Nine schools competed in the 12th Valentine N. Sengebau Poetry Competition on Thursday at the Pacific Islands Club, with representatives of San Antonio Middle School and Marianas High School taking home the top prizes.
The competition was divided into two divisions—the junior and senior divisions—with contestants interpreting the late Valentine Sengebau’s poetry or reciting their original work.
In the senior division, Marianas High School duo Ann Margaret Norcio and Yuuki Nishida won first place with their poem Shh! Listen…, which reminded the audience of the importance of paying attention to the needs of the community and keeping our spirits and culture strong no matter the challenges or adversities. Second place winner was duo Glengela Guiang and Eddie Boy Cestona from Dr. Rita Inos Junior/Senior High School, while third place went to Minna Natsuko Ito of Grace Christian Academy.
Individual contestants and duos hailed from Saipan, Tinian and Rota and represented their respective schools that included Hopwood Junior High School, Dandan Middle School, Dr. Rita H. Inos Junior/Senior High School, Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja, Grace Christian Academy, Marianas High School, Mount Carmel School, San Antonio Middle School, and Tinian Junior-Senior High School.
Last year’s winners were Eskuelan San Francisco de Borja for the junior division and Marianas High School for the senior division.
Hosted by the Northern Marianas Humanities Council, the competition honors the legacy of Micronesia’s foremost, Valentine Sengebau, whose poetry involved issues such as cultural identity, politics and change in the Northern Mariana Islands.
Sengebau spent the last 25 years of his life in his adopted home of Saipan composing dozens of poems expressing the personal joys and sorrows of his life and the issues regarding loss of cultural identity in the islands as well as the political negotiations between the United States and Micronesia.