MARQUETTE - For the first time in its three-year history, Marquette Senior High School's Poetry Out Loud competition was decided through a sudden-death showdown.
The crowd gathered inside the school's Shirley Smith Little Theatre listened with bated breath as senior Reilly Chabie and junior Marguerite Guter both recited a third poem, following two rounds of poetry recitation that saw them rise to the top among 18 competitors.
"I was surprised," Chabie said of the tie between her and Guter, "because everybody had their own talent during this, so I thought it would be kind of easy to choose who the winner was, that there was going to be a specific thing that held first place from second place. But it was really cool that I got to do a tiebreaker."
Marquette Senior High School senior Reilly Chabie, recites “Larkinesque” by Michael Ryan Wednesday during the third annual Poetry Out Loud competition held inside the Little Theatre. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
Guter said she was "shocked" by the tie, and found herself reciting a third poem she didn't have a lot of confidence in.
"I wasn't really prepared for the tiebreaker because I've never seen one happen, so I wasn't expecting it," Guter said. "My third poem, I was a lot less sure of than the other ones, but it was still a lot of fun."
It came down to precision between the competitors, and Chabie was able to edge out Guter by a margin of only five points.
Guter also placed second last year.
Third place was earned by junior Chelsea Morin, who missed the tie between first and second place by just three points. Morin won last year's competition.
"It feels really good," Chabie said of the win. She has competed in each of the last three Poetry Out Loud competitions.
"A lot of hard work was put into this year," she said. "I mean, every year has been hard work, but this year has been a lot of work."
In the tiebreaker round, Chabie recited "Anne Rutledge" by Edgar Lee Masters. In the day's earlier two rounds of regular competition, Chabie recited "Larkinesque" by Michael Ryan and "The Paradox" by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Students could recite any poem of their choosing from Poetry Out Loud's approved list of poems.
With Wednesday's win, Chabie earned a spot in the statewide competition which will take place in Lansing March 13-14. The Poetry Out Loud State Championship is sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council, the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The state winner will receive $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national title. The state winner's school will also receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.