On Feb. 5, junior Aaron Rubanowitz won the Los Angeles County Poetry Out Loud competition and moved on to the California State Finals that took place at Sacramento from March 14 to 16. Rubanowitz placed in the top 20 at State Finals, competing against more than 30,000 competitors from schools all over California. He recited the poems, “In Memorium: Martin Luther King Jr.” by June Jordan and “Queens Cemetery, Setting Sun” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Jordan’s poem is a critique of the racial conflicts and bigotry in America while Ferlinghetti’s poem is about immigrants coming to the United States to live the American Dream but ending their journey in the “Queens Cemetery.” Rubanowitz feels that both poems are applicable to present day as discrimination and injustice are still apparent in our society.
“Poetry has taught me how powerful the spoken word truly is,” Rubanowitz said. “However, the most important thing I learned was how it’s not all about the words but how they are said–the delivery, the tone, the emotion–all of it contributes and allows a deeper understanding of what the poet is trying to convey…I really had to understand how the poet felt and what they thought in order to recite that poem in the most genuine way possible…I would also like to thank my teachers, especially Mr. Cyr and Ms. Phipps, and also my family and friends for their help and support.”
Unfortunately, due to other obligations, Rubanowitz could not participate in Poetry Out Loud in freshman year. However, in sophomore year he found time to participate and won third place at school. Motivated to perform better this year, Rubanowitz won first place at the school and county competitions.
He states that the competition did not really scare him. As a part of the Speech and Debate team, he is accustomed to presenting in front of a large group of people.
However, the most challenging part of the Poetry Out Loud experience was picking poems to read and trying to relate to the poets. Once he found the perfect poems, he practiced everyday until he felt content.
Not only is Rubanowitz brilliant at reciting poetry, but also he is also a terrific debater. As a part of the school’s Speech and Debate team, Rubanowitz will be representing Granada Hills Charter High School for the State Championship in San Diego, California and National Championship in Dallas, Texas for dramatic speech interpretation.