New Mexico Poetry Out Loud State Championship March 14 

‘Dissection of an Unidentified Object’ by Emily Cai, 2020 New Mexico & National Scholastic Art Awards Gold Key Winner + National Awardee Drawing & Illustration. Courtesy/NMA

New Mexico Arts News:

SANTA FE — Six New Mexico high school students will compete via Zoom to become New Mexico’s Poetry Out Loud state champion, 1 p.m. Sunday, March 14. 

Admission to the virtual event is free and open to the public. 

Poetry Out Loud is a poetry recitation competition that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. This national program is a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the Poetry Foundation, and state arts agencies. 

The New Mexico event is sponsored by New Mexico Arts, a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, with local support from the College of Education and Technology at Eastern New Mexico University.

Eight schools, 169 students, and 12 teachers participated at the classroom level across New Mexico to select the six finalists who will compete to be state champion. 

Schools sending students to this year’s state finals:

  • Arrowhead Park Early College High School in Las Cruces;
  • La Cueva High School in Albuquerque;
  • Los Lunas High School in Los Lunas;
  • Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque;
  • Taos High School in Taos; and
  • Volcano Vista High School in Albuquerque. 

The state winner will receive $200, plus $500 for their school library for the purchase of poetry books, and the honor or representing New Mexico at the virtual Poetry Out Loud National Finals this spring. 

At the National Finals, a total of $50,000 in awards and stipends will be given, including a $20,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place, and $5,000 for third place. Performers are judged on physical presence, voice and articulation, appropriateness of dramatization, evidence of understanding and accuracy.  

The illustration for the 2021 official State Final Poster is titled “Dissection of an Unidentified Object” and was drawn by Emily Cai, a student at Centennial High School in Las Cruces. Cai was a New Mexico and National Gold Key awardee in the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She is also a National American Visions awardee in Drawing & Illustration. Her teachers are Huaqing Cai and Amanda Marcott. 

“This piece was part of a series of ‘otherworldly still lives’ in colored pencil. Basically, I wanted to portray ordinary objects from an alien’s point of view,” Cai said.

Official Poetry Out Loud State Final posters are free and will be available upon request when New Mexico Arts offices re-open and while supplies last. 

The inspiration for Poetry Out Loud is to promote poetry in both the classroom and the community. 

A registration link for this event on Zoom will be available by Monday, March 8.

For more information, contact Phyllis Kennedy, New Mexico Arts, 505.490.3834 or 800.879.4278 (statewide), or email

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