Plainfield East High School senior Rapheal Mathis will travel to Washington D.C. April 28-30, 2013 to compete in the national “Poetry Out Loud: Poetry Recitation Contest” after winning the state event in Springfield on March 8, 2013.
“Poetry Out Loud” is a national poetry recitation contest supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. It helps students master public speaking skills, build self confidence and learn about their literary heritage.
Participants must memorize and perform up to three poems written by other poets. Contestants must prepare a Pre-20th Century poem; a poem of 25 lines or less; and a poem of their choice.
The state competition featured poetry from 16 students representing eight geographic regions, who topped nearly 6,000 student poets that entered the contest locally.
“Poetry Out Loud” started in Washington D.C. and Chicago, and then went national in 2006. Last year over 365,000 students competed across the country. The national winner takes home a $20,000 scholarship.
Mathis took second place in the state competition in 2011 as a high school sophomore after writing his first poem for an 8th grade language arts class. He continued writing, and recited poetry for the first time when he joined the PEHS speech team as a freshman.
This year, Mathis recited “The Gift,” by Li-Young Lee; “Silence” by Thomas Hood; and “Buick” by Karl Shapiro.
“Rapheal has a natural speaking ability,” said PEHS speech team sponsor Michel Pawlak. “When you couple his innate talent with his desire to practice and continually improve, his performances have the capability of captivating audiences.
“Undoubtedly, Rapheal has a gift, but he has worked diligently and is deserving of the honor of representing not only Plainfield East, but the state of Illinois at the Poetry Out Loud National Competition,” Pawlak said. “I could not be more proud of him.”