Nevada Poetry Out Loud Finals Set For March 11

Posted By on February 27, 2017

by Guy Clifton, Nevada Department of Tourism & Cultural Affairs · 3 min read

RENO, Nevada – Twelve high school students from across the state will take center stage at the 12thannual Nevada Poetry Out Loud State Finals, Saturday, March 11.

The State Finals are from noon to 3 p.m. at KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting’s studios, 1670 N. Virginia St., in 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 2,7oo students who engaged in this year’s program, and anticipate a very competitive and inspiring state finals.”

Mikayla Bates represented Elko County at the 2016 Nevada State Poetry Out Loud Finals and went on to represent the Nevada at the national finals in Washington, D.C. A dozen student poets will compete at this year’s event, which takes place March 11 at noon at KNPB in Reno. Photo by Michael Okimoto, provided by Nevada Arts Council.

District Finalists competing for the state title include:

  • Carson City: Emily Matuska, sophomore, Carson High School
  • Clark County: Gillian Lajda, sophomore, East Career and Technical Academy
  • Douglas County: Lea Gifford, junior Douglas High School
  • Elko County: Cache Black, junior, Elko High School
  • Humboldt County: Tanner Ames, senior, Albert Lowry High School
  • Lincoln County: Nathanael Frehner, senior, Lincoln County High School
  • Lyon County: Gabrielle Hunt, junior, Yerington High School
  • Nevada Virtual: Erica Jean Peterson, sophomore, Nevada Virtual Academy
  • Nye County: Octavio Jesus Maldnado, junior, Beatty High School
  • Pershing County: Christopher J. Wilbur, junior, Pershing County High School
  • Storey County: Pandora Arredondo, junior, Virginia City High School
  • Washoe County: Skye Matuzak, sophomore, Truckee Meadows Community College High School

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, English Language Arts teacher, Churchill County High School, Fallon; George Perreault, writer, poet and former instructor, University of Nevada, Reno; Elizabeth Quiñones-Zaldaña, poet and educator, Las Vegas; and Erica Vital-Lazare, author and instructor of Creative Writing, College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas.

A dynamic educational program, Poetry Out Loud begins at the local level as students learn about, memorize and finally present poetry – out loud. Participants advance from school to district competitions and then to the Nevada State Finals, where the stakes are high. The Poetry Out Loud 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.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Nevada Arts Council, (which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year), 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