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Plymouth senior shows power of Poetry Out Loud

March 4, 2011

Christina Green, second from left.

INDIANAPOLIS — It is said that poetry is a universal language and Plymouth High School senior Christina Green has brought that language to life.
Christina finished second recently in the Indiana Arts Commission’s Poetry Out Loud state competition in Indianapolis. The competition involves choosing, memorizing and reciting three works of poetry to be judged by a panel. Winners of the single school competitions then proceeded to Indianapolis for the state championship.
“There is an anthology of thousands of poems to choose from,” said Kyle Coffman, English teacher at Plymouth High School who coached Christina for the competition. “One of the three poems must be 25 lines and must be written before the 20th Century, and it can be both.”
“I probably spent five hours picking selections for the school competition,” Christina said. “I read through them all and I chose the ones that stayed with me.”
The main selection that stayed with Christina was a poem by Martin Espada called “The Meaning of the Shovel.”
“It’s about a man who digs latrines in Nicaragua,” said Christina. “It’s based on a man who went to the country for a radio job and ends up digging latrines. He talks about the revolution and of a group of high school kids who are killed by soldiers for trying to teach illiterate children to read. It’s extremely powerful and the last line really stays with you; ‘I dig because I work for nothing and for everything’. That contrast is very powerful.”
Obviously written from a very different cultural perspective, Christina was able to bring out the nuances, speaking to the power of poetry itself.
“I think that it (poetry) taps into all the things we all experience as humans,” said Coffman. “Christina is also very intuitive. She was able to figure out what Espada was trying to capture and interpret that.”
Christina also chose the poems “Their Bodies” by David Wagoner and “Revenge” by Letitia Elizabeth Landon for her readings. She was awarded a $100 cash prize and a $200 prize for the PHS library to purchase poetry books.
“There’s something about poetry that connects us all as part of the human experience like Espada’s poem that has a lot of power behind it,” said Coffman. “And then sometimes its just fun.”
“After all it is Dr. Seuss week,” added Christina.

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