Friday, March 7, 2008

Poetry Proud

We have some exciting news in our family!

Matthew, 17 years, recently competed in a Poetry Out Loud competition at our charter school. You may not have heard of this program. It is new and I think this is only the third year for the national level. Poetry Out Loud is a wonderful national program where approximately 200,000 high school students from across the country pick poems from the list of about 400 poems at the above website, and then recite them in a public forum. They cannot act out the poem, just recite it. It is part of the National Endowment for the Arts. At the school level competition the students must recite only one poem, but have a second poem memorized in case it is needed for a tie. The winners of school contests, 1st & 2nd place, then go up to the county level to compete against other schools.

At the county level, the students must recite two poems, and have a third poem in case of a tie. The winner of the county match heads to the state competition. Expenses for travel and hotel are covered by the California Arts Council. The winner of state wins $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to DC to compete in the National Finals. Their school also receives $500 to purchase poetry books. The second place winner wins $100 and $200 goes to their school for poetry books. The National Finals winner receives a $20,000 scholarship, and second place wins $10,000. There is also another $20,000 in scholarships for others as well. Very generous, they are.

The National Poetry Out Loud competition, held in April, in Washington, DC requires three poems to be recited. They have a great judging system in that they use points for the characteristics they judge and then the winners are determined by who has the highest score. When there are two or three poems, one must always be less than 25 lines and one must be pre-20th century.

So back to Matthew……

….he won first place at the school competition! He recited the poem We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar. A week and a half later, Matthew competed at the county level, against four other schools, 9 other competitors. He recited the first poem and added a second poem: The Bells of San Blas by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Both poems are posted below. I love how Catholic The Bells of San Blas is.

Matthew won the county competition!
He goes to state now! Isn’t that exciting! He will represent homeschoolers and an awesome charter school. He competes on Friday, March 14th in Sacramento in the Secretary of State’s auditorium. Please come to watch if you can. It is free and open to the public. There should be 20 competitors from all over the state, one from each participating county.
His prize was a copy of one of our favorite poetry anthologies: The Best Loved Poems of the American People He is thrilled to have a copy to call his own!

Our family is so proud of him. He did very well. Please pray he does his very best when he gets to state. Someone has to win…..since the DC trip includes two parents… know I am game to go…traveler that I am. :)
Read these poems slowly and savor them.......
We Wear the Mask
By Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
The Bells of San Blas
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What say the Bells of San Blas
To the ships that southward pass
From the harbor of Mazatlan?
To them it is nothing more
Than the sound of surf on the shore,—
Nothing more to master or man.

But to me, a dreamer of dreams,
To whom what is and what seems
Are often one and the same,—
The Bells of San Blas to me
Have a strange, wild melody,
And are something more than a name.

For bells are the voice of the church;
They have tones that touch and search
The hearts of young and old;
One sound to all, yet each
Lends a meaning to their speech,
And the meaning is manifold.

They are a voice of the Past,
Of an age that is fading fast,
Of a power austere and grand;
When the flag of Spain unfurled
Its folds o'er this western world,
And the Priest was lord of the land.

The chapel that once looked down
On the little seaport town
Has crumbled into the dust;
And on oaken beams below
The bells swing to and fro,
And are green with mould and rust.

"Is, then, the old faith dead,"
They say, "and in its stead
Is some new faith proclaimed,
That we are forced to remain
Naked to sun and rain,
Unsheltered and ashamed?

"Once in our tower aloof
We rang over wall and roof
Our warnings and our complaints;
And round about us there
The white doves filled the air,
Like the white souls of the saints.

"The saints! Ah, have they grown
Forgetful of their own?
Are they asleep, or dead,
That open to the sky
Their ruined Missions lie,
No longer tenanted?

"Oh, bring us back once more
The vanished days of yore,
When the world with faith was filled;
Bring back the fervid zeal,
The hearts of fire and steel,
The hands that believe and build.

"Then from our tower again
We will send over land and main
Our voices of command,
Like exiled kings who return
To their thrones, and the people learn
That the Priest is lord of the land!"

O Bells of San Blas, in vain
Ye call back the Past again!
The Past is deaf to your prayer;
Out of the shadows of night
The world rolls into light;
It is daybreak everywhere.

We will go down to Sacramento the night before. The contest begins at 11am and lasts till 5pm. It may be a long day for the two youngest boys! They did well at the first competition, but it was only 1.5 hours. Afterward, we will be heading to San Francisco to visit our dear friends for a few days. We are very excited to go to San Fran…..I guess it has been a couple of years since we have been there. We will have to find fun things to do.

Well, that’s our exciting news! Please pray, for Matthew to do his best, and for our travels.

God bless all of you!



molly said...

Way to go Matthew, be assured of our prayers for the state level. How exciting.

stef said...

Congratulations!!! And prayers!

Mamselle Duroc said...

Oh, oh, oh, how thrilling! Do pass along to him my heartiest congratulations! I do wish we could go, but be assured that we'll be praying from afar.


Alice Gunther said...


I am so proud of your wonderful son!

Leslie Jannis said...

Good Job, Matthew! We will be praying for your success! Good Luck, have fun, take care! Love, Cousins Leslie, Nick, Stephanie, & Mickey

I said...

I knew Matthew would do well! Congratulations Matthew!!! I know you'll do great at the state competition, but I will be thinking of you anyway! =)
Love you!!!

Karen E. said...

That is great! Congratulations, Matthew!!

Willa said...

I have been thinking of all of you this weekend and especially of Matthew! Many blessings!

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Hope everything went well in Sacramento!!!!

Look forward to hearing more good news!