Imagine a spelling bee for poetry. Excitement. Creativity. Competition.
Thousands of high schools across the country are participating in "Poetry Out Loud," a recitation competition that encourages high school students to memorize and perform great poems. The University of Nevada, Reno will host the competition, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday, March 24, in the Redfield Proscenium Theatre of the Church Fine Arts Complex.
"We are very excited that 14 of Nevada's 16 school districts with a high school are competing this year," said the Nevada Arts Council's Gary Margolis, Arts in Education program coordinator. "While it's not confirmed, we believe that at 87 percent, Nevada may lead the country in school districts participating in a state finals."
"Students enjoy greater creativity and become empowered as they grow comfortable with the spoken word," said Heather Hardy, College of Liberal Arts dean. "This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn the importance of literary heritage. It creates a gateway to a fine university education in liberal arts or any discipline."
Gailmarie Pahmeier, an English lecturer and poet, served as a judge for the state finals in 2006 and the Washoe County district finals earlier this year. Pahmeier will receive the Governor's Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts, March 22, recognizing her lifetime contributions to creative writing, poetry and poetics.
"I found both competitions inspiring and just hugely delightful," Pahmeier said. "In fact, after serving as a judge last year, I incorporated a recitation component in my poetics course. If high school students can do it, so can ours!"
The Nevada state winner will earn $1,000 prize and earn a place at the national competition. The winner's school will receive $2,000 to support literary arts programs and the purchase of poetry books.
"Poetry Out Loud" is presented in partnership by the Nevada Arts Council, Nevada Department of Education, the Nevada Alliance for Arts Education, University of Nevada, Reno College of Liberal Arts and School of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.