We are still reeling from a dynamic and rich Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Events week in New York City! During the Events, the 2013 Class of National Student Poets led workshops with third and fourth graders at Harlem Academy, walked across Carnegie Hall’s legendary stage and presented their community service projects with passion at the Saturday Student Showcase at the Art.Write.Now.2014 National Exhibition, which took place at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons the New School for Design and Pratt Manhattan Gallery. These exhibitions featured over 1,000 visual and literary award-winning works from students in grades 7 through 12. This week, the National Student Poets will join other accomplished youth poets at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, CO!
National Student Poet and Midwest Representative Sojourner Ahebee reflects on her presentation at the Saturday Student Showcase on June 7:
“I wanted my audience to see, firsthand, what poetry had afforded me throughout my year as a national poetry ambassador. I wanted them to see the different spaces and avenues poetry could lay claim to, whether that be in a nursing home during a Michigan winter or an Ivoirien classroom thousands of miles away. I wanted my audience to see the various narratives that poetry has the power of uncovering, and, like Gandhi, I wanted them to see the power of losing oneself in the service of others. But most importantly, I wanted my audience to realize that one is never too young to make a serious mark on the world, and to have the world return this mark.”
National Student Poet and Northeast Representative Michaela Coplen connects the power of fostering creativity early:
“Our time at Harlem Academy reinforced in my mind the need for the work that the National Student Poets Program supports. There is a real disconnect between that youthful discovery of poetry and a mature creation and appreciation of poetry–we need to help bridge that gap, facilitating growth while protecting and nourishing that initial sense of wonder that I saw in the 3rd and 4th graders’ work.”
National Student Poet and West Representative Nathan Cummings on their community service projects:
“We’ve been able to reach a broad range of communities this year with our community service projects. Louis’s outreach efforts to educators, Michaela’s workshops with military kids, Sojourner’s with Alzheimer’s patients, Aline’s with ESOL students, and my own with hospital patients—the breadth and diversity of our projects really showcases the program’s scope. We’re called “National” Student Poets for a reason: poetry should be for everyone, across the nation. Age, health, culture, and language don’t need to be barriers.”
National Student Poet and Southeast Representative Aline Dolinh on meeting so many young artists and writers in New York City for the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Events:
“I loved getting to meet so many new people during National Events! I made friends from New York to Los Angeles, and getting to see the utter spectrum of experience at Carnegie Hall was incredible. Hearing David Strathairn read onstage, breathing new life into my old poetry, felt nothing short of transcendental.”
National Student Poet and Southwest Representative Louis Lafair on the role of educators:
“I would never be where I am today without the guidance and support of teachers. I’m sure that everyone in the audience already recognized the importance of teachers, but hopefully my presentation served as a brief reminder of how much a simple thank-you can mean to them, of how, after all the incredible work they do for us, it’s nice—every once in a while—to hear some validation in return.”
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.