Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Last Thursday, my good friend and former colleague, Nan, the librarian, I mean, media specialist and current 2010 winner of Excellence in Library Hoo Haw, coerced me, I mean, asked me if I would help judge the participants in KMHS's Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest.

Since I judged last year and not only enjoyed it [except for an interpretation of Dover Beach which would have made Matthew Arnold roll his eyes], I thought "why not?

Besides, last year's winner won state.

*puts feather in cap*


Nan promised to buy me pizza afterward.


I got to the venue, KMHS's theater, a few minutes before the last bell rang to dismiss students for the day, and I walked in on a theater class.

One of my former students, Meagan, ran down the aisle of the theater and screamed,

MRS. GILLHAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Like I was a rock star.

What's not to like about that?

*files nails*

This year's contest had eight contestants, all well - prepared with no crazy interpretations of poet intent.

The Eight Contestants

The poems ranged from Shakespeare's "Sonnet XVIII: Shall I Compare Thee To a Summer's Day" to some rather, *cough cough* modern [huh?] poems like "Learning to Love America" by Shirley Geok-Lin Lim.The 2nd, 3rd, and 1st Place Winners -- Becca, Ali, and Anna.

One of the perks of doing this judging was I was given access to the poems ahead of time to insure *coughs* that I was slightly, sort of, maybe cognizant of the poem's meaning *snickers* in order to prepare myself for the correct emphasis and to assure that the student gets/understands/knows all the big words of the poem he chooses to recite;

I found myself *scratches head* thinking ... "umm. Okay. You have the right, poet, to call this a poem since I am a retired teacher, not up to speed on ..... ummmm.... the new stuff of poetry."

BTW: Shirley probably knows all the words to the National Anthem.

Just sayin'.

I was actually so excited *lies* about the contest that I wrote a poem about the many pages of rules that as a judge I needed to follow.



Why it is so Easy to be a Judge

You out there, sitting on your butts,
pencil in hand, and circling numbers and going "tut, tut."

This ain't American Idol, the Bachelor,
or the Poetry Apprentice.
It's just children with gut, and it's pretty momentous.

Rules is rules.
Don't fudge and be mean.
Just because you've been giving a little power
Don't wield it like a queen.

Try to understand that all poetry contests are not won
By the poetry of Shakespeare or John Donne.
Poetry can be random, abstract, and make little sense,
But remember this is Poetry Out Loud; it ain't paying the rent.



I said.


The Judge with the finalists

The Pizza

that's one slice, btw




  1. Note to Self: Gillham can be bribed with pizza :)

    Thanks so much for judging dahhhhling!

  2. OMG, you are a such a rock star.

  3. Yes, Anna - Pizza is a powerful tool when it comes to getting Mrs. Gillham to do what you want!

    HG, my friend, thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule *scratches head* to judge our little competition. Pizza was a very small price to pay for such wisdom and poetry. *twirls*

  4. how many points would a slice of pizza that big be... quite a few... haha. maybe as much as one of those frappes.

    imagine if you'd had a frappe and that slice of pizza. too bad I wasn't home to ruin your diet! miss you!