Saratoga County

Saratoga freshman wins Poetry Out Loud state competition

Liam McKenna, a freshman at Saratoga Springs High School, won the New York State finals of the 2013

Liam McKenna, a freshman at Saratoga Springs High School, won the New York State finals of the 2013 Poetry Out Loud competition, held March 19 at The College of Saint Rose in Albany.

Elizabeth Cory, a junior at Bronxville High School, was named runner-up in the contest.

McKenna was declared the winner based on his recitation of “As Kingfishers Catch Fire” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Cartoon Physics, part 1” by Nick Flynn, and “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” by John Donne.

As state champion, he receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national title in late April. Saratoga Springs High School also receives $500 for the purchase of poetry books.

Cory, the runner-up, receives $100, with $200 for her school library. She earned second place for her recitation of “Crepuscule with Muriel” by Marilyn Hacker, “The Author to Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet and “[Often rebuked, yet always back returning]” by Emily Jane Bronte.

In addition, both McKenna and Cory will be invited to the New York State Writers Hall of Fame Gala at the Princeton Club in New York City on June 4, where they will meet the 2013 living inductees: poet Marilyn Hacker and authors Alice McDermott, Calvin Trillin and Walter Mosley.

Students from other area schools also were competing for the state title, including Ian Farmer, a sophomore at Schenectady High School, and Alexandra Whisenhunt, a senior at Niskayuna High School.

All 16 students recited works they selected from an anthology of more than 650 classic and contemporary poems. Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty and accuracy.

The National Finals will take place April 28-30 in the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of The George Washington University, where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.

Poetry Out Loud is a national contest coordinated by the Empire State Center for the Book/New York Library Association and sponsored by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

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