On October 10th, candidates for the position of poet laureate will present their original poems at the Little Gym. They will write have to write these poems on demand, on whatever topics they are given, which can range from telephone wires to gum.
The tryout process has changed this year. Last year the candidates would write poems on a given set of topics and then read it before a panel of teachers and a few students. This year, however, the candidates will read their pieces at an open mic, in front of other Roosevelt students. Reid Von Pohle and Thomas Nolet came up with the idea for this new method. Marissa McGinnis, who tried for it last year and became a poet laureate, said that she thinks it’s “a really interesting way to see how you perform in front of a bigger audience.”
The role of poet laureate has been described as the “voice of Roosevelt.” They have a heavy role in the Poet’s’ Committee, and help to organize open mics, as well as being examples of how writers embrace voice, vulnerability and pride.
The tryout process for some can be strenuous. Von Pohle said that the tryouts are nerve-wracking for the participants, saying that “anytime trying out it’s definitely going to have that pressure of wanting to do well, and nervousness of being in competition with somebody else.” He also said that “in terms of what they have to do to try out, some of the writing can be fun.” Marissa McGinnis said that last year her experience trying out was “a lot of work, but it was also an enjoyable experience.”
Von Pohle says that it’s also interesting to see who comes in to try out. He said that there are the ones you know about, that are involved with poets committee and come to the open mics, but then there are some students who “for whatever reason haven’t really been coming to the events, but then they show up, and it’s really interesting to hear what they have to say.” He says that the tryouts have become more diverse, with some people rapping and performing songs. He said that “we say ‘poet laureate’ but they don’t actually have to read poetry.” He says that “we want people who are going to be taking a leadership role of expression” and that poetry is the most common way of doing it, but many people choose forms like rap and short stories.
The open mic where the candidates will present will be held at the Little Gym, October 11th at 6:00 pm. Any students from Roosevelt are encouraged to come, listen and present if they want.