Archive for April 2009

10 Questions for Virginia’s 2009 Poetry Out Loud Champion, Will Farley

April 8, 2009

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Thirty-five students from high schools around the Commonwealth competed, with Will Farley, a senior at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, emerging as Virginia’s champion. Will moves on next to the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, to be held at April 27-28, 2009, at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC., with a shot at a $20,000 award. We interviewed Virginia’s champ via e-mail:

Poetry Daily
We had the good luck to be able to attend the Virginia State Poetry Out Loud Finals: congratulations! You seemed pretty excited when your victory was announced and you headed to the stage for the award presentation by Virginia’s poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Claudia Emerson: what was going through your mind? How did it feel?

Will Farley: Well to be honest I was first in a state of shock. I felt like I did good recitations, but all the other competitors were also very good. Once I got over my shock, I was relieved to be done for the day. The competition was very mentally exhausting. Finally, I was extremely happy to be the Virginia State Champion.

PD: What went into your decision to choose the poems you recited in the state championship round?

WF: My first two poems, “Theme for English B,” by Langston Hughes, and “The Flea,” by John Donne, I had done in my school competition, and they worked pretty well for me. So I knew I was gonna keep those two. The hardest thing was choosing my third poem. There were a lot of poems to choose from. I definitely flip flopped between a few good ones. But I ended up picking “Danse Russe,” by William Carlos Williams,” because a friend of mine performed in our class room competition, and he suggested I do it, and I liked the poem a lot, so it became my third.

PD: Have you decided on the poems you will recite at the National Finals in Washington, D.C.?

WF: For the National Finals I will be reciting the same three poems I recited at the state finals.

PD: Had you ever memorized a poem before you began the Poetry Out Loud competition? What made you decide to participate in POL? An interest in poetry generally? In performance? Something else?

WF: Well for a couple of my English classes it was a graded assignment. I competed in POL my freshmen, sophomore, and junior years, never getting pass the school level competition. But this year I picked good poems, and on my last try I seem to be getting things right. So I guess the fourth time is the charm. I really fell in love with POL because unlike acting you’re performing, but you aren’t the focus, the poem is.

PD: How do you like having your own mini-anthology of poetry now in your head?

WF: I only really focus on the poems I have to recite at the time. I really try to block out all the poems I’ve memorized in the past. But I guess you could say I do have my own mini-anthology in my head.

PD: What was it like in moving from one stage of the competition to the next? Did experience make it easier? Did the increasing “stakes” make it tougher?

WF: The worst part of the competition is moving from one stage to another. That’s the part that is mentally exhausting. It’s the worst in between rounds, waiting to see if you moved on in the competition. Thinking about your poem you just recited, the next poem you have to recite, all the competitor’s poems. It’s the old nervous feeling times 100. Especially when all the other competitors are very good. I feel like experience doesn’t really get rid of those feelings in between rounds. The easiest part is getting up on stage and reciting your poems. At least that’s the case with me.

PD: If you found yourself coaching an aspiring Poetry Out Loud competitor one day, what three tips would you start with?

WF: 1. Stick with what you practiced. Often you see others recite their poems very well, and you can be tempted into changing what you practiced to add a little something special to your recitation. DON’T DO THAT!

2. Pick different and unique poems. Also when choosing multiple poems, make sure they show your range. Yet pick poems you can understand and connect with.

3. Be proud of yourself win or lose. Poetry competitions for the most part are subjective. What you may love about your recitation, the judges may hate. When I did the competition my freshmen, sophomore, and junior years I pondered quitting because I never seemed to have what the judges were looking for. But you can’t get down on yourself, you have to keep trying. It worked out for me.

PD: The competition aside, what personal value have you discovered in memorizing poems? In reciting before an audience?

WF: Because of POL, I’ve developed more confidence in my public speaking. I feel more comfortable speaking publicly than I ever did before I started with POL.

PD: Do you think you will continue to memorize poems once the competition is behind you? When you have time to do casual reading, do you ever read poetry?  Has this experience made you more curious about finding poetry you might enjoy?

WF: Well, let me first say I’d recommend Poetry Out Loud to English teachers everywhere. POL made me more interested in poetry than any book or person ever could have. Because of POL I do read poetry in my free time now. Also it’s shown me that there are poems out there for everyone.

PD: Speaking of once-the-competition-is-behind-you, we understand that you are off to Bucknell University in the fall — congratulations once again! What will you study?

WF: I am undecided still on a major, but when I pick one I’ll sure let you know.


VIDEO FLASH: SPARC Annual Showcase

April 6, 2009

Students in Rising Stars, CORE and Rehearsal & Production classes participated in SPARC’s annual Showcase of Talent, April 5 at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen.  Enjoy this video highlights reel from the big day!

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown Tickets Now On Sale!

April 1, 2009

Tickets for SPARC’s production of You’re  A Good Man, Charlie Brown are now on sale! 

All your favorite Peanuts characters come to life in song and dance in this exciting musical, perfect for the whole family!  Featuring a rousing score including Beethoven Day, My New Philosophy, Suppertime, and HappinessYou’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown is the perfect evening of theater for you and your family.  

May 7 – 7:30 PM
May 9 – 2:00 & 7:30 PM
May 10 – 2:00 PM
May  14 – 7:30 PM
May 16 – 2:00 & 7:30 PM
May 17 – 2:00 PM

All performances take place at the brand new Stage 1 Theatre Company in Mechanicsville, 9130 Dickey Drive, off Route 301 North.  Tickets are $8.00 in advance & $10.00 at the door.  Call (804) 353-3393 to reserve your tickets today!