Reciting poetry on her way to Washington, D.C.

Recorder Staff
Friday, March 09, 2018

GREENFIELD — A Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School student is trying to recite her way to Washington, D.C., and a $20,000 prize.

Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School ninth-grader Brooke Naylor will be competing this weekend in the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest this Sunday in Boston. Naylor is one of 25 students that are participating in the state finals for a chance to compete for the top prize.

The competition Sunday will determine if Naylor, from West Boylston, could become Massachusetts’ champion and be one of nine finalists to compete in the national finals in Washington, D.C.

According to Naylor, she started exploring poetry after being inspired by her sister, Raina Naylor.

“Poetry was always very interesting to me because my older sister was always into writing it,” Brooke Naylor said. “And I thought I wanted to do something with it.”

Then, Naylor said that her school decided that they would participate in the Poetry Out Loud competition, which drew Naylor’s interest. And after watching videos online of others reciting poetry, she said that she felt like she could make videos of herself reciting.

According to GCVS English teacher Christine Ashton, the competition was the first one at GCVS, and students competed with each other over video.

Naylor said that she just began reciting this year, but in that brief time she has learned a lot about the art of it.

“There is a right way to read a poem,” Naylor said.

“First thing you do is understand it, so you can connect to it. It’s not just words on paper — you have to feel it,” she said.

According to Naylor, this includes knowing the spacing of the poem, the punctuation, what speed each part flows with.

In addition to connecting with the poetry, Naylor said that it is also important to connect with the audience.

Naylor said that at the competition, she will be reciting at least two poems, with a third one ready if she makes it to the competition’s final round.

The poems Naylor chose, “Amor Mundi” by Christina Rosetti, “The Windhover” by Gerald Manly Hopkins and “Ecology” by Jack Collom, each have certain aspects that drew her to them, she said.

According to Brooke Naylor’s mother, Kelly Naylor, her daughter worked for weeks to find the right poems to recite.

“She dug and dug and dug and spent hours and hours and hours,” she said.

Meg O’Brien, interim co-director of education for the Huntington Theatre Company, said the winner of Sunday’s competition will win a $200 cash prize and second place will receive $100, as well as $500 stipend for poetry books for each of their schools. In addition, they will receive an all expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national finals for a chance to win prizes ranging from $1,000 to $20,000, with additional $500 stipends given to the students’ schools.

The event in Boston is being facilitated by the Huntington Theatre Company’s Department of Education.

You can reach Dan Desrochers at:

ddesrochers@recorder.com or

413-772-0261, ext. 257.