Senior Sofya Lantratova will represent George Stevens Academy at the virtual Northern Regional competition of the Maine Poetry Out Loud Contest. MARK MESSER PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE STEVENS ACADEMY

Power of poetry: GSA senior advances to northern regional contest

BLUE HILL — Senior Sofya Lantratova will represent George Stevens Academy in the Maine Poetry Out Loud regional finals after winning a very close contest on Jan. 12.

Lantratova, one of three students in the schoolwide final, recited “Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam” by Dan Vera and “We Lived Happily During the War” by Ilya Kaminsky.

She was followed first by freshman Alexander Newman, who recited “Dirge in Woods” by George Meredith and “Eros Turannos” by Edwin Arlington Robinson, and then by junior Noël Da, who recited “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley and “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop.

While teacher and event organizer Martin Conte, a 2011 GSA graduate, tabulated the judges’ scores, the audience enjoyed more poetry.

Special guest Catherine Weiss, a professional poet, read a selection of her works. Among them were “Define Your Terms,” “Mankind vs. Undertaker” and “Palinode for the Future.”

Sophomore Robbie Lloyd read William Butler Yeats’ “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.”

Lantratova and Newman then performed “Tatiana’s Letter to Onegin” by Alexander Pushkin, with Lantratova reciting a line in Russian followed by Newman’s reading of the line in English.

Conte than announced the winner, noting that less than 10 points separated the three competitors.

“When I heard the announcement,” Lantratova said, “a warm feeling of contentment and pride flushed into my face.”

Her success is due in part, she said, to “Mr. Conte, who spent multiple weeks listening to me making weird noises, swinging my arms, walking in circles around the room and convulsively dancing in attempts to find the right tone for a line.”

Though finding the right tone may have been a challenge for Lantratova, she said she’s never struggled with memorization. “When you really feel a piece of writing, when you really understand what it is conveying, the words come out of your mouth themselves. It’s not about the words, but about one’s feelings and the meaning between the lines.”

Lantratova has until Feb. 4 to submit a video for the Northern Regional virtual competition. The announcement of which five finalists will advance to the Maine State Finals from both the northern and southern contests is expected Feb. 18.

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition organized at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission.

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