Barbara Gooding of Western Hills High School in Frankfort received $10,000 and her school got $500 to purchase poetry books when the high school junior came in second in Poetry Out Loud. It’s a national education program designed to interest students in classic and contemporary poetry and foster poetry as an oral art. She was among 12 finalists and 300,000 students who participated across the country.
Sally Gifford of the National Endowment for the Arts says Gooding impressed many of the judges, including Garrison Keillor.
“Barbara had a very understated approach,” Gifford says. “And it just goes to show that every student brings their own perspective and their own delivery to a poem, and they really do make it their own.”
Gooding says although she hadn’t read a lot of poetry before the contest, she now deeply appreciates poetry.
“The rhythm and the pacing are key elements in poetry,” Gooding says. “It’s a message condensed in a smaller form, essentially, than say prose and for schools it’s a very good opportunity to expand on that.”
She says participating in the program taught her about poetry.
“When you perform it, you have to get connotations and the pacing and the rhythm, and it’s not so much a performance as it is a recitation. And you have to understand what’s in the poem,” she says.
Listen to Barbara Gooding’s recitation of George Eliot’s “I Grant You Ample Leave.”
“I grant you ample leave
To use the hoary formula ‘I am’
Naming the emptiness where thought is not;
But fill the void with definition, ‘I’
Will be no more a datum than the words
You link false inference with, the ‘Since’ & ‘so’
That, true or not, make up the atom-whirl.
Resolve your ‘Ego’, it is all one web
With vibrant ether clotted into worlds:
Your subject, self, or self-assertive ‘I’
Turns nought but object, melts to molecules,
Is stripped from naked Being with the rest
Of those rag-garments named the Universe.
Or if, in strife to keep your ‘Ego’ strong
You make it weaver of the etherial light,
Space, motion, solids & the dream of Time–
Why, still ’tis Being looking from the dark,
The core, the centre of your consciousness,
That notes your bubble-world: sense, pleasure, pain,
What are they but a shifting otherness,
Phantasmal flux of moments?–“