Here's an excerpt from the interview:
What would you tell students interested in Poetry Out Loud who may not have participated?
I would encourage them even if they don’t have an interest in poetry. Public speaking is a wonderful skill, and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to communicate a message to an audience.
According to the website, "Biaz was introduced to poetry through his English teacher, Davis Thompson, who brought the Poetry Out Loud program to students at Auburn High School in Auburn, Alabama last year—the first year that Biaz served as Alabama State Champion and became a national finalist."
I hope the Poetry Out Loud program keeps flourishing in the years ahead. It takes dedicated high school English teachers like Thompson to nurture talented students like Youssef and make it happen. I like this video, "What Teachers Make," by Taylor Mali, that one of my writing students shared with me last year. Mali captures the impact of a good teacher with skill and humor.