Four Herricks High School students took honors in the 41st annual Spanish Poetry Competition at Hofstra University.
Ten Herricks High students, all third-year or AP Spanish students, each wrote 20 lines of verse for the April 23 competition, which drew 100 students from Long Island high schools. Students were judged for the quality of their composition and their skills in pronunciation, intonation and delivery of their lines.
Herricks Spanish teacher Tania DeSimone, who along with fellow Spanish teacher Julio Larrain provide coaching, said Herricks students have been entered the competition for the past decade, and have won awards each year.
No themes or subjects were suggested to the students, who had the option to write original verse or recite existing works.
“They don’t give many guidelines. I always encourage students to create their own poetry,” DeSimone said.
Larrain said the process is more fulfilling if the poems provide an opportunity for self-expression.
“It’s more meaningful if it’s their own creation,” Larrain said.
Herricks senior Luis Guallpa, a participant who first learned Spanish at home, intends to become a Spanish teacher himself and recently received a $500 college scholarship to help toward that goal.
“I feel like I can teach something I’ve enjoyed learning my whole life,” he said.
The inspiration for his poem, “Los secretos del bosque enigmático,” (“The enigmatic secrets of the Black Forest”), was a TV documentary that explored the natural mysteries of wildlife in that forest. His poem won second place in competition against other native Spanish speakers.
“Everyone really prepared for it,” he said of his and his schoolmates’ approach to the competition.
Senior Monica Thambireddy’s poem, “Palabras Embotelladas,” (“Bottled words”) won third place in the competition. The words were told from the perspective of a man in rowboat, looking back at his past, and wishing he could change it.
“I feel it sometimes,” she said. “I think everyone feels that.”
Sophomore Shobha Tewani earned second place for her poem “Dejame Fluir,” (“Let Me Flow”) in which the narrator’s tears flow into the ocean.
“I was already writing poems for my English class, so I wanted to do one in Spanish,” Tewani said.
Junior Sohum Patua’s poem, “Quarente, Quarente” (“40, 40”) was an extended metaphor about tennis, correlating parts of the game to the five human senses.
“I didn’t want to write about love or something cliché,” Patua said.
For senior Anant Kharode, the process of writing in Spanish
sparked the realization that poetry is its own language, whatever vernacular the writer uses.
“This process has made me realize that poetry is not a simple language,” he said. “We were able to create something by ourselves.”
Kharode earned second place for his poem, “El Esquema,” (“The Scheme”).
All of the Herricks students said they enjoyed the personal process of creation, ultimately sharing their work with each other when they recited their poems to each other in the run-up to the competition.
For junior Nathaniel Ramdhany, his poem, “De las Cenizas,” (“Out of the Ashes”) was a conscious attempt to evoke a universal theme about the need people face to move from a place of despair at difficult moments in their lives to a place of hope.
“Despite any language barriers, everyone needs to know that,” he said.