They were forecasting high winds and 3 to 5 inches, some of the high schools might not make it, but the competitors, coaches, parents and friends made their way to Bismarck for the statewide showdown. You might be thinking Class B basketball, but it was North Dakota's 2020 Poetry Out Loud statewide finals. In the dramatic theatre at the Heritage Center, with the audience in steeply raked seating, 17 poetry champions (2 schools did cancel) recited 2 poems, by recognized, published poets, one from before 1900. A panel of judges quickly scored each performance on understanding, physical presence, articuation, and dramatic appropriateness (not too actorly, not too flat). The 5 who rated highest came back to do a third poem apiece. The Arts Council staff tallied the scores, and declared the winners.
In this piece, you'll hear 3rd place finisher Katy Meester of Valley City High do To Solitude by Alice Cary. Kylie Howatt, from Northern Cass, in 2nd place, does Joy Harjo's Don't Bother the Earth Spirit. Then the new state champion, Maria Kalb of St. Mary's Central in Bismarck, does Snowflake, by William Baer. As a "bonus track", we've got a nice reading by someone who wasn't scored a finalist but sounded good, Jacob Klaudt of Beulah High, doing Eagle Plain by Robert Francis.
Watch for more pieces featuring the performers of Poetry Out Loud North Dakota.