Gay Teen Wins PA Statewide Poetry Competition

Image via Twitter @YorkSuburbanHS

You can find LGBTQ representation and leadership everywhere you look, including in the worlds of literature and education.

According to the York Dispatch, a junior at York Suburban High School won the Pennsylvania state championship of the poetry performance contest Poetry Out Loud. Steven File is the student currently being praised by his community after he beat 4,600 other students from 110 schools across the state. For the contest, students were tasked with memorizing three poems and recite them in front of judges. They were then scored on artistic presentation, delivery of language, and accuracy.

For Steven, the three poems he recited were “Where Did the Handsome Beloved Go?” by Jalal al-Din Rumi; “Undivided Attention” by Taylor Mali; and “The Mortician in San Francisco” by Randall Mann. In terms of the latter by Mann, the poem is about the late gay politician Harvey Milk.

“The story really captivated me,” said Steven, who identifies as gay. “I wanted to show people the power of that poem.”

For Steven File, this statewide win marks the pinnacle of a high school career around the competition. File began in his freshman year when participation in Poetry Out Loud was mandatory. For Steven, the event was so fun that he decided to participate again and again.

“This year, by focusing on the emotion of the poems and really connecting with them, that allowed me to be successful,” Steven said.

Unfortunately, Steven will have to wait before continuing with the competition. While he was planning to go to Washington, D.C. in April to compete at the national level with 51 other high school students, the contest was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It definitely hurt,” Steven said after hearing the news. “However, I think if anything this experience has motivated me to continue competing next year.”

Sources: the York Dispatch,

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