West Anchorage High Senior Maeva Ordaz won the national Poetry Out Loud competition this week in Washington DC. It’s the first time an Alaskan has both reached the finals and won. Ordaz won $20,000 for recitation of “Zacuanpapalotls” by Brenda Cárdenas. She also recited “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats.
Ordaz says she chose Cardenas’ poem because she connected with it on a personal level as the daughter of immigrants. “The whole idea of rebirth is representative of how hard we worked to get where we are.”
After participating in Poetry Out Loud for the first time three years ago, Ordaz says she started reading poetry and connecting with it. Then, she started writing and publishing her own poems.
Poetry Out Loud was started ten years ago by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and is run statewide by the Alaska State Council on the Arts.
“Poetry helps us sense and think differently about the world around us,” said Council on the Arts Executive Director Shannon Daut. “It encourages more abstract and creative thought, which is really crucial for kids to develop to help them be competitive in the workforce that is increasingly relying on creative thought and problem solving.”
Next year Ordaz will be attending Columbia University on a full scholarship. Her education will be paid for through graduate school by the Gates Millennium Fellowship.
You can watch Ordaz’s other recitation on here. Videos and photo courtesy of the National Endowment for the Arts.