Clarissa Lotson of West Orange High School took the State Champion award at the New Jersey Poetry Out Load State Finals a couple of weeks ago. Clarissa told Barista Kids that she never really had a strong interest in poetry, but when her AP Language and Composition teacher, Mrs. Michelle Martino, told her classes about the competition and suggested that students who liked to to perform and/or public speak should enter, Clarissa decided to give it a shot. “Since I’ve been performing in musicals within my high school and have been an active member in my Drama Club, where our thespian troupe goes out to participate in various acting competitions, I enjoy performing on stage, so I saw this competition as another opportunity to do what I love and even further develop my skills during a performance.” explains Clarissa.
The main coordinator of the school-wide Poetry Out Loud competition was Ms. Tynia Thomassie, the teacher who was awarded Teacher of the Year in 2010. Clarissa called Thomassie her “mentor” throughout the entire experience.
Clarissa performed three poems at the competition: “Echo” by Daryl Hine, “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and “Song of the Powers” by David Mason.
See her performing “Song of the Powers” by David Mason in the video above.
In addition to an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for the national championship, Clarissa receives $200, a $75 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble, and $500 toward poetry books for her school’s library.