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National Student Poets Lead the Way for Youth Writers During National Poetry Month

New York, NY — The 2014 class of the National Student Poets Program (NSPP), the nation’s highest honor for teen poets presenting original work, is leading the charge to engage young, diverse audiences and promote an appreciation of the literary arts across the country in support of National Poetry Month. Throughout the month of April, teen poets Weston ClarkJulia FalknerAshley GongMadeleine LeCesne andCameron Messinides will actively host and participate in poetry events, readings and workshops within their respective U.S. regions to showcase the crucial role that writing and the arts play in future academic and personal success.

A complete list of April events can be found here: www.artandwriting.org/nspp/service.

To kick off their year of service in September 2014, the National Student Poets presented their poetry during a private reading at the White House hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, Honorary Chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. “With this award, we celebrate the exceptional creativity, dedication to craft, and promise of this generation of leaders. As literary ambassadors to Americans across the country, the National Student Poets have the opportunity to set an example and inspire audiences of all ages with their written work, reading, and service projects,” noted Mrs. Obama in a congratulatory letter to the Poets.

Since their appointment in Washington D.C., the National Student Poets have reached a wide range of audiences by sharing their original work at local poetry gatherings and through social media, participating in readings at prestigious locations including the Library of Congress and the U.S. Department of Education, and attending the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival where they presented on a panel for educators. This trend of service and professional growth for the National Student Poets will continue throughout National Poetry Month, marking a high point in the Poets’ year of service. Through their April literary events, the National Student Poets will broaden their reach and amplify their ongoing efforts to encourage new audiences of all ages to embrace the art of poetry.

April 2015 NSPP events include:
  • April 1–3: All Poets, National Youth Poetry Assembly, Chicago, IL
    The National Student Poets and representatives of poetry slam and spoken word organizations from around the country will convene for the National Youth Poetry Assembly, hosted by The Poetry Foundation, to examine and contemplate issues around the role of poetry in youth culture.
  • April 3–4: Weston Clark, 16, Featured Poet, Mission Creek Festival, Iowa City, Iowa
    Weston is a featured poet and reader for Mission Creek Festival’s Lit Crawl.
  • April 15: Ashley Gong, 16, Special Guest Reader, Poetry & the Creative Mind, New York, NY
    Ashley will present her original poetry as a special guest reader at this annual gala presented by the Academy of American Poets, the nonprofit organization behind National Poetry Month.
  • April 15: Cameron Messinides, 17, Featured Reader, Lunchtime Author Talks, South Carolina Center for the Book, Columbia, SC
    Cameron will read, then introduce Ray McManus, author of Punch.
  • April 18–20: Julia Falkner, 17, Featured Reader, Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Los Angeles, CA
    Julia will be introduced on the Poetry Stage by LA Poet Laureate, Luis J. Rodriguez, on April 18, and will read again that evening at An Evening of Poetry at the Craft and Folk Art Museum.
  • April 25: Madeleine LeCesne, 18, Judge and Presenter, Arkansas Literary Festival, Little Rock, AR 
    Madeleine will attend the Arkansas Literary Festival and serve as a youth judge and presenter.

The third annual class of the National Student Poets Program reflects the national imprimatur of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. These five outstanding young writers were selected by a jury of literary luminaries and leaders in education and the arts from among students in grades 9–11 who received national medals in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nation’s most prestigious recognition program for creative teens presented by the Alliance. Each National Student Poet receives an academic award of $5,000, funded by the Bernstein Family Foundation, and serves as a resource for the U.S. Department of Education and the Library of Congress during his or her ambassadorship.

For up-to-date information about National Student Poet events during National Poetry Month, follow NSPP on Facebook and across social media using the hashtag #5poets. More information about the National Student Poets Program can be found online at www.artandwriting.org/NSPP.


The National Student Poets Program is a signature initiative