RENO — After months of hard work and preparation, 13 young people with a heart for poetry will put their talents to the test in the national poetry recitation competition known as Poetry Out Loud. Student artists from 13 Nevada counties will join Gailmarie Pahmeier, a University of Nevada, Reno poet and instructor of creative writing and contemporary literature, in reciting great works. The competition is from noon to 3 p.m. today at Cargo inside CommRow, 255 N. Virginia St. The event and reception are free and open to the public.
Poetry Out Loud is a distinctive national arts education program and locally is an ongoing program of the Nevada Arts Council. About 400,000 students competed throughout the United States in their local contests. The Nevada champion from today’s event will advance to Washington D.C. and be among the top 56 students representing the 50 states and six territories. More than 2,000 Nevada high school artists performed at the county level for a chance to share $50,000 in prizes and school stipends awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.
“For Nevada’s Poetry Out Loud, we actually increased the award amounts to the top three finalists since we thought the students’ work was such a remarkable achievement,” said Susan Boskoff, executive director of the Nevada Arts Council. At the Nevada finals, the first place winner receives $1,000 and another $1,000 is awarded to the student’s school. Second and third place winners earn $500 each, with a match to their schools. The champion also wins a trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for the national title. Nevada has fared well in the past, with a representative in the top 10 national finalists.
“Students, teachers and teaching artists dedicate their time and talents to these performances for months in advance. The quality is really quite wonderful. The artists range from shy to gregarious. For every student who participated, at least one poem will make a lasting impression on them and how they look at arts in society,” Boskoff said.
Today’s statewide competition is the sixth time the state finals have been in Reno. Pahmeier will be a judge and recite her work before the student awards are made. Pahmeier was honored with the Alan Bible Teacher Award. Her work has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. She received two artist fellowship awards from the Nevada Arts Council and in 2007 earned the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
The competitors in today’s event are Amanda Titolo, Las Vegas; Jordan Sullivan, Gardnerville; Camille Wadsworth, Panaca; Graciela Maya-Joseph, Owyhee; Alyssa Whitlock, Ely; Adriana Avitia, Carson City; Katie Lynn Ibershoff, Reno; Erika Terry, Lovelock; Caitlin Wilson, Hawthorne; Nick Beaton, Yerington; Troy Hansberry, Fallon; Celena Joy Llera, Virginia City; Rachel French, Winnemucca and Jennifer Marie Simon, Pahrump. The public is welcome to attend all or part of the event and to follow the competition on Twitter at @NVPOL and Facebook at Nevada Poetry Out Loud.
For more information, please visit the Nevada Art Council online at nac.nevadaculture.org.