April Sojourner

April 24-25, 2014: Partnering with the Ohio Center for the Book, National Student Poet Sojourner Ahebee was a featured reader and led poetry workshops at three Cleveland library branches, including the Carnegie West Library, the Main Library downtown and the Langston Hughes Library. Before she departed on Friday, April 25, she led a poetry workshop for students at Collinwood High School.

April Nathan

April 4-5, 2014: National Student Poet Nathan Cummings led four classroom workshops for 7th graders at Bryant Middle School. On April 5, he led a public workshop at the Salt Lake City Public Library and read with poets Sara Cove and Willy Palomo.

April Aline

April 24, 2014: Partnering with the Kentucky Arts Council, National Student Poet Aline Dolinh was a featured reader at Kentucky Writers’ Day in the Capitol Building! There, she read with Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X.Walker and later led a poetry workshop with high school students at Western Hills High.

April Louis

April 3-6, 2014: In addition to writing the prologue for the Austin International Poetry Festival Youth Poetry Anthology, National Student Poet Louis Lafair was a featured reader and kicked off the Youth Anthology release party with his poetry and words of encouragement for students attending. The 22nd Annual Austin International Poetry Festival (AIPF) April 3-6, 2014, is a four-day citywide, all-inclusive celebration of poetry and poet open to the public. It has grown to become “the largest non-juried poetry festival in the U.S.”

April Michaela

April 10-12, 2014: In partnership with the Vermont Humanities Council and Vermont Arts Council, National Student Poet Michaela Coplen led workshops for 7th graders at Edmunds Middle School and visited Vermont’s only correctional facility for women, Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, where she led a poetry workshop. Director of Programs, Kimber Craine, of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, accompanied Michaela. On April 11, Michaela led the State Devotional by reading her own poetry at the House of Chambers in Montpelier, VT. She received a standing oviation. Immediately after the Devotional, Michaela led a poetry workshop for 11th grade students at Montpelier High School. That night, she read with the Vermont Poet Laureate Sydney Lea at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

What an incredible April of travel, poetry and celebration. Collectively, the National Student Poets clocked over 2,600 miles of travel across the country last month to reach more students, connect with educators and share their love of poetry. Read the full National Poetry Month Press Release here, special feature in the April edition of Poets & Writers magazine and flip through the National Student Poets Program Facebook Page for fun event photos (you may even spot a celebrity or two!).

National Student Poet and Midwest Representative Sojourner Ahebee reflects on her time working with teenagers in Cleveland, OH:

“The young people that I had the opportunity to work with were some of the most inspiring people I had ever encountered. Their stories were raw, fresh, and these students dealt with topics that verged on the political. All of their poems and stories stemmed from a desire for justice, and a desire to be heard by their homes and their city. Through spending time with these fabulous and precocious writers, I came to realize that poetry and language would never find their demise, so long as these two forces continued to sprout through the pens of these young souls.”

National Student Poet and Northeast Representative Michaela Coplen asserts:

“My biggest takeaway was the opportunity to see for myself how truly unifying poetry can be. I’ve always known, theoretically, that this was the case, having shared and appreciated poetry in the microcosm of my immediate community. It was incredibly moving to see this on a larger scale.”

National Student Poet and West Representative Nathan Cummings reflects:

Part of what made Poetry Month so distinctive was its emphasis on instruction. During the month of April, I taught far more workshops than ever before—on my first day in Salt Lake City, for instance, I taught four back-to-back middle school classes, more than all of my previous teaching opportunities combined. Having had relatively little experience, I was forced to adapt quickly. By the end, though, I felt as if I had made a deep and genuine connection with my students.”

National Student Poet and Southeast Representative Aline Dolinh believes:

“It’s my job to show people how poetry matters, and how it can matter to students who aren’t lucky enough to have literary resources at home or a strong support system. For poetry has always belonged to the people whose voices have been stolen – it’s the mouthpiece for oft-silenced viewpoints, the confessional that shares our common experiences, or the loom that weaves the most fantastical tales and stories.”

National Student Poet and Southwest Representative Louis Lafair on the power of technology:

“I joined the #PoetryMatters Google+ Hangout on Air with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Again, I found myself surrounded by a group of poetry enthusiasts, this time librarians from across the state. What struck me most about this experience was its experimental nature: one hundred years ago, who would have ever imagined engaging in an intimate conversation about poetry in a virtual setting, available for anyone from the world to view? I love exploring new ways to interact with and have conversations around poetry. Hopefully, this Google+ Hangout will serve as just one example of all that is yet to come, of all of the new, versatile ways in which we can build poetry communities.”

The 2013 National Student Poets will travel next to New York City for the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Events. Don’t forget to sign up for the live webcast of the National Awards Ceremony at Carnegie Hall here!

The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers partner to present the National Student Poets Program (NSPP), the country’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work. Five outstanding high school poets whose work exhibits exceptional creativity, dedication to craft, and promise are selected annually for a year of service as national poetry ambassadors.

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