We are delighted to introduce Weston Clark, Julia Falkner, Ashley Gong, Madeline LaCense, and Cameron Messinides – the third annual class of literary ambassadors for the National Student Poets Program, the nation’s highest honor for young poets presenting original work. The program, a signature initiative of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, promotes and celebrates young people as makers and doers who can engage audiences of all ages in the art of poetry.

The five poets are currently in Washington DC for days full of poetry reading and hand shaking – a glimpse into the exciting year ahead!  Not only will they be reading their original works at the Library of Congress this afternoon, the poets had the pleasure of meeting First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday at the pinning ceremony.

We have a diverse group of voices in these young poets, and their passion for their craft is unmatched. It is going to be a true joy to see these five poets bring poetry to their communities in their own unique ways. Read more about the 2014 class of National Student Poets below:

West+Clark+NSPP_smallWeston Clark, Age 16; Indianapolis, IN; Midwest Region

Weston has been writing poetry since he was in first grade. He initially wrote Shel Silverstein–style poetry and has enjoyed exploring other styles, including free verse. Weston was born in Indianapolis and attends Park Tudor School. Although he lives in central Indiana, southern Indiana and the rolling red hills of Kentucky are his favorite places.

Through his writing, Weston tries to evoke emotions in people. He strongly agrees with Maya Angelou’s philosophy: People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

 

LeCesne_Madeleine2Madeleine LeCesne, Age 18; New Orleans, LA; Southwest Region

Madeleine is a senior at Lusher Charter School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Madeleine began writing poetry when she was six years old, after her parents gave her an antique bed. Every night, her mother and father would find her crouched behind the headboard scribbling lines into the wood. Madeleine lost this work in 2005, when the headboard and her home were washed away by Hurricane Katrina. The city of New Orleans is her one great love. Gumbo is Madeleine’s identity: a stew of random fixings. She is Hispanic, Native American, and African American, and, because of her mixed bloodline, is interested in genealogy as well as the history of New Orleans. Madeleine’s work deals with unscrambling her identity. Among the writers she looks to for guidance are Anne Carson, Kimiko Hahn, and Anna Moschovakis.

 

Gong_Ashley_smallAshley Gong, Age 15; Sandy Hook, CT; Northeast Region

Ashley grew up surrounded by language, as her parents, first generation immigrants, would often read Chinese poems to her when she was a toddler. Despite this early exposure to poetry, her first venture into writing came in the form of prose. It wasn’t until more recently that she discovered her passion for poetry, which is currently her go-to medium for creative expression. She has learned to always keep a pen at hand, as she can often be found bursting into spontaneous spurts of poetry at any given place or moment. A junior at Newtown High School in Sandy Hook, CT, Ashley channels her love for writing, reading, reaching out, and leading into all aspects of her life. She’s the founder/president of the Latin Club, co-president of Global Voice (a human-rights club), and founder of the Newtown Middle School Latin Learning Program, which strives to instill a love for the Latin language in middle school students in her community.

 

Cameron MessinidesCameron Messinides, Age 17; Greenville, SC; Southeast Region

Cameron is seventeen years old and currently a creative writing student at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. He has been recognized with the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Prize, and his work has been published on The Atlantic’s website. He lives with his parents and five brothers and sisters, where, besides writing, he spends his time playing basketball, clumsily cooking dinner once a week, and helping raise the family goats.

 

Falkner_JuliaJulia Falkner, Age 17; Louisville, CO; West Region

Julia is seventeen years old and a senior at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colorado. Most of her work is about adolescence, gender, and vulnerability. She co-runs her high school’s Writers Society as well as editing and producing the school literary magazine. Additionally, she absorbs as much art as possible. In the coming year she hopes to start a film project, read the collected works of Shakespeare, and complete a science-fiction novel. When she isn’t writing, Julia keeps a loaded AP schedule, plays electric keyboards and guitar, and runs cross country for her high school. She also works as a barista.

 

Congratulations National Student Poets! And, if you are an aspiring teen poet, or know someone who is, enter the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards to be considered for the next class of National Student Poets. Winning a national medal in poetry is the singular path to become eligible for the program. Scholastic Art & Writing Awards call for submissions is open now, click here to enter!

From left: Executive Director and CEO of the National Constitution Center, Jeffrey Rosen; American National Tree Award recipient Isabelle Breier; ABC-TV journalist Nydia Han; and Alliance Senior Manager, National Programs, Scott Larner in front of the American National Tree Exhibition.

From left: Executive Director and CEO of the National Constitution Center, Jeffrey Rosen; American National Tree Award recipient Isabelle Breier; ABC-TV journalist Nydia Han; and Alliance Senior Manager, National Programs, Scott Larner in front of the American National Tree Exhibition.

