SMC's River of Words To Honor Winners of World's Largest Youth Poetry and Art Contest

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass to Emcee Ceremony

Art: “Leap up!” Saint Mary's College of California will hold its 2018 River of Words (ROW) Awards Ceremony to recognize the winners of the largest youth poetry and art competition in the world. Young eco-poets and artists in grades K-12, representing seven countries and 13 states across the nation, will be honored on Sunday, April 29, 2018, from1-4 p.m. in the Saint Mary’s College Soda Activity Center (Claeys Lounge) at 1928 St. Mary's Road, Moraga, Calif. 94575.

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, a Saint Mary’s alumnus who co-founded the contest with writer and activist Pamela Michael in 1995, will host the 2018 ROW Awards Ceremony. “The overall mission of River of Words is to promote literacy through art and environmental awareness,” said Hass. “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 and respectful love of the world around them.”

This year’s event will also feature poetry readings and art from the newly published 2016-2018 anthology "River of Words: The Natural World As Viewed By Young People," which includes the work of 92 student poets and 88 student artists.



2018 River of Words Award Winners:

  • Category I (Gr. K-2) Poetry:
    • Bozydar Mikosz, age 8, Palisade, Colo.; Art: Seth Landers, age 8, Cumming, Ga.
  • Category II (Gr. 3-5) Poetry:
    • Xander Mann, age 10, San Anselmo, Calif.; Art: Kuipi Lam, age 10, Jericho, N.Y.
  • Category III (Gr. 6-8) Poetry:
    • Sisira Holbrook, age 13, New Orleans, La.; Art: Shannen Wang, age 11, Duluth, Ga.
  • Category IV (Gr. 9-12) Poetry:
    • Sarah Inouye, age 15, Orinda, Calif.; Art: Jiyeon Han, age 14, Cupertino, Calif.
  • International Prize Winner:
    • Seongha Choi, age 14, Seoul, South Korea
  • Monkey’s Raincoat Prize (Haiku tradition)
    • Emma Grob, age 13, Wilmington, Del.; Rachel Lovin, age 15, Willow Spring, N.C.
  • Shasta Bioregion Prize (Northern California Watershed Award)
    • Greer Nakadegawa-Lee, age 13, Oakland, Calif.; Datta Madhav, age 8, San Jose, Calif.

2018 River of Words Teacher of the Year: Lyndrid Patterson, who teaches art and English at the Da Vinci Academy in the greater Atlanta area, will be honored as the 2018 ROW Teacher of the Year. Patterson will be recognized for having facilitated student participation in ROW environmental literacy educational activities and instruction for more than a decade.

ROW Musical Guests: The ROW ceremony will also feature musical performances by award-winning guitarist David Asbury  and internationally recognized baritone Bruce Cain, who have set ROW poems to music. The musicians teach at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and have previously toured nationally and performed ROW-inspired music at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

About: Conducted in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book, and held annually in April to acknowledge National Poetry Month and Earth Day, ROW is a program of the Center for Environmental Literacy in the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s. The Center promotes education initiatives that integrate nature and the arts into K-12 classrooms. For more information about the 2018 River of Words Awards Ceremony, contact ROW Coordinator Maureen Esty at (925) 631-4289 or by email at or visit ROW online at Saint Mary’s Center for Environmental Literacy.


Michael McAlpin
AVP/Director of Media Relations
(925) 631-4222 office

About SMC
The Saint Mary's College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For more than 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 nearly 4,000 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs. For more information visit Saint Mary's College at and just 23 miles east of San Francisco.