LPHS junior Anna Alvin heads to state poetry competition

By Patty Hamblin EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – Lone Peak High School junior Anna Alvin loves words—spoken words on stage, sung words in her a capella group, the written words of her fiction, and the read words of the countless books she’s devoured over the years.

Given this, it isn’t terrifically surprising that this linguistic lover has chosen to compete three times in Lone Peak High School’s school-wide poetry recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud. Alvin has taken first or second place all three times, and will now, once again, head to the state competition on Saturday, March 4 at the Myrna Loy Center in Helena.

“Anna was immediately interested,” said Barbara Rowley, who as advisor to the school’s International Thespian Club, introduced the National Endowment for the Arts-sponsored nationwide contest to the school three years ago. “Her interest has never wavered, and she has what it takes—an ability to memorize, composure on stage, and a deep attachment to and understanding of the words she’s saying.”

The Poetry Out Loud school contest requires that students memorize two poems, one fewer than 25 lines in length and one pre-20th century. For the state title, she will memorize three poems. Points are deducted for the smallest inaccuracy—saying “a” instead of “the” is a one-point penalty. Artistic merit is equally important; students must express the meaning of the poem without acting or movement, but simply in the way they speak.

Alvin says she loves hearing the other contestants as well as participating. “When you hear someone else recite it, it is really interesting, like a good play or a song,” she said. For herself, Alvin describes the experience of reciting as “freeing.”

“I like to do it because I like how it feels to recite the poem,” Alvin said. “There is something very organic about it once you have it memorized and you are just saying it and letting it come out of you.”

Alvin will be reciting “Sweetness” by Stephen Dunn, “Epilogue” by Robert Browning, and a third as of yet undecided poem at the state finals. If she takes first place, Alvin and a chaperone will receive a trip to the national competition April 25-26 at The George Washington University in Washington D.C. and a chance to win a $20,000 first place prize.

The state competition begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 4 at the Myrna Loy Center in Helena with the final round beginning at approximately 12:45 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For details visit art.mt.gov.