On January 30, students at The Gregory School gathered in the theater to listen to Upper School students recite poetry in the annual Poetry Out Loud competition.

This year’s eleven contestants were Grace He, Catherine Hu, Caitlin McCormick, Wyatt Weisel, Elaine Wright, Carly Caylor, Asha Ramakumar, Alex Nesci, Chloé Durand, Monty Lussow, and Nicholas Neal.

Poetry Out Loud is a national competition held each year in order to promote the memorization and recitation of poetry.

Students at The Gregory School compete in classroom competitions, and the winners go on to the school competition.

One winner and a runner-up is selected at the school competition, and the winner goes on to compete at the regional competition. The winner of the state competition receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington  D.C. to compete in the national competition, and the winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.

This year’s winner of the Gregory School competition was sophomore Caitlin McCormick, who was runner up last year.

McCormick recited “Every Single Day” by John Straley and “Friendship After Love” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

“It took me an incredibly long time to choose my poems – I’m very picky! I really gravitate toward poems that are spoken in colloquial, simple language and are personal or human-oriented, as opposed to one about the natural world,” said McCormick.

Last year’s winner was junior Daniel Rosenberg.

On the competition this year, McCormick said, “I thought it was surprising that no one who had competed last year (besides me) also competed this year, and I think that ensures that every year performances are diverse and interesting. It’s also notable that last year the majority of contestants were male – and this year the majority were female, which is a really interesting dynamic change.”

Junior Asha Ramakumar was awarded second place for her recitation of “Dawn Chorus” by Sasha Dugdale and “No Coward Soul Is Mine” by Emily Brontë.

Junior Alex Nesci was awarded third place for her performance of “The Lamb” by Linda Gregg and “Dirge in Woods” by George Meredith.

English teacher Elizabeth Young, who oversees the competition, said, “Almost every single performance was a flawless recitation. Not a single person asked for a prompt. Everybody came in knowing exactly not only what their poem was word for word but how to convey their understanding of it.”

McCormick will compete in the regional competition at the University of Arizona Poetry Center on February 14.