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Student Literary Ambassadors' Talent Shines Brightly

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 26, 2015

By Kathryn K. Matthew
Director, IMLS

I recently met a group of talented young poets tasked to serve as literary ambassadors across our country over the next year. The National Student Poets Program is our nation’s highest honor for outstanding high school poets, and IMLS is proud to partner with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers to present the National Student Poets Program. The five poets represent different parts of the country and when I tell you they are amazing, well, you have to see for yourself!

The five poets include:

  • Chasity Hale, a 16-year-old from Miami Beach, FL representing the Southeast Region;
  • De’John Hardges, a 16-year-old from Cleveland, OH representing the Midwest Region;
  • David Xiang, a 17-year-old from Little Rock, AR representing the Southwest Region;
  • Anna Lance, a 17-year-old from Eagle River, AK representing the West Region; and,
  • Eileen Huang, a 15-year-old representing the Northeast Region

I think IMLS’s Timothy Owens is getting snazzy dressing tips from Student Poet De’John Hardges. Photo courtesy of: President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Here I am with four of the poets, along with Rachel Goslins, executive director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and Olivia Morgan, a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities who was a brainchild behind this wonderful program. Photo courtesy of: President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

As a key component of their year-long ambassadorships, each of the 2015 National Student Poets will travel the country to engage audiences of all ages in the art of poetry as well as create, plan and execute community service projects in their respective regions. Some of the past community service projects have included hosting writing workshops for military children at the U.S. Army War College and for Native American youth in North Dakota. Each poet also receives an academic award of $5,000 funded by the Bernstein Family Foundation, and will serve as a resource for the U.S. Department of Education and the Library of Congress.

After a ceremony where they were officially announced by First Lady Michelle Obama, the poets each spoke eloquently over dinner that night to share more about themselves. I encourage all of you to follow their activities and travels on Facebook and definitely catch them in person if you can. There’s also a video if you want to learn more about the program.

Meeting the five poets was inspiring. They hold a tremendous amount of promise for the future of the arts, literature and definitely our country. I am watching with anticipation to see what they will be doing over the next year!