While there wasn’t a POL competition at Roxana, Washington participated in solo and duet acting competitions. After COVID, she stopped and “saw POL as an opportunity to get back into that sort of competitive performance.”

Washington is a part of Creative Writing Club, where she writes poetry weekly. As a poet herself, Washington chose “If We Must Die” by Claude McKay and “We Are Not Responsible” by Harryette Mullen because they resonated with her. 

“I chose these poems because they have a lot to do with civil rights and equality,” Washington said. “Civil rights has always been something that resonates with me, so I chose these poems because I can understand and convey the emotions of the authors while presenting a topic that is very meaningful to me.”

Hatch, on the other hand, imagined herself performing each poem before choosing. She chose “Dream of the Phone Booth” by Emilia Phillips and “The World is About to End and My Grandparents Are Still In Love” by Kara Jackson. 

“I like the flow of their words and the imagery,” Hatch said. “When I choose poems, I like to think about how I’d recite them: where I should speed up or slow down and which words I should emphasize.” 

While Washington is a first-time performer, Hatch’s recitation will be her second.

“I decided I wanted to compete originally in freshman year when during our poetry unit Mr. Schlueter showed our class some videos of famous slam poets,” Hatch said. “I tried my hand at it in the classroom competition and decided that I really enjoyed it.”

As the two competitors prepared for the regional competition, Ms. Lane and additional POL sponsor Kirk Schlueter offered their guidance. Hatch and Washington spent time reciting their poems for both teachers and were judged based on the rubric provided by the POL organization. 

The largest number of points is awarded for a perfectly memorized recitation, among other categories. 

“I have found that I’m much better at memorizing auditory things than anything visual,” Hatch said. “I’ll often record myself practicing and make edits. Then when I take a recording that I really like, I’ll play it over and over again to hammer in the tone and speed that I say each word.”

Both Hatch and Washington have high hopes for the regional round. The two have spent hours working on the “perfect recitation,” both with Ms. Lane and Mr. Schlueter, as well as on their own.

“Although I am super grateful for my teachers who have helped me prepare, the majority of my practice is alone,” Washington said. “I prepare alone and then at the end of the day, my performance is by myself as well. While it is difficult to be on your own in this kind of thing, it makes the outcome much more rewarding.”