Junior Wins State Poetry Competition

Congratulations to Irene Zhong ’24, Hawai‘i’s 2023 Poetry Out Loud Champion. Her superb performance at this year’s State Finals on Sunday earned her first place and a financial award. Punahou’s Cooke Learning Commons will also receive an award for the purchase of poetry materials. 

Zhong artfully delivered three poems: “Tomorrow” by Dennis O’ Driscoll, “Sonnet 55: Not Marble Nor the Gilded Monuments …” by William Shakespeare, and “The Coming Woman” by Mary Weston Fordham. Competition was high-caliber this year, with noteworthy performances from private and public school students. Hawai‘i State Poet Laureate Brandy Nālani McDougall read three of her poems while results were tabulated.

Zhong is the fourth Punahou student to hold the title of Hawai’i Poetry Out Loud State Champion. Punahou alumnus Nick Amador ’18 was a three-time National finalist.

Zhong will represent Punahou and Hawai’i at the National Poetry Out Loud Competition in Washington, D.C., from May 8 – 10.  The National Finals will be broadcast via live webcast.

Excerpt from “The Coming Woman” by Mary Weston Fordham

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