University of Arizona Poetry Center to Administer Statewide Poetry Recitation Competition

Every year, approximately 3 million students from high schools across the country, including nearly 50,000 Arizona students, participate in Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation contest organized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. This year, The University of Arizona Poetry Center will oversee the program in Arizona, taking over statewide administration duties from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, an agency of the State of Arizona, which has administered the program since 2008.

In past years, the Poetry Center acted as a regional partner to the Arts Commission, providing oversight of the program in southern Arizona.

“For over a decade our partners at the Poetry Center have contributed unparalleled expertise, passion, and administrative support to deliver Poetry Out Loud to the young people of Southern Arizona,” said Anastasia Freyermuth, who has administered the program for the Arizona Commission on the Arts since 2017. “On behalf of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, we are grateful for the Poetry Center’s decade of partnership and are confident the statewide program will flourish under their direction.”

Gema Ornelas, Education Programs Coordiantor at the Poetry Center, added, “The Poetry Center is thrilled to serve the State of Arizona through this new, expanded role. Assuming statewide administrative duties for Poetry Out Loud provides a unique opportunity for the Poetry Center to offer increased moments of connectivity between the greater literary community and high school students throughout the state. We are truly excited to highlight our commitment to the Poetry Out Loud program and strengthen our educational partnerships and efforts!” 

Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry – recitation and performance. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that begins at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals. A total of $50,000 in scholarship awards and school stipends are awarded at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals, with a $20,000 college scholarship award for the National Champion.

Teachers interested in participating in the program this year can register their schools beginning in mid-August. Participation in the program is free to schools and students. Lesson plans, promotional materials, coaching opportunities, and program support are also provided free of charge.

About the Arizona Commission on the Arts

One of 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies across the United States, the Arizona Commission on the Arts is a 54-year-old agency of the State of Arizona and a leading force in the creative and professional development of Arizona’s arts sector. Through robust programs, research initiatives, and strategic grantmaking, the Arts Commission catalyzes arts-based partnerships that strengthen Arizona communities through the arts.

We imagine an Arizona where everyone can participate in and experience the arts.

About University of Arizona Poetry Center

The University of Arizona Poetry Center’s mission is to advance a diverse and robust literary culture that serves a local-to-global spectrum of writers, readers, and new audiences for poetry and the literary arts. The Poetry Center fulfills its mission by maintaining one of the most extensive and accessible collections of contemporary poetry in the nation; hosting 6 to 8 exhibitions per year to showcase its unique holdings and celebrate new work; hosting a Reading and Lecture Series that brings nationally recognized writers to Tucson; delivering educational programs, community workshops, and discussion groups; offering writing contests; hosting poet residences; building local, state, and national collaborations; supporting the literary economy in Tucson and beyond; and contributing to Tucson’s identity as a cultural center. Learn more at