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Kentucky Arts and Culture

Kenton County freshman named Ky 2022 Poetry Out Loud state champion

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courtesy Louis Schlosser
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Lupita Diaz,freshman at Beechwood High School poses for a picture after winning Kentucky's 2022 Poetry Out Loud state championship.

Lupita Diaz recited part of the poem Spanglish. It’s one of the poems selected by the Ft. Mitchell resident for a competition earlier this month where she was named Kentucky’s 2022 Poetry Out Loud Champion. Diaz said Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation.

“The main purpose of this program is to encourage the study of great poetry, improve public speaking skills and in my opinion, I think the most important part is building self-confidence,” said Diaz.

All of the students in high school English classes at Beechwood participated in the Poetry Out Loud Program. The contest required students to prepare performances for three different poems based on specific criteria. Diaz won the championship based on scores for her performances of the poems, Spanglish, Diameter, and Life in a Love. She said a year ago she didn’t know much about poetry but this program has inspired her.

“I really love poetry now. I could not say the same a year ago. I love the language that is spoken in poetry. I love the figurative language inside of it, like the similies, the metaphors, the personification, the hyperboles, all of it. And I love the fact that people get to express themselves using their own poems or other poems, to see how they feel about something, to show that voice that they have,” said Diaz.

Each student in Poetry Out Loud began with a traditional literary analysis of a poem according to Molly Seifert, English and Drama teacher at Beechwood High School. She said the next step was memorization.

“So they analyze it on paper. They now have it memorized in their head. it Then we turn to the real work of bringing it alive, using the right kind of hand gestures and using the right kind of facial expressions to communicate. Then the more acting skills came in toward the end of the process.”

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courtesy Louis Schlosser
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Ky 2022 Poetry Out Loud state champ, Lupita Diaz with her English teacher Molly Seifert.

Seifert said a lot of the students gave beautiful performances that were articulate and emotional. But she praised Diaz, especially for her performance of ‘Spanglish’.

“Lupita, her poem, fit her perfectly. She made the right choice. She was one of the few people who truly understood the words of the poem. It’s almost as if she could have written it herself,” said Seifert.

Diaz said she selected the poem Spanglish because it reminded her of aspects of her life, especially when she speaks Spanish with her family and English at school.

“There was (sic) some lines that said, ‘las novellas mexicanas’ which are like shows in Mexico that are dramatic and I would always watch them with my mother . But then there are things like ‘radiorocknroll’ that I would listen to on the radio with my friends. And when I saw that poem that Tato Laviera wrote, I was like, wow, this is like both of my worlds’ being combined into one,” said Diaz.

Lupita Diaz is looking forward to Poetry Out Loud’s National Competition which is scheduled for May 1st. The contest is usually held in Washington D.C. but will be virtual this year due to COVID.

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