Portland High School senior Jaime Beya-Mbiyavanga won the Runner-Up Award at the Poetry Out Loud State Competition, held March 13 at Bates College in Lewiston.
The Maine State Final event required ten student winners from across the state to recite three poems throughout the evening. Jaime eloquently enthralled the judges and the audience with his recitation of “Fable for Blackboard” by George Starbucks, “April Midnight” by Arthur Symons, and “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Leading up to this event, high schools across the country held Poetry Out Loud school competitions in December and January, with thousands of students participating. Jaime won the Portland High School Poetry Out Loud competition that qualified him to compete in the Southern Regional Competition at the St. Lawrence Center in Portland.
For regionals, students recited two poems and five students from this group moved on to the state level. PHS librarian Susie Nick said, “It takes courage and commitment for a student to compete at the regional and state level. Jaime is an inspiration. The PHS community is proud of Jaime.”
To prepare for the state competition, Jaime spent hours reciting his three poems with his English teacher, Ann Hall. In addition to working on the poems in school, Jaime practiced with friends and family before and after school. Ms. Hall said, “Jamie worked tirelessly on his poems. He was an easy student to coach because he was open to feedback and willing to try different approaches. He did a fantastic job!”
If the Maine State Winner is unable to attend the National Finals in Washington D.C., Jaime will represent the state of Maine in the national competition held in May.
Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Foundation, and state and jurisdictional arts agencies.