By Anna Powers and Nada Tuffaha 

Each year Malden High School hosts one of the largest Poetry Out Loud competitions in the state which includes the entire student body, regardless of grade, class, or experience. Poetry Out Loud had been a long journey and finally came to an end on Jan. 27, 2016. The first place winner was senior Heresa LaForce, in second place was freshman Birukti Tsige, and in third, it was a tie between Eva Lao and Jenny Huynh.

To prepare for the finals, students had to recite their original poem they performed in the semi-

finals. Then they needed to perform another poem that had to be written pre-20th century with a

minimum of 25 lines. The pressure was on for all of the competitors as they were tasked with memorizing and perfectly performing two poems. Jenny Huynh said that “[she] imagined it to be a very competitive environment, but it wasn’t, it was the opposite. [She] met some of the other students who made it really fun.”  

First place winner Heresa LaForce “expected [her] competition days to end there”. By the time LaForce moved onto the finals, “[she] was comfortable enough with [her] original poem to leave it as is”. LaForce also stated that the overall level of difficulty throughout the competitions were consistent. LaForce seemed to be calm and collected when going into the finals, which clearly benefitted her, seeing as she won first place.   

Freshman Birukti Tsige was this year’s Poetry Out Loud second place winner. Tsige was one of the youngest competitors in the competition, but that only made her second place victory even more surreal. She explained that “most of the finalists were upperclassman with much more experience and they all performed beautifully.” She continued, “[She] felt proud of [herself] that [she] could get that far just as a 9th grader.”

In preparation for the POL Finals, Tsique recited her poems over and over again until “it was like a prayer and after a couple of days [she] knew [she] could say it in [her] sleep.”

Jenny Huynh and Eva Lao both tied for third place. Huynh “knew the finals were going to be more intense [than the semi-finals]” so that inspired her to work harder.

In addition to the student competitions, a POL competition for teachers was also held. The teacher competition only had three competitors this year, including math teacher Evan Mauser, student teacher Thomas Snarsky, and ESL teacher Jessica Haralson.

Although Snarsky isn’t an official teacher just yet, he was still able to compete and successfully win the teacher competition. Snarsky recited a poem titles “A Poem” by Ariana Reines. To prepare for the teacher competitions, Snarsky stated that he “read the poem a lot, and [he] stared at the paper because [he] needed to see where the lines broke.”

He never competed in a POL competition before, but has recited poetry multiple times in front of audiences.

MHS hosted another successful Poetry Out Loud competition. The finalists as well as all performers throughout the competition left their audiences and the judges speechless with their moving performances.



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