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The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) announced today that 12 high school students from Rhode Island will compete in the 18th Poetry Out Loud state finals on Sunday, March 12, at The Greenwich Odeum in East Greenwich.

The Poetry Out Loud Rhode Island Finals is a family-friendly event that is free and open to the public. During the State Finals, the contestants will recite works they selected from an anthology of over 900 classic and contemporary poems. Additionally, Damont Combs, who performs as Mr. Orange, will present as the guest poet.

The following students from various high schools will be competing in the 2023 Poetry Out Loud Finals: Nazarae Phillip from East Providence High School, Virginia Keister from Chariho Regional High School, Yiadalis Curec from William M. Davies Career and Technical High School, Natasha Connolly from Classical High School, Payton Mays from Cranston High School West, Yasmairy Jimenez from St. Patrick Academy, Emerson Deschene from North Smithfield High School, Claire Fitzgerald from LaSalle Academy, Iris Patrillo from Providence Country Day School, Ashley Esteban Lopez from Central Falls High School, Jephte Pinthiere from Central High School, and Jennifer Shon from Portsmouth Abbey School.

The state champion of this year’s competition will receive a paid trip to compete in the national finals in Washington, D.C., on May 8-10, 2023, along with an adult chaperone. In addition, the state champion will receive $200, and the winner’s school will get a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. The first runner-up will receive $100, and $200 will be given to his or her school library.

The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Students participating in the Poetry Out Loud program have benefited from educational materials created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

The standards-based curriculum includes an online anthology, a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, and video and audio on the art of recitation. Schools are welcome to download the free resources at

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA) is a state agency that 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.

To learn more about Poetry Out Loud in RI, visit