DHS freshman is Siskiyou's Poetry Out Loud runner-up

Skye Kinkade
Siskiyou Arts Council executive director Paula Reynolds congratulates Etna High School’s Ty Bradford, winner of this year’s countywide Poetry Out Loud Contest. Dunsmuir High School’s Isabella Glenn was runner-up, and Nicholas Cordell of Yreka placed third during the contest held last Wednesday, Feb. 6, in the Kenneth Ford Theater at College of the Siskiyous in Weed.

You could have heard a pin drop as Dunsmuir High School’s Isabella Glenn recited Katherine Phillips’ 17th century poem, “Epitaph,” during the countywide Poetry Out Loud competition last Wednesday in College of the Siskiyous’ Kenneth Ford Theater in Weed.

Though only a high school freshman, Isabella portrayed the raw emotion of a woman grieving the loss of an infant son after seven years of childless marriage.

“I really wanted to recreate that author’s pain when I read (Epitaph) out loud,” Isabella said. “My mom lost one of her own children so that was my main motive.” Isabella also recited the Sara Teasdale poem, “Let it be Forgotten,” with a professional flare.

“The beauty of this poem is that everything can be forgotten in time; past mistakes and even people can be forgotten, and I really love that,” she said.

Isabella was named runner-up in the Feb. 6 competition, while Etna High School’s Ty Bradford took first place and earned the right to represent Siskiyou County at the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition March 25 in Sacramento.

Third place went to Nicholas Cordell of Yreka, who was Siskiyou County’s state representative last year.

Judges for last week’s competition were Beth Beurkens, Donna May, David Nigel Lloyd and Cindy Summers. Students were judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.

Summers acted as the accuracy judge to ensure each and every word was recited correctly. She was also the prompter, though none of the performers needed her assistance.

Due to timing issues, only three schools were able to participate in this year’s competition, said Paula Reynolds, executive director of the Siskiyou Arts Council, which sponsors Poetry Out Loud. Next year she hopes to see all Siskiyou County high schools send a representative to compete for the countywide title.

“Poetry Out Loud was an amazing experience,” Glenn said. “I had some great competitors and I am super excited for next year!”

“I am delighted with Isabella’s efforts in the county's finals,” said English teacher Juliette Charter, who coordinated the Poetry Out Loud competition at DHS. “She worked hard memorizing and working on expression, and her first poem (Epitaph) was especially moving. I think these brave students who have willingly participated these last three years is an indicator of good things to come from Dunsmuir High School.”

To participate, each student chooses two poems from a selection available on the Poetry Out Loud website. They memorize the poems and recite them during the contest. Each school sends one student to the countywide competition.

Bradford took first place with his accurate and moving recitation of Christopher Marlowe’s 16th century poem, “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” and “The Listeners” by American poet Walter De La Mare.

Cordell performed “The Light the Dead See” by Frank Stanford, and the difficult John Milton poem, “On Shakespeare. 1630.”

Also performing a poem was Dunsmuir runner-up LeAnne Rhoades. She recited Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice,” which has been featured prominently in Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight books and movies.

Local poet and teacher Ana Holub recited two original poems, as did Jen Matthews and judge Donna May. Poet/songwriter David Nigel Lloyd, who came to judge the contest from Bakersfield, performed two original songs. Keyboardist Dave Reynolds performed during the intermissions.