Poetry Out Loud: A Personal Memoir

Anna Flurry and Adriana Hurtado perform their poems in Flagstaff at the next level of Poetry Out Loud.

By Anna Flurry

It was the last week before spring break, and I was crazily cramming for tests, writing essays, and memorizing poems. Not only was I stressed out about school, but I was also going to have to recite a poem in front of a panel of judges, and, perhaps more frightening, other high school kids. Needless to say, I was not whole-heartedly looking forward to Wednesday night’s Poetry Out Loud competition.

Ever since I had placed second at TCP’s own Poetry Out Loud competition, I had been somewhat dreading the regional competition in Flagstaff. It wasn’t so much that I have a huge problem with public performances, since I’ve been playing piano since I was young. This was a totally different situation than I was used to. It would be my first time reciting a poem in front of an unfamiliar audience that would be competing against me for a chance to go to state. They were not there for a performance. They were there to win.

On Wednesday afternoon, Adriana Hurtado and I piled into her car and started the long drive towards Flagstaff. I was in a deceptively quiet mood on the way there. I spent most of the ride staring out the window, inwardly reciting my poems and trying not to worry about what the competition would be like.

After a quick dinner, we arrived at the Coconino Center for the Arts. The amphitheatre was not as large as I had expected, which was a nice surprise. However, I was dismayed to discover that the contestants would have to sit in the very front row, literally six feet away from whoever would be reciting their poem.

It was with this unnerving thought that I was called to orientation. As it turned out, the other competitors were not the aggressive cutthroats I had been expecting. They chatted amongst themselves, and when orientation was over, we ended up forming a circle and telling each other about our lives. Everyone was very supportive and wished each other luck before the first round began.

I felt a little more relaxed, but as the announcer called the first contestant to the microphone, my hands were clammy and shaking. Six competitors recited their poems, and then my named was called. I announced that I would be reciting “On Monsieur’s Departure,” by Queen Elizabeth the First, and then began to speak. I don’t remember much about the actual experience because my mind was in somewhat of a haze, but I do remember feeling confident and animated. When it was over, the girl I was sitting next to congratulated me and told me I did a good job.

The second round was easier. Now that I knew a little about how it felt, I was able to enjoy the second poem more. I recited “Fairy Tale Logic,” by A.E. Stallings and tried to treat it more like a performance than a competition. I had more fun and was even able to make the audience chuckle at the end.

At the conclusion of the regional competition, I stood next to Adriana as they announced the finalists going to the state competition. I reflected that I had enjoyed the competition, and would be satisfied whether or not my name was called. Thus, when Adriana was announced I was really excited that she would be representing Tri-City and gave her a big hug. However, my name was not called.

The car ride to Prescott was considerably more animated than the one to Flagstaff as I called my parents and told them the good news. Adriana and I chattered about the competition and read the winners’ profiles in the program, and then finally fell asleep the last half hour before I arrived home.

I’m really looking forward to watching Adriana’s performance at state, and I can’t wait to see what the results are. But whether or not she wins, I know that she’ll enjoy herself, just as I learned to do in Flagstaff.

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