Maeva Ordaz, of Anchorage, was among the 53 students from around the country who participated in the National Finals of Poetry Out Loud held in Washington, DC April 29-30. Ordaz presented poems including “Zacuanpapalotls” by Brenda Cardenas and “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats.
Ordaz, a student at West Anchorage High School, received an all-expense-paid trip to compete in the finals after advancing from high school and state-level competitions. The national poetry recitation contest was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.
“Attending the Poetry Out Loud competition was an incredible opportunity for me to meet my talented peers from all different places around the nation,” said Ordaz in a release. “Being able to speak with other students who share a similar appreciation for the art of poetry, and listening to their stories as well, is what I will always remember about Poetry Out Loud.”
Guest judges evaluating recitations during the semifinal rounds on Tuesday included poets Allison Hedge Coke, Dorothea Lasky and Roger Reeves; Barrelhouse poetry editor Dan Brady; Robert Casper of the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress; Teri Cross Davis, poetry and lectures coordinator at the Folger Shakespeare Library; Pink Line Project founder Philippa Hughes; Celeste Mendoza, co-founder and co-director of CantoMundo; and Dan Vera, co-founder of VRZHU Press.
Judges evaluated the student performances based on criteria including physical presence, voice and articulation, accuracy, and evidence of understanding. At the National Finals, a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends was distributed.
Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. Information on Poetry Out Loud is available from the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council at jahc.org/arts-education/poetry-out-loud and at www.poetryoutloud.org.