Teen voices sizzle at annual poetry contest

Feb. 19, 2011

Brilliant words, spanning centuries as well as emotional range, flew into the charged atmosphere of the sixth annual HRVHS "Poetry Out Loud" competition, held at the Columbia Center for the Arts Feb. 16.

Forty teens, having won their English classroom competitions, took their place within the contest, bringing to life both classic and contemporary poetry in the adjudicated, spoken word event.

"So many kids participate - over 300 memorized a poem for their classroom," said Regena Rafelson, event co-organizer and HRVHS English teacher, "and, so many are doing their first public risk-taking."

The competition was tough. Strong performances came from both veteran and neophyte contenders alike. But in the final round, a tie-busting duel was required to determine the first- and second-place winners.

Sophomores Jack Patterson and Duncan Krummel selected one of their two previously presented poems in a head-to-head battle.

Krummel chose "Fishing the Susquehanna in July," by beloved living poet Billy Collins. Peterson selected "I am the People, the Mob," by well-renowned activist poet Carl Sandburg.

Virtually equal strong deliveries by both young men forced the five judge panel to sweat the details in awarding the title. By a hairsbreadth, Patterson pulled out the first-place title for 2011. Krummel took second.

Sharing the winner's circle were Monica Marquez in third, Johnathan Navarro with fourth and Murphy Jackson in fifth.

According to Rafelson, "Every high school in the state is invited to apply to participate in the state contest. Each school sends one winner to state." Patterson will be HRV's representative.

The event, which is co-coordinated by English teacher Gabe Judah, is supported by other community adults.

Adjudication was conducted this year by Keith Harding, Anne Lerch, Jerry Bryan, Althea Hukari, Mary Jane Heppe and, returning two-time contest winner and Reed College student Patrick Sadil.

Scoring was conducted by Hector Ortiz and student Carlos Trejo volunteered as "runner" for the event. The Columbia Center for the Arts and facilities manager Jane Duncombe provided the venue. Dog River Coffee's Nate DeVol treated the contestants to free hot cocoa and Michelle Ochsner, of Pietro's Pizza, provided lunch for the judges and competitors.

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