Young Corbin Gomez nails Poetry Out Loud, an Interview
March 16, 2012, by Marion Franck
Recently, I had the pleasure of being the first person in the world to interview Corbin Gomez. I have a feeling I won’t be the last.
Last month, Corbin won the Poetry Out Loud contest in El Dorado County. In order to do so, he had to compete against first-place finishers from eight other high schools. Coming up soon will be the state competition where he competes against winners from 30 counties.
I saw one of his earliest performances when he took first place at his school, Oak Ridge High. I sat in the audience as a judge.
Corbin and the other students recited two poems each, chosen from a national list of hundreds of poems by famous poets. Some poems are long, some short. Some rhyme, some don’t. Some use sophisticated vocabulary; others do not.
Students score higher for choosing hard poems, but they also need to score well in poise, accuracy and, above all, ability to convey the meaning of the poem. Corbin stood out from the moment he walked to the front of the room.
He paused longer than the other students and looked at the audience members slowly in the eye. While he did that, I took him in, his smile, his tall stature, and his hair that rises from his head in straight black spikes.
In a warm, low voice, he then recited a long, unrhymed poem called “The Pomegranate and the Big Crowd” by Alberto Ríos, a delightful poem with an imaginative sweep that takes a young couple from their first kiss to the children and grandchildren who will follow.
Corbin recited slowly, with feeling. He made the audience laugh when they were supposed to, and at two tender moments his hand moved to his heart in a movement that felt completely genuine. It was a marvelous recitation. I thought, “I’m lucky to be here.”
A few minutes later, in the second round, he recited Philip Levine’s “What Work Is.”
As is often the case, Corbin has ...