Angie Faieq, a Towson resident and junior at the G.W. Carver Center for Arts and Technology, will compete against students from across the country this April for a chance to win the national Poetry Out Loud championship — a poetry reciting contest — in Washington D.C.
The winner of the contest will walk away with a $20,000 prize.
Faieq, 16, placed first in the Maryland competition, which was held at the Baltimore Museum of Art March 18, where she earned a $200 award, plus expenses for the Washington trip and an additional $500 to be spent on poetry books for Carver. This year marks the first time the Carver Center, where Faieq is enrolled in a literary arts magnet program, has competed in the Poetry Out Loud contest.
Faieq will compete next in a semi-final round against winners from 18 eastern states or territories on April 25 from 9 a.m. to noon. The top three contestants from that round will advance to the national finals on April 26 at 7 p.m., where nine students — three each from the eastern, central and western regions of the country — will compete for a shot at the $20,000 award, according to Elizabeth Auclair, a public affairs specialist for the National Endowment for the Arts, which helps run the contest. The award is not a scholarship.
Poetry Out Loud is a national competition with a goal of encouraging students to learn about great poetry. During the competition, students recite poems written by others aloud, which they select from a database provided by the competition. Students are judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, accuracy and overall performance.
In addition to the National Endowment for the Arts, the program is run through the Poetry Foundation, a Chicago-based group that promotes poetry. It is supported locally through the Maryland State Arts Council, which runs the statewide competition, according to state program director Christine Stewart.
In Maryland, more than 9,300 students from 46 schools in 14 counties competed in this year's contest, according to a posting on the state arts council's website. After competing on a school-wide and regional level, the 10 strongest students, including Faieq, made it to the state final.
Stewart said Faieq was very poised during the state contest, had a deep understanding of the poems she was reciting, and had a deep level of dramatic interpretation.
Faieq passed through a school and regional round before attending the competition's state championship.
For the competition, Faieq memorized and practiced reading three poems: "In the Desert" by Stephen Crane; "Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy" by Thomas Lux; and "What You Have to Get Over" by Dick Allen.
She practiced reading the poems with her literary arts teacher, Rebecca Mlinek, after school. Faieq worked extremely diligently to prepare for the contest, Mlinek said.
Mlinek put Faieq through what she called a poetry obstacle course, having her recite the poems in several ways, including yelling them, acting them out physically, or lying on the floor to practice reading using her diaphragm. She did that to help Faieq connect with the poems physically and emotionally, said Mlinek, who added that she believes that poetry is meant to be read aloud.
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"She chose poems she really connected deeply to," Mlinek said. "She's not just reading words; it's coming from her heart."
Faieq said the three poems she selected center around a way of living one's life. "In the Desert" has a focus on the good and bad in people and self-perception, while "Tarantulas on the Lifebouy" addresses the concept of what beauty is and tolerance of others, and "What you have to get over" highlights the troubles that one sometimes encounters in life, Faieq said.
"I remember reading these and immediately feeling something," she added.
Faieq has been writing creatively since she was a child, she said, but began to pursue it more seriously in middle school, when she knew she wanted to continue her study of writing at Carver.
Faieq said she has a love for communication and language in general, adding that she has a particular interest in Spanish.
The finals will take place at Lisner Auditorium, at The George Washington University, in Washington. The events are open to the public. The event also will be live-streamed online. For more information go to www.poetryoutloud.org.
This story has been updated.