For Seniors: Poetry Out Loud and the English Graduation Celebration

Many of the readers of this blog know about Poetry Out Loud, the phenomenally successful national poetry recitation and performance competition. Co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud builds on the contemporary resurgence of poetry as a spoken-word art. It’s not exactly a poetry slam, since the high schoolers who participate aren’t performing their own poetry, but it has the flavor and excitement of slam, in the sense that style and grace in delivery are highly valued. Washington was a pilot city for Poetry Out Loud, which began in 2006. The national semifinals and finals return to DC on April 26 and 27. Click here for amazing videos of some of last year’s finalists.

Which leads me to this year’s reception for graduating seniors. Every year the English Department hosts a party for our graduating seniors and their families and guests. This year’s reception–mark your calendars now–will be Saturday, May 15, 1-3 p.m. in Rome 771 (and the surrounding hallways).

In years past, the primary “entertainment” for this reception has been a brief congratulatory speech by the Department Chair. I know many of you are eager to hear my reflections on your GW experience and the meaning of commencement (“It’s not the end, it’s a beginning”). But I am hoping to supplement my talk with some alternative entertainment: in particular, a modest graduating senior Poetry Out Loud.

So: I am looking for two or three students (preferably seniors; or at least people who enjoy being around seniors and who will be here on May 15) to volunteer to recite a favorite poem of their choosing at our reception. You don’t have to be a slam specialist, just someone who is up to memorizing a piece (cheat sheets permitted–for once!) and reciting it for us.

Send your names and, if you have them, your ideas for specific poems, to me by April 15. But why mark your calendar? You know you want to do this, so email me now:

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