Anchorage resident Maeva Ordaz is 2014 Poetry Out Loud Alaska State Champion


Juneau, Alaska — Rising to the top of a competitive pool of more than 3,600 students across the state, Maeva Ordaz from West Anchorage High School in Anchorage, Alaska, received the title of 2014 Poetry Out Loud Alaska State Champion at the state finals held at the 360 North Studio, in Juneau, Alaska, on March 11, 2014.  The first runner-up was Rafael Sales from Thunder Mountain High School in Juneau. Ordaz’s final recitation was Ode, by the English­­­­ 19th century poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy.

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. Beginning at the classroom level, winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional competition and the state competition. Ultimately, state winners travel all expenses paid to the National Finals in Washington, DC.  Over 375,000 students from more than 2,000 American high schools took part in the 2012–2013 Poetry Out Loud program.

At the state finals in Juneau, which was telecast and streamed live by 360 North, contestants recited works they selected from an anthology of more than 700 classic and contemporary poems.  The anthology, a website (, a teacher’s guide, and media samples of poetry recitation were created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation as free resources for high school students and teachers.  

The Alaska State Champion Maeva Ordaz received an award of $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, to compete for the national championship. Ordaz’s school, West Anchorage High School, in Anchorage school district, received a $500 stipend to purchase poetry books.  First runner-up Rafael Sales received $100, with $200 for his school library.  The eight other Alaska State Finalists were:


·       Vy Tuong Be from Unalaska City School, Unalaska


·       Katherine Carstensen-Zerbst from North Pole High School, North Pole


·       Owen Fulton from Sitka High School, Sitka


·       Tyler Kelly from Twindly Bridge Charter School, Wasilla


·       Angela Nashalook from Unalakleet School, Unalakleet


·       John Sarmiento from Homer High School, Homer


·       Hazel Underwood from Kenny Lake School, Copper Center


·       Zoë Wassman from Skagway School, Skagway

Guest judges presided over the competition, including poet and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at UAS Southeast Emily Wall, spoken word artist, activist, and educator Christy NaMee Eriksen, book editor, publisher and writer Jeff Brady, children’s book author, poet and essayist Susi Gregg Fowler, and illustrator and filmmaker Patrick Race; as well as CPA Bridget Lujan who served as the Accuracy Judge. Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including physical presence, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, and accuracy.  

 While in Juneau, the contestants visited the University of Alaska Southeast Campus, met with their Legislators and toured the Governor’s House.

Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by building on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.  Now in its eighth year of national competition, Poetry Out Loud has inspired hundreds of thousands of high school students to discover classic and contemporary poetry.  To find out how to get involved in the Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest, visit



ASCA press release