April 22, 2013

The Road to Washington, D.C.

Let's continue to celebrate National Poetry Month, shall we?  This week I'm going to share the little bit I know about a wonderful national recitation competition.  I've shared with you in the past that my grandmother loved to recite poems out loud, finding just the right verse to match the occasion.  Her special gift was passed down to son number 3, who excelled in  forensics in high school (earning the title of state champion in prose) and who has now gone on to double major in radio/tv/film and theater in college.  But he also had the rare and special opportunity while in high school to represent his state, not once but twice, in the national Poetry Out Loud contest, held each spring in Washington, D.C.

Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation in 2006, Poetry Out Loud is administered in partnership with the State Arts Agencies of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Poetry Out Loud starts at the classroom level, and then winners advance from a school-wide competition to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. We really didn't pay much attention when our son left early one Saturday morning during his junior year for some kind of competition downtown...he had told us he had won the school competition but we had never heard of POL, and really didn't understand what he was doing.  We just wished him luck, told him we were proud of him, and later that afternoon, we were excited for him when he called to ask for his social security number for the forms they were filling out. He'd just been named state champion and was heading to Washington, D.C.!  The competition generously pays for an adult chaperone to accompany each state winner, and since I drew the short straw my husband and son set out for D.C. a few weeks later.

Checking in at headquarters
It was a marvelous experience and the state representatives were the 'best of the best', and we were so proud of him for making it as far as the quarter-finals.  While in D.C. my son and husband also had a chance to do a little sight-seeing and had the photo event of a lifetime, when our congresswoman recognized our son for his state representation.  It was an amazing time for both of them.
My husband and son with Representative Tammy Baldwin
So let's hang out in Washington this week and enjoy a few of my son's poetry selections, shall we? I'll start with his all-time favorite poem (which happens to be one of mine as well!).  Here is one of Robert Frost's best known poems:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Two travelers, two different roads to take, but the father/son bond has made all the difference...

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to your son! I loved hearing about Forensics, too, as I dabble in that while in high school.

    The Road Not Taken is right up there in my top ten poetry favorites! There's a beautiful musical adaptation of it by Randall Thompson. I sang it in high school and I still remember it to this day.

    Thanks so much for joining in this week!