Douglas Poetry Out Loud champ heads to finals |

Douglas Poetry Out Loud champ heads to finals

Staff Reports

DHS junior Lea Gifford recites the first of two poems she presented Thursday.

Douglas High School junior Lea Gifford is one of 12 students from across the state who will take center stage March 11 at the 12th annual Nevada Poetry Out Loud State Finals.

The state finals are from noon to 3 p.m. at KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting's studios, 1670 N. Virginia St., Reno. The event is free and open to the public. The state champion will represent Nevada at the National Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C., April 25-26.

"The literary arts have always been a figure in the western landscape, so it's no surprise that Poetry Out Loud resonates in the Silver State," said Susan Boskoff, executive director of the Nevada Arts Council. "We congratulate the more than 2,700 students who engaged in this year's program and anticipate a very competitive and inspiring state finals."

Distinguished members of Nevada's literary community will participate in this year's state finals — Reno's Poet Laureate Gailmarie Pahmeier is serving as the master of ceremonies and Virginia City poet Shaun Griffin will read from his work. Griffin will also serve as a guest judge along with Rebecca Ewart, an English teacher at Churchill County High School in Fallon; George Perreault, a writer, poet and former instructor at the University of Nevada, Reno; Elizabeth Quiñones-Zaldaña, a Las Vegas poet and educator; and Erica Vital-Lazare, author and creative writing instructor at the College of Southern Nevada.

Poetry Out Loud begins at the local level as students learn about, memorize and present poetry. Participants advance from school to district competitions and then to the Nevada State Finals. The state champion earns $1,000, wins another $1,000 for his or her school to support literary programs, and travels with a chaperone to Washington, D.C. to compete for $50,000 in scholarships and school prizes at the National Poetry Out Loud Finals, held May 2-4. Those who place second and third at the Nevada State Finals each receive a $500 award and $500 for their schools to support literary programs.