On Saturday, March 16, 2019, the Arizona Commission on the Arts will present the Arizona Poetry Out Loud state finals competition at Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix studios of Arizona PBS. 10 high school students from throughout the state will compete in the poetry recitation contest for an opportunity to represent Arizona at the 14th Annual Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C. 

The Arizona Commission on the Arts partners with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, as well as regional partners Phonetic Spit and University of Arizona Poetry Center, to administer the Poetry Out Loud program in Arizona. The contest encourages youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation and helps students 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 regional and state-level competitions, and ultimately to the National Finals.

2019 Arizona Poetry Out Loud State Finalists:


Edgardo Aguilar
Desert View High School, Tucson

Edgardo’s objective is to graduate college with a major he can actually do something with. His goal in life is to simply become a man that he sees fit to be worthy of life. He is a musician, a poet, and a philosopher, according to his AP Literature teacher.


Sylvia Dale
Ganado High School, Ganado

Sylvia Dale is a junior at Ganado High School. She’s Native American and participating in her second year of Poetry Out Loud. Sylvia enjoys reading and writing poetry.


Sharmila Dey
University High School, Tucson

Sharmila is a Tucson-grown writer and activist. She is a founder of Carnegiea Literary Magazine and has been published by Arizona Public Square and Bridge Ink Magazine. Sharmila was an organizer for the local March for Our Lives and is passionate about the environment and mitigating climate change.


Becca Driggs
Highland High School, Gilbert

When she was young, Becca dabbled in poetry composition as a means of self-discovery. As she grew, she discovered poetry recitation and immediately fell in love. She loves traveling and seeing the majesty of this planet we share. Next year, Becca will study Global Women’s Studies at Brigham Young University. She is grateful to be performing at Poetry Out Loud and thanks all those involved in coordinating this event and for their dedication to the arts.


Zaquia George
City High School, Tucson

Zaquia is a freshman at City High School. She’s an active member of Tucson Roller Derby and the City High Drama program.


Helena Häber
Arizona School for the Arts, Phoenix

Helena Haber is a young filmmaker, musician, writer, and tea-drinker who attends Arizona School for the Arts. In addition to advocating for youth access to the arts through the City of Phoenix Youth Arts and Culture Council, she is an avid fighter for intersectional feminism, LGBT+ rights, climate justice, and gun violence prevention. She also has an encyclopedic knowledge of the popular PBS kids show, Arthur, and she encourages you to ask her about it sometime.


Aslihan Hadinoglu
Coconino High School, Flagstaff

Aslihan was born in 2001 in Adana,Turkey. She arrived in Flagstaff seven months ago as an exchange student in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program. She is attending Coconino High School in her senior year. She is interested in languages and drama.


Abby Noel
Verrado High School, Buckeye

Abby is a sophomore. She loves theatre and enjoys participating in plays and musicals. She is part of the HyperRevolution group at Arizona Broadway Theater. Poetry and reading are her beloved hobbies, cultivated by her parents, grandparents, and friends. She is proud to represent her school, family, and friends at the state level for Poetry Out Loud.


Daniel Noon
Brophy College Preparatory, Phoenix

Daniel is a junior who enjoys writing and reciting poetry, playing chess, and the occasional round of Flappy Golf with friends. He is extremely grateful for the contributions of Mr. John Damaso, Mr. Austin Pidgeon, Mr. Victor Cervantes, and so many more who have ensured the vitality of the Poetry Out Loud program at Brophy.


Sophie Weinzinger
Coconino High School, Flagstaff

Sophie Weinzinger is a senior at Coconino High School and will be studying business and Mandarin Chinese at ASU in the fall. When not reciting poetry, she can be found giving tours at the local state historic park or in a cafe with a good book and a chai. Sophie would like to thank her parents, her English teachers, and her high school for supporting her throughout her four years in Poetry Out Loud.

Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC, (with an adult chaperone) to compete at the National Finals. The state winner’s school receives a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. One runner-up receives $100; his or her school receives $200 for the purchase of poetry books.

This year the state finals competition will return to Burton Bar Central Library in Downtown Phoenix, who previously hosted the event in 2010. The event will be emceed by Tomas Stanton, a poet, teaching artist, and co-founder of the arts education and youth development program Phonetic Spit. The event will also feature remarks by special guest Dr. Laura Tohe, Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation, and Dr. Rosemarie Dombrowski, Poet laureate of the City of Phoenix.