EAST PROVIDENCE — East Providence High School students participated in the fourth edition of the district’s “Poetry Out Loud” competition Thursday night, Jan. 26, in the …
EAST PROVIDENCE — East Providence High School students participated in the fourth edition of the district’s “Poetry Out Loud” competition Thursday night, Jan. 26, in the Elmasian Auditorium, Nazarae Phillip was for the second year in a row chosen as the winner among the 15 Townies who took part.
A sophomore, this year Phillip performed a rendition of Stephen Dunn’s “Always Something More Beautiful.” (See the full poem below.)
Last year, she placed first after reciting “Songs for the People” by Frances Harper.
“From my experience with her in ‘Poetry Out Loud’ Nazarae is always happy and very, very kind,” said EPHS English teacher and program coordinator Diana Lee of Phillip’s performances. “I think what sets her apart is she pulls the listener in with her voice and tone and is able to tell a story through her recitation.”
According to literature produced for the program, annually sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, “Poetry Out Loud encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. Aims of the program include helping students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.”
As the winner from EPHS, Phillip advances to the 18th edition of the state contest to be held this year at The Odeum Theatre in East Greenwich on Sunday, March 12. Classical High School senior Mariama Bandabaila was the 2022 winner. Phillip finished fourth and earned Honorable Mention notice.
The top finishers at states will also perform locally on Friday, April 28, at the The Providence Athenæum, 251 Benefit St., Providence, at 5 p.m. as part of the library’s annual Philbrick poetry event.
Rhode Island’s champion advances to the national competition once again scheduled to be held at its traditional home of Washington, D.C. on May 8-10. The event has been held virtually in recent years due to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.
— East Providence Post and eastbayri.com contributing photographer Julie Furtado shot the accompanying gallery of photos.
Always Something More Beautiful
By Stephen Dunn
This time I came to the starting place
with my best running shoes, and pure speed
held back for the finish, came with only love
of the clock and the underfooting
and the other runners. Each of us would
be testing excellence and endurance
in the other, though in the past I’d often
veer off to follow some feral distraction
down a side path, allowing myself
to pursue something odd or beautiful,
becoming acquainted with a few of the ways
not to blame myself for failing to succeed.
I had come to believe what’s beautiful
had more to do with daring
to take yourself seriously, to stay
the course, whatever the course might be.
The person in front seemed ready to fade,
his long, graceful stride shortening
as I came up along his side. I was sure now
I’d at least exceed my best time.
But the man with the famous final kick
already had begun his move. Beautiful, I heard
a spectator say, as if something inevitable
about to come from nowhere was again on its way.