Some write poetry. Some do sports. Some enjoy performing. But all have at least one thing in common — a talent and taste for reciting poetry aloud, which is exactly what the national Poetry Out Loud program seeks to nurture in high school youth.
Here’s the rundown on this year’s Arizona finalists — courtesy of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which presents the Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals in partnership with the Young Writers Program at ASU in Tempe and the Poetry Center at UA in Tuscon…
John DeMino of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix will recite “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Albert Guest and “Ego” by Denise Duhamel. DeMino is a senior who spends a lot of time performing in plays inside and outside of school. He loves to act and wishes to acquire a BFA in acting and pursue a career in the industry.
Travis Marino of Freedom Christian Academy in Queen Creek will recite “Self-Inquiry Before the Job Interview” by Gary Soto and “The Oldest Living Thing in L.A.” by Larry Levis. Marino is a 17-year-old junior. This is his second time as a finalist in the Arizona Poetry Out Loud competition. He is a prolific poet, publishing several poems portraying his passion.
Rebecca Andersen of Kingman High School in Kingman will recite “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Raleigh and “I am the People, the Mob” by Carl Sandburg. As an aspiring novelist, poetry means a great deal to Andersen. Not only does her love for Emily Dickinson possess deep roots into her childhood, but her beliefs match those of Carl Sandburg and her views of love parallel Sir Walter Raleigh. She plans on studying forensic psychology and creative writing in college.
Sophia Licher of Sedona Red Rock High School in Sedona will recite “The Albatross” by Kate Bass and “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Licher, a sophomore, is a member of the swim team, key club and photo club. She takes private singing lessons and enjoys art, writing, music, reading, photography, hiking, archery, swimming, traveling, animals, friends, family and, last but not least, eating. She would like to study marine biology or veterinary medicine.
Mark Anthony Niadas of St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tucson will recite “The Meaning of the Shovel” by Martin Espada and “I Am!” by John Clare. Niadas is passionate about acting and has performed in several productions at St. Augustine. When not busy acting, he is working to improve his performance on the track team or spending time with friends. Mark, a member of the campus ministry, hopes to attend UNLV, Maryland State or Abilene Christian to study either business or psychology.
Cassandra Valadez of Sunnyside High School in Tucson will recite “The End of Science Fiction” by Lisel Mueller and “The Destruction of Sennacherib” by Lord Byron (George Gordon). Valadez is a leader with a passion to help others. She is a member of the National Honor Society, AVID, MESA and DECA. “I have a solid belief that through the uneven patches of my life I have picked up some of the most valuable lessons, and through the accomplishments in my life I have learned to be appreciative.”
Adriana Hurtado of Tri-City College Preparatory in Prescott will recite “Bilingual/Bilingue” by Rhina P. Espillat and “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. Hurtado is a freshman. She is active in creative writing and is a member of the softball team.
Joshua Furtado of Tucson High Magnet School in Tucson will recite “Catch a Little Rhyme” by Eve Merriam and “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe. Furtado is a senior and is ecstatic about performing! He would like to thank his parents for their unconditional support, as well as his wonderful English teachers, Merle McPheeters and Kurt Garbe. Furtado is an actor hoping to pursue a career in film and is planning on making the move to L.A.
India Parsons of Westview High School in Avondale will recite “The Collar” by George Herbert and “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Parsons is a senior with a passion for English and the swim team. She devotes hours every day to the exercise of her mind and body, so that she can excel in both arenas.
Two common threads emerge in the lives of those competing in this year’s Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals — an appreciation for the fine art of poetry and the choice to be engaged in their communities. One and all are doing poetry, and Arizona, proud.
Note: Click here to read a post with details about tonight’s event if you’d like to come out and show your support for these gifted and hard-working students — the competition is free and open to the public. Click here to explore poems, poets and more through the Poetry Foundation in Chicago.
Coming up: Celebrating National Poetry Month, Tarzan tales