Erinkimber Cunnane Represents CHS Well in Regional “Poetry Out Loud” Competition

photo by LaRae Tillary
Erinkimber Cunnane take a group photo with other finalists at the local competition

LaRae Tillary, Staff Writer

Students at Cinnaminson High School (CHS) are given an opportunity every year to compete in a friendly competition that challenges their memorization and understanding of a very important aspect of literature, poetry, in the annual Poetry Out Loud competition held at Rutgers-Camden.

According to the Poetry Out Loud website, found at, “Poetry Out Loud is a free national program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, that encourages high school students across the country to learn about great works of classic and contemporary poetry through memorization and recitation.”  Student ultimately compete “for awards and scholarships totaling $50,000.”

The students are asked to choose three poems that fit the requirements on the Poetry Out Loud website and memorize them. Then they recite the poems with whatever emotion they feel fits the poem.

The students receive a score based on accuracy and presentation from for judges and it is decided whether or not they move on to the next round. Each South Jersey school chooses one winner from a competition to move on to a larger a competition with students from other local South Jersey schools. From there, two students are chosen to move on to a regional competition and then to the national competition in Washington, D.C.

This year, CHS sophomore Erinkimber Cunnane had a chance to compete and completely rocked the competition. She won the school-wide competition and made it to Rutgers-Camden where she was joined by her mother, brother, teachers and some classmates. She performed “Elegy For Blue” by J.T Ledbetter, “Backdrop Addresses Cowboy” by Margaret Atwood and “Apology for her Poetry” by the Duchess of Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish.

The poems, even though difficult, were performed flawlessly, according to Ms. O’Hearn, who coached Erinkinber Cunnane through the process.

“Erinkinber Cunnane’s cheering section disagreed with the judges. She delivered both poems with acumen and flare. She’s young and has every opportunity to make it to the stage again. She will return,” Ms. O’Hearn said.

Student Ahmirah Posey agrees saying, “ a lot of people made it to the third round that shouldn’t have. Even though she messed up there were a lot of people that messed up that made it to the third round. Erinkinber Cunnane seemed like she was the only person who understood their poems.”

Unfortunately, Erinkimber did not make it to the regional or national competition this year but did very well for her first time competing. Hopefully next year will be more successful.

Erinkinber Cunnane, herself, says that she would, “ love to make a comeback.”