The 10th Annual Valentine N. Sengebau Poetry Competition will be held at the American Memorial Park Visitors Center Theatre this Wednesday, Oct. 23, beginning at 6pm.
The competition, which honors the late Valentine Sengebau, is open to junior high and high school students and is sponsored by the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.
It has two divisions: junior and senior. For the latter, participants must submit poems of any form that does not exceed 250 words. The poems must address themes relating to culture, identity, and/or change in the Northern Mariana Islands.
For the junior division, contestants must recite a poem from Sengebau’s Microchild, and the poem must be from the Cultural Identity, Politics, or Images section. Students are also required to give a 1-3 minute introduction to explain why he/she chose the particular poem and/or to give their personal interpretation of the poem.
Last year, Tinian Jr./Sr. High School junior’s Kyle David Manuel Sandbergen and Marianas Baptist Academy’s Yuuki Nishida won the 9th edition of the competition.
Sandbergen’s piece, titled Time Heals All, won him first place in the Senior Division, which saw 13 other participants in the category.
Nishida topped the Junior Division with his reading of the poem Old Man and the World.
Sengebau spent the last 25 years of his life in his adopted home of Saipan. The Palauan poet composed dozens of poems that were published in the Micronesian Reporter and the Marianas Variety, and the poetry expressed the personal joys and sorrows of his life and also explored the issues of the day, such as concerns regarding loss of cultural identity in the islands as well as the political negotiations between the United States and Micronesia.
To ensure that his work will be enjoyed by future generations, the council published an anthology of Sengebau’s poetry, Microchild, in 2004. The annual Valentine Sengebau Poetry Competition was established to support the work of young Micronesian poets and to honor the legacy of Micronesia’s foremost poet. (Mark Rabago)