by Jo Rafferty
An enthusiastic Jake Reid won the Douglas High School competition for the national recitation contest Poetry Out Loud on Feb. 23. At noon on Saturday in the Church Fine Arts Complex at the University of Nevada, Reno, he will join 13 other high school students who will all be competing for the state championship.
The Nevada State Finals of Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest will be presented in partnership by the Nevada Arts Council, the Nevada Alliance for Arts Education, the Nevada Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. The event will be hosted by the UNR College of Liberal Arts and the School of the Arts.
This is the first time Jake, 16, had tried his skills at poetry recitation, although he has been a poet for most of his life.
“I’ve been a writer of poetry off and on throughout the years,” said Jake. “The reason I like poetry is, it’s like all of life summed up in a few words. It takes everything in life and kind of rolls it up into a ball of a few lines and words. It’s just great.”
Born in Albuquerque, N.M., Jake moved to Indian Hills when he was 4. He has found that Northern Nevada’s wilderness areas provide a good environment for a growing writer.
“I like to go backpacking and stuff,” said Jake. “I feel very comfortable in the outdoors. I guess the fact how a lot of poetry deals with natural themes inspires me.”
Jake’s parents have also been a source of inspiration to him. His father is what Jake calls a “natural writer,” whose current work is a book, “Arctic Circle,” not yet released, that Bob Reid wrote after a trip to the Arctic.
“He spent a couple of weeks up with the caribou in the wilderness,” said Jake, of his father who goes by the pen name Robert Leonard Reid.
His mother, Carol Reid, gives sermons at their church.
“She’s just as spiritual as my dad is,” said Jake.
When asked if his parents were proud of him, Jake said, “We’re proud of each other. I’m proud of my parents, too.”
Jake is now looking back to New Mexico where he plans to go St. John’s College in Santa Fe.
“I hope to be able to (go to New Mexico),” said Jake. “It seems like the perfect setting. It’s not only one of the most beautiful places in the world – it’s like this little oasis, a little haven of culture that I would like to be a part of.”
The winner of the Poetry Out Loud Nevada finals will receive $1,000, and the winner’s school will receive a $2,000 stipend for the purchase of poetry books and to support literary programs. The state champion of the Poetry Out Loud Nevada final will receive an all expenses-paid trip (with a chaperone) to compete in the National Finals in Washington, D.C., April 29 Ð May 2. The second and third place students will each receive $500, with $1,000 for his or her school. The Poetry Out Loud national finals will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends, with a $20,000 college scholarship for the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.
“More than anything, I’m just excited to give all I have, even if I don’t win anything,” said Jake. “Although winning would be nice, going to Washington, D.C.,” he laughed, then added seriously, “As long as I’ve done my part (in expressing my poetry). It’s just mostly about the poems for me right now.”
The Nevada Arts Council is a division of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs. The department serves Nevada’s citizens and visitors through cultural and information management, preservation and promotion of cultural resources and education. For more information, visit the department’s Web site at http://www.NevadaCulture.org.