Nevada Poetry Out Loud State Finals March 3 in Reno

~Travel Nevada~

CARSON CITY, Nevada – Nine high school students from around the state will take center stage at the 13th annual Nevada Poetry Out Loud State Finals, Saturday, March 3.

The State Finals are from noon to 3 p.m. at KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting, 1670 N. Virginia St., in Reno. The event is free and open to the public. The state champion will represent Nevada at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C., April 23- 25.

District Finalists competing for the state title include:

  • Carson City: Sophia Peterson, Junior, Carson High School
  • Clark County: Sandra Luevano, Senior, East Career and Technical Academy
  • Douglas County: Lea Gifford, Senior, Douglas High School
  • Elko County: Mikayla De Guzman, Junior, Elko High School
  • Lyon County: Gabrielle (Grey) Hunt, Senior, Yerington High School
  • Pershing County: Christopher Wilbur, Senior, Pershing County High School
  • Storey County: John Dexter Yago, Junior, Virginia City High School
  • Washoe County: Michael Kerr, Junior, Bishop Manogue Catholic High School
  • White Pine County: Darius Bush, Senior, White Pine High School

Structured similarly to the National Spelling Bee, Poetry Out Loud is focused on literary heritage through memorization and performance of classic and contemporary works. Nearly 3,600 students statewide took part in the competition beginning in the fall, school and regional competitions winnowed the field down to the final nine competitors in the State Finals.

The Poetry Out Loud State Champion earns $500, wins another $500 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. The runner-up earns $300 and $200 for their school, and the third-place student earns $100.

Distinguished members of Nevada’s literary community will participate in this year’s state finals. Past Reno Poet Laureate Gailmarie Pahmeier is serving as the master of ceremonies. Reno’s current Poet Laureate, Lindsay Wilson, and Clark County Poet Laureate, Vogue Robinson, will serve as guest judges along with Joe Atack, education director for the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival; Mary Holsclaw, STEM consultant for the Nevada Department of Education; and Michael Ursell, development manager for the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute. Nancy Manfredi, retired literary arts educator, will serve as the accuracy judge.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Nevada Arts Council presented in partnership with National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. For more information on the state finals, contact Maryjane Dorofachuk, at 702.486.3738, or visit

The Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, is charged with ensuring that state and national funds support cultural activity and encourage participation in the arts throughout Nevada.  In addition to providing hundreds of grants to arts and community-based organizations, schools, artists and local municipalities throughout the state, the Arts Council coordinates a variety of statewide programs and activities such as the annual Poetry Out Loud recitation competition for high-school aged students, traveling exhibits, artist residencies, workshops and cultural assessments. The Nevada Arts Council is funded by the State of Nevada, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other public and private sources. For more information, please visit


Photo caption: Douglas County’s Lea Gifford competes in the 2017 Nevada Poetry Out Loud State Finals. Gifford, a senior at Douglas High School, is one of three returning poets in the state finals. Defending state champion Gabrielle Hunt of Yerington and Pershing County High’s Christopher Wilbur are also in the field. Photo by Guy Clifton/Travel Nevada

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