November 14, 2017 (New York, New York)— Leaders from 18 of our nation's most influential poetry organizations will descend on Tucson and Phoenix November 30 to December 2 to learn about the region's rich literary history and plan for a series of programs in March 2018 that will address a socially relevant theme. The organizations are part of a newly-formed Poetry Coalition that is working to increase the visibility of the art form and demonstrate its unique ability to spark dialogue and encourage empathy.

Attending are executive and senior staff from the Academy of American Poets, the founder of National Poetry Month and administrative leader of the coalition; the National Student Poets program; Beyond Baroque; CantoMundo, which serves Latinx poets; Cave Canem, which serves African American poets; the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Festival, the largest in the nation; Kundiman, which serves Asian American poets; Letras Latinas, which serves Latinx poets; Mass Poetry; O, Miami; the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine; the Poetry Society of America; Poets House; Split This Rock poetry festival in Washington, D.C.; Urban Word and the Youth Poet Laureate program; the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State; and Woodland Pattern, the largest literary center in Wisconsin.

Thanks to a major grant from the Ford Foundation secured by the Academy of American Poets, the groups will tour the University of Arizona's Poetry Center, which helps lead the coalition, and then trek to Phoenix for a reading by Sandra Cisneros, Rita Dove, and Joy Harjo at the Phoenix Art Museum, hosted in partnership with ArchiTEXTS: A Conversation Across Languages with Natalie Diaz.

"Poetry has never been more popular thanks in part to social media and poets engaging with current events and challenging subjects that raise important fundamental human questions. By our coming together, the Poetry Coalition aims to highlight the fact that poetry matters deeply in our culture and communities," said Jennifer Benka, executive director of the Academy of American Poets.

"We're thrilled to be hosting our colleagues and introducing them to the Poetry Center on the occasion of our obtaining the 50,000 book in our growing collection. It's been inspiring to see what can happen when organizations work together to make a greater impact and difference," said Tyler Meier, executive director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

Last March, the Poetry Coalition piloted programming on the theme of migration and reached more than 100,000 individuals in 11 cities with readings, panel discussions, writing workshops, publications of poems, and social media-based projects.