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ONLINE: Poetry Out Loud brings passion to Brockport

by Jaymi Gooden - Campus Talk Editor
Tue, Jan 31st 2017 10:50 pm

The College at Brockport hosted this year's annual Poetry Out Loud competition for the Finger Lakes region of New York State on Tuesday, Jan. 31 in the Seymour College Union Ballroom.

Eight high school students from across the region competed by reciting three poems in front of four judges who awarded points to each student after a single recitation.

The winner, 17-year-old Hager Elkhidir, a senior at Eastridge High School in Irondequoit, New York, will be representing the Finger Lakes Region in the state finals which will take place in Albany in late February.

Elkhidir took first place with with her recitations of "America" by Claude McKay, "Serenade" by Mary Weston Fordham and "Kin" by Maya Angelou.

"I became more familiar with the language through poetry," Elkhidir, whose first language is Arabic, said. "I felt like poetry was my way of articulating the struggle of being a new immigrant in the United States."

According to Poetry Out Loud host and Chief Communications Officer David Mihalyov, poetry has many functions within education that stem outside of aiding students like Elkhidir.

"Having an oral forum is crucial in continuing to tell our stories," Mihalyov said.

In addition to being the chief communications officer, Mihalyov is also a Brockport alumnus with a masters in creative writing. Upon hearing that a  statewide poetry competition was being arranged, Mihalyov gained the permission of college President Heidi MacPherson, who also attended the event, to make Brockport the host for the fourth year in a row.

"Poetry is a way to keep our culture alive from generation to generation," Mihalyov said. "To deliver to one another face to face is a way of remembering what came before."

2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize winner, Sarah Freligh made similar comments regarding the power of poetry when she was featured as a Brockport Writer's Forum speaker back in the Fall 2017 semester in which she read students work from her published poetry book, Sad Math.

"I love Brockport and I love doing this," Freligh, who accepted Brockport's invitation to return as a Poetry Out Loud judge, said. "It's wonderful to see and it's wonderful to hear."

Other judges included Director of Adult Programs at Writer's & Books Albert Abonado, Poet and Co-editor of the anthology of poems, Love Rise Up, and recent English graduate and local Brockportarian, Hunter Wexler.