We are thrilled to introduce your fifth 2014 National Student Poet Southwest region representative, Madeline LaCesne! Madeline, age 18, 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, each night she used the back of its headboard to scribble poetry into the wood. She lost this work in 2005, when the headboard and her home were washed away by Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans like her own identity is a blend of various cultures and bloodlines, so her work deals with unscrambling her identity and sparked an interest in genealogy as well as the city’s history. Among the writers she looks to for guidance are Anne Carson, Kimiko Hahn, and Anna Moschovakis.

Favorite quote about writing:

Quote from Milosz’s “Ars Poetica”: “The purpose of poetry is to remind us / how difficult it is to remain just one person.”

Fun fact:

Since I turned fourteen, the first thing I do as soon as I wake up on my birthday is read Richard Wilbur’s “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World” aloud. Read More

Introducing Cameron Messinides, your Southeast Region 2014 National Student Poet representative! Cameron, from Camden, SC, is a senior at South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts & Humanities in Greenville, SC. A 17 year old creative writing student, Cameron was recognized with an honorary mention for 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.

Fun Fact:

Cameron loves Basketball. His favorite basketball player is Andre Iguodala.

Favorite Quote About Writing:

“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.”

- Gustave Flaubert Read More

Meet Julia Falkner, your West region 2014 National Student Poet representative! Julia is 17 and a senior at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colorado. Most of Julia’s work is about adolescence, gender, and vulnerability. She co-runs her high school’s Writers Society as well as edits and produces the school literary magazine,B-Sides. 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.

Favorite Quote About Writing:
“Poetry can move the fulcrum of the mind just enough so that the world becomes electrified and bewildering.”

Fun Fact:
Julia volunteers at a local neuroscience lab and is currently working on a project investigating pain tolerance. Read More

Ashley Gong, age 15, of Sandy Hook, CT is a junior at Newtown High School and your Northeast Region National Student Poet representative! She 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, Ashley channels her love for writing, reading, reaching out, and leading into all aspects of her life, including instilling a love of Latin among middle school students.

Favorite Quote About Writing:

“Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.” -Neil Gaiman

Fun Fact:

“I draw upon a wide variety of topics for inspiration, including music, history, science, and even math.” Read More

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.” 

Read More

 

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!