Poetry Out Loud Champs at the 2011 National Book Festival


I did Poetry Out Loud for three years, and
for those three years I won the state competition, so I was the three-year champion of Nevada,
which was really awesome. So I got to come to DC three times for that, and compete in
Nationals. And I was lucky enough to be able to make it to the top nine two of those years.
Last year was my last year. I’ve made a lot of awesome friends for it. I’m doing “Domestic
Violence” by Eavan Boland, and also “And Soul” by Eavan Boland, too. She’s one of my favorite
poets. I actually only found out about her because of Poetry Out Loud, so now I have
another favorite poet because of the competition. It’s very cool, it’s very interesting to see
that poetry is being recognized on a national level, it’s being recognized at The White
House. To see it being performed, to see it being recited … to see all these famous
celebrities with their different approaches to poetry. At the very end of it, I got to
meet the President himself. He asked me where I was going to college next year. He told
me to have fun, which was very fun to hear from the President. Hi, I’m Samuel Opoku, I am the Colorado State
Champion. Today I’m going to be reciting “A Song for Soweto,” by June Jordan and “Altruism”
by Molly Peacock. “Altruism” is all about the brain and being intuitive, and thinking
about life and where you stand as a person. And “A Song for Soweto” is a deeper substance,
and it talks about Africa and apartheid. So it’s like two opposing sides and I love them
both, a lot. When I started, I wasn’t the biggest lover
of poetry, either. But through it, you find amazing poets that you love. And then you
can find other poets through that poet, and then it just keeps going. Always try to find
poems that you connect with because it makes it way more fun, and it makes you connect
with your audience a lot more. For anybody who’s ever been interested in
theater, for anybody who’s looking into a career that will require public speaking,
this is an excellent exercise in public speaking. Going through this whole process and memorizing
a poem and performing it in front of an audience, is a very fulfilling experience for any high
school student. Don’t knock it till you try it! I think poetry
is a really good way to express yourself, even if you’re not very poetic, if that makes
any sense. It’s just a really good way to get my emotions
out to a really broad audience, and have people appreciate it and applaud that, and I really
enjoy that.

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