For the last several years, at the request of my friend and longtime Borah High School English teacher Chuck McHenry, I have judged Poetry Out Loud semi-finals at Borah.
Through the Poetry Out Loud program—sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and, locally, the Idaho Commission on the Arts—students learn about poetry and recitation by memorizing and performing their chosen poems during competitions. It follows on the momentum that freestyle rapping and slam poetry have brought to the mainstream consciousness, but it's different in that the students must perform the poem with little to no gesturing. They must use their tone and understanding of the poem to convey its meaning.
This Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m., 13 students from around the state will compete in the state finals at the Special Events Center in the Boise State Student Union. The winner then goes on to the national finals in Washington, D.C., on April 27-29.
The event is free and open to the public. Encourage your young people to go. I'd like to see more of them at next year's semi-finals.