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The National Endowment for the Arts Finds that Poetry Reading is on the Rise

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Brooklyn, NY (June 8, 2018)— Yesterday, the National Endowment for the Arts released information confirming that poetry reading is on the rise. Specifically, according to the NEA’s Director of Research and Analysis Sunil Iyengar:

  • Nearly 29 million 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. The data is part of the latest Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, a research partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Census Bureau.

At Cave Canem, we are proud of our contribution to increasing the audience for poetry in our community. Each year our flagship retreat, poetry workshops, readings and lectures engage a direct audience of 3,000 – 4,000 individuals and contract over 300 poets and artists. 

In addition, we are part of a national Poetry Coalition, an alliance of more than 20 organizations in 11 cities dedicated to working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds. For the past two years, members of the Poetry Coalition have conducted programming on shared themes of social importance including poetry and migration, and poetry and the body.


Photo credit: Jeyhoun Allebaugh