Douglas poet advances to state |

Douglas poet advances to state

Poetry Out Loud competitors (from left) Shannon Bunn (second place), Lea Gifford (first place) and Maya Wolery (third place) pose for a photo with DHS English teacher Karen Heine.
Brad Coman |

Douglas High School junior Lea Gifford is hoping to continue the school’s winning streak next month at the state’s Poetry Out Loud competition.

Gifford won the district competition with her recitation of the poems “Discrimination” by Kenneth Rexroth and “The Chimney Sweeper: When my mother died I was very young” by William Blake.

She will represent Douglas County at the state Poetry Out Loud competition March 11 in Reno.

“It was like telling a story, which I enjoy,” said Gifford. “I was able to bring my storytelling skills into interpreting and reciting the poems.”

Gifford is one of three students who competed in the district Poetry Out Loud competition Thursday afternoon at Douglas High.

Sophomores Shannon Bunn and Maya Wolery placed second and third, respectively.

Competition coordinator Karen Heine said former Douglas High School student Vanessa Blackwell took home third place during last year’s state competition and Dominique Groffman won state in 2015.

“Douglas has a reputation,” said Heine. “We are hoping for another state champion.”

Competitors in the district competition were judged on physical appearance, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, overall performance and accuracy.

“It was very impressive and a very close call,” said Mena Dedmon, who judged the competition along with Anna Porras and Jim Polka. “These students are very dedicated, talented and smart. It was hard to choose one winner.”

Gifford said she enjoys how poets can say whatever they want and feel with a special meaning known only to them.

“As the reader, you get a glimpse of what they were feeling and try to discover that special meaning,” she said.

Poetry Out Loud was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.