Announcing your Midwest Region 2014 National Student Poet, Weston Clark! 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.

Weston, who hails from Zionsville, IN and is a sophomore at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis, 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. Through his writing, Weston tries to evoke emotions in his audience. 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.” 

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First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a poetry reading in honor of the > 2014 National Student Poets (from left: Cameron Messinides,  Madeleine  > LeCesne, Ashley Gong, Julia Falkner and Weston Clark) in the Blue Room  > of the White House, Sept. 18, 2014. (Photo by Paul Morse for the  > National Student Poets Program)

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a poetry reading in honor of the 2014 National Student Poets (from left: Cameron Messinides, Madeleine LeCesne, Ashley Gong, Julia Falkner and Weston Clark) in the Blue Room of the White House, Sept. 18, 2014. (Photo by Paul Morse for the National Student Poets Program)

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!

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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

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Inaugural National Student Poet and Northeast Representative, Claire Lee, returns to the AYAW blog to interview the 2013 Class of National Student Poets for her “Poets on Poets” series.

This week’s interview is with National Student Poet and Northeast Representative, Michaela Coplen!

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The 2013 Class of National Student Poets (from the left: Nathan Cummings; Louis Lafair; Michaela Coplen; Sojourner Ahebee; Aline Dolinh) enjoy their time in New York City for the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards National Events.

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! Read More

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!). Read More