Poetry Friday: A couple of favorite poems from Poetry Out Loud

Last Friday night, the NH State Poetry Out Loud state championship took place, and I was very honored to be one of the judges!

Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation competition where students are judged on a number of criteria including stage presence, vocal clarity, dramatic interpretation, etc. I’ve been a judge for the state regionals for several years, but last week was the first time I had been asked to judge the state finals, which take place at the New Hampshire state house.

Students recited a wide array of poems, from Gary Soto’s “Self-Inquiry before the Job Interview” and Padma Venkatraman’s “Whenever You See a Tree” to classics like “The Charge of Light Brigade” by Alfred Lord Tennyson and my all-time favorite poem: “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. (Be sure to check out the link for the text of the poem as well as background information on its subject and poet)

Inside the state house, past the Hall of Flags, into Representatives Hall…we were treated to amazing recitations of some incredible poetry. Representatives Hall, I should mention, is a significant and important part of history – and not simply because it is where the state’s laws are created.

You see, the NH state house is the oldest state house in the country where legislators continue to conduct business in their original chambers. Construction was completed in 1819, and state legislators still meet there to this day.

But that’s not all. Our House of Representatives, at 400 members, is also the FOURTH-LARGEST lower house in the English-speaking world, outranked only by the United States House of Representatives, Lok Sabha in India, and the UK’s House of Commons. Yep, we take governance seriously up here.

So now that social studies is done, let’s move on to English. Today’s poem is one of the poems recited at last week’s Poetry Out Loud competition, and I wanted to share it because it was written by someone with whom you may not be familiar: former National Youth Poet Laureate Kara Jackson, a 20-year-old with the wisdom and talent of someone twice her age, at least. Check out a portion of her Poetry Out Loud poem:

the world is about to end and my grandparents are in love

……….still, living like they orbit one another,
my grandfather, the planet, & grandma, his moon assigned
by some gravitational pull. they have loved long enough
for a working man to retire. grandma says she’s not tired,

she wears her husband like a coat that survives every season,
talks about him the way my parents talk about vinyl—
the subject salvaged by the tent of their tongues.
grandma returns to her love like a hymn, marks it with a color…

– continue reading HERE

– originally published in ‘Poetry’ (March 2021), all rights reserved

Thanks for stopping by – and thank you so much to everyone who has been sharing their kind words of support for my new picture book, I Am Today (POW! Kids Books)! For all of today’s Poetry Friday links and fun, head over to There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town where Ruth is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup – and attempting to settle into her new Paraguayan surroundings!

Be sure to check out all the cool new picture books arriving this year from my PB22Peekaboo partners!


Order a PERSONALLY-SIGNED copy of my newest picture book, I AM TODAY (POW! Kids Books),
from my local independent bookstore!


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I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.


Ordering personalized signed copies online? Oh, yes, you can!

You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Astra Young Readers, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

Click any of the covers below to order!

Available now!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)


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10 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: A couple of favorite poems from Poetry Out Loud

  1. maryleehahn

    Thanks for the social studies and the English! I love those grandparents, and I, too, hope the end of the world will spare them. Better yet, I hope that love forestalls the end of the world…


  2. lindabaie

    I like hearing about your government, Matt, had no idea that it was the top! It must have been really wonderful seeing all the performances & that poem, hoping my own grandparents stay in the light always.


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