Butterfield Helps Students Gear Up for Poetry Out Loud


Andy Butterfield Photo credit: Asher Ballantine

Adelyne Collin, Editor

Andy Butterfield, representing the Vermont Arts Council, recently visited Bellows Free Academy to assist students for the school’s upcoming Poetry Out Loud competition, which will take place Feb. 3 from 6-8 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. 

Butterfield was accompanied by BFA teachers Larissa Hebert, Nate Archambault and Susan Palmer, whose students competed in classroom Poetry Out Loud competitions, with finalists from each class moving onto the school competition.  

Butterfield has worked with Poetry Out Loud for the past eight consecutive years and has experience teaching across Vermont.  He has a master’s degree in fine arts and acting from the American Conservatory Theater.

“It’s challenging to stand in front of a group of peers and recite something. It’s a brave thing to do that action,” Butterfield said. 

During his visit, Butterfield reviewed the contest evaluation sheet that students are scored on to provide a deeper understanding.  He then worked with each student alongside the group to provide feedback on the criteria they will be judged on:  physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding and overall performance.

“In the 8th grade I memorized my first poem, and I still remember it today. Having engrained something like this into your mind is a really awesome thing to have in your pocket for the rest of your life,” Butterfield said. 

Students selected to compete in the school competition have to prepare a second poem as there are two rounds in the school competition.

Students shared their reasons behind the choosing of their poems. Butterfield stressed the importance of choosing a poem based on specific personal experiences or having a connection with the poem rather than choosing an easily-memorizable poem or a short poem.

“My number one suggestion is to choose a poem that you can connect with in a personal way. You’ll be interested in doing it,” Butterfield said.

After rounds one and two of the competition, the 2022 BFA Poetry Out Loud champion will move onto the semifinal and final event at the Barre Opera House on March 14, 2022.