FORT WAYNE — Homestead High School senior Zoe Moore competed in the Poetry Out Loud state finals Feb. 16 at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis.
This is the second time Moore has won Homestead’s Poetry Out Loud competition, advancing to the state finals, presented by the Indiana Arts Commission and the Indiana State Library. The national program is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.
For the competition, Moore selected three poems to recite from an anthology, including “Mighty Pawns” by Major Jackson, “Friendship After Love” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox and “In the Basement of the Goodwill Store” by Ted Kooser. She said that each piece spoke to her in a different way.
She was one of 15 state finalists and said that even though she didn’t advance to the national competition, it was still a worthwhile experience.
“There was some tough competition this year. It’s great to be surrounded by kids from all over the state who care about something that I care about too. It’s a great experience,” she said.
Indiana State Poet Laureate, Adrian Matejka, was the event’s featured speaker.
“It was cool to get to meet him (and) shake his hand, because I had read his works before,” Moore said.
Moore serves as president of Homestead’s Poetry Club and president of the school’s Young Progressives, an affiliate of the Indiana High School Democrats. She also serves on the executive board for the National Honor Society and works two jobs at the Friendly Fox and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
She developed an interest in poetry at an early age. She remembers learning about poetry in second grade. During the unit, her teacher had a bin filled with Extra gum that she used to reward students whenever they read an original poem.
“Every now and then, I would share one and she would toss the box over to me, let me pick and say, ‘Bravo!’ That stuck with me,” she said.
By high school, she was keeping journals and taking notes on her phone whenever she had an idea. Occasionally, she dropped in to local poetry clubs, but she would often be the youngest person there. When she joined Homestead’s poetry club, she felt like she had found her tribe.
“Usually the format is we read our own personal poetry or poetry we’ve read recently that speaks to us,” she said.
Moore described a typical meeting as a “relaxed, casual environment.” They dim the lights, have some snacks, watch short films, read essays, dissect and critique works and talk about poetry in general.
This is the second year the club has worked on a zine, a small publication filled with student art and writing. Copies will be available during Homestead’s Spring Arts Week at the National Honor Society coffeehouse April 17.
So far, Moore is undecided on where she will continue her education after high school graduation. She applied to 10 schools and is still waiting to hear back from three before she makes a decision. Her plan is to double major in film production and Spanish so that she can land a career screenwriting, subtitling and dubbing films in both languages with the goal of directing her own film one day.
She also plans to continue writing poetry. The way she sees it, poetry is at the core of every other form of art that she takes on.
“When I think of film, I think that it’s just a different form of visual poetry,” she said.
Homestead’s Poetry Out Loud contest is organized by English teacher Jason Beer. Moore said she hopes more local schools will start their own programs. For more information about the program, visit poetryoutloud.org.