A Cinnaminson High School senior will compete Wednesday morning in the state’s Poetry Out Loud finals. And if she wins, she’ll move onto the national competition next month.
Sarah Finnan won the school-wide competition in January and was a standout at the regional competition at Rutgers University in Camden in February. Finnan will go up against seven other students from around the state Wednesday at the College of New Jersey’s Kendall Hall Mainstage Theatre.
“I’m just making sure I have everything down pat,” Finnan said. “Making sure I’m saying everything 100 percent and making sure I’m completely together.”
Poetry Out Loud is a competition in high schools around the country where students perform poetry as spoken word. Students choose from an online database of more than 650 poems. The event in Cinnaminson is due to a joint grant from the New Jersey State Council for the Arts and the Cinnaminson Education Foundation.
Students in Amy O’Hearn, Judy Brangan and Jo-Ann Carroll’s English classes took part. Those three—plus a busload of students—are traveling to the College of New Jersey Wednesday to cheer Finnan on.
Finnan performed two poems at the local competition and three at regionals. She’ll perform the same three at states. They are “Barter” by Sara Teasdale, “More Lies” by Karin Gottshall and “Before the Birth of One of Her Children” by Anne Bradstreet.
She tripped up on one of those poems at the regional competition but, as Finnan puts it, she “went all out in my last poem.”
“So, it worked out,” she said.
Finnan actually wasn’t really into poetry before she started performing in Poetry Out Loud.
“But, I’ve always been a big reader,” she said.
Finnan has always been a performer she said, and made it to the Poetry Out Loud regional competition her sophomore year.
The state finals begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Student recitation is evaluated on merit and accuracy by a panel of jurors. New Jersey resident Frankie Faison, a veteran state and screen actor known for his role on “The Wire,” is a guest judge.
The eight participants are:
Sarah Finnan, Cinnaminson High School
Brianne Barker, Dumont High School
Daisha Davis, Essex County Vocational School (Newark)
Jacob Ohring, High Tech High School (North Bergen)
Michael Chang, The Hun School of Princeton
Kristin Tsuo, The Lawrenceville School
Allison Beres, Vineland High School
Clarissa Lotson, West Orange High School
Stay with Patch for updates.