How loud can poetry be?

Meet the winners of Poetry Out Loud!

Wendy Gao, Editorial Board

Photo courtesy of

Poetry Out Loud has come and gone, but there is still much to recap. Last week on December 7th, a number of Oakton’s poets, sonneteers, and rhymesters competed in the annual Poetry Out Loud contest. Poetry Out Loud is an annual competition hosted by Mr. Lawless that encourages students to write and memorize poems. Megan Amare, 11, and Megan Cena, 10, won the top two awards.

Megan Amare won first place in Poetry Out Loud this year. She recited an inspiring poem called In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr. by June Jordan. “After a long and time-consuming search, I committed to this poem because there was such a bigger message to it. June Jordan utilized so many important literary tactics to deliver her message of sorrow and being able to realize the reality of justice pre and post MLK,” said Amare.

Amare decided to enter Poetry Out Loud for multiple reasons. She originally signed up last year through her English class lesson on poetry and she thought it was really interesting. “But I also felt that performing a poem would be the first step in building my stage presence. I used to be really shy and I want to be a better public speaker, so this was what I felt was best to get myself closer to that goal,” said Amare.

By reciting Jordan’s poem, Amare was still able to learn about herself through the experience. “My biggest takeaway from competing in Poetry Out Loud the past two competitions is that you can still be yourself while discovering another poet’s literary choices and creativity. Poetry Out Loud is all about expression and interpretation so no matter what type of poem it is, you can still always stay true to yourself and express yourself the way you see fit,” said Amare.

After POL I’ve started coming out of my shell so stay tuned!”

— Maria Amare, 11

Although Amare did not write the poem she performed, she still creates original works of her own. “When it comes to personal writing, I do often write some things of my own. I have not always written poems, it just became an outlet for me the past few years and actually helped me get through certain issues which [have made me] have a better appreciation for poets, poetry, and spoken word,” says Amare. Currently, Amare is working on a collection of her own original poetry, which she plans to publish soon. Be on the lookout, Cougars!

Megan Cena, 10, finished second in the tournament. Cena’s poem was inspired by her passion for poetry. Her passion for poetry did not always exist, but instead began in the eighth grade. Cena said, “At my elementary school we never really did anything with poetry or literature. But when I got into eighth grade, we started doing stuff and I was like ‘wow, this is cool, man’!”

The very next year she started writing poetry of her own. Now, Cena is taking Creative Writing, which continues to kindle her love for poetry and writing.

Cena’s piece captures just how much power spoken word can possess. She uses her poem to convey a strong message about being careful of what one says. “My poem was about when you say something that you don’t mean to say and how it affects other people and how the guilt can stay with you for long periods of time,” said Cena.

Cena has learned a lot from taking part in Poetry Out Loud, but her biggest takeaway was facing her fear. “I think that I’m usually a very shy person and I don’t do well with presentations but I think that Poetry Out Loud has really helped me overcome some of that fear,” said Cena.

Amare and Cena have both achieved great heights from performing in Poetry Out Loud. Poetry Out Loud allows students to uncover the power of spoken word, just as Amare and Cena did. Words are not given life until they are woken, and it takes a powerful speaker to do so. Congratulations, Maria and Megan!