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Owyhee student competes Monday in Washington, D.C., at Poetry Out Loud National Finals

By ThisIsReno
Graciela Maya-Joseph, a senior at Owyhee High School in Elko County, will compete in the National Finals for Poetry Out Loud held Monday and Tuesday, April 29 and 30 in Washington, D.C.

Graciela Maya-Joseph, a senior at Owyhee High School in Elko County, will compete in the National Finals for Poetry Out Loud held Monday and Tuesday, April 29 and 30 in Washington, D.C.

NEVADA ARTS COUNCIL NEWS RELEASE – Graciela Maya-Joseph, a senior at Owyhee High School in Elko County, will compete in the National Finals for Poetry Out Loud held Monday and Tuesday, April 29 and 30 in Washington, D.C. She is one of 53 finalists from a field of 375,000 who competed nationally. Maya-Joseph was named Nevada’s 2013 Poetry Out Loud State Champion at the Eighth Annual Nevada State Finals in March, 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 Heaven by Cathy Song.

“Here in Nevada we value poetry and our poets. With the top three winners representing three of Nevada’s rural counties, it’s clear that poetry resonates across the Silver State,” said Susan Boskoff, executive director of Nevada Arts Council. “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 received $1,000, an all-expense-paid trip to attend the National Finals in Washington, D.C. and $1,000 for her school for the purchase of poetry books and/or literary programming. The Poetry Out Loud National Finals will give a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, with a $20,000 prize for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Anna Deavere Smith, the award-winning playwright, actress, and recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship Award, will host the finals Tuesday evening. Guest judges for the National Finals are poets Patricia Smith and Eduardo Corral, BBC Correspondent Jane O’Brien, and Tree Swenson, executive director of the Richard Hugo House in Seattle, Washington.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. In Nevada, Poetry Out Loud is also a program of the Nevada Arts Council, presented in partnership with the Nevada Alliance for Arts Education, Nevada Department of Education, and the major sponsor is NV Energy.The program encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high school students across the country. Poetry Out Loud gives students an opportunity to master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.The 53 state champions will gather at the Poetry Out Loud semifinals Monday from 9:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. George Washington University. Nine finalists will advance in the competition Tuesday from 7:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

Viewers can watch the entire semifinals and finals through a live, one-time only webcast at www.arts.gov. Other poetry fans may get help hosting a Poetry Out Loud Webcast Viewing Party. Register here to find tips on hosting a party, promotional materials, and details on other viewing parties around the country. Poetry Out Loud is online on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, hashtag #POL13. For more information on the event, webcast, or viewing parties, visit arts.gov, or call 202-682-5606. Schools interested in registering for the 2014 Poetry Out Loud contest should contact 775-687-6680. More information is available at www.poetryoutloud.org.

Judges for the semifinal rounds include poets Reginald Dwayne Betts, Fady Joudah, and Simone Muench; Pink Line Project founder Philippa Hughes; Kevin Dyels of First Chair Interpreted Productions, LLC; Robert Casper of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress; Cave Canem Foundation Executive Director Alison Meyers, Barrelhouse Poetry Editor Dan Brady, NPR Senior Producer Elizabeth Blair, and Andy Shallal, proprietor of the Busboys and Poets restaurant chain.

The NEA and the Poetry Foundation provide free, standards-based curriculum materials for Poetry Out Loud, which include poetry anthologies containing more than 650 classic and contemporary poems, a teacher’s guide, video footage of performances from the National Finals, and audio tracks about the art of recitation. Schools are welcome to download these resources at www.poetryoutloud.org.

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. In addition to providing hundreds of grants to arts and community-based organizations, schools, artists and local municipalities throughout the state, the Arts Council 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, please visit the department’s website at nac.nevadaculture.org/.