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May 18, 2006

Local Student Wins National Poetry Competition, $20,000 Scholarship

WASHINGTON , D.C. – On Tuesday, May 16th, Columbus Alternative High School student Jackson Hille placed first in the National Finals of the PoetryOut Loud: National Recital Contest at the historic Lincoln Theater in Washington, DC. Jackson, an 18 year old senior from Clintonville, bested competitors from all fifty states and the District of Columbia to earn a $20,000 scholarship.

On Tuesday, Hille’s rendition of the Billy Collins’ poem, “Forgetfulness,” which explores the trials of the aging process, sealed his victory and his National Championship title. Earlier that evening, Hille recited “Altruism” by Molly Peacock and “A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a late Famous General” by Jonathan Swift to continue his advancement in the final round.

Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington) met with Hille on Wednesday in her Washington office, and was extremely impressed with the champion. “ Jackson is a dynamic and sensationally talented young man. He is a tremendous ambassador for central Ohio, and I am fortunate for having met him,” Pryce said.

Jackson is the son of Russ and Kim Hille, and was joined by his family and his Columbus Alternative art teacher Jamie Foley at the competition. He plans to attend Otterbein College in Westerville this fall.

Each year, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation sponsor the competition, a program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Over a three day period earlier this week, contestants were eliminated through a series of preliminary competitive rounds, and the remaining 12 competitors battled it out on Tuesday evening.

Click here for photo.

Forgetfulness

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No onder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Billy Collins

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