San Luis Obispo High School is one of the many high schools across the country that partakes in Poetry Out Loud, a competition designed to help high school students learn about poetry, become more confident, and develop better public speaking skills.
The competition begins in the classroom, where students present their poems and a winner is chosen. That winner then competes in the school competition and then has the chance to go on to county and even nationwide competitions. For most students who dread public speaking and can’t stand poetry, this event is nothing more than a grade. However, for the handful of eloquent students who compete at the school level, the event can be quite riveting and rewarding.
Senior Eden Rothstein is one of the few students who make the competition what it is. Winning in the classroom, Rothstein went on to win the school wide competition on Wednesday, January 24 with her recital of two poems, including “The Blue Booby” by poet James Tate. Expressions decided to interview her to find out exactly what this poem and competition mean to her.
Expressions: Is this your first time competing in POL?
Senior Eden Rothstein: Yeah. My dad coaches it every year at his school and tried to get me to do it, so this year I thought I might as well before I graduate.
Expressions: How much did you prepare for the contest?
Rothstein: I spent a few days in preparation. My background in theater gave me the dramatic skills, and I had become accustomed to memorizing poetry from doing Shakespeare each year at SLOHS.
Expressions: Why did you pick this poem?
Rothstein: My short poem was “The Rain” by Robert Creeley, which was more introspective and sentimental than my long one. I chose “The Blue Booby” because it reminded of the David Attenborough nature documentaries I had grown up watching, and the humor was appealing.
Expressions: What does this poem mean to you?
Rothstein: I feel that “The Rain” expresses the abstract inner melancholy I feel most days, of which I have trouble expressing. “The Blue Booby” is simple and subtly shows the complexity of nature.
Expressions: Are you nervous to compete at the county level on February 9?
Rothstein: Not really. I’m sure I will be shaking when I get there, but the experience is enough for me. I’m grateful to take part in this awesome display of art!
Expressions: Do you write your own poetry?
Rothstein: Yes! Here’s a haiku:
I’m coming for you,
county competition, if
you’re ready or not!