SNAPS: Native American Student Wins State Poetry Recitation Contest

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Sunday, March 8, 2020 - 3:14pm
Updated: Monday, March 9, 2020 - 12:46pm

Audio icon Download mp3 (2.02 MB)

Stephen Wilcox/Arizona Commission on the Arts
Sylvia Dale, a Native American and former Ganado High School senior in Apache County, won the Arizona Poetry Out Loud competition in March 2020.

Weekend afternoons on a warm March day in the Valley are often spent outdoors.

But for 10 Arizona high school finalists, they were inside Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix on Saturday to compete in the Poetry Out Loud competition.  

“The way I refer to it is it’s the spelling bee but with poetry,” said Anastasia Freyermuth with the Arizona Commission on the Arts and state coordinator for the event. “Students have selected three poems from the national Poetry Out Loud anthology. They’ve memorized it.”  

And they recite it.

The poets chosen were diverse from Gwendolyn Brooks to Shakespeare to Gila River Indian Community poet Natalie Diaz.

One of her poems entitled, “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation,” was recited by Sylvia Dale, a Native American from Apache County.  

Dale spoke the opening lines of the poem determinedly. “Angels don’t come to the reservation. Bats, maybe …”  

She was crowned the winner after three rounds. “I really connected with her poem about the idea of Native Americans always being moved and looked down upon,” Dale said. “I really love her poem and how it demonstrates that we are here and we are still going to move forward.”  

The Ganado High School senior moves on to Washington, D.C., next month for the Poetry Out Loud national competition. 

Education The Show