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Laguna Blanca Senior Wins Poetry Out Loud Contest

Spencer Klavan earns trip to state competition. Laguna sophomore Peter Sorensen places second.

Laguna Blanca School senior Spencer Klavan finished first in the Santa Barbara County Poetry Out Loud Contest last week, while Laguna sophomore Peter Sorensen placed second. The competition took place in the Mural Room at the Courthouse.

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Spencer Klavan

Now in its fifth year, Poetry Out Loud is an initiative of the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Recitation and performance are major new trends in poetry. There has been a recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip-hop music. Poetry Out Loud builds on that momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English class.

This exciting new program, which is modeled on the National Spelling Bee, helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Klavan will head to the state-level competition later this month in Sacramento. Each state-level winner will receive $200 and an all expense-paid trip to Washington to compete for the national championship. The state winners’ school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. A total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends at the National Finals will be awarded to the winners.

Klavan recited Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach” at the local competition.

“Dover Beach”
By Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

— Tara Broucqsault is Laguna Blanca School’s public relations director.

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