Poetry Out Loud Champion and Literary Fair Winners!


Photo by: Jeinily Bencon

Trisha Villanueva, Staff Writer

   On February 9th, the top ten Recite Night finalists competed in the second round, also known as the Poetry Slam. The Poetry Slam is also an event where students could showcase their talents and recite their own written works. 

   For the finalists, they each chose a poem that they knew would connect to the audience or a poem that they loved. Senior Julian Villarta says, “I chose the poem because I think it is an impactful social commentary on how there’s still so much discrimination towards minority groups and people still find “Nothing To Do” (the title of the poem).” 

   It’s no secret that everyone felt nervous before performing, but each participant practiced in different ways to assure that they wouldn’t forget their lines. Junior Helen Godoy shares, “I actually practiced in front of my class, which was a pretty interesting experience.” Sophomore Janessa Montilla recited her poem constantly and while she waited for her turn, she recited it in her head: “Before performing, I was so nervous and I kept reciting the poem in my head. I’m so grateful that I had my friend, Sophia Lopez, there with me because she really helped me calm down before I went up on stage.” 

Photo by Mia White

   As for the performance itself, Julian adds, “Before reciting I was super nervous last time, but during the performance it felt completely different than usual. This may sound weird but I felt like I wasn’t the one reciting it.” After the finalists recited their poems, they all felt relieved that it was over.

   As mentioned earlier, the Slam is an event where students could go on stage to recite their own written works. Senior Melanie Jomsky says, “I wanted to share my poem because I wanted to push myself to get out of my comfort zone. I felt super relieved afterwards! It was also really fun seeing everyone else’s recitations.” Helen agrees, “My favorite part was when people went up and recited their own poetry. I’m very glad we’re creating a community for people that create and appreciate poetry.” 

   NEHS hosts an annual Poetry Contest where any student can submit poems in up to 13 different categories. Ms. Phelps, the NEHS club sponsor, expresses, “We typically have the greatest number of submissions in the free verse category, and this year was no different: students submitted 33 free verse poems, making it highly competitive.” She determines the writing contest winners by having English teachers select their top three: “To determine the free verse finalist, I enlisted the help of my close friend Lourdes Heur, who is both an English professor and a poet who recently published a free verse poem in The American Poetry Review. Her top three choices were Melanie Jomsky’s “It Took Me Longer to Title This Poem Than It Did to Write It,” Emma Schenker’s “Sleeping Pills,” and Jillian Medina’s “Reaper’s Vocabulary”. She picked Jillian Medina’s poem because it “affects the most emotional response in the reader.” 

   The winners of each category were announced in the morning announcements, two days after the Slam, along with this year’s Poetry Out Loud Champion.

   They are as follows: 

  • Samantha Lowe (spoken word)
  • Jillian Medina (free verse)
  • Nitya Dave (ekphrastic poem)
  • Vrinda Gupta (villanelle)
  • Jayden Pichardo (sonnet)
  • Ariana Lesmes (sestina)
  • Leo Graham (shrink lit poem)
  • Rebecca Lim (parody poem)
  • Julianna Gonzalez (sin-kain)
  • Paul McFarlane (haiku)
  • Kiley Irizarry (poem for two voices)
  • Nitya Dave (ode)
  • Sabrina Araujo-Elorza (formal essay)
  • Isabella Cely (short story)
  • Sabrina Gonzalez (personal narrative)
  • Sumona Edavalluri (informal essay)
  • Zayna Diaz (literary comic)
  • Alanna Robberts (student Poet Laureate)

   Last but not the least, this year’s Poetry Out Loud Champion is our very own talented writer, Sophia Lopez! Sophia was in AP World interviewing someone when she heard her name as the champion: “I won! It was a really nice moment because I barely knew anyone there, but they all congratulated me and I felt so happy and excited to be there.” These winners met at the fountain that Friday, the 11th, and received their certificates and took pictures. Sophomore Sophia Lopez will be representing our school to States in Tampa on March 5th. 

   Junior Jillian Medina shares she submitted 5 poems, 4 free verses and 1 haiku, all with the same theme of her grandparents’ death. She wrote her piece titled “Reaper’s Vocabulary” a few days before her abuela’s funeral. “When my name was announced, I was pretty taken back. I was even more shocked when I heard “Reaper’s Vocabulary” had won because it was such a blanketed angry poem that it really surprised me that anyone could understand the hidden emotions behind it.” 

   Sophomore Isabella Cely states, “I was actually shocked when I heard my name because I had genuinely forgotten I had bothered to submit at all. It felt especially rewarding to me that Ms. Phelps told me I had won in a very tough category.” Senior Vrinda Gupta also says, “Honestly, when I heard that I had been selected as a winner I was in shock. I haven’t written any poetry in a while because I lost the passion to actually write. It took a lot of courage for me to finally write something and the fact that I won shocked me to no end.”  

   Ms. Phelps submitted the works of our talented students and the Broward County Literary Fair judging takes place in March and in early April. The winning students will receive invitations to the Literary Fair Award Ceremony, held on May 4th at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. 

   Good luck to all our Jags representing our school!!