New Mexico Arts

Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest New Mexico State Finals

February 25, 2020


(Santa Fe, N.M.) - Join eight New Mexico high school students at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 8, 2020 inside the St. Francis Auditorium at the New Mexico Museum of Art, as they compete to become New Mexico’s state champion in the 2020 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest.

New Mexico Arts Executive Director Michelle Laflamme-Childs will open the event, which includes special guest Levi Romero, New Mexico’s inaugural State Poet Laureate. State Sen. Bill O’Neill, sponsor of the State Poet Laureate legislation, will serve as Honorary Recitation Judge. Admission to the event is free and open to the public. 

Since Poetry Out Loud began 15 years ago, more than 13,000 New Mexico high school students have participated in this exciting program. This year, 894 students and 20 teachers took part at the classroom level across New Mexico.

Students participating in the 2020 New Mexico State Finals include: Simran Grover of Arrowhead Park Medical Academy in Las Cruces, Dustin Poling of Clayton High School in Clayton, Analisa Ibarra of La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, Gabriel Boston-Friedman of New Mexico School for the Arts in Santa Fe, Zoe Sloan Callan of Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque, Maysie Kilgore of Public Academy for Performing Arts in Albuquerque, Lizzett Solis of Rio Grande Preparatory Institute in Las Cruces, and Lily Sanborn of Taos High School in Taos.

The state winner will receive $200, plus $500 for their school library for the purchase of poetry books. In addition, the state champion will receive an all-expenses-paid trip, with an adult chaperone, to Washington, D.C., to compete at the National Finals in April. The National Champion receives $20,000 in prizes.

Poetry Out Loud encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through exploration, memorization, and performance. The inspiration for this program is to promote poetry in both the classroom and the community. Performers are judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, evidence of understanding, and accuracy.

This year’s judges for the New Mexico State Finals include Karen Petersen, combat photojournalist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet from Santa Fe; Luci Tapahonso, a writer and former Navajo Poet Laureate; and Alexandra Germain, Los Lunas Schools Teacher and Prevention Advocate and 2018 Miss Black New Mexico, of Albuquerque.

Jessica Helen Lopez, a writer, educator, and former Albuquerque Poet Laureate, will serve as femcee. On-stage student interviews will be conducted by Dr. Mi’Jan Celie Tho-Biaz, Ed.D, 2019-20 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist, 2019-20 Encore Public Voices Fellow, and founder of New Mexico Women of Color Nonprofit Leadership Initiative.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, and state arts agencies. The New Mexico portion of the national poetry recitation contest is sponsored by New Mexico Arts, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is located at 107 W. Palace Ave. in Santa Fe. For more information, contact Phyllis Kennedy, New Mexico Arts, at (505) 476-0520 or (800) 879-4278 (statewide), or email


About New Mexico Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation

New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, is the state arts agency. New Mexico Arts administers the state’s One Percent for Public Art program, awards grants to nonprofit organizations for arts and cultural programs in their communities across the state, and provides technical assistance and educational opportunities for organizations, artists, and arts educators throughout New Mexico.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts – both new and established – bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Endowment is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities and military bases.

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It has embarked on an ambitious plan to bring the best poetry before the largest possible audience.

Events, news releases, and images related to activities in divisions of the DCA can be accessed at



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