Daevion Jones and Poetry Out Loud

Daevion Jones
Alexis Meeks

Daevion Jones, senior at Malvern High School, recently participated in the Poetry Out Loud national championship held in Washington, D.C.
Jones was one out of 53 competitors around the country, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to compete in this competition. Jones represented the state of Arkansas after finishing first in the state competition. During his time in the nation’s capitol, Jones was able to meet and read the poems he chose to Arkansas State Representative Bruce Westerman and Arkansas State Senator John Boozman.
“It was a truly amazing experience. From the time that I got there, to the time that I left, I cannot say that I left as the same person,” Jones said.
This was Jones’s second time participating in the Poetry Out Loud competition. In 2018, Jones said his teacher, Ms. Burns, brought it to him as a way for him to use his ability and give him a higher platform to truly excel at. He finished runner-up in the state competition in 2018. He said the judges told him that he was good, but that he was stiff and there were areas that he could improve on. Jones said that with that information he had a year to prepare for this year. “I dug inside of myself, I had to do a little bit of reflecting and self evaluation to gather my thoughts,” Jones said. Jones said that he did it again because knowing that he finished in second place his first go around that he would love to finish first. He said it was something he aspired to do.
Jones read three pieces in the state and national competition. He read Four Glimpses of Night by Frank Marshall Davis, Truth by Gwendolyn Brooks and Songs for the People by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Jones said he had Ms. Burns send him some pieces that would work best for his abilities. She sent him four to six pieces and he chose three to perform. He then crafted those pieces to the way he would perform them. Jones said that although he performed the pieces in his way, the pieces had to be memorized and every word be spoken. He said the judges deducted points for any missed words. When asked what advice he would give to someone else wanting to participate he said that sometimes there will be nights when you forget the words or wonder why you are doing this and that there will be self doubt, but that you have to have full belief in yourself. He said, “Everybody’s voice is distinct. Everybody’s voice is unique, so you have to let your voice and your ability translate to whatever it is your doing.”
Jones said that he is still undecided on where to go to college after graduating high school. He said that he wants to study theater while in college. He said that through Poetry Out Loud, it put him in front of a crowd and that you can’t be nervous. He said you have to be fully, truly, believing in yourself. He said that he is truly grateful for the experience.
When asked how he got into poetry, he said it started when he was in the seventh grade during an EAST project. He said that the class had to do a project about themselves. He said that everyone was writing long paragraphs, but that wasn’t what he wanted to do. He said that he might as well write a poem about himself. He said his peers told him it was good and he thought he might as well keep doing it. Jones said it was his way of communicating because he wasn’t always the best speaker. “It speaks for me when I’m not able to speak for myself.”