From the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs

Yerington High School’s Gabrielle Hunt has represented Lyon County at the Nevada Poetry Out Loud State Finals for three consecutive years. Now she’ll represent the state of Nevada at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C.

Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Nevada Arts Council, presented in partnership with National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. NEA Chairman Jane Chu attended Saturday’s program in Reno.

Hunt, a junior at Yerington High and the daughter of Todd and Kaylene Hunt, prevailed from a field of 12 regional finalists at 12th annual Nevada State Finals, held Saturday (March 11) at KNPB Channel 5 Studios in Reno.  

Cache Black, a junior at Elko High School, finished in second place and Lea Gifford, a junior at Douglas County High School, finished third.

All 12 poets recited two poems in preliminary rounds with the top three advancing to read a third poem in the final round. Hunt’s selections included “The Nail,” by C.K. Williams; “The Mortician in San Francisco,” by Randall Mann and “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

“It took three years, but I finally did it,” said a smiling Hunt, who finished second last year and fourth as a freshman in 2015. “This year, I chose poems largely on the impact they would have during performance. I only kept one poem that I’d performed in previous years, ‘The Nail.’ The other two were ones I felt could really speak to the audience and myself as a performer.”

As the Poetry Out Loud State Champion, Hunt earns $1,000, wins another $1,000 for 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 April 25-26, 2-17. 

For placing second and third, Black and Gifford each receive a $500 award and $500 for their schools to support literary programs. 

A dynamic educational program, Poetry Out Loud begins at the local level as students learn about, memorize and finally present poetry – out loud. More than 2,800 Nevada high school students participated this year. Participants advance from school to district competitions and then to the Nevada State Finals.

The other district finalists in Saturday’s competition included:

•         Carson City: Emily Matuska, sophomore, Carson High School  
•         Clark County: Gillian Lajda, sophomore, East Career and Technical Academy 
•         Humboldt County: Tanner Ames, senior, Albert Lowry High School
•         Lincoln County: Nathanael Frehner, senior, Lincoln County High School 
•         Nevada Virtual: Erica Jean Peterson, sophomore, Nevada Virtual Academy
•         Nye County: Octavio Jesus Maldonado, 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

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

From the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs