For Immediate Release
Contact: Casey Blake

Arizona Commission on the Arts Announces 2013 Poetry Out Loud State Champion

PHOENIX, AZ (March 22, 2013) – Out of over 13,000 Arizona high school competitors, Cassandra Valadez, a senior at Sunnyside High School in Tucson, Arizona, was selected as the Arizona Poetry Out Loud State Champion at the finals event held on March 20, 2013. Arizona Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, facilitated in partnership with the Young Writers Program at Arizona State University and The Poetry Center at the University of Arizona. Valadez will represent Arizona at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals competition in late April, where she will compete for over $20,000.

2013 Arizona Poetry Out Loud State Finals. Pictured: Tania Katan, Emcee; Runner-Up Nathan Poston, Glendale Preparatory Academy; State Champion Cassandra Valadez, Sunnyside High School, Tucson; and Linda “Mac” Perlich, President and Publisher of ON Media Publications

As the Arizona Poetry Out Loud state champion, Valadez receives a $200 cash award and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national finals. Her school also receives $500 to purchase poetry books for its library. Runner-up in the Arizona competition, Nathan Poston, a sophomore at Glendale Preparatory Academy, receives $100, and his high school receives $200 towards the purchase of poetry books for the school’s library.

Sponsors for the 2013 Arizona Poetry Out Loud program include ON Media Publications and Eight, Arizona PBS. Judges for the finals event included Korbi Adams (Phoenix), Education Outreach Specialist at Childsplay; Roberto Bedoya (Tucson), Poet and Executive Director of the Tucson Pima Arts Council; David Britton (Tempe), Professor of Voice at Arizona State University; Phyllis Bunch (Scottsdale), Commissioner for the Arizona Commission on the Arts and former teacher; Linda “Mac” Perlich (Phoenix), President and Publisher of ON Media Publications. Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including voice and articulation, physical presence, evidence of understanding, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, and accuracy.

Linda “Mac” Perlich, one of the judges of the recitation contest, said of the program, “The arts have the extraordinary ability to open our eyes to new visions and create images we can only imagine. Through the literary arts, poets, playwrights and novelists speak on our behalf and transform our thoughts into words. The Poetry Out Loud competitions allows students to explore these printed words, read between the lines and discover their meaning. These recitation contests prepare these young people to set forth on a life-long journey to find their own voice and place in the world.”

Participating students compete at the classroom and school level. 56 school-level finalists competed in one of three regional competitions (northern, central or southern) to advance to the state level. Including Valadez and Poston, nine students – three from each region – were recognized as finalists in the state competition:

Matthew Ryan Frankel, Brophy College Preparatory, Phoenix
Jessica Gonzalez, Nogales High School, Nogales
Adriana Hurtado, Tri-City College Preparatory, Prescott
Annais Lopez Sanchez, Westview High School, Avondale
Tiffany Newell, Kingman High School, Kingman
Mark Anthony Niadas, St. Augustine Catholic High School, Tucson
Mackinzi Taylor, Sedona Red Rock High School, Sedona

Tania Katan, award-winning author, keynote speaker and solo-performer, emceed the event, and said of the student competitors, “these students embody poetry with such confidence, focus and them-ness that they make Shakespeare colloquial!”

About Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry—recitation and performance. Poetry Out Loud invites the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English class. Through Poetry Out Loud, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. For further information regarding Poetry Out Loud, visit

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 an agency of the State of Arizona that supports a statewide arts network. The Arizona Commission on the Arts supports access to quality arts and arts education opportunities for all Arizona citizens; the development and retention of statewide jobs in the nonprofit arts, culture and education sectors; and increased economic impact in local communities through arts-based partnerships that develop tax and small business revenue.

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

# # #

To request this or any other agency publication in an alternative format, contact the Arts Commission offices at (602) 771-6502.

Images available upon request.