FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Institute of Museum
President’s Committee on
Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
National Student Poets Celebrate Poetry Month Across the United States
White House-Sponsored Poetry Program Sends Student Ambassadors into
Diverse Communities to Encourage the Art of Poetry
Washington, DC – At a time when the arts in schools are being cut across the nation, America’s inaugural class of National Student Poets, five teenagers who serve as literary ambassadors for poetry, are spending the month of April spreading the word about their craft. During Poetry Month, each young poet will visit diverse communities across the United States to host workshops and participate in events that encourage other young people, interested adults, and educators to see poetry as a dynamic and thriving literary form.
"Through reading and writing poetry, young people learn to be creative, think critically, and broaden their horizons – and those lessons will stay with them for the rest of their lives," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "I am proud of these five young people, not only for working hard and expressing themselves so beautifully, but also for challenging the rest of us to see the world in new ways as well."
The National Student Poets are Luisa Banchoff, age 17, of Arlington, VA; Miles Hewitt, age 18, of Vancouver, WA; Claire Lee, age 16, of New York, NY; Natalie Richardson, age 17, of Oak Park, IL; and Lylla Younes, age 17, of Alexandria, LA. They were selected by a renowned panel of jurors in 2012 from a pool of outstanding writers, grades 9-11, who received a national Scholastic Art & Writing Award for poetry through the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. The National Student Poets Program is the nation’s highest honor for youth poets and a signature initiative of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Alliance.
"We applaud the efforts of these gifted young poets. They will spread their passion for the written word to people of all ages," said IMLS Director Susan H. Hildreth. "We are delighted celebrate the National Student Poets and to underscore the role that libraries and museums play in developing and showcasing creativity."
Each of the National Student Poets’ events and community service projects recognize the power of young writers to impart new skills, inspire their peers, and engage others in the appreciation of poetry:
- Luisa Banchoff and the Red Mountain Writing Project in Birmingham, AL will collaborate on student and teacher workshops focusing on the power of words in effecting change, honoring the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.
- Miles Hewitt will organize and facilitate an At Home At School poetry workshop and performance for youth ages 6-12 at Washington State University, Vancouver.
- Claire Lee will conduct a series of workshops for third- and fourth-graders to help students strengthen their reading and writing skills at the East Harlem Tutorial Program in New York City. Additionally, Claire will read original works at the annual Academy of American Poets gala, which directly benefits National Poetry Month.
- Natalie Richardson will be featured as part of Feed Your Soul, a poetry festival for engaging those in the community who are new to poetry, hosted by 826michigan, Inside Out Literary Arts and the Detroit Public Library.
- Lylla Younes will conduct a workshop with inner-city youth in Albuquerque, NM in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Health and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
For the most up-to-date information about the National Student Poets’ events, please visit the media room.
The National Student Poets Program reflects the national imprimatur of the President’s Committee in advancing arts education, links the National Student Poets with audiences and resources in their respective geographic regions through IMLS’s community-based network of libraries and museums, and builds upon the Alliance’s long-standing work with educators and creative teens through the prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The winners of this year’s Scholastic Art & Writing Awards have recently been announced, kicking off the selection process for the second class of National Student Poets, who will be introduced in fall 2013. More information on the National Student Poets Program can be found at www.artandwriting.org/NSPP.
The National Student Poets Program is an initiative of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, in coordination with the Library of Congress and the U.S. Department of Education. Academic awards are provided by the Bernstein Family Foundation. More information on the National Student Poets Program can be found at www.artandwriting.org/NSPP.
The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education, cultural exchange, and community revitalization. First Lady Michelle Obama, like other first ladies before her, serves as honorary chairman of the committee. www.pcah.gov.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, identifies teenagers with exceptional creative talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Founded in 1923, the Awards is the longest-running, most prestigious program of its kind, having fostered the creativity and talent of millions of students through recognition, exhibitions and publications. Over the past five years alone, students have submitted nearly 900,000 pieces of work and over $45 million has been made available in scholarships and awards to top winning participants. www.artandwriting.org.