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Five Students Selected for the Country's Most Prestigious Youth Poetry Honor

June 13, 2019

Five Students Selected for the Country’s Most Prestigious Youth Poetry Honor
Teen Poetry Ambassadors to Work with Museums, Libraries in Communities Across America

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Five high school students from across the country have been chosen from among thousands of award-winning poets to serve for a year as National Student Poets, the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work.

The National Student Poets Program (NSPP) is a partnership of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, which presents the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nearly century-old program known for its recognition and celebration of the country’s most creative teens.

2019 National Student Poet Christian Butterfield
Christian Butterfield

2019 National Student Poet Julie Dawkins
Julie Dawkins

2019 National Student Poet Taylor Fang
Taylor Fang

2019 National Student Poet Salma Mohammad
Salma Mohammad

2019 National Student Poet Alondra Uribe
Alondra Uribe

Representing five geographical regions of the nation, the 2019 National Student Poets are:

Christian Butterfield (Southeast), a junior at Bowling Green High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky

Julie Dawkins (Southwest), a junior at Deer Creek High School in Edmond, Oklahoma

Taylor Fang (West), a junior at Logan High School in Logan, Utah

Salma Mohammad (Midwest), a junior at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Indiana

Alondra Uribe (Northeast), a junior at Theatre Arts Production Company School in The Bronx, New York

The National Student Poets were selected from students in grades 10-11 who submitted more than 20,000 works in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and received top honors in poetry. From this pool of National Medal recipients, 35 semi-finalists are identified as the most gifted young poets in their regions, based on their originality, technical skills, and personal voice, and were invited to submit additional poetry and performance videos to distinguished jurors for the final selection of the five National Student Poets.

The Student Poets will be appointed by the Director of IMLS, Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, on July 17, 2019 at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The ceremony will feature remarks by critically-acclaimed poet Joy Harjo, as well as a performance by nearly two dozen young NSPP alumni. A livestream and recording of the ceremony will be available on the IMLS website.

Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew said, “IMLS congratulates these five talented students, whose works meld the arts, sciences, and humanities and highlight the many narratives and questions that help shape our lives. During their upcoming year of service as poetry ambassadors, they will reach communities within shared spaces such as museums, local libraries, and schools."

Throughout the year, the Poets will serve as literary ambassadors and will share their passion for poetry, literacy, and the literary arts with their communities and at libraries and museums throughout their regions. This will be done through service projects, workshops, and public readings. In addition, each poet will receive a $5,000 academic award.

All student submissions in consideration for the National Student Poets Program are judged by literary luminaries and leaders in education and the arts based on exceptional creativity, dedication to craft, and promise. This year’s panel of judges are:

Kaveh Akbar, award-winning poet and Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow

Jennifer Benka, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets

Billy Collins, 11th U.S. Poet Laureate

Carrie Fountain, award-winning poet and Poet Laureate of the state of Texas

Juan Felipe Herrera, 21st U.S. Poet Laureate

Edward Hirsch, poet and President of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

Ilya Kaminsky, award-winning poet and Guggenheim Fellow

Alice Quinn, Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America

Nicole Sealey, poet and Hodder Fellow at Princeton University

Brenda Shaughnessy, award-winning poet and Radcliffe Institute Fellow

Regarding the Class of 2019, Christopher Wisniewski, Executive Director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers commented, “The Alliance is proud to celebrate these remarkable young poets and to amplify their voices at museums, libraries and schools throughout the coming year. It has always been our mission to support the creative expression of students and provide opportunities for young artists to build on their crafts and share their talents with their communities. We are confident in these five exceptional poets’ ability to elevate the medium and engage others through poetry, and are excited to see all that they accomplish.”

The National Student Poets Program has showcased the essential role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success for audiences across the country since its inception in 2011. The 35 National Student Poets have participated in community service projects, visiting more than one hundred cities, performing at more than eighty national poetry events, and mentoring hundreds of future poets. The Poets have traveled to libraries, museums, youth centers, reservations, and hospitals, and worked with military-connected youth, rural youth, and special-needs children. They have performed their work numerous times at Lincoln Center and the White House.

“Being able to learn from my fellow National Student Poets has given me some of the most powerful moments of my life,” said alumni Alexandra Contreras-Montesano, Class of 2018 National Student Poet. “Poetry teaches connection, and NSPP connects you with the world.”

To learn more about the impact and history of the NSPP, watch this short video and visit http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/artandwriting.

The National Student Poets Program—a collaboration of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers—strives to inspire other young people to achieve excellence in their own creative endeavors and promote the essential role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success. The program links the National Student Poets with audiences and neighborhood resources such as museums and libraries, and other community-anchor institutions and builds upon the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers' long-standing work with educators and creative teens through the prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. More information on the NSPP can be found at www.artandwriting.org/NSPP.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a nonprofit organization, identifies teenagers with exceptional artistic and literary talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Founded in 1923, the Awards program is the longest-running, most prestigious initiative of its kind, having fostered the creativity and development of millions of young people through opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships. During the past six years alone, students have submitted well over a million works of art and writing, and the program has provided more than $30 million in scholarships and awards for top participants. To learn more, visit www.artandwriting.org.