Lydia Newsome: Waiting for Washington



Photo credit of Lydia Newsome to Chris Zoeller of the Waterloo Courier.

Karma Goodson, Reporter

Senior, Lydia Newsome is headed to Washington. After successfully taking the state finalist title in the poetry out loud contest back in March. Herself and 50 other students from across the United States will be competing Tuesday and Wednesday, May 9th in the semi finals, where three students from each semifinal will continue to compete in the finals May 10th, at 7 pm in the Lisner Auditorium for a $20,000 prize. Newsome says that “This event means so much for me, not only because it’s a incredible opportunity but because I’m going to represent not only my school and state, but as well as my family. And there is no greater honor than making the people who put so much into you proud.” Newsome will be reciting “We are not Responsible” by Harryette Mullen, a two page poem about systemic racism and the growth rate of the police state.

Due to COVID-19, the nationwide contest turned virtual for two years but fortunately Newsome will be one of few students who are flown out to compete in person. Newsome notes she is “Very, Extremely, incredibly nervous. Never flying before or really being out of the state my anxiety is through the roof. Though I’m hoping that if I stay focused enough I can beat the competition.”

Newsome’s love for poetry was highly influenced by West Highs own IMC teacher Mrs. Brekuen. Years ago when she invited Newsome to create a writing project that in Newsome’s own words gave her a “spark.” Without the help of Mrs. Brekuen she says “If that one event never happened I would have never had a second thought about poetry.”  With less than 20 days left of school and an hour until the competition, Newsome plans on pursuing her education at the university of Iowa where she will be studying Pre-law and musical theater. “If I can’t make it past the bar [exam] I hope to at least make it to the stage.”

The Poetry Out Loud contest was created to empower students voices and test their creative abilities. Hosted by Joy Sunday more then 4.1 million students, 68,000 educators, and 17,000 schools across the nation have competed in the said contest. Offering Free educational material since 2005, the contest encourages students to build and master their public speaking skills, self confidence, and learn about literary history.

We are all so unbelievably proud of Newsome and how hard she has worked, with West High on her side we are wishing her luck. To learn more about the Poetry out loud contest or tune in to watch Newsome compete click here.