This year’s M.R. Robinson National Constitution Center American National Tree Award invited rising 8th to 12th grade Gold Key recipients to write short biographical essays about 5 American activists, including: Albert Snyder, Edward Schempp, Bayard Rustin, Maya Angelou…and the incredible Nellie Bly!

For their efforts, one student receives a scholarship of $1,000 and an excerpt of their award-winning work is engraved on a brand-new leaf of the Constitution Center’s popular exhibit, the American National Tree.

More than 170 students heeded the call, and a panel from the 2013 National Student Poets Program picked their favorites for the National Constitution Center to review. One particular essay stood head and shoulders above the rest.

About a young female journalist, by a young female journalist, Isabelle Brier’s profile of Nellie Bly was inscribed on a leaf, bound on an historic tree, and celebrated this year on National Constitution Day, September 17 amid fanfare, photo opportunities and naturally, press coverage! Joining Isabelle and her family as a special guest, Philadelphia’s ABC-TV investigative reporter Nydia Han rounded out a trio of inspired and inspiring women writers; Executive Director and CEO of the National Constitution Center and the Alliance’s Senior Manager Scott Larner took part in the festivities as well. Read More

asdffNot if you want to attend NYU Tisch School of the Arts FREE high school programs in Spring 2015! If you’re a high school freshman, sophomore or junior and interested in filmmaking, photography, cinema studies, drama, dance, recorded music and—new this year—dramatic writing, you can apply to any of these 7 programs now!

Students from New Jersey, Westchester, Connecticut, Long Island, as far as Philadelphia and as close as NYC’s five boroughs may also find out more at an open house this Saturday, September 20 at noon. RSVP here to learn the location. Even if you can’t make it, your applications are warmly welcome!

Classes begin in February and run through mid-May and will allow you not only to develop your voice and vision but will also give you a great sense of how instruction works at one of the top arts schools in the country. All classes are held at Tisch and taught or supervised by full-time faculty.

Why write now about this opportunity? Because right now—almost—on October 15, 2014, applications (including transcripts and recommendations) are due! So let those autumn breezes inspire you to wake up and apply yourself toward an arts-filled spring. Why not?

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The 2013 National Student Poets: Aline Dolinh, Sojourner Ahebee, Nathan Cummings, Michaela Coplen, and Louis Lafair.

Ten years ago, when I was still in high school, I received a National Portfolio Gold Medal from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for a chaotic clump of self-reflective poems I’d cobbled together and hoped would say something about who I was and who I hoped to be. I still remember the events that followed, although they’re hazy and hot and filmed over with the steam rising from cement on a New York afternoon in June: a start-of-summer, end-of-high-school blur that now revolves mainly around the numerous hors d’oeuvres I ate and how sore my feet were at the end of it all.

At that time, there was no National Student Poets Program—the program itself is only in its third year. Now, having returned, year after year, to volunteer during the National Events for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and editing The Best Teen Writing twice I’m the coordinator for the program. Read More

CFE_JermaineToday is the day. The 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are upon us! That new sketchbook you started this summer, that science fiction piece you wrote laying in the grass in your backyard – now is the time to share your voice with us. With 28 categories of art and writing, you can enter any masterpiece you dream up. Interested in interactive text or bio-art? Future New is the place for new media that challenges the traditional ideas of art and writing. Are you inspired by the classic work of William Shakespeare or Vincent Van Gogh? Poetry and painting are part of the roster. And for future Red Groomses, Lena Dunhams and Richard Linklaters (all Awards alums, by the way), please send your mixed- and other media our way!

Last year we received more than 255,000 submissions from talented students across the country and provided access to more than $10 million in scholarships. The Scholastic Awards have been recognized the exceptional vision of our nations talented teens for 92 years. What are you waiting for? Join the ranks of alumni like Sylvia Plath, Andy Warhol, Lena Dunham, Robert Redford and many more. You can start your submission process in three easy steps:

Read More

darnielleMountain Goats musician, alum and national writing juror of the Scholastic Awards, and now, first-time novelist John Darnielle will be in conversation with humorist John Hodgman on Monday, September 15 at Manhattan’s eclectic arts venue, Le Poisson Rouge.  To learn more and reserve a seat, click here.

Darnielle is on a book tour, promoting Wolf in White Van, a gripping and often mind-bending adventure featuring two teens caught in a role-playing game that crosses over into the real world—and when disaster strikes, the game’s  reclusive creator is called to account for it.

For more about the book, click here.  Here’s what John Hodgman had to say about it:

Wolf in White Van is utterly magnificent. I was surprised and moved and amazed page after page after page. I am talking about audible gasp type stuff, and also deeper, interior gasps of reflection and astonishment and gratitude. This story is a hard and beautiful human puzzle that will be a pleasure to solve and resolve over many readings. And you can quote me on that. Every day. That is all.”