Sabrina Small was one of only ten students to perform at the Poetry Out Loud Maine State Finals held at the Waterville Opera House on Monday, March 13. Although she was not selected to represent the state at the Nationals competition in Washington, D.C. (that honor went to Gardiner Area High School senior Gabrielle Cooper), Sabrina artfully performed her two pieces; Hart Crane’s “At Melville’s Tomb,” and Edward Hirsch’s “Poor Angels.”
Interestingly, all ten of the finalists were young women. Sabrina was the fourth Maine Coast student in the past six years to reach the state finals. In 2012, then senior Tyler O’Brien was named state champion.
To reach the state finals, Sabrina had to win Maine Coast’s own school-wide competition. Then, at the Southern Regionals last month, she was one of five finalists selected from a pool of 23 contestants. Organized by the Maine Arts Commission, with funding from the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Out Loud invites students to memorize and then present up to three poems. Contestants are judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, and overall performance.
Jennifer Rooks, public affairs host and producer at Maine Public Broadcasting Network was the master of ceremonies for the event at the Waterville Opera House. The event also featured music from the Maranacook Chamber Singers and a reading by Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum. “I think that when a poem works and a poet gets to the point where he or she wants to get, it’s because they made a discovery in their work,” Kestenbaum said while speaking to the finalists during intermission. “I think when you spoke those poems, you were making that same discovery in the words that the poet made.” Kestenbaum presented signed copies of his book of poems Only Now to all the finalists.