Fernandez siblings Elaine and Nehemiah of Saipan Southern High School and Klin Deleon Guerrero of Francisco M. Sablan Middle School topped this year’s Sengebau Poetry Competition Tuesday night at the American Memorial Park theater in Garapan.
The Fernandezes won in the Senior Division recital with their poem, Who We Are. Deleon Guerrero won the Junior Division recital with his rendition of Valentine N. Sengebau’s The Plague.
The Sengebau Poetry Competition is organized annually by the Northern Marianas Humanities Council to honor the legacy of Valentine N. Sengebau, a Palauan poet who made the CNMI his adopted home. Now on its 16th year, the competition also supports the works of young Micronesian poets.
CNMI first lady Diann Torres, who was one of the competition judges, said the event gives children the opportunity to learn about their language and culture, and to advance their public speaking skills.
“[This competition] allows them to practice speaking in bigger groups compared to what they are used to in their classrooms., and to come out and do things outside of the box, outside of homework, school, and family events,” Torres added.
Humanities Council executive director Leo Pangelinan said the competition is a way to promote poetry in the CNMI as a form of expression, and gives the community an opportunity to experience the presentation of the spoken word.
One of the night’s competitors, Anhkiet Huynh, who is a senior in Kagman High School, said, “This competition is very important…to let everyone know what our perspective is on the change and identity of the CNMI today.”
Huynh competed with his original piece, CNMI, We Have a Problem.
Students who competed in the junior division were judged based on their performance of their chosen piece from Sengebau’s anthology of poems, Microchild, which was published in 2004. Aside from performance, students who competed in the senior division were judged on content, as they had to write their own original poetry.
Aside from Deleon Guerrero, other junior division recital winners are FMS’ Aleeza Castro, with her delivery of Searching, and Dandan Middle School’s Issa Teigita, with the poem Ngedeloch, who both placed second, and DMS’ Oceana Teigita, who, with her delivery of The Plague placed third.
In the Senior Division recital, Malinao Palacios, who delivered Who Are We?, and Kiran Shrestha who delivered Of Many, both of Tinian Jr/Sr High School, placed second and third place, respectively.