(Katie Collins & Assemblyman Vince Fong)
For the first time, Katie Collins, represented Kern County at the Poetry Out Loud competition held in Sacramento.
The competition lasted two days and began on Sunday, March 12. Forty-four students competed from all over California.
Collins found out about Poetry Out Loud from her teacher, Andrew Chilton, in her Advanced Placement (AP) Literature class, at Stockdale High School. Chilton was the organizer of the local event in Kern County.
From participating in Poetry Out Loud, “I realized the place of art in a person’s life,” said Collins. She spoke of the “beauty” of poetry.
The local competition was on January 18, 2017 at the Arts Council of Kern in Bakersfield. Collins was the winner from among nine contestants.
The high school students compete by memorizing two poems from a list of poems provided by the Poetry Out Loud organization. The students then recite the poems adding their own interpretation and dramatization of the poems.
The statewide competition is composed of students who are the winners from their local county competition.
Poetry Out Loud (POL) is a national contest in a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals according to the POL website www.poetryoutloud.org. In the contest, high school students memorize and recite great poems that are provided on the POL website. Poetry Out Loud competition has taken place since 2005. It has grown to reach more than 3 million students and 50,000 teachers from 10,000 school in every state, Washington, DC, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The two partners of POL are the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation. The Poetry Foundation publishes Poetry Magazine and is “an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture.”
One of the poems which Chilton recited during the competition in Bakersfield was “Beautiful Wreckage.”
By W.D. Ehrhart
What if I didn’t shoot the old lady
running away from our patrol,
or the old man in the back of the head,
or the boy in the marketplace?
Or what if the boy—but he didn’t
have a grenade, and the woman in Hue
didn’t lie in the rain in a mortar pit
with seven Marines just for food,
Gaffney didn’t get hit in the knee,
Ames didn’t die in the river, Ski
didn’t die in a medevac chopper
between Con Thien and Da Nang.
In Vietnamese, Con Thien means
place of angels. What if it really was
instead of the place of rotting sandbags,
incoming heavy artillery, rats and mud.
What if the angels were Ames and Ski,
or the lady, the man, and the boy,
and they lifted Gaffney out of the mud
and healed his shattered knee?
What if none of it happened the way I said?
Would it all be a lie?
Would the wreckage be suddenly beautiful?
Would the dead rise up and walk?