Kingman High student has eyes on national poetry prize
KINGMAN - Kingman High School junior Tiffany Newell's novel way of overcoming her shyness may earn her a free trip to Washington D.C.
Newell is one of nine students from around the state who will be competing Wednesday evening in the Arizona Poetry Out Loud state finals. The event will be taped by Eight Arizona PBS and broadcast at 8:30 p.m. on April 9 and at 2:30 a.m. on April 21.
"This is the third year Kingman has participated in the contest and the third year for Tiffany too," said Kingman High English teacher Clare Schroeder.
Students in the contest first compete against their peers at the school level, Schroeder said. Each student must choose three poems they want to memorize and recite. There are some rules to help students narrow down their choices - one poem must have fewer than 26 lines and one must be pre-18th century. The third poem can be either 26 lines or pre-18th century or both.
The program is sponsored by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the University of Arizona Poetry Center, Arizona Eight PBS, ON Media Productions and Arizona State University's Young Writers Program. The idea is to encourage students to learn about poetry while developing their public speaking skills and confidence.
Schroeder started helping students memorize their poems just before Christmas break. Newell was one of five students at Kingman High School to take up the challenge, and she was initially very quiet, Schroeder said.
Schroeder said this is her first year coaching the students for the contest.
"A lot of the kids that participate are in drama. They're very outgoing," Schroeder said. "The amount Tiffany has grown this semester has been really amazing to watch. She's really opened up. Watching her understand the poems ... It's been quite a journey."
Newell came in second in the contest at Kingman High and was the only one to represent the school in the regional competition in Phoenix on Feb. 20 after the first-place student couldn't make the event. She competed against 12 other students and finished as one of the top three students from Northern Arizona, earning the right to compete at the state level.
Newell will be reading "Dirge in Woods" by George Meredith and
"Their Bodies" by David Wagoner on Wednesday.
She will compete against nine students from around the state for the top prize -
$200 and an all-expense paid trip to the national competition in April in Washington, D.C., where students compete for a $20,000 college scholarship. The state champion's school also receives $500 to purchase poetry books for its library. The runner-up in the contest gets $100 and his or her school gets $200 for poetry books.