Piqua student wins poetry competition

PIQUA — The Piqua Arts Council (PAC) hosted the West Central Regional Final of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Poetry Out Loud Competition on Thursday, Feb. 11 at Edison State Community College.

As part of the competition, students from four of the region’s high schools participated in reading poems. Competing were Daniel Nauseef from Chaminade Julienne High School, Hibachi Loukssi from Xenia High School, Lexi Gastelu from Piqua High School and Abigail Lay from Springfield Clark Career and Technical College. The students competed in two rounds of poetry recitation with the judges for the evening also presenting.

The winner of the 2021 Poetry Out Loud West Central Regional Final was Lexi Gastelu from Piqua. She will go on to the state final on March 5, which will be held virtually.

Judges for the evening were Leroy Bean, Bridget Flaherty, Steven Gregory and Nate Funderburg, and were introduced by PAC Executive Director Jordan Knepper.

Bean is an author, poet, and co-founder of Underdog Academy and Baldwin Cafe Bookstore in Dayton.

Flaherty is an award-winning storyteller and founder of LORE, where she teaches the art of storytelling to businesses who want to authentically connect with their clients and employees and individuals who want to use their voice and share their story.

Gregory is a musician from Dayton. He is also a social worker and adjunct professor of sociology. He performs regularly with sax player Cody Curtis.

Funderburg is a lifelong resident of Piqua. After graduating Piqua High School, he graduated cum laude from Wright State University with a degree in English. He attended law school at the University of Dayton School of Law and graduated magna cum laude in 2006 after serving on the law review. Funderburg was admitted to the Ohio bar in November 2006, and the bar of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in December of the same year. Funderburg spent two years working for a local law firm before joining McCulloch, Felger, Fite and Gutmann in October 2008.

The student portion of the competition began with Daniel Nauseef from Chaminade Julienne Catholic reciting “Abandoned Farmhouse,” by Ted Kooser. After Nauseef, Hibachi presented “I Am Offering This Poem.” by Jimmy Santiago Baca. Gastelu went third with “A January Dandelion,” by George Marion McClellan and the first round closed out with Lay presenting “To Be of Use,” by Marge Piercy.

Round two of the competition kicked off with students participating in the same order as before. Nauseef led off with “Football,” by Louis Jenkins. Following was Loukssi with “The Ocean,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Gastelu performed “Fate,” by Carolyn Wells and the second round closed out with Abigail Lay performing Z”I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” by Kevin Young.

Replays of the competition will be posted on the Piqua Arts Council’s YouTube station and shared on the Piqua Arts Council’s Facebook page.