Lily Nguyen, a senior at Lancaster Country Day School, was named the winner of the 2021 Poetry Out Loud competition, South Central PARTners at Millersville University announced in a press release last week. The regional contest is part of a national program to foster students' appreciation for poetry though memory and performance.
“Winning this contest was honestly a huge surprise for me,” Nguyen wrote in an email. “By helping me strengthen my love and skill of poetry recitation, (Poetry Out Loud) has been an extremely rewarding experience that I believe every student should take part in.”
For the regional contest, Nguyen and five other students from across Lancaster, Berks and Schuylkill counties were tasked with memorizing and reciting poems selected from the Poetry Out Loud online and print anthologies. Due to COVID-19, recitations were recorded and submitted digitally. The student’s video entries were judged by a panel of poets and creatives including Meg Day, Lenwood Sloan, Anthony Orozco, David Nazario, Daina Savage, and Barry Kornhauser.
“I marvel at the talent of the contestants as they explore the levels of meaning in their chosen poems, then work to bring those words to life in their recitations,” Daina Savage, director of strategic communication at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, and one of this year’s judges, wrote in an email. “This year's winner inhabited the poems she chose with a natural ease and grace that made it seem she had written the words herself.”
Nguyen’s performance of “Abandoned Farmhouse,” by Ted Kooser, “An Anthology of Rain,” by Phillis Levin, and “Tall Ambrosia,” by Henry David Thoreau earned her the top prize.
With her win, Nguyen moves on the state round of the contest. The winner will be announced on March 8, 2021.
The winner state competition proceeds to the National Semifinals on May 2. The 2021 Poetry Out Loud National Finals take place on May 27. Both rounds of the video submission-based competitions will be streamed on arts.gov. $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed, according to a press release from the organization.