Forensics student’s ‘side quest’ successful


Photo Courtesy of Mac Phrommany

Junior Allie Cloyd proudly presents her Poetry Out Loud Champion plaque.

Julianna Poe, Online Editor-in-Chief

When sophomore Allie Cloyd added forensics to her schedule, she had no idea the impact the class would have on her life and the experiences she would come to cherish. 

“I just signed up for [forensics] before freshman year, thinking that it sounded cool and knowing that it was in … the public speaking realm,” Cloyd said. “I’ve always enjoyed public speaking and so I thought it would be cool, but ended up really liking it, especially the acting and … performance side of it.”

During freshman year, Cloyd participated in poetry-related contests in forensics, which she “enjoyed.” A new competition, Poetry Out Loud, then came into play this school year.

“I was complaining to the forensics coach, [Mac] Phrommmany, about … my poetry unit in English class,” Cloyd said. “I didn’t feel like we were exposed to a lot of different kinds [of poetry], and there’s so much out there, but he [said] ‘There’s this competition. You could try it’ [and] I’m like ‘we’re doing it. We’re in.’”

Poetry Out Loud has three different levels, each with different parameters. At Regionals, students perform two poems in front of an audience. The next step is State, where individuals must perform three poems – one additional poem from their choices at Regionals – that are filmed with the help of PBS. For Nationals, participants must perform the same three poems from State, whilst filming and Zooming on their own with mailed-in materials and from their choice of location.

“Poetry Out Loud, I like to call it my side quest because it’s [a] completely separate competition [from forensics] that has some of the same performance elements but … different conventions,” Cloyd said. “A lot of times in forensics, you’re putting your own spin on whatever you’re performing, but with both Poetry Out Loud, it’s [more] about understanding the poem and … author’s intent.”

Out of a catalog of options, Cloyd chose the following three poems to memorize and perform: “Say This” by Lucia Perillo, “Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam” by Dan Vera and “The Coming Woman” by Mary Weston Fordham. Two of her chosen poems had to fill specific roles. One poem needed to be 25 lines or fewer and one had to be from the pre-20th century.

“My favorite poem to perform is … definitely ‘Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam.’ I enjoy a lot of the language and [I had] the most fun conveying … the story and the narrative of it,” Cloyd said. “‘The Coming Woman’ is my pre 20th-century poem and some of the language in it is … older and I kind of had the most … interesting experience with dissecting that poem and figuring out all of the author’s intent so that I could accurately convey it and I think that was the most fun.”

At Regionals, Cloyd finished as one of two finalists in her region. State consisted of five competitors, with three other finalists representing three different regions. Cloyd was named the State Poetry Out Loud Champion and graduated to Nationals. At the moment, her entry has been submitted and the results are pending.

“State was a lot of fun just because I really enjoy the performance element, especially when you have to know the pieces so well, so you get really … comfortable with them and are able to enjoy that performance piece,” Cloyd said. “[It] was just fun because it was in a little theater and you have … the surround of the audience and … the cool mics and all the film setup… My favorite part of all of it was that experience.”