PEI

P.E.I. student chosen for national poetry reciting contest

A student at Montague Regional High School in P.E.I. is spending part of poetry month in Winnipeg.

6th year in a row Montague high school represented

'Anybody can read a poem, but it takes a certain amount of skill to really be able to recite a poem,' says Berry Genge who is competing in the Poetry in Voice national contest. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

A student at Montague Regional High School in P.E.I. is spending part of poetry month in Winnipeg.

Berry Genge is one of 24 students across Canada who have made the semifinals for the Poetry in Voice poetry reciting contest. 

"It was such a surprise really," said the Grade 11 student.

"There's a lot of pressure too, because for the past five years Montague has had a representative at nationals." 

Teacher 'the backbone of the whole project'

There is a teacher Genge can pinpoint who has helped define the school's success at the competition, she said.

"Ms. Burrows, she is great. She is really invested in it and she is always there for the support to help us figure out our poems, how to recite them correctly. She is the backbone of the whole project in Montague."

The 24 semifinalists were chosen from over 10,000 students from 1,400 schools across the country. Genge and another student from New Brunswick are the only students from the east coast to make the cut.

Practice makes perfect

The poetry read at the contest isn't original, poems are selected from a list the contest provides to qualify. Genge will have to recite the poems from memory — she said it is hard but a lot of practice helps.

"Practice, practice, practice, you have got to keep going over it. You have to just wear it down and put it into you. It has to be recited over and over again in front of as many people as you can manage."

Every word, every pronunciation, each line needs to be read exactly how it is written, Genge said.

"So, there is a lot of stress behind it, but with the help from Ms. Burrows and a few other teachers at Montague I've been able to practice, so I am feeling pretty confident now."

Poetry part of life

Poetry has always been a part of Genge's life, she was home-schooled early on and part of her teaching was reading and reciting poetry, she said.

"Anybody can read a poem, but it takes a certain amount of skill to really be able to recite a poem," she said.

The national finals happen at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Thursday, April 25.

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With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.

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