United Arts Council

12 Finalists Announced in High School Spoken Word Contest 

12 Finalists Announced in High School Spoken Word Contest 

Raleigh, NC—United Arts Wake County is pleased to announce the twelve finalists in their regional spoken word competition for high schools.

The top three winners will be announced at a reception at the North Carolina Executive Mansion on December 12, 2023.

The finalists are:

  • Jeannette Evans | Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy
  • Talia Favatella | North Wake College and Career Academy
  • Valeria López Gutiérrez | Athens
  • Gracie Hatch | Southeast Raleigh
  • Khalilah Inayah | Garner
  • Devin Jennings | Middle Creek
  • Amy Le | Green Hope
  • Nada Naji  | South Garner
  • Olivia Riddoch | Green Hope
  • Madelyn Scholle | Middle Creek
  • Rishil Shirumalla  | Green Hope
  • Devin Williamson | South Garner

83 students from 21 high schools across the Triangle entered this first-ever Regional Spoken Word Contest.

All finalists’ poems will be featured in a traveling Poetry Trail which will travel to different venues throughout the Triangle in 2024.

This contest was created by Dasan Ahanu as part of his tenure as Piedmont Laureate, a program sponsored by United ArtsRaleigh ArtsDurham Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission, and in partnership with the Raleigh Fine Arts Society.


About Dasan Ahanu: Dasan is an artist, educator, scholar, and cultural organizer based in Durham, North Carolina. In addition to performing across the country, Ahanu has hosted or coordinated many poetry, jazz, and hip-hop events across the region. As a writing fellow with the Center for Community Change in Washington, DC, he wrote and published articles and essays about the economic struggles for families, students, and artists. His artistic work has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR), where he was noted for his appearances on News and Notes with Ed Gordon and State of Things with Frank Stasio. He has been showcased on NBC 17, featured on the third season of Lexus Verses and Flow aired on TV One, and in a documentary, Poet Son, presented on WUNC-TV as a part of the North Carolina Visions film series. Ahanu is passionate about mentoring young artists and bringing the art form of poetry and spoken word to the next generation.

About the Piedmont Laureate: The Piedmont Laureate program is dedicated to building a literary bridge for residents to come together and celebrate the art of writing. Co-sponsored by United Arts, City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Durham Arts Council, and Orange County Arts Commission, the Piedmont Laureate program’s mission is to promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts throughout the Piedmont region

About United Arts Wake County: The United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County is designated by the Wake County Commissioners and the North Carolina Arts Council as the official local arts agency for Wake County. As a private nonprofit, United Arts has worked for more than 30 years to build a better Raleigh and Wake County through the support of and advocacy for the arts. United Arts partners with businesses, individuals, foundations, and government to provide life-changing arts programming and support to our schools and community, resources and opportunities for artists, and arts integration training for teachers. Learn more at UnitedArts.org


Jun 21

A House (After Ibsen’s Ghosts)

7:30 pm–10:00 pm

In Burning Coal's production of A House (After Ibsen's Ghosts), adapted by Lucius Robinson and Jerome Davis from the play by Henrik Ibsen, t…

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