Poetry Reading on the Rise!

Friday, June 8, 2018

A new survey from the National Endowment for the Arts finds that poetry is rising in popularity in the United States, to the highest rate on record. 

The University of Arizona Poetry Center, part of the College of Humanities, celebrates the results, with Executive Director Tyler Meier saying that the survey confirms the increase in community interest and demand for the center's programming. 

As a founding member of the Poetry Coalition, the UA Poetry Center has joined with other nonprofit poetry organizations around the country to increase public programming and national engagement with poetry. 

The UA Poetry Center and other Poetry Coalition partners have released a joint statement about the NEA survey results: 

We, leaders of nonprofit poetry organizations, came together to found and publicly launch the Poetry Coalition in November 2016 in part because the demand for our programs and the interest in poetry we were experiencing at our organizations wasn’t reflected in available research or by the media.

We are grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts and Director of Research and Analysis Sunil Iyengar for continuing to collect and study people’s engagement with poetry. We’re pleased that the findings he has released today are aligned with what we’ve been seeing at our individual organizations—poetry is on the rise. Specifically:

- Nearly 29 million of U.S. adults read poetry not required for work or school, the highest rate on record over a 15-year-period of conducting the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts.

- Young adults are the fastest growing group of poetry readers among all age groups. Among 18-24-year-olds, the poetry-reading rate has doubled, to 17.5 percent in 2017, up from 8.7 percent in 2012.

- African Americans, Asian Americans, and other non-white, non-Hispanic groups now read poetry at the highest rates.

These findings were released in a post on the NEA’s Art Works blog.

While this increased engagement can be attributed to many factors, our collective work and collaboration has clearly had an impact. Taken together, our organizations reach many millions of readers of all ages and in all 50 states through digital and print publications, live events including poetry readings and workshops, poetry festivals, special collections and archives, public poetry projects, mentorship programs, youth programs, and more.

We also believe that strong poetry organizations working together serving poets and readers in different geographical locations and from different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and genders are essential to sustaining the growth we’re seeing now.

We are excited that this news confirms our daily experience at our organizations and look forward to continuing to work together to help poetry reach new audiences and thrive.

Founding Poetry Coalition members are:

Academy of American Poets, New York, NY
Asian American Writers’ Workshop, New York, NY
Beyond Baroque, Los Angeles, CA
CantoMundo, New York, NY
Cave Canem Foundation, Brooklyn, NY
Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, Newark, NJ
Kundiman, New York, NY
Lambda Literary, Los Angeles, CA
Letras Latinas at Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, Notre Dame, IN
Mass Poetry, Boston, MA
National Student Poets/Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, New York, NY
O, Miami, Miami, FL
The Poetry Center, San Francisco, CA
The Poetry Foundation, Chicago, IL
The Poetry Project, New York, NY
The Poetry Society of America, New York, NY
Poets House, New York, NY
Split This Rock, Washington, D.C.
University of Arizona Poetry Center, Tucson, AZ
Urban Word / National Youth Poets Laureate, New York, NY & Los Angeles, CA
Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, Kent, OH
Woodland Pattern Book Center, Milwaukee, WI

Affiliate members are:

Brooklyn Poets, Brooklyn, NY
The Favorite Poem Project, Boston, MA
Get Lit, Los Angeles, CA
Just Buffalo Literary Center, Buffalo, NY
Poetry Slam, Inc.
Young Chicago Authors, Chicago, IL