Gardiner Area High School Senior Gabrielle Cooper
Gardiner High School Senior Gabrielle Cooper Maine Poetry Out Loud State Champ
Natalie Lisnet, senior at Bangor High School, is runner up
AUGUSTA, ME, MARCH 13– The Maine Arts Commission is proud to announce that Gabrielle Cooper, a senior from Gardiner High School, won the Maine Poetry Out Loud State Finals and is on her way to the nationals in Washington, D.C. in April. Natalie Lisnet, a senior from Bangor High School took runner-up. Cooper won the championship in three rounds of readings among 10 finalists representing Maine’s northern and southern regionals.
The Maine Arts Commission organizes the poetry recitation contest in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Jennifer Rooks, public affairs host and producer at Maine Public Broadcasting Network was the master of ceremonies for the event at the Waterville Opera House. The event also featured music from the Maranacook Chamber Singers and a reading by Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum.
Poetry Out Loud Maine Champion Gabrielle Cooper poses with her first place trophy. It was Cooper’s first time competing in the state and regional finals. She will now move on to Washington D.C. to compete in the national championship.
“I think that when a poem works and a poet gets to the point where he or she wants to get, it’s because they made a discovery in their work,” Kesterbaum said while speaking to the finalists during intermission. “I think when you spoke those poems, you were making that same discovery in the words that the poet made.”
All 10 contestants recited two poems by memory before intermission, at which time the panel of four judges selected five finalists. In the final round of five, Cooper recited “To Be of Use,” by Marge Piercy, a poem Cooper said, is about the value of hard work and how nice it is to see progress in your efforts.
In her spare time, Cooper enjoys horseback riding, playing in her school band and volunteering with Spectrum Generations’ Meals on Wheels program. Cooper will attend Dartmouth College next fall, where she hopes to pursue a degree in economics.
After the event, Cooper thanked her mom and English teachers for all the support and effort they put into helping her along the way.
Maine Poetry Out Loud State Finalists: (left to right): Emma Beyor, Kate Hodgson, Amran Mahamed, Skyler Vaughn, Arielle Leeman, Antyna Gould, Gabrielle Cooper, Natalie Lisnet, Jordan Bryant and Sabrina Small.
“They helped me a lot with practicing after school, during my study halls, breaking down my poems for me, and giving me feedback after the regional competition,” Cooper said. “That’s been a great help. It’s been nice to spend that time with them.”
Cooper will receive $200, as well as a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books for Gardiner High School. She will then represent Maine at the National Poetry Out Loud Finals in Washington D.C. on April 25-26. Cooper will compete for the first place award of a $20,000 scholarship. In total, $50,000 in prizes and school stipends will be awarded to the top 10 finalists and their schools.
In addition to Cooper and Lisnet, the other state finalists were: Emma Beyor, Erskine Academy; Kate Hodgson, Camden Regional High School; Amran Mahamed, Deering High School; Skyler Vaughn, The Maine Girls’ Academy; Arielle Leeman, Morse High School; Antyna Gould, Medomak Valley High School; Jordan Bryant, Greely High School; and Sabrina Small, Maine Coast Waldorf School.
For more information about Poetry Out Loud, and for how your school can participate next year, visit http://mainearts.maine.gov/Pages/Education/POL-Home or contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org. Videos of the Poetry Out Loud state and regional finals will be made available on the Maine Arts Commission youtube and Facebook page: https://www.youtube.com/user/VirtualMaineArts.
The Maine Arts Commission supports artists, art organizations, educators, policy makers, and community developers in advancing the arts in Maine. For more than 50 years the Commission has encouraged and stimulated public interest and participation in the cultural heritage and cultural programs of our state; has worked to expand the state’s cultural resources; and encouraged and assisted freedom of artistic expression for the well-being of the arts, to meet the needs and aspirations of persons in all parts of the state. Additional information is available at mainearts.com.