Poetry Out Loud Returns for ’23


Dino Patsouris NCTC

Suzetta Chiappinelli (’23) participates in the 2022 POL BFA competition. Photo credit: Dino Patsouris

Zoe Walent, Writer

Poetry Out Loud has been a tradition at BFA for many years and continues to be a creative outlet for many students at Bellows Free Academy. 

Poetry Out Loud is an opportunity for students to engage in poetry and a chance for students to be able to actively participate and engage in poetry. 

Nathan Archambault, an English teacher at BFA, coordinates the school competition as well as sets up the guest speakers and other things. 

Some advice from Archambault for the competitors is to, “Focus on spending time with the poem, not winning the competition.”

This year, Poetry Out Loud is being coordinated by the Flynn, where the state competition will be held. 

Archambault said Gina Stevensen, a Vermont poet, came to BFA this year to meet with the classroom winners and help them with their poetry recitations.

Poetry Out Loud is a way for students to express themselves through a new artistic medium that they may not be familiar with. 

“I think increasingly we’re telling students to be in touch with their feelings, but we’re putting students in a place where oftentimes we’re not finding connections with others. Poetry is an expression of feelings that students can often relate to in ways that are very different than just reading a newspaper article. Poetry is a shared experience,” Archambault said.

MaryEllen Tourville, another English teacher at BFA who has her students participate in Poetry Out Loud, believes that Poetry Out Loud is an experience that students should try at least once. She even picks out her own poem every year to memorize and recite in front of her students to “break the ice” for students who might be nervous to perform.

One story Tourville and Archambault shared was about a past student that shows what Poetry Out Loud is all about.

“I had one student…They did so well in the classroom competition. Once they got on stage in the school competition they froze. And like, their mouth was open and they were just standing there and there was a really long pause and the whole room was dead silent. Eventually, somebody yelled ‘come on!’ and everybody in the audience started cheering them on. The kid was eventually able to finish the poem and they nailed it. It felt like the BFA community and what it’s really about,” Tourville said.