Poetry Out Loud


"Poetry, and art in general, means showing up with your best self. And whoever that may be, that in and of itself is beautiful. The more that we can bring our authentic selves, with hope, into the moment the more that moment will show up for us."
 - Amanda Gorman, youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history

2023 New Mexico Poetry Out Loud

We are pleased to present this year's ten state finalists from the 2023 New Mexico Poetry Out Loud Recitation Contest.New Mexico Poetry Out Loud is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation. It is produced and directed in New Mexico by the state arts agency New Mexico Arts, in accordance with our agreement with the Endowment.


  • Rutendo Musharu: UWC-USA, Montezuma, Teacher - Kate Riberio (STATE CHAMPION)
  • Robin Blakeman: Public Academy for Performing Arts, Albuquerque, Teacher - Aimee Wray (SECOND PLACE)
  • Esther Heerema: Arrowhead Park Early College High School, Las Cruces, Teacher - Kernie Zimmerman
  • Livi Lent-Koop: V. Sue Cleveland High School, Rio Rancho, Teacher - Daniel Schneider
  • Michael Arrellin: Wagon Mound High School, Wagon Mound, Teacher - Julie Book
  • Rawan Lilo: Albuquerque School of Excellence, Albuquerque, Teacher - Ma. Gloria M. King
  • Finley Altman: La Cueva High School, Albuquerque, Teacher - Rosemary Hood

Rutendo Musharu, 2023 New Mexico Poetry Out Loud Champion
Jessica Helen Lopez: Event Coordinator
Michelle Laflamme-Childs: Femcee
Kevin Lenkner, Program Coordinator
Photos by Light Benders Visuals

See the 2023 Photo Gallery here


 What is Poetry Out Loud?

Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition for high school students across the country. Since the program began in 2005, more than 4.1 million students and 68,000 teachers from 17,000 schools and organizations across the nation have participated. Poetry Out Loud is presented through a partnership with New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, National Endowment for the Arts, and Poetry Foundation.

The program starts in the classroom/school or at the local level with an area organization. Winners then may advance to the regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the national finals.


How Do I Get My School/Organization Involved?

Register your school or organization for 2024: Poetry Out Loud Key Dates

If you would like more information or have a registration form mailed to you, contact New Mexico Arts Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, Kevin Lenkner at (505) 412-5791 or kevin.lenkner@dca.nm.gov


How Do I Teach It?

The NEA and The Poetry Foundation have created standards-based curriculum materials for participating schools to use. The Poetry Out Loud website (www.poetryoutloud.org) offers resources for teachers including a teachers' forum and the expanded online anthology of 1,100 poems.

The program is designed to take one to three weeks to implement in a classroom setting. Many teachers who have participated used Poetry Out Loud in addition to, or as an extension of, their existing curriculum.

New Mexico Arts will offer workshops to work directly with students and/or teachers to help them understand and recite poetry. This opportunity is only available for participating schools/organizations on a limited, first come, first served basis. This year the workshops can be virtual or in-person and, as always, at no cost to schools.

Timeline 2022-23

Participating schools can implement the program following their registration with New Mexico Arts. Below is a suggested timeline. Schools and organizations can go at their own pace as long as competition winners are submitted by February 2023. State Finals take place on March 5, 2023, in Santa Fe.

  • November & December: participants students are identified, work begins in classrooms/clubs/organizations), students select poems for memorization and recitation.
  • January: School/Organization competitions are held. Where applicable, district-wide competitions will be held to select a winner to represent the district at the state finals.
  • February 3, 2023: District winners and their poetry selections for state finals are due.
  • March 5, 2023: New Mexico State Finals will be held in Santa Fe.
  • May 8-10, 2023: National Finals will take place in Washington DC.
2023 Poetry Out Loud Competitors

2023 Poetry Out Loud Competitors. Photo by Light Benders Visuals

State and National Prizes

At the state level, the first-place winner will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete for the national championship. The state champion's school library will receive a $500 stipend toward the purchase of poetry books. The runner-up will receive $100, and $200 for his or her school library. The national competition awards a total of $50,000 in prizes and school stipends at the national finals. The national champion will receive a $20,000 prize.



Poetry Ourselves New Mexico

Poetry Ourselves New Mexico

New! 2023 Poetry Ourselves New Mexico is a statewide original poetry competition for students in grades 9-12. This is an opportunity for students to share their written poetry with the possibility of publication in New Mexico's first Poetry Ourselves New Mexico Anthology. Students are encouraged to submit one original poem, typed and no longer than 50 lines. Poems may focus on any topic, but students should remember that winning entries may be presented to the public. This creative writing competition does not require a performance or recitation. Poetry Ourselves New Mexico compliments the New Mexico Poetry Out Loud recitation program enhancing opportunities for students to study and perform masterworks of poetry. See Poetry Ourselves New Mexico Guidelines for more information and online submissions are no longer being accepted for 2023.

"Although my plans are not clear cut, I hope to find a way to find a career that incorporates my creativity and art to help heal other people."
 - Vanessa Sosa, 2021 finalist, Arrowhead Park Early College High School, Las Cruces, NM