by Meredith White
After a victorious recitation of Gregory Djanikian’s poem “Mrs. Caldera’s House of Things” on Feb. 13, junior Cecily Schmidt took home the grand prize from the county Poetry Out Loud competition.
Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation competition funded by the National Endowments for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. The competition starts at the high school level and winners advance to successive rounds at the county, state, and national levels.
Over the years, Miramonte has had many talented performers enter the county competition, but Schmidt is the first Matador to win.
The process starts with a list of poems ranging from humorous to melodramatic by poets ranging from America’s Emily Dickenson to Chinese, Indonesian-born Li-Young Lee.
“There were so many poems on the list, that I first just picked by looking at the titles,” said Schmidt.
Schmidt settled on “Hope is the Thing of Feathers” by Emily Dickenson and “Mrs. Caldera’s House of Things” by Gregory Djanikian.
A committee of Miramonte teacher volunteers singled out Schmidt in Miramonte’s competition as a clear victor.
Schmidt’s experience in drama and public speaking helped her in the county competition where she faced nine finalists from Contra Costa County high schools.
“I made 300 bucks!” said Schmidt. “I plan to spend it on an anthology of poems.”
Along with the cash prize, Schmidt also gained entry into the statewide Poetry Out Loud competition. Because of a timing conflict with Miramonte’s spring musical, however, Schmidt has declined and the runner-up will advance in her place.
Look for Schmidt as the Wicked Witch of the West in Miramonte’s Wizard of Oz.