Education feature: Clovis High sophomore to compete in poetry recitation

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis High School sophomore Savannah Armijo has loved poetry since she took a child’s poetry class at Clovis Community College in fifth grade.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Clovis High School sophomore Savannah Armijo is taking her long-standing love of poetry to the competition arena.

Armijo is competing in the state level of the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest Sunday in Santa Fe.

Armijo will compete against students from 13 schools around the state. The sophomore said the reality hasn’t set in yet.

It has for her parents, though.

“Me and her father are more nervous than she is,” her mother Bertha Armijo said.

Savannah Armijo said she has loved poetry for as long as she can remember. Bertha Armijo said her daughter attended a child’s poetry class at Clovis Community College in the fifth grade.

“She just loved it,” Bertha Armijo said.

Savannah Armijo said she will read three poems of her choice from a contest-approved list. One of the poems had to be pre-20th century and one had to be fewer than 25 lines.

Armijo chose “Broken Promises” by David Kirby, “For Love” by Robert Creeley and “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

“I’m not too nervous about reading in front of a large audience,” she said. “I’ve been in theater and other things where you talk in front of a lot of people.”

Armijo said she loves poetry because it can mean different things to each person who reads it.

“It’s a very interesting thing,” she said.

English teacher Carol Singletary said judges are looking for stage presence, understanding and ability to convey it without acting out the poem.

“It’s really about demeanor,” Singletary said.

Singletary said the students recite the poems from memory and there will be an accuracy judge at the competition.

Singletary said she got a student involved in the competition last year. She said last year was the first year the competition was opened up to students outside the Santa Fe area.

“When it came across my desk, I said I want to do this. I want my kids to experience poetry in a way they don’t get in the classroom,” she said.

Singletary said students simply respond better to poetry when its read out loud.

“Poetry is more effective when oral, which is how it started,” Singletary said.

Poetry Out Loud is a project of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation and state arts agencies. Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about poetry through exploration, memorization and performance.

“It’s them seeing poetry as something besides something in a literature book,” Singletary said.