Loud and Clear: Syosset HS Student is NYS Poetry Champion

Loud and Clear: Syosset HS Student is NYS Poetry Champion Photo
Congratulations to Syosset High School junior Iree Mann, who is the New York State champion in the 12th Annual Poetry Out Loud competition. Iree will represent the state in the national semifinals to be held in Washington, D.C., in April following her victory at the state finals held earlier this month in Syracuse.
Iree outshined 24 of the brightest, most creative young student poets in the state, reciting a wide range of poems from the official POL anthology. As state champ, she received $200; an all-expenses paid trip to the national semifinals and Syosset High School will be awarded a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.
Iree’s winning recitations were of the following poems, which she recited from memory:
•    “American Smooth,” by Rita Dove
•    “The Golden Shovel,” by Terrance Hayes
•    “Break of Day,” by John Donne
POL competition participants are evaluated on a cumulative point total covering all three recitations that factor in accuracy, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of the poem’s understanding, presence, and voice and articulation as well as overall performance. For the competition Iree had to recite from an extensive list provided by the organization, with a pre-20th century poem required. Syosset High School English teacher Lydia Esslinger, who is also Iree’s adviser on the Forensics Society, coached her.
“I am thrilled not only that Iree will represent Syosset High School and the state of New York on the national level, but that she was put in touch with beautiful and powerful language that captures moments of experience the way only an exquisite poem can,” said Esslinger, who continually spreads the word about POL to colleagues and students. “My hope is that she becomes a poetry fan for life.”            According to Esslinger, Iree has also distinguished herself as a member of the Forensics Society, most recently by qualifying as one of three students from the entire downstate area to represent New York in Dramatic Performance at the National Speech and Debate Association's national championship in Birmingham, Alabama in June, joining six other Syosset students. Esslinger is pictured congratulating Iree.
The POL national semifinals will be held at George Washington University on April 25. Nine semifinalists will advance to the national finals, also held at the University, the following day.
Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, POL is a nationwide poetry recitation competition for high school students. The program is carried out in partnership with State Arts Agencies. New York’s POL program is managed by Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York City, on behalf of the New York State Council on the Arts, with support from the State University of New York.