Sam Gutshall has a smooth delivery and his words float in the air as if attached to a parachute. When a word or phrase demands emphasis, Gutshall shifts with ease like a multi-cylinder luxury car.
In March, at the state finals of the Poetry Out Loud competition at the Columbia Museum of Art, Gutshalls performance of selected and memorized poems radiated in the room. His rendition of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas classic Do not go gentle into that good night was powerful, conveying the narrators wish for his father to rage against imminent death. Gutshall also intimated the tenderness that accompanies the narrators acquiescence.
Gutshall, a senior at Bishop England High School, will compete against other state champions in the 2012 Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C. The competition starts Monday, with the finals beginning Tuesday evening.
I feel thankful for the opportunity to have participated in Poetry Out Loud, said Gutshall, who writes his own poetry. Even as a younger kid, I thought it was cool that you could weave in a meaning. When you write poetry, you understand more what (an) author is trying to convey.
Poetry Out Loud, organized statewide by the South Carolina Arts Commission, is a competition that begins at the high school level. Contestants are judged on factors such as accuracy, interpretation and projection. The poems are selected from the Poetry Out Loud anthology.
For the state finals, contestants had to have three poems prepared. One poem had to be 25 lines or fewer, and one had to be written before the 20th century. Floating Island, written by 19th century poet Dorothy Wordsworth, filled the latter requirement for Gutshall. But before he attempted to recite it, he rewrote it first to get a general understanding.
What I had to do was take a poem and take out a piece of loose leaf paper and write out a version of the poem so I would know how to say it, Gutshall said. (Selected poems) were maybe written in rhyme schemes not meant to be read aloud.
Gutshall, who will attend Belmont University in the fall, plans to study music business or songwriting. He also plays guitar and recently submitted a songwriting portfolio to the school. He and his family will drive to Washington. Gutshall is going to miss his AP Government exam, but its OK because hes already maxed the credits he can carry to college.
Hes participated in school theater and written his own music, so performance isnt something that is foreign to Gutshall. That should give him an edge at the national competition.
I always think to myself, I want to leave 100 percent of what I do on stage, he said.
What is he thinking about before he has to recite a poem? Is he nervous?
I turn off my thoughts and listen to others recite, he said. I like the electricity of listening to others reciting good poetry.
If what the others have is electricity on stage, then Gutshall has a power plant.
Jasper Magazine will release its fifth issue with a party at Hay Hill Garden Market Tuesday. Cindi Boiter, Jaspers editor, will be signing copies of her new book, Buttered Biscuits, in the garden at 6 p.m. The music begins at 7 p.m., and Buck Stanley, The Cant Kids and Passing Stranges Avery Bateman will perform. For the thirsty, there will be a Jasper EconoBar Wine Bar and the Never-Empty-Beer-Cup. The latter isnt part of a game; Jasper just knows how to party. Hay Hill Garden Market is at 1625 Bluff Road.; jaspercolumbia.net
The Nickelodeon Theatre, as part of its Green on the Screen series, will screen the film The Greenhorns on the patio at Terra at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The Greenhorns, according to the films website, explores the lives of Americas young farming community. The post-film discussion will include Gray Moore of Carolina Heritage Farms. A three-course meal by Mike Davis, Terras chef, will be served. It will feature pork from Carolina Heritage Farms. Terra is at 100 State St., West Columbia. $100; nickelodeon.org
The Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, in conjunction with the City of Forest Acres, will host Backstage Pass: A Performers Showcase 2012. The showcase is open to performers singers, dancers, musicians, actors, variety acts and will be held at Columbia Childrens Theatre. Applications are online at www.smartarts.info. There are two preliminary performance dates at 7 p.m. Monday and May 21 and the finals will be held June 4. Winners will be selected in the youth and adult categories. The preliminary winners will receive a $75 honorarium. The overall winners will get $250 for first, $175 for second and $100 for third. The theater is at 3400 Forest Drive. Free; (803) 799-3115