Junior Caitlin McCormick won the 2016 Poetry Out Loud school competition held on Friday, January 29 at The Gregory School. This is McCormick’s second year as the winner of the school’s Poetry Out Loud event.

“I honestly never expected it—never at all—I was 100% sure I was going to lose this year,” McCormick said. “The competition was so amazing and I feel like every year people just get better, but it’s definitely an honor because it means a lot to me. Poetry means a lot to me.”

McCormick recited “Dear Reader” by poet Rita Mae Reese and “Novel” by Arthur Rimbaud. “It takes me a really long time to choose my poems,” she said. McCormick said she chose “Dear Reader” because of its powerful direct address and “Novel” because “it’s so modern sounding and so relatable” for a pre-20th century poem.

Three judges also named senior Asha Ramakumar as runner-up three hours after the contest began at 10 AM.

“There’s something about internalizing the poem and then speaking it that gives it breath and changes it completely,” Ramakumar said. “Poetry Out Loud gives me a chance to share my interpretation of the poem with other people.”

Former St. Gregory middle school English teacher Cheryl Pickrell, poet Boyer Rickell, and Digital Manager of Edible Baja Arizona magazine Katie Selby served as judges.

In total, eleven upper school students recited two poems each in the Nickerson Performing Arts center before an audience of students, teachers and parents. In addition to McCormick and Ramakumar, seniors Leo Ratner and Alex Nesci, juniors Jaiveer Katariya and Kyra Weisel, sophomores Kai Morfin and Caroline Zlaket, and freshmen Connor Heros, Ella Maltzman, and Angela Sun took the stage Friday.

Upper school students and the Poetry Out Loud competition judges gather on the Nickerson Performing Arts Center stage after the performances.

Upper school students and the Poetry Out Loud competition judges gather on the Nickerson Performing Arts Center stage after the performances. Photo courtesy of Sam Groskind.