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Performing with poetry is second nature for this Saugus teen

Saugus, Ma. 2-8-18. Erika Walker is the winner of Saugus High School's 7th annual Poetry Out Loud Competition.
Saugus, Ma. 2-8-18. Erika Walker is the winner of Saugus High School's 7th annual Poetry Out Loud Competition. (Owen O'Rourke)

SAUGUS — Performing under the bright lights of a theater stage is nothing new for Saugus High School Junior Erika Walker.

After getting involved in the school’s drama club at the end of last school year, she says she found something she would like to do for the rest of her life.

“I fell in love with theater and drama,” she said. “I love being on stage and pretending to be someone else and coming into the character.”

Walker went from acting on stage to competing on it Wednesday afternoon as she triumphed against several peers in Saugus High’s 7th annual Poetry Out Loud Competition at the school’s theater.

The national competition involves students analyzing a piece of poetry and then discussing and reciting the poem in front of a panel of judges who evaluate several things including accuracy, physical presence, pacing, understanding of the poem, and overall performance according, to Saugus English teacher Michelle Lee.

Walker chose the poem “Violins” by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. The poem involves a boy who lives in poverty and the violins mentioned represent a sort of upper class, according to her analysis.

She chose the poem because it reminded her of her father, who she says didn’t come from the greatest circumstances as a child.

According to Lee, Walker owned the stage.

“She was very powerful. You could hear the emotions of the poem, the poise, control, and power in her voice,” Lee said.

“It is great to see students like Erika come alive on the stage.”

Walker cannot participate in the regional level of the competition because of a prior commitment.

She isn’t too discouraged. She’ll still be on stage starring in what she described as a steampunk spin on “Alice in Wonderland” at a competition called DramaFest which involves several local schools all trying to put on the best show.

“She has been a great sport about it,” Lee said. ” She is very talented.”

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