Bega wins 3rd annual Poetry Out Loud contest

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Photo by Brianne Reformina

Senior Mikaela Bega performs her poem, "Abandoned Farmhouse." Kamehameha Schools Maui's third annual Poetry Out Loud competition was held Dec. 7 at Keōpūolani Hale.

Through poetry, six students competed Dec. 7 at Keōpūolani Hale for a chance to participate in the annual Poetry Out Loud state-wide competition.

Poetry Out Loud is a way for students around the world to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. Each competitor is expected to not only memorize a chosen poem, but also present it to a panel of judges.

Through Google sign-ups, six students signed up and came with a poem selected from the Poetry Out Loud website. These six competitors were freshmen Breeana Anguay, Teani Kaluhikaua, juniors Tehoni Naeʻole, Kayleen Lau, Jaimelee Felipe, and senior Mikaela Bega.

The six went head-to-head, with each performing one memorized poem from the Hale stage. The judging panel, made up of high school language arts teachers rated each one according to Poetry Out Loud’s judging sheet, and Bega came out on top.

“It was amazing to hear that I had won because my competition was good, and they all did amazing, as well,” she said.

Bega performed a piece by Ted Kooser called “Abandoned Farmhouse,” a poem about someone stumbling upon an abandoned farmhouse and trying to figure out who lived there and what might have happened.

“I practiced reciting this poem constantly, and I even gave the poem to one of my family members and had them correct me on every little thing. I think that’s what helped me to not only memorize the poem but finding the deeper meaning of it,” Bega said.

“The main purpose of [Poetry Out Loud] is to recite a poem and tell it in a way you want the judges to know it. As in, you have to focus on your tone, how you emphasize a certain part of a poem. This isn’t a drama performance, which is what we tried to keep in mind,” Speech and Theatre teacher Ms. Camille Romero said.

Ms. Romero was one of four judges at the competition, and she was glad to see members of the Drama Club,  Naeʻole and Felipe, come out and perform well, too.

“[Naeʻole and Felipe] are amazing performers on stage…their performance overall was enjoyable,” Ms. Romero said.

Poetry Out Loud winner Bega will continue on to compete in the state-wide competition Mar. 4 on Oʻahu. The state winner will go to the national competition where the top prize is $20,000.