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Nevada’s Poetry Out Loud state champion heads to Washington, D.C.


Poetry Out Loud winner Gracilea Maya-Joseph, right, with Scottie Lesher, White Pine High School, center, competed in the state finals in Reno March 16.

Graciela Maya-Joseph, a senior at Owyhee High School in Elko County, was named Nevada’s 2013 Poetry Out Loud State Champion from a field of 13 district semi-finalists who competed at the Eighth Annual Nevada State Finals on Saturday, March 16. The event took place at the Whitney Peak Hotel’s Cargo Music Hall in downtown Reno. Maya-Joseph recited “The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth, “Her Kind” by Anne Sexton and “Heavenby Cathy Song.

Maya-Joseph will represent Nevada at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington D.C. April 29–30 at the Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University.

Second place went to Jennifer Simon, a senior at Pahrump Valley High School in Nye County. Third place went to Ralston Thorlief Pedersen, a senior at Yerington High School in Lyon County.

“Here in Nevada we value poetry and our poets,” Susan Boskoff, executive director of Nevada Arts Council, said. “With the top three winners representing three of Nevada’s rural counties, it’s clear that poetry resonates across the Silver State. Poetry Out Loud is a complicated program to coordinate on a statewide basis, but it remains near and dear to our hearts. With more than 2,600 students participating this year, the supportive parents, teachers and principals from all over the state deserve great credit for teaching and supporting the importance of poetry.”

Maya-Joseph receives $1,000, an all-expense-paid trip to attend the National Finals in Washington, DC and $1,000 for her school for the purchase of poetry books and/or literary programming. The second and third place students will each receive $500, with $500 for his or her school for literary programming. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will bestow a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, with a $20,000 prize for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Each student memorized three poems he or she selected from an anthology of more than 600 classic and contemporary poems; the top three finalists each recited a third poem for the final round. Students were judged on voice and articulation, physical presence, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, overall performance and accuracy.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Nevada Arts Council, presented in partnership with the Nevada Alliance for Arts Education, Nevada Department of Education, National Endowment for the Arts, The Poetry Foundation, and this year’s major sponsor, NV Energy.

2013 Nevada Poetry Out Loud District Finalists:

  • Alicia Barchus, Junior, Carson High School, Carson City
  • Christian Curtis, Junior, Virginia City High School, Storey County
  • Jordon Gearey, Junior, Robert McQueen High School, Washoe County
  • Romey Hickman, Freshman, Mineral County High School, Mineral County
  • Holleah Le Baron, Senior, Lincoln County High School, Lincoln County
  • Scottie Lesher, Senior, White Pine High School, White Pine County
  • Graciela Maya-Joseph, Senior, at Owyhee High School in Elko County
  • Lillian Moravec, Junior, Albert Lowry High School, Humboldt County
  • Ralston T. Pedersen, Senior, Yerington High School, Lyon County
  • Hannah Perazzo, Junior, Churchill County High School, Churchill County
  • Jennifer Simon, Senior, Pahrump Valley High School, Nye County
  • Breanna Taylor, Freshman, Carson Valley Middle School, Douglas County
  • Monica Williams, Senior, Desert Pines High School, Clark County

The Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, is the agency charged with ensuring that state and national funds support cultural activity and encourage participation in the arts throughout Nevada.  NAC provides hundreds of grants to arts and community-based organizations, schools, artists and local municipalities throughout the state. The Arts Council also coordinates a variety of statewide programs and activities such as the annual Poetry Out Loud recitation competition for high-school aged students, traveling exhibits, artist residencies, workshops and cultural assessments. For more information, visit the agency’s website at nac.nevadaculture.org or call 775.687.6680 | 702.486.3700.

Chris Moran
Chris Moranhttp://travelnevada.com
Chris Moran has lived in Reno since 1996, and currently works at the Nevada Division of Tourism as a public relations specialist. She is a former editor and writer at the Reno Gazette-Journal, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Her hobbies include skiing, hiking, reading, photography, coffee and coffeehouses, and exploring Nevada. Check out her blog at www.ChrisinNevada.wordpress.com.