Poetry competition extracts boldness from 9-y-o champion
THE TIMIDNESS displayed by nine-year-old Marcia Dale during a Gleaner interview yesterday was far from her demeanour when she delivered the winning dramatisation of a poetry piece on November 5 at the Peter Gracey’s This is Jamaica Poetry Scholarship competition.
The Norman Gardens Primary School student, with the help of her instructor, Carlene McGann-Gordon, was able to overcome the nervousness which racked her short stature and petite physique as she presented the poem ‘This is Jamaica’ by Gracey.
She was awarded US$1000 and her school was given US$500.
As she held her head low and crouched in her chair during the Gleaner interview, Dale, who was this year’s youngest competitor, explained that it came as a surprise when she was crowned winner of the competition, this especially because she was experiencing a fever and was sick when she delivered the poem.
“I felt scared at first but then Miss gave me a little comfort and then I felt better,” said Dale, who is also a Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) gold medallist.
Dale entered the competition alongside her fellow schoolmates Jada Stephens and Annakay East who, out of the over 60 participants between the ages of six to 17, came in the top 10. Stephens placed sixth.
McGann-Gordon, who teaches grades four to six language arts and is the school’s culture agent, explained how important it is as a teacher and a role model to help encourage the children to strive for success and to reassure them that they have the capacity to do great things.
“I’m a teacher but first a mother and my children must always be comfortable and happy,” said McGann-Gordon, adding that she enjoyed witnessing her students grow and develop.
Dale said she indeed made her comfortable.
“I feel very happy [and] it was nice working with her (teacher),” Dale said.
The children, McGann-Gordon explained, received the poem on October 25 and had less than a week to prepare to submit their online entry.
“But one thing about these children enuh, they are dedicated. My lunchtime? I don’t have any lunchtime. ‘Miss, Miss, I’m ready to say the poem’,” she recalled of her students, as she beamed with pride, adding that “the hard work, it paid off”.
Dale’s mother, Souvina Reid, who is a past student of the institution, told The Gleaner that she was shocked by the outspokenness and bravery of her daughter to not only get up on stage but to recite a poem “with some big words inna it”, as this, she said, was not an easy task.
“Miss Gordon make me see something me never know because I never know say Marcia was so bold ... me just never know say she did have it inna har,” she said.
Reid continued that she was overjoyed as she watched her daughter from the crowd, and that she was particularly grateful to McGann-Gordon who not only ensured that the kids practised every opportunity they had, but that she poured in them positive energy.
She stated that parents ought to play a more active role in their child’s life as “it made a big difference”.
Reid continued that to it was necessary to build trusting and long-lasting relationships with them as well.
“And from a mother to a child, you must always have that bond. So whether the child reach in college or university, me think you supposed to deh deh fi dem same way, you shouldn’t leave them out, and that is basically me and my kids dem, from Monday to Sunday, a me and dem,” she said.
Young Stephens said that her experience throughout the competition was an emotional one as she was brought to tears when she made an error when delivering her poetry piece.
The JCDC bronze medallist believes that if she had not made that mistake, she would have undoubtedly made the top five.
Nonetheless, she has learned from her mistake and looks forward to participating in the competition next year where she will return “bigger and better”.
East, who is also a JCDC bronze medallist, shared that she, too, was also very nervous throughout the competition.
The contestants were judged based on their accuracy, costume, stage presence, diction/enunciation, creativity and originality.