BLUE HILL — And then there were five.
Magnolia Vandiver of George Stevens Academy was one of five finalists chosen Tuesday at the national “Poetry Out Loud” competition’s Northern Maine Regional Finals held at Hampden Academy. She and the other four finalists will compete against the five Southern Maine finalists at the state competition on March 11 at the Waterville Opera House.
“It feels a little odd,” Vandiver said of being named a finalist. “I didn’t really come with the expectation that I was going to place at all.”
In the first two rounds of Tuesday’s competition, Vandiver recited “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus, the poem cast in bronze for display at the Statue of Liberty, and “Author’s Prayer,” by Ilya Kaminsky. The judges then selected 11 competitors to compete in the third round, in which Vandiver recited “Difference” by Stephen Vincent Benet. The five finalists then were chosen.
“I was blown away by the other recitations completely,” said Vandiver, who will be joined at the state competition by Hanna Lavenson of Messalonskee High School, Emily Campbell of Waterville High School, Emma Jacot-Descombes of Rangeley Lakes Regional High School and Shaphnah McKenzie of Bangor High School.
The Poetry Out Loud State Finals will take place at the Waterville Opera House at 3 p.m. on Monday, March 11. Admission is free and no tickets are required. Poetry lovers, even those who don’t know the competitors, are encouraged to attend, as the level of competition is very high.
The winner of the state competition will represent Maine at the national competition in Washington, D.C., in mid-spring.
Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation competition organized at the national level by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is administered in Maine by The Maine Arts Commission. Throughout the state, 4,300 students participated. According to the commission, the “program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.”