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Houghton student looks to repeat as Poetry Out Loud finalist

Adeline Frazier, a 10th grader at Houghton High School, will represent the school at this year’s state Poetry Out Loud competition. Frazier placed in the top four in the state as a freshman. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo by Garrett Neese)

HOUGHTON — One of last year’s finalists in the Michigan Poetry Out Loud competition is looking to repeat the feat this year.

Adeline Frazier, a 10th-grader at Houghton High School, will compete at the state level again after winning the school level. This year’s contest was conducted virtually, as the state’s will be.

To advance to state, she performed Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Conqueror Worm” and Robert Graves’ “The Kiss.”

The Poe poem is a longer one, and “really beautiful,” Frazier said.

“I think it’s really funny because I can do it really dramatically, because it’s about this giant worm who comes down and eats a bunch of angels in a play,” she said.

Frazier’s older cousin had performed “The Kiss” when she was in high school. Frazier was particularly taken with the last two lines: “Without hope, without life/Poor flesh, sad bone.”

State contestants add a third poem. Frazier’s will be Theodore Roethke’s “In a Dark Time.”

“There’s a lot of emotions in that one that I can perform pretty well,” she said.

Last year’s school competition was done in the auditorium. But by the time of the state competition in March, COVID-19 had closed in-person classes. Instead of performing to a crowd of people at Michigan State University, Frazier recited her poem from home.

Performing alone, it’s harder to get the right energy, Frazier said. When reciting the poems, she tries to pretend there’s an audience in front of her.

“It’s a lot like doing a play or really any type of presentation,” she said. “It’s easier if you’re talking to someone, it’s sort of like a camera. Your emotions build up more, and you get more nervous. But overall, it makes your performance better.”

With students recording their performances from home, the state judges didn’t award a top prize. Instead, Frazier was named as one of four finalists. Being named a finalist again would be a big help for getting scholarships, she said.

In her second year doing Poetry Out Loud, Frazier’s become a stronger performer, she said. And she has a better idea what the judges are looking for.

Some is based on how the voice resonates, she said. But the reader can’t just get by with being pleasing to the ear. They also need physical movements that are precise and match the story they’re telling with their poem, Frazier said.

“It’s just something that you get better with,” she said. “It takes practice and time.”

Garrett Neese can be reached at gneese@mininggazette.com.

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