Lake Oswego student competes in statewide poetry contest
Lakeridge freshman Juwon Kim represented her school and Lake Oswego on Friday, March 11, at a statewide poetry competition.
Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation contest for Oregon high school students in which they have to memorize and present poems. The contest, hosted by the Oregon Arts Commission, is intended to encourage youth to engage with classic American poetry.
Kim first competed in a schoolwide poetry contest where she was selected to represent the high school in the state competition.
She was eliminated in the first round of the state championships but she said she is grateful for the experience and how far she advanced.
"I felt very validated because I honestly didn't think that I would win the school one, because I was one of the only freshmen competing against four seniors. But it feels good to achieve something at not only a school level, but state level," she said.
To qualify for the event, students must first compete in a small-scale competition in their English classes. The students then advanced to a schoolwide poetry contest. Although Kim has an interest in poetry, she said she entered the competition out of necessity. The classroom poetry competition was a required assignment by her English teacher.
But Kim was selected to represent her high school in the state competition semifinals before qualifying for the finals on March 11. In the semifinals and statewide competition, the students must select three classic American poems to perform. During the competitions, students were judged on their physical presence, articulation, dramatic appropriateness and overall performance.
Kim recited "Fairy Tale With Laryngitis and Resignation Letter" by Jehanne Dubrow; "I think I Should Have Loved You Presently" by Edna St. Vincent Millay and "I Felt a Funeral in My Brain" by Emily Dickenson.
"I chose 'Fairy Tale With Laryngitis' because I really liked the parallels between the original 'Little Mermaid' story and a toxic work environment. And 'I Think I Should Have Loved You Presently' really resonated with me, because sometimes you just want to show people affection but that can be scary. And the poem is about not being able to love presently," she said.
Kim said she chose the Dickenson poem because she wanted to tackle the iconic poet and because of its impactful last line.
"The last line is; 'And finished knowing — then —.' It makes you think a lot about death, and how much we know now, but how much we don't know when we're dead," she said.
Kim said her interest in poetry stemmed from her love of writing.
" I learned how to type from school. And my mom was like, 'This is Microsoft Word, you can practice your typing on it.' But I was like, 'Oh, my god, I can be like an author and write my own stories,'" Kim said. "So I've been writing just for fun, since I was very little."
Kim said she didn't become interested in poetry, however, until the pandemic.
"I just found how interesting it was to not only consume poetry, but also to write poetry of my own. Poetry is so much more dense and concentrated then writing a book," she said. "I find it really interesting how much you can show and how much you can convey through such little words."
During the finals, the 11 finalists presented a video recording of themselves reciting one of their three poems. If they advanced to the finals they would showcase another poem of their choosing. The winner of the state competition walked away with a $200 scholarship and $500 to give to their school library's poetry collection. They also advanced to the national finals in Washington, D.C., to represent their state.
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