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Breathing life into poetry in the capital city

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

The 10 of them gathered, in the governor’s abode.

They each came with a mission, an itch to be sowed.

They mused about death, on pain and of love.

Of battling lions and of rising above.

How simple a goal, jump words off the page.

Use diction to convey a work’s sadness or rage.

Each took their shot at captivating the crowd,

at the Nevada state finals of Poetry Out Loud.

Alicia Freeman of Carson City talked about the short attention span of man’s best friend. J.D. Hibbs of McGill dealt with the indecision of death. Gibran Baydoun spoke of why the caged bird sings.

The Nevada finals of Poetry Out Loud: National recitation contest were held Saturday at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City. The high school students memorized and recited three poems before a panel of judges.

The students were judged on creativity, projection, accuracy, difficulty of selection and several other categories. The contest is put on by the Nevada Arts Council, Nevada Alliance for Arts Education, The Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“More than 400 students participated across the state. We are very pleased with the participation we have gotten,” said Susan Boskoff, Nevada Arts Council executive director.

Freeman said she was just happy to be there and was more worried about not messing up than about winning.

“There was a lot of competition in my school, so I was surprised that I won,” she said. “I am nervous more than anything right now.”

The competition consisted of three rounds, with students presenting one poem per round. After the first two rounds, the scores were tallied, and only the top six were allowed to present in the final round.

“It makes these students competitive on a level that their companions may not be,” Boskoff said. “The spoken word is very important to the human experience.”

Gibran Baydoun, of Green Valley High School in Henderson, was awarded first prize. He will travel to Washington D.C. in May to compete in the national finals for a shot at a $20,000 scholarship.

“I came here with just the goal to do my best,” he said. “Becoming a state champion is the literal proof that I did that.”

Jacob Behymer-Smith, of the Coral Academy of Science in Reno, took second place and Freeman finished third.

“This is just unbelievable. I really still can’t believe that I did so well,” Freeman said.

After the event, National Endowment for the Arts representative Dan Stone said, “There’s a reason we like to listen and hear poems being spoken out loud. It brings us pleasure and this has been a pleasurable couple of hours.”

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

The selections recited by the winners of the Poetry Out Loud: National recitation contest.

Gibran Baydoun, first Place:

“Sympathy Paul” by Laurence Dunbar

“Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

Jacob Behymer-Smith, second Place:

“The More Loving One” by W.H. Auden

“Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall

“Song of the Powers” by David Mason

Alicia Freeman, third place:

“Golden Retrievals” by Mark Doty

“The Glove and the Lions” by Leigh Hunt

“For Love” by Robert Creeley