Carson Valley Middle School student Breanna Taylor celebrated her win at Poetry Out Loud on Saturday with a hot chocolate and a barbecue salmon dinner.
The 14-year-old freshman will compete in the state competition in Reno next month.
"I was really excited. I was kind of shocked because there were so many people who were good there," Breanna said. "It was gratifying knowing the audience and judges thought I did better than they did. I really enjoyed the experience of speaking in front of people, and the environment, and how easy it can be."
Breanna recited "The Hospital Window" by James Dickey and "The Song of the Powers" by David Mason.
"I really like challenges and as I was reading it, it seemed like a simple poem, but it was complex. It was literally about somebody looking out a hospital window," Breanna said of her first poem. "I chose the second one because it's a metaphor for rock, paper, scissors. The message was we need to embrace people's strengths rather than put them down for what they can do."
After hearing some of the earlier contestants stumble over their lines, Breanna's mother, Jennifer, said she was a little nervous for her daughter.
"It was fantastic," she said. "I was really proud of how she was able to keep herself composed and recite both her poems flawlessly."
Dominique Groffman won second place, and Grace Gautereax came in third.
The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.
For more information, visit www.poetryoutloud.org.