Morgan Blackgoat, a Thunder Mountain High School senior, was the winner of the Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition held at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. It was Blackgoat’s second time winning the contest.

Morgan Blackgoat, a Thunder Mountain High School senior, was the winner of the Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition held at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. It was Blackgoat’s second time winning the contest.

Once more with feeling: Juneau poetry contest winner gets second shot at state

Despite last-second prep, 18-year-old Morgan Blackgoat wins regional competition

It was a very happy birthday for Morgan Blackgoat.

The Thunder Mountain High School senior won the Poetry Out Loud Juneau Regional Competition on her 18th birthday. Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition.

“I was ecstatic,” Blackgoat said of the moment her name was announced. “It’s like a really good birthday present.”

After her win, Blackgoat was mobbed by her siblings Piper, 10; Cooper, 8; and Benjamin, 8.They whooped congratulations and Piper clung to her sister’s arm.

It wasn’t Blackgoat’s first poetry contest win.

She also won last year’s Poetry Out Loud regional competition and placed second in last year’s Woosh Kinaadeiyí Grand Slam slam poetry contest.

[Poetry Grand Slam crowns winner]

However, Blackgoat said her victory at the Tuesday evening event in the Juneau Arts & Culture Center was a surprise — especially since Blackgoat got a late start on memorizing the two pieces she recited.

“I memorized these yesterday,” Blackgoat said. “I had a lot to do, so this was a great surprise to know I could actually do it.”

Morgan Blackgoat, a Thunder Mountain High School senior, reacts to the news that she won the Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Morgan Blackgoat, a Thunder Mountain High School senior, reacts to the news that she won the Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Blackgoat recited from memory the poems “Diameter” by Michelle Y. Burke and “After the Disaster” by Abigail Deutsch. She said deciding on those poems from those listed on the Poetry Out Loud website was difficult.

“I actually went through every single poem on the website until ‘J,’ and that’s when I got too tired to continue, so I just picked the poems I liked from those,” Blackgoat said.

Both of the poems are contemporary and deal with weighty topics.

Each poem was sourced from a March 2015 edition of the magazine Poetry, and “After the Disaster” addresses the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks while “Diameter” addresses the loss of a friend.

You love your friend, so you fly across the country to see her.

Your friend is grieving. When you look at her, you see that something’s missing.

You look again. She seems all there: reading glasses, sarcasm, leather pumps.

What did you expect? Ruins? Demeter without arms in the British Museum?

Your friend says she believes there’s more pain than beauty in the world.

When Persephone was taken, Demeter damned the world for half the year.

The other half remained warm and bountiful; the Greeks loved symmetry.

On the plane, the man next to you read a geometry book, the lesson on finding the circumference of a circle.

On circumference: you can calculate the way around if you know the way across.

You try across with your friend. You try around.

I don’t believe in an afterlife, she says. But after K. died, I thought I might go after her.

In case I’m wrong. In case she’s somewhere. Waiting.

– “Diameter” by Michelle Y. Burke

“I just liked it a lot because people close to me have died before, so I really felt that poem,” Blackgoat said of “Diameter.”

To advance to the next round, Blackgoat beat out nine other high school students from Juneau.

Alaska Poetry Out Loud Coordinator Amanda Filori said that’s a fairly typical number of competitors.

When announcing results, Filori said there were many high scores, and the regional competition was a close one.

However, Filori said the crowd at the first regional competition to be held at the JACC instead of Thunder Mountain High School or Juneau-Douglas High School:Yadaa.at Kalé was larger than usual.

[Alaska poetry reading series makes a Juneau stop]

“This was the most we’ve every seen at the regionals,” Filori said.

Organizers said the crowd at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center for the Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, was larger than usual. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Organizers said the crowd at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center for the Poetry Out Loud Regional Competition, Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, was larger than usual. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

She said she is looking forward to seeing the turnout for the state competition to be held March 7 at 360 North Studio.

Blackgoat is looking forward to that contest, too. It represents a chance to improve on her performance last year.

“I didn’t really make it at state,” Blackgoat said. “I am excited for the second shot.”

• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenHohenstatt.


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenHohenstatt.


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