Anderson places second in new Poetry Out Loud event

Ryan Fitzmaurice
The moment of inspiration for Ireeann Anderson’s award-winning poem came the hour before it was due, in math class.

“I wrote it about procrastination,” Anderson said. “I guess that’s ironic.”

Anderson attended Wyoming’s Poetry Out Loud competition, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, March 6 in Cheyenne. 

Anderson placed second among all statewide participants with her poem titled “11:59” in a new event called Poetry Ourselves. In the normal competition students read published poetry written by another, but in the Poetry Ourselves competition, students read their own pieces. 

Anderson is no stranger to performing poetry and other works. A regular competitor in the Lovell/Rocky speech and debate team, Anderson has gained some skill for the art.

Reading her own piece was brand new territory.

“It was kind of intimidating,” Anderson said. “I had to read it in front of everybody.”

Anderson said she felt confident the piece gained a good reception, though. While her competitor’s poems were darker and more dramatic, Anderson’s quickly-composed meditation on procrastination turned out to be pretty funny. 

“I think that’s what made it stand out,” Anderson said. “It was more lighthearted.”

Lovell High School English teacher Amanda Walker said she enjoyed several elements of the poem.

“It was light and she was able to make poetry fun,” Walker said. “Sometimes people think poetry needs to be heavy, but it can be entertaining.”

Walker said that Poetry Out Loud is a competition held in the school every year. Shalon Wilkerson won the local competition and competed in the main competition, while Anderson, who gained second in the local competition, entered the new event.

Walker said the Poetry Out Loud competition allows students to gain a greater appreciation for literature and find themselves in it.

“It allows students to exude confidence, to speak in front of people, to be able to play with language and learn about our literary history,” Walker said. “It allows them to engage with famous artists and poets and discover the art they offer the world.”