Poetry Out Loud

Florencia+Gregorio+performing+the+poem+%E2%80%9DTo+the+Desert%E2%80%9D.+Florencia+chose+this+poem+because+it+portrayed+the+hardships+that+some+Latinos+go+through+to+try+and+find+a+better+life+in+another+country.%0A
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Poetry Out Loud

Florencia Gregorio performing the poem ”To the Desert”. Florencia chose this poem because it portrayed the hardships that some Latinos go through to try and find a better life in another country.

Florencia Gregorio performing the poem ”To the Desert”. Florencia chose this poem because it portrayed the hardships that some Latinos go through to try and find a better life in another country.

Florencia Gregorio performing the poem ”To the Desert”. Florencia chose this poem because it portrayed the hardships that some Latinos go through to try and find a better life in another country.

Florencia Gregorio performing the poem ”To the Desert”. Florencia chose this poem because it portrayed the hardships that some Latinos go through to try and find a better life in another country.

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The Poetry Out Loud competition combines a chance to win money while still learning about poetry. According to the competition’s website, it allows students to,”… master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.” The competition started in 2005 and since then it has kept receiving more students competing every year from all over the country. This is Alisal’s second year in a row taking part in the competition. Last year, senior Yesenia Sanchez, reached the Monterey County finals, but failed to move on to the state finals, with only a one point difference stopping her advancement to the California State Finals.

This year, Alisal wants to win it all, as more English teachers are participating in the competition. With Dr. Bernasconi spearheading the effort, Alisal hopes to increase our chances to reach the state finals. Dr. Bernasconi definitely believes that Alisal can reach the state finals, seeing as how last year Yesenia was so close to reaching them. She said,” Definitely, I think that with more student participation this year, we have increased our chances exponentially. For students who like to recite poetry, like in my Writer’s Club, they find it easier because they don’t have to come up with an original piece, it’s something that has already been made.” With such optimism going into the competition, that optimism has transferred to the students competing. Senior Sylvia Tijerina said,” I believe that Alisal can do better this year, especially with many more students competing, and I think that with less students participating will also help us reach the state finals.”

That optimism was unfortunately lost a little bit, when teachers found out that students needed to be American citizens in order to be in the competition. Not wanting to infringe on students right of not revealing their current legal status in the United States, English teacher Ignacio Mendez, disqualified some of the students

The final results of the competition at Alisal revealed a two-way tie between poetry veteran Christian Quiroz and newbie Florencia Gregorio, as well as runner up Sylvia Tijerina. At first, head poetry judge and resident Mendez, did not know how to figure out the situation, but eventually he decided to give both Florencia and Christian the chance to go and represent Alisal at the county competition. Both Florencia and Christian were exalted to hear that they were chosen. Florencia commented, ”Yeah I was definitely excited to win the school competition, I’d like to show that Alisal has some potential in poetry competitions.” While Florencia was in a jovial mood after being selected, Christian was not as happy. Christian commented that he would be infinitely more nervous in the county competition. He says, ”I have competed in other poetry competitions before, but this is an echelon higher than those. I mean this is nationwide, hundreds of teachers and thousands of students are participating in this thing. That is what makes me nervous, even if I am a seasoned veteran when it comes to reciting poetry.”

While the competitors might be feeling very differently, they both agree that the English Department at Alisal made a wise decision in implementing this into their teaching curriculum, even if it was just for a few weeks. “Yeah, I do believe that having this as a way of teaching students about poetry is beneficial, I know that some teachers didn’t decide to do this, but for those who did, I believe it will have a good effect in their students understanding of poetry.”, Quiroz said.

Florencia was a surprise representative for Alisal High School, as she is not known for being very outspoken among her fellow classmates, in fact most of her peers would describe her as taciturn. She commented, ”Well I hadn’t competed in any previous poetry competitions before because they weren’t an assignment, while with this one my English teacher, Mr. Mendez, required everyone to recite a poem in class. As I was reading the poetry I got into it and felt like I should communicate with some energy. Eventually I won the school competition and was chosen to go to the county competition.” As a result of being chosen to the county competition Florencia had to compete with students from other schools in Monterey County including performers from Pacific Grove, Seaside, and Carmel.

Quiroz, however, is quite accustomed to representing Alisal at poetry competitions. He has attended events like Literature Live and the Evening of the Spoken, even helping bring the Spoken Word trophy to Alisal in his sophomore year. Although Quiroz is a veteran, he said he is a bit more tense about this competition because of its wider scope, as it encompasses students from all of California and the rest of the country, ”I was very happy to go to the county competition, because I’m representing Alisal and was ready to give it all I’ve got.”

The county competition was held in Carmel on February 11th and students from Monterey county all gathered to present their chosen poems. After the rounds of competition Florencia was crowned the overall winner for the county and will now be heading to the state competition in Sacramento on March 12th. She explained that while at the competition everyone else who presented a poem had all the characteristics to be crowned a winner, including: emotion, clarity, and no grammatical errors. ”Everybody was really good, they didn’t make mistakes, they had emotion in their voice and I felt like anybody could win, so I don’t know what it came down to.” Florencia presented the poems “Bent to the Earth” by Blas Manuel de Luna and “To the Desert” by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Although she said she doesn’t like to get involved with politics, Florencia commented that she presented those two poems because of the current political conundrum immigrants, ”I chose my poems on immigrants and people who had a Latino background, so I guess it touched the audience, especially with the immigration problems going on today.”

Now that she has been chosen to go and represent Monterey County as the best we have, Florencia feels the pressure mounting, as the state competition is less than a month away, ”Yes, I am nervous because there’s gonna be a student who is considered the best from every county in California, and in the end only one will be chosen for the national competition.”

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