PIQUA — Piqua Arts Council hosted its first Poetry Out Loud, Thursday, Feb. 6, at Edison State Community College.
“I was very impressed with memory and performance of the participants. They each kept the audience enthralled,” Executive Director Jordan Knepper said.
The contestants were judged on reciting two poems from memory. Chloe Proffitt, a junior from Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in Dayton, started the competition with “Pity The Beautiful” by Dana Gioia. Sierra Wade, a senior from Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center, recited “There Are Birds Here” by Jamaal May. Next up was Immaculee Ingabire, a senior from Kettering Fairmont High School, performing “Self-Help” by Michael Ryan. Finishing out the first round was Zurie Pope, a junior from Piqua High School, with “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
For the second round of the competition, Proffitt performed “Windingo” by Louise Erdrich. Wade competed with “1969” by Alex Dimitrov. Ingabire followed with “A Thank You Note” by Michael Ryan, and Pope finished out the second round with “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll.
The judges all had outstanding credentials. Sierra Leone is an Ohio Governor’s Award winning poet, author, producer of stage plays and CEO. She is the president and artistic director of OFP Theatre Company. After an introduction by emcee Joe Shaffer, Leone started the night off with a performance of her own original poetry.
Judge Karen Maner is not only the grant coordinator for Dayton’s art fund, Culture Works, but she’s also a published author and former Poetry Out Loud regional coordinator. Maner has been published in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Colorado Review, The Rumpus, and Sonora Review. She is a recipient of an Association of Writers & Writing Programs Intro Journals Award, and her essay “Hugo” was included on the Notable Essays list in Best American Essays 2014. She did a reading of her own work after the first round.
Judge Alyssa Hanson is a singer-songwriter and former Miss Ohio. Hanson has worked for Disney, toured the country as the lead singer of Red in the Water and played with the Nashville-based band The Blackbirds. Following intermission, Hanson shared the inspiration and meaning behind one of her original songs, “Texts to My Dad.” She then shared a recording of the song and sang a portion of it as well.
The judges chose Pope as the winner of the Western Ohio Regional Competition. He will go on to compete at the state level, and if he wins there will get an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., and a chance to win $20,000.
The night ended with a presentation of gift bags filled with goodies for the students by sponsors Winans Chocolates and Coffee, Mainstreet Piqua, This & That Candy on Main, Readmore’s Hallmark, Scott’s Family McDonalds, Jay & Mary’s Bookstore, Staples, Elite Etc. and Premier Health – Upper Valley Medical Center. The judges then were presented with original works of art by local artists Sandra Kraack, Evelyn Mahrt and Marsha Elliott.
More information on Poetry Out Loud can be found on the its website, www.PoetryOutLoud.com, or from the Piqua Arts Council or Ohio Arts Council.