A Yerington teen is headed to Washington D.C. to represent Nevada in the Poetry Out Loud National Finals.
Gabrielle Hunt started the competition in her classroom, then advanced to the state finals earlier this month. She gets an all-expenses paid trip to the nation’s capitol.
Poetry Out Loud is run by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation – which sponsors NPR programming.
“Once you get to the national level, you are reciting three poems and you can basically choose any three you want as long as one of them was written before the 20th Century and one of them is 25 lines and fewer,” Gabrielle said.
Gabrielle likes more current poets, but it is really not about choosing a poem that you love. She said it is really about choosing a poem that "performs" well. So a poem that uses a stylized formatting on the written page like poems by E.E. Cummings may not perform well to an audience.
“When you read poetry, you’re doing it for yourself. You’re just looking at the poem and you want to get from it what you personally can take. When you’re performing poetry, you really have to understand enough to internalize that poem and then give it to other people,” she said.
Today, we’re getting a preview of what Gabrielle will be doing in D.C.
Some dictator or other had gone into exile, and now reports were coming about his regime,
the usual crimes, torture, false imprisonment, cruelty and corruption, but then a detail:
that the way his henchmen had disposed of enemies was by hammering nails into their skulls.
Horror, then, what mind does after horror, after that first feeling that you’ll never catch your breath,
mind imagines—how not be annihilated by it?—the preliminary tap, feels it in the tendons of the hand,
feels the way you do with your nail when you’re fixing something, making something, shelves, a bed;
the first light tap to set the slant, and then the slightly harder tap, to em-bed the tip a little more ...
No, no more: this should be happening in myth, in stone, or paint, not in reality, not here;
it should be an emblem of itself, not itself, something that would mean, not really have to happen,
something to go out, expand in implication from that unmoved mass of matter in the breast;
as in the image of an anguished face, in grief for us, not us as us, us as in a myth, a moral tale,
a way to tell the truth that grief is limitless, a way to tell us we must always understand
it’s we who do such things, we who set the slant, embed the tip, lift the sledge and drive the nail,
drive the nail which is the axis upon which turns the brutal human world upon the world.
Gabrielle Hunt, Yerington High School student and Nevada 'Poetry Out Loud' 2017 winner
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