POETRY OUT LOUD: After getting a good night's sleep, I went over the Atlanta PBS studio this afternoon to be one of the judges for the state Poetry Out Loud competition. There were 30 students from around Georgia reciting the work of noted poets -- from Shakespeare and Donne to Olds and Hoagland. Novelist and poet Anthony Grooms was the dapper host.
I, apparently, was the Simon Cowell judge, giving lots of low scores. Out of the 30, there were probably about 10 who really nailed their poems. However, some went off the playbook and decided to give theatrical performances, which automatically gets them low scores. A couple did English accents and another did characters with multiple voices. Once we cut the list in half and heard a second poem from the top 15, it became easy to see -- and hear -- who were going to make the top three. One kid who I really loved in the first round had a spectacular meltdown during his second poem and forgot the words. What pleased me the most is that a student from Westlake High School, where I mentored this year, won the competition and now goes on to Washington D.C. in April for the nationals. Congrats, Elijah, you deserved the win.
Clean up continues around Atlanta after the storms. I heard that Oakland Cemetery, where we just did the photo shoot for After the Poison, has millions in damage. Some of the lovely old oaks toppled, monuments and mausoleums were smashed. I haven't been able to get over there to see because the area around the cemetery and the Cotton Mill Lofts is closed off. While at Poetry Out Loud, I heard other stories of no power, cars damaged, hiding in bathtubs. It has been a really long weekend.