Chloe DePledge, a junior at Glacier High School in Fresno was crowned the 2017 Madera County Poetry Out Loud champion Feb. 11.
After placing second in the contest last year, DePledge competed against seven other students Saturday at the Madera County Arts Council office and will move on to the state finals in Sacramento March 12 - 13. She received $300 for her efforts.
Statewide, county winners will each perform three poems in their bid to become California’s representative at the National Finals April 24-26 in Washington D.C., where the national champion will receive a $20,000 scholarship, and second and third place speakers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.
During her time on stage, DePledge recited two poems - Let the Light Enter by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and La Belle Dame Sans Merci: A Ballad by John Keats.
After selecting her poems, DePledge spent about a month memorizing them and the week prior to the recitation, she focused on her stage presence and presentation.
“After the first poem I was feeling a little discouraged because I was nervous and felt I did not do my best,” DePledge said. “During the second poem I felt the pressure was off and I fully immersed myself in the poem and felt a lot more confident about the presentation. I am extremely excited and a little nervous to move on to the state competition. I hope to do my best and enjoy this amazing opportunity I have. I am also excited that Carter placed second and hopefully after giving our all to this endeavor, we have made our schools proud.”
The daughter of Paul and Grace, DePledge attended Mountain Home School for her elementary years, and then her freshman and sophomore year at Glacier High Charter in Oakhurst. DePledge has been been utilizing Glacier’s Resource Center in Fresno since her family moved to the Valley from the Oakhurst area this past year.
Carter Coleman, a sophomore at Glacier High participating in Poetry Out Loud for the first time, placed second and was awarded $200.
A resident of North Fork, Coleman has acted in some Chawanakee Academy theater productions including And Then There Was One, a murder-mystery and a medieval production. He is the son of Pat and Lori Coleman.
Coleman’s two poems were Cartoon Physics Part 1 by Nick Flynn and Advice to a Prophet by Richard Wilbur.
“I felt like I nailed the first poem but made a minor error during the second one,” Coleman said. “Since it was my first time in the competition I was not expecting to place second, and I was thrilled when they called my name. I think I just stood there with a big smile on my face when they announced it.”
Kaylene Friesen, Glacier High Composition & ASB Leadership teacher, helped both students in the competition.
“Glacier has participated in Poetry Out Loud for about 10 years and I have coordinated for the last two,” Friesen said. “I work with students who are interested in participating in our school competition and help them select poems and work on their recitations in October and November before the competition at the end of November. Four students took part this last November - Charlie Collins and Matthew Silguero in addition to Chloe and Carter - and our judges were Peter Clarke, Virginia Pilegard and Kim Richards.”
Friesen said DePledge’s improvement from last year was very noticeable.
“When Chloe recited at Glacier’s competition in November there was a palpable change in the room as we all leaned in to listen to her,” Friesen said. “Every student who participated did their best and received applause and congratulations and each one of them was inspired by how much Chloe had worked on her recitations so that the poems could speak through her.”
Friesen is already looking forward to Coleman’s return to competition next year.
“This was Carter’s first time participating in Poetry Out Loud, and I can’t imagine it being his last,” beamed Friesen. “Carter loves meeting new people and his desire to connect with others is one of the things that helps him to be great at reciting. In preparation for the county competition, Carter took advantage of three coaching sessions with Stephen Barile (published poet, past instructor at Fresno State, Fresno City, and currently at the Madera Center Community College) which deepened his understanding of the poems that he selected and his ability to communicate them to an audience.”
Third place and a check for $100 went to Sequoia Chapman of Endeavor High School in Madera.
Other students in the competition were Marissa Escobar (Madera South), Suena Garcia (Madera High), Mathew Gutierrez (Madera High) and Freddy Morales (Endeavor High School).
The announcement of winners and presentations of awards were made by Madera County Arts council Executive Director Rochelle Noblette. Poetry Out Loud is coordinated by Sherril Royce and the Madera County Arts Council.
Poetry Out Loud is an annual national recitation competition which was founded in 2006 by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Saturday’s competition was also supported by the California Arts Council, California Poets in the Schools, and the Madera County Arts Council.