Shayna Maci Warner, a junior enrolled at the Marin School of the Arts at Novato High, placed first at the 2013 Marin County Finals for the national Poetry Out Loud competition held at the Mill Valley Library on Feb. 16.
This event is part of a national recitation contest sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation where participants recite two existing works of poetry and are judged by a panel of experts with respect to accuracy, difficulty, expression, clarity, but mostly, how the reader embodies the piece.
Warner, competing against high school students from throughout Marin County recited "The Canonization" by John Donne, and "Momma Said" by Calvin Forbes.
“The reasons for my participation were pretty simple. Honestly, I just love poetry,” says Warner, who also plays trumpet in the MSA jazz band and French horn in the concert band. “Writing is what initially drew me to it, but I've always loved theater and improv, too, so reciting was a natural choice. I chose my poems after hours of scrolling through the POL website, and saving dozens of poems to my computer. Because I loved them all, it was a tough choice, but reading them out loud to my sister, who will truthfully tell me whether something is boring, narrowed them down.”
According to Terri Glass, Program Director of California Poets in the Schools, Warner’s love of poetry presented itself in her recitation.
“Shayna’s performance captivated the judges by her understanding of the poems with just the right variation of tone and emotional inflection of her phrasing,” said Glass. “She had excellent stage presence without over-dramatization, so the meaning of the poems she recited came through.” Members of the audience concurred that Warner’s delivery was exceptionally powerful, bringing the poetry to life.
“I was floored by everyone's performances, and even more out of sorts when I won,” said Warner. “I'm so grateful to be able to recite again, especially when it's something people seem to enjoy listening to.”
As the Marin County champion, Warner will now represent the County at the California state championship in Sacramento later this month with a chance to represent California at the national competition in Washington D. C. later this spring.