Poetry Out Loud Montana

Angels don’t come to the reservation.
Bats, maybe, or owls – boxey modeled things. Coyotes too – they all mean the same thing. The first time that I went up on stage at Regionals with a microphone and a
spotlight – it was terrifying. I haven’t seen an angel fly through this valley
ever. [Uplifting piano music] My heartbeat was pounding in my throat and I couldn’t hear over it and
it was very nerve-racking. If there are angels up there living on clouds– Finishing my poem the first time – it was not only empowering but meaningful to me, being able to address a subject that I believe in. We’re better off if they stay rich and fat and
ugly and exactly where they are. [applause] Congratulations, everybody.
I hope you feel just absolutely so proud of yourselves. This is your time to shine. It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the 2018 Montana Poetry Out Loud state finals. Lions don’t need your help. In the Serengeti, for instance, 1,000 hold sway over more than Connecticut. Poetry Out Loud is a program started by the
National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and they got together
and wanted to invigorate the classroom experience with poetry a little more
than media had otherwise been. The angel of Michael outside the garden – his circle of fire maddening around the tree. When it was established under the leadership
of poet Dana Joya, he articulated concern that poetry was becoming relevant to
only poets and they designed this program to get students to connect with
poetry. Please don’t tell the flowers. They think the sun loves them. The grass is under the same simple minded impression about the rain, the fog, the dew – I do love Poetry Out Loud because it asks people to bring poems into
themselves and fall in love with poetry because it is the language of emotion. That’s what poetry is – where we talk to each other like human beings. These beings, trapped as I am trapped — It can kind of evoke something in you that no other type of writing really can because it’s a short burst of information that
really can lift your emotions like nothing else. The wild brother at whose feet
the white wolves fawn — It’s a great thing to see students
involved in something that comes from the heart and you could
really see that, I think, it’s some of these students that they had taken these
poems to heart and really in the depth of their being connected with it. Beneath long rows of sharp footfalls like nails on a lid, an old man stands
trying on glasses — The beautiful thing about poetry to me is that it can have
multiple meanings. It can bring a message to people no matter who the spokesman is. I’m sure you’re very –uh, no– If you step in one moment dear, you shall behold yourself. In order to perform the poem you
obviously have to like put in a lot of work into memorizing it, but that’s like
only half the battle. You also have to perform it. The fountains mingle with the
river and the rivers with the ocean. Sometimes it can be difficult. For me,
it’s the public speaking part. I’m not that great at it
which is kind of why I chose to do Poetry Out Loud, just to like push my
limits. My heart rises up in me, becomes the cork of me. I think students really
get a sense of the power of their voices and how to go against expectations. A lot
of students don’t want to do it right off the bat and perform in front of a
group of people and sort of nudging them along that process and having them gain
that confidence has been valuable to see. And it’s wings above the floor and
dances like the shadow of something lost. Great job. I think even though there’s no
comma after “suspended,” that’s one word where you want to let that linger a
little bit and pause there. The shadow sways, indifferent– Having that moment
where everyone is focused on you and you are literally in the spotlight and just
taking your time remembering what it means to me and just feeling the words. There is an ash tree behind this house. You can see it from our bedroom window.
If you stare at it for long enough, you’ll see it drop a leaf. Stare at it
now. We’re waiting for the judges to do a little bit of organizational work. I know that the suspense is probably killing you. I like the competition. The pressure
motivates me just knowing that there’s a time for me to speak and perform and
be judged and then it’s over. Watch leaves drop. [Applause] The experience has been really good. I don’t feel any fear when I’m in front of an audience anymore.
I mean, in my freshman year I would have been terrified to do this stuff, but now
it’s just it makes me feel great about myself and what I’m doing. I think it went well. I’m not sure if I was the best performer but hopefully my words touched some people. Wow, what a bunch of beautiful people up here. In first place for the Montana state finals Anna Hedinger. [Applause] You know, they’re all winners. They’re all
winners for having had the experience here. [Applause continues] [Slow guitar music]

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