River of Words at Saint Mary's Announces Winners of World's Largest Youth Art and Poetry Contest

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass to Emcee 19th Annual Ceremony

River of Words (ROW), Saint Mary's College of California's annual environmental poetry and art contest, celebrates National Poetry Month with the announcement of the winners of the 2014 ROW International Youth Creativity Awards. Thirteen remarkable young poets and artists, ranging from age 7 to 17, are the winners of the largest youth poetry and art competition in the world and will be honored on Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. in the LeFevre Theater at Saint Mary’s, 1928 Saint Mary’s Road, Moraga. The event is free and open to the public.

Fish by Jerrika ShiThe ROW International Youth Creativity Awards will be emceed by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, who co-founded the contest in 1995 with writer Pamela Michael, who now directs the Center for Environmental Literacy in Saint Mary's Kalmanovitz School of Education, which sponsors the annual environmental poetry and art contest.

“The mission of River of Words’ is to promote literacy, the arts, and environmental awareness. Our goal is to help children fall in love with the earth, and you can see in the works of these young artists a deep appreciation and understanding of the world around them,” said Hass.  Beyond recognizing talented young poets and artists, Center for Environmental Learning director Michael says the contest fosters environmental literacy through art. "That is especially important with the current emphasis in schools today on science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM," she said. "River of Words illustrates the value of including the arts in the mix, expanding STEM to STEAM for science, technology, engineering, 'arts' and math."

Award winners this year include young people from across the nation, including California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, New York and Washington and the winner of the contest's international art prize, a 17-year-old, hails from the Philippines. The 2014 River of Words Contest Youth Creativity Award Winners include:

  • Grand Prize, Category I (Gr. K-3)  Art: Ellie Choe, 7, Whitestone, NY, Poetry: Savannah Walker, 9, Atlanta, GA
  • Grand Prize Category II (Gr. 4-6)  Art: Nicole Lewandowski, 9, Cumming, GA, Poetry: Vincent Wilson, 11, Shoreline, WA
  • Grand Prize Category III (Gr. 7-9)  Art: Anna Qian, 13, Lilburn, GA, Poetry: Dominique Golder, 12, Sarasota, FL
  • Grand Prize Category IV (Gr. 10-12)  Art: Hannah Harms, 18, Waverly, IA, Poetry: Wesley Ma, 17, Thornton, CO
  • Monkey’s Raincoat Prize (Poetry in the haiku tradition)  Katie Friedman, 13, Seattle, WA
  • Shasta Bioregion Prize (Northern Calif. Award) Poetry: Megan Amaglio, 15, Larkspur, Zoe Kaiser, 16, San Francisco, CA
  • Anacostia Watershed Prize (Washington, DC Award) Poetry: Christin Clyburn, 11, Washington, DC
  • International Prize, Jerrika Shi, age 17, Manilla, Philippines
  • River of Words / Kalmanovitz School of Education Teacher of the Year Joanna Fox, Booker Middle School, Sarasota, FL

A program of the Center for Environmental Literacy, ROW trains educators around the world through various initiatives to integrate nature, science and the arts into K-12 classrooms, inspiring children and youth to translate their observations about their local watersheds and environment into creative expressions in poems and paintings. For the past 19 years, the ROW International Youth Creativity Awards Ceremony has been conducted in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

The 2014 winners and more than 80 finalists were selected from thousands of entries from around the world by contest co-founders Hass, Michael, Raina León, poet and Saint Mary's professor of education, renowned wildlife biologist and illustrator John Muir Laws and fine arts photographer Chris Wahlberg.

The 2014 River of Words finalists hail from: Alabama (6), Arizona (1), California (14), Colorado (4), Connecticut (1), District of Columbia (1), Florida (1), Georgia (9), Hawaii (2), Iowa (3), Maine (2), Maryland (2), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (3), Minnesota (1), Montana (2), New Jersey (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Oregon (2), South Carolina (1), Texas (1), Washington (10), Afghanistan (1), Bangladesh (1), Canada (1), China (2), India (1), Indonesia (1), Malaysia (1), Mexico (2), Pakistan (2), Philippines (1) and Serbia (2).

To read the poetry or view the art of the 2014 River of Words contest winners and finalists, visit stmarys-ca.edu/row. For more information about River of Words and Saint Mary's Center for Environmental Learning contact Pamela Michael at (925) 631-4289 or (510) 914-1585 or by email at [email protected]

About SMC
The Saint Mary’s College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For 150 years, the College has provided students with a rigorous education that engages their intellect and spirit, and awakens a desire to transform society. Guided by the Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church’s oldest order dedicated exclusively to teaching, the College enrolls more than 4,100 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs. For more information visit Saint Mary’s College at stmarys-ca.edu and just 23 miles east of San Francisco.