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MHS holds annual Poetry Out Loud contest

Ellen Podhajsky, MHS Poetry Out Loud winner and state qualifier.

Ellen Podhajsky, MHS Poetry Out Loud winner and state qualifier.

Ellen Podhajsky will represent Marshalltown High School at the state Poetry Out Loud competition next March, placing first out of 11 contestants in the qualifying contest Wednesday, Dec. 18.

This is the sixth year for Poetry Out Loud at MHS, “a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation.” Chandler Fisher represented MHS at the 2013 state Poetry Out Loud contest. Gwen Morrison represented MHS at the 2012 state contest, winning the state title and competing at the national competition in Washington, D.C.

During the qualifying contest each student recited two poems by memory. According to Poetry Out Loud guidelines, one poem must be 25 lines or fewer and one must be written before the 20th Century. Podhajsky won with her recitations of Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden and Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight by Vachel Lindsay.

Judging the local contest were Melissa Niesen, Karen Roessler and Gary Zmolek. Students were evaluated on multiple criteria, including physical presence, voice and articulation, accuracy and evidence of understanding. Contest emcee was Adam Willman.

Second place went to Joe Cahill, who recited Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley and Cartoon Physics, part 1 by Nick Flynn. Fisher placed third with his recitations of January 1795 by Mary Robinson and Learning to swim by Bob Hickok.

Other performers at the qualifying contest included Natalie Kueny, Andrew Walker, Mitchell Schwandt, Jonathon Kirner, Sean Finn, Michelle Ankrum, Ryley Faircloth and Josephine Coury.