Murray Competes at Poetry Out Loud

Photo Credit: Miss D. Simkovich
After receiving her certificate, Lynnette Murray of Colonia High applauds her competitors.

On Tuesday, February 11th 2014, Tenomewah “Lynnette” Murray, senior at Colonia, competed at the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest  which was held at the Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, New Jersey.

The competition was hosted by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey and Discover Jersey Arts. The state of New Jersey was broken up into five different regions; Murray was part of Region two.

There were 23 high schools that attended and performed as region two finalists. The schools ranged from public high schools to private academies and even some performing arts schools.

The competition kicked off at 10 AM with a small welcoming speech from Robert M. Rechnitz, founder and executive producer of the Two River Theater Company.  Then an overview of the day and the introduction of the finalists was given by John Pietrowski, artistic director of the Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey.

After being postponed due to snow, the Regional Poetry Out Loud Competition in New Jersey was held on February 11th. Senior, Lynnette Murray represented Colonis High.
After being postponed due to snow, the Regional Poetry Out Loud Competition in New Jersey was held on February 11th. Senior, Lynnette Murray represented Colonis High.

There were three different rounds of poem recitation. First, all 23 schools presented their first poem, then  there was an intermission for judge deliberations. Then, judges: Lamont Dixon, Anndee Hochman, Michael Thomas, Kay Potucek, accuracy judge, and Allison Tratner, score tabulator, scored each recited poem based on  physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriate-ness, level of complexity, evidence of understanding, and  overall performance. Then the top 10 scorers were moved on to be semi-finalists. The semi-finalists then had to recite a second and third poem for the second and third round.

Murray recited fourth in the competition, with Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Alone.”  Unfortunately, Murray did not advance onto the second and third round. If Murray had moved on she planned to recite “An Author to her Book” written by Anne Bradstreet and “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou.

When asked about competing Murray explained, “Even though I didn’t make it to States, I still had a great time. Everyone was very friendly and kind, and helped each other out a lot. If I was not graduating this year I would definitely do it again next year.”

During the second and third round, the competition got more intense. Each of the ten semi-finalists tried their hardest, but there could only be two winners of the competition who get the chance to move into the State Finals which are held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey. The competition is set to take place on March 14th at 10:00 AM.

After the semi-finalists read, the winners were announced: Lucy Wang from Holmdel High school and Natasha Vargas from Lawrence High School. These two ladies will attend the state final.

If either Wang or Vargas wins the state then they get to move into the National Finals. This is set to take place at the Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University in Washington D.C. on April 30th. Admission is free to anyone interested in attending; the finals will also be webcasted live on