Poetry came alive Thursday, March 9, at the annual Michael Lopes Poetry Recitation Contest on the stage of the Lasdon Theater in Harvey's Walker Center for the Arts. Seventeen finalists recited from memory their chosen poems as fellow students, teachers and parents listened attentively. First place trophies went to sophomore Coraline Chu of the Upper School and eighth-grader Mia Cornell of the Middle School.
Coraline’s poem, “The Song of Wandering Aengus” by early 20th century Irish poet William Butler Yeats, wove together myth and magic and man’s search for love and beauty. Coraline’s passionate, intimate delivery and flawless pacing was memorable. “I was very much into this poem,” said Coraline. “I was really surprised and excited to have won. I only wish my parents, who live in China, could have been here.”
Mia’s poem, “Who Am I?” by contemporary poet Sara Hearn, was a personal testament to unraveling the complex layers of one’s true identity. “I love poetry,” said Mia. “This poem is about identity and is something a lot of friends my age are struggling with. As I was speaking this poem I was trying to conquer my nervousness, but I felt the support from my friends in the audience and that helped.”
The two students awarded honorable mentions were eighth-grader Sophia Rae Epstein and senior Cayla Smith. Sophia’s poem was “Postcards” by Sarah Kay. Cayla recited “Cannonball” by George Watsky.
This was Harvey’s 40th poetry recitation contest named after Michael Lopes, a favorite English teacher at Harvey who died in 2001. This year’s 17 finalists were chosen after a long schoolwide competition that started in English class, progressed to semifinals and moved on to the final competition. This year the three judges were Catherine Wald, a published poet and winner of a 2006 Outstanding Book Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Stephanie McCaine, a Harvey alumna and currently the director of admissions at SUNY Purchase, and Tom Carrigan, a published poet and library/media specialist at Bedford Central School District.
Other finalists who adeptly read poems included sixth-graders Scott Nicholson and Juliet Jaques, seventh-graders Cody Siegel, Gabriella Feldmeth and Wendy Lichtenberg, eighth-grader Lauren Siegel, freshmen Luis Waldstein-McCabe and Max Weigel, sophomore Courtney Warren, juniors Aidan Roberts and Yulanda Huang and seniors Eve O’Brien and Zachary Gault.