Central Falls High School Student Wins State Arts Council’s ‘Poetry Out Loud’ Rhode Island State Final

POL 2020 State Champion Nayeli Vazquez
Rhode Island Poetry Out Loud State Champion Nayeli Vazquez (center) with RI Youth Poetry Ambassador Halima Ibrahim (left) and RISCA Executive Director Randall Rosenbaum

Central Falls High School student Nayeli Vazquez is this year’s Rhode Island winner of the Poetry Out Loud state championship, held Sunday, March 8 at the RISD Museum, sponsored locally by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. As Rhode Island state winner, Vazquez will go on to compete at the national finals in Washington, DC in April. 

Watch the video featuring an interview and recitation from 2020 Poetry Out Loud state finalist, Central Falls senior Nayeli Vazquez.

Poetry Out Loud is a program sponsored nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and The Poetry Foundation in Chicago. Organized along the lines of the national spelling bee, Poetry Out Loud promotes competitions at the high school level throughout the country, with local winners going on to state finals, and from there to the national championship competition. 

This year 2,740 students participated in the program representing 13 schools throughout the State of Rhode Island.  Eleven schools sent contestants to the Rhode Island finals this year. The following schools participated in the state finals: Chariho Regional High School in Wood River Junction; East Providence High School; Portsmouth Abbey School; Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick; Classical High School, Central High School and St. Patrick Academy in Providence; Scituate High School; North Kingstown High School; Barrington Christian Academy; and Central Falls High School. 

POL 2020 5 finalists

Finalists from RI State Poetry Out Loud State Championship: (from left) 3rd Place winner Mariama Bandabaila from Classical High School; Honorable Mention Emily Klassen from Barrington Christian Academy; State Champion Nayeli Vazquez from Central Falls High School; Honorable Mention Sienna Adams from East Providence High School; and 2nd Place winner Jacob Rademacher from Bishop Hendricken High School.

In addition to Nayeli Vazquez, the following students received awards at Sunday’s competition: the second place finalist is Jacob Rademacher from Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick. Placing third was Mariama Bandabaila from Classical High School in Providence, and Honorable Mentions went to Emily Klassen from Barrington Christian Academy and Sienna Adams from East Providence High School. 

First place winner Nayeli Vazquez will receive a $200 prize check and an all-expense-paid trip to compete at the National Finals on April 24th to April 26th in Washington, DC. Central Falls High School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. The second prize winner, Jacob Rademacher from Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, will receive a $100 prize check, and her school will receive $200 for the purchase of poetry books. 

Halima Ibrahim, Rhode Island’s Youth Poet Ambassador, was this year’s Guest Poet. Judges this year were Doug Norris, Margaret Chevian, and Maggie Anderson, and the Poetry Out Loud Teaching Artist was Kate Lohman. 

Rhode Island’s Poetry Out Loud State Championship was organized by Martha Lenihan-Lavieri, and Community Partners included the RISD Museum, the Providence Athenaeum, and the Rhode Island Center for the Book. 

About the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts 

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency, supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders. For more information on RISCA and its programs, please visit www.arts.ri.gov. 

About the National Endowment for the Arts 

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit arts.gov to learn more about the National Endowment for the Arts.  

About The Poetry Foundation 

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit http://www.poetryfoundation.org. 

Meet Lucas Pralle


Project Grant for IndividualsEndlessBeautifuliTunes
Artist: Lucas Pralle and Carolyn Decker
Project: Lucas Pralle will hold a series of five Endless Beautiful Creativity Workshops in Rhode Island between July 2017 and June 2018. At workshops, participants use audio-based writing prompts to simultaneously listen and write.  Participants share their writing with the group for a discussion period. Workshops are recorded and posted as episodes of the Endless Beautiful podcast. For each Endless Beautiful Creativity Workshop, Lucas Pralle and Carolyn Decker guide participants through creative writing and public speaking exercises. We use a selection of audio clips as a 15-minute writing prompt during which participants simultaneously listen and write. The audio clips are sourced from our recordings of the natural environment and other settings. After the writing exercise, we ask participants to share their writing with the group for a discussion period. Participants read their work at the microphone and answer a few questions from the group about their experience and what inspired them in their creative work. We record the readings and post them with the audio sessions as episodes of our Endless Beautiful podcast. Details about our method and podcast episodes featuring our recent workshops are available on our website: http://www.endlessbeautiful.com.
The range of topics and styles showcased in our workshop exhibits the vibrancy of the varied cultures in our community, revealing “the endless beautiful”–the individual and communal powers of creativity that exist within our communities. Our desired and expected outcome is to reveal the creative potential in our participants to the greater community.
Artist Bio: Lucas Pralle is the Employment Specialist for Community Care Alliance, a DSC03209large social services organization that has served Woonsocket and Northern Rhode Island for over a century. His business is to help people, and he is passionate about promoting the creative arts in our communities. Pralle has several years of experience building community through the arts. Here’s a link to a short documentary about one of the projects that he was a major part of in Madison, Wisconsin called Windows of Worlds: https://youtu.be/LXVnfz1QEg8.

Carolyn Decker is a poet and a wetland biologist with Natural Resource Services, a wetlands consulting company based in Burrillville and serving Southern New England. She was the recipient of a 2014 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study the relationship between creative writing and nature conservation in cultures and ecosystems around the world. She has led creative writing workshops in the United States, Dominica, and Australia.

Meet our Fellowship and Merit Recipients in Poetry!

Each year, RISCA presents a fellowship and a merit award in 13 disciplines. These grants encourage the creative development of artists by enabling them to set aside time to pursue their creative work, and celebrate the amazing artists that make Rhode Island home. In the spring grant deadline, fellowship and merit award recipients are selected in 7 disciplines: crafts, film & video, fiction, poetry, play & screenwriting, photography, and three dimensional art. Over the next week or so, we are pleased to introduce you to the 14 award recipients.

Pickworth, 7-13-17Amy Pickworth
Fellowship Recipient in Poetry

Amy submitted 9 individual poems. The panelists particularly appreciated this work when read aloud, and described the language as elegant and assured.

Amy Pickworth’s poems have appeared in Dusie; Forklift, Ohio; New Ohio Review; Smartish Pace; Two Serious Ladies; and other journals. Her book Bigfoot for Women (Orange Monkey Publishing, intro by Matt Hart) was released in 2014. She lives in Providence with her husband and two children, and works as the editor of publications at the RISD Museum.

SatterleePhotoSarah Satterlee
Merit Recipient in Poetry

Sarah submitted 13 individual poems from a book currently in development. The panelists described these poems as carrying emphasis and significance, having an attunement to things in daily life that risk going unseen.

Sarah Satterlee was born in Westerly and grew up in Ashaway, Rhode Island. She is a graduate of Rhode Island College. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Rattle, The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, The Maine Review, Gamut, The Nasty Woman Project, and elsewhere. She has worked in the mental health field for several years, most recently as an acute care psychiatric nurse on the night shift. She lives in East Providence with her daughter. www.sarahasatterlee.com