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Ravalli County Poetry contest broadcast live on KLYQ
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Ravalli County Poetry contest broadcast live on KLYQ

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The Ravalli County Poetry contest continued Friday with the radio broadcast of live poetry readings by finalists.

KLYQ Radio Station Manager Steve Fullerton hosted the ‘Events Show’ from upstairs in the broadcast booth and local poet Dominic “Flominic” Farrenkopf, contest organizer, emceed from downstairs where nervous poets prepared to “go live.”

Farrenkopf said this was the 10th year of the poetry contest and different from previous years where the finalists gave their readings in the KLYQ tent. The changes were made due to the COVID-19 pandemic but there was no reason to cancel the poetry event especially during its 10th anniversary.

“This was the easiest thing to continue,” Farrenkopf said. “They dropped their poems off with no contact and the radio is a safe venue because you can easily social distance and your audience doesn’t have to get together in a group.”

The Ravalli County Poetry contest numbers were up this year with 48 poems — 17 in the youngest age category, K-6, 20 in the 18+ category and 11 in the 7-12 category. There were 24 finalists, eight in each category.

In the K-6, finalists were: 1st — Josie Wolfe (Masks); 2nd — Natalie Farrar (Happy); 3rd — Tayvn Griffin (Frightening); finalists were Payton Lewis, Kemmi DeSharo, Vivian Svee, Nathan Keller and Lane Ellis.

On Friday, Lane Ellis a fifth-grade student at Corvallis Middle School was the first to read his poem. He was the youngest presenter and had the largest audience listening in the lobby.

“The River. The river flows deep, the river flows strong, the pines sway in the breeze, the birds chirp their song,” Ellis read. “The fish jump for a dragonfly as I hike along.”

Fullerton said he especially enjoys the poetry written by the kids.

“They have some of the best observations of true life that I’ve ever heard before,” he said. “We’ll do it again.”

There were several readers for the 18+ age group.

Finalists for the 18+ age group: 1st — Linda Fifer (The Last Night); 2nd — Starr Jameson (Crazy Quilt); 3rd — Allen Bjergo; finalists Melynds Mullen, Douglas E. Taylor, Kayli Maffei, Doug McConnaha and Linda Annin.

Linda Fifer read her poem “The Last Night.”

“Your door know, I can’t forget: your hand twisting the lock that last time in June,” Fifer read. “Had I been there, Had I known, I would have chosen open windows despite the spring chill. We were wearing sweaters, then: snow still on the Sleeping Giant’s chest. Be Safe. I think. Your hand moved from doorknob to sandwich to scotch to computer keyboard. More panic than prose, more confusion than comment, errors you usually caught still haunt. Fingers cramped, stuttered, flying through phrases, not enough time to finish. You worked the silence: insulation eroding in whispers.

Be safe, I think.

Your lifetime: gone. Had I been there, had I noticed had I caught you, one more day, I think.

But now you soar.”

Finalists for the category grades 7-12: 1st — Casey Beard (Summer Romance); 2nd — Eden Smith (A Nature Poem); 3rd — Landen Conner (Shadow Distancing); finalists Natalie Hawkes, Tiani Ertel, Nyssa Schairer and Emilia Schairer.

Finalist Tiani Ertel read her poem “Rain.”

“Rain.

The entire visible world has welled up with tears,” Ertel read. “Why are you crying? Is it something I did? Every color suddenly turned so vivid that I’m almost shocked at how violent it seems.

Doesn’t it hurt? The sun and I have an off and on relationship, but now that it doesn’t shone on my, I can exhale because now I know for certain that I am not cast in the light of a burning watchful eye that has never know how to regulate its judgment.

It’s like I have come home.

To someone who doesn’t expect me to be anything more than what I am Who will comfort me the best way they know how, and that is by crying.

I now know your tears are not of sadness.

They are of joy, because I have returned home.”

Other poetry readers on the radio were Natalie Hawkes, Starr Jameson, Douglas E. Taylor, Kayli Maffel and Farrenkopf, who read poems by Allen Bjergo and Doug McConnaha.

Farrenkopf said that he is hoping the poetry reading can be live and in person again next year for the county fair.

“But this year it worked out perfect to have all these people participate with their wonderful poems,” Farrenkopf said. “We had new poets, returning poets and 11 high school participants. I’m really excited about that, it is usually our hardest category to fill. During the COVID pandemic they couldn’t resist writing poetry.”

The top three in each age category won gift certificates from Chapter One Book Store.

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