GRC freshman wins annual Poetry Out Loud contest

Emma Hackworth, 14,  said she was shocked when she was named winner of George Rogers Clark High School’s annual Poetry Out Loud contest.

The freshman student was selected as the first place winner out of 15 contestants who recited poems of their choice during two rounds of competition Monday afternoon.

Hackworth recited Camille Rankine’s “The Current Isolationism,” which deals with introvertedness, something Hackworth said she can sometimes relate to.

“I wouldn’t say I’m an introvert,” Hackworth said. “But the poem is about being an introvert and feeling self comfort and being alone. I definitely feel more comfortable when I’m by myself and secluded. So I related to it.”

For her first place win, Hackworth received $100. She will also go on to compete in the state competition March 3.

GRC senior Rachel Puckett took second in the contest with her recitation of “A Song in the Front Yard” by Gwendolyn Brooks.

The annual contest is organized by GRC teacher Eloise Lynch, who said Poetry Out Loud not only asks students to step out of their comfort zone by being on stage, but to dig deeper into their selected poem.

She said students select a poem to memorize, but are asked to conduct an analysis of the piece to make sure they are able to bring the poem to life on stage.

“They put a lot of work into it,” she said. “Then considering the nerve it takes to stand in front of a crowd and do their best, make that social risk as they’re trying really hard to inhabit this poem. It takes a lot.”

“Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country,” according to the program’s website. “This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about literary history and contemporary life.”

GRC students competed in two rounds Monday afternoon with the following students making it to the Top 10: Hackworth, Puckett, Carrie Cockerham, Madison Dickman, Duncan McGrew, Hannah Napier, Christopher Navarette, Kierstyn Newton, Judge Pullin and Miller Riddell.

Hackworth said she is excited to move on in the contest.

“I’m also kind of shocked to win as a freshman,” she said. “I’m excited for state competition. It will be a good experience.”

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0049.

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