For Immediate Release
Contact: Casey Blake
(602) 771-6536


Over 13,000 Arizona high school students participate in Arizona Poetry Out Loud

PHOENIX, AZ (May 11, 2012)Joshua Furtado, a senior at Tucson Magnet High School in Tucson, Arizona, was selected as the winner of the seventh annual Arizona Poetry Out Loud State Finals, a program of the Arizona Commission on the Arts in partnership with the Young Writers Program at Arizona State University and The Poetry Center at the University of Arizona. The competition, held on March 29, 2012, recognizes one high school competitor to represent Arizona in the National Poetry Out Loud competition, presented by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation, in Washington D.C., May 14 and 15, 2012.

The Arizona Poetry Out Loud state champion, Joshua Furtado, receives a $200 cash award and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national finals, where he will compete for a $20,000 college scholarship. Furtado’s school also receives $500 to purchase poetry books for its library. Runner-up in the Arizona State competition, India Parsons, a senior at Westview High School in Avondale, receives $100, and her high school receives $200 towards the purchase of poetry books for the school’s library.

Participating students compete at the classroom and school level. 48 school-level finalists competed in one of three regional competitions (northern, central or southern) to advance to the state level. Including Furtado and Parsons, nine students – three from each region – were recognized as finalists in the state competition:

Rebecca Andersen, Kingman High School, Kingman

John DiMino, Brophy College Preparatory, Phoenix

Adriana Hurtado, Tri-City College Preparatory High School, Prescott

Sophia Licher, Sedona Red Rock High School, Sedona

Travis Marino, Freedom Christian Academy, Queen Creek

Mark Anthony Niadas, St. Augustine Catholic High School, Tucson

Cassandra Valadez, Sunnyside High School, Tucson

Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch emceed the event, and said of the program, “As a former legal writing Professor, an attorney, an appellate judge, and now a Supreme Court Justice, strong writing and verbal skills have been critical in my career. I know firsthand what it is to write something you are proud of and to articulate that message in a way that moves people and the Poetry Out Loud program nurtures these important skills in young people.”

The Poetry Out Loud National Finals competition begins Monday, May 14 at 9 am (EST) with three rounds of semifinals. The culminating event is at 7 pm (EST) on Tuesday, May 15th. View the semifinals and the finals remotely through a one-time-only live broadcast, here: Follow the event on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, #POLnews.

About Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud 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.

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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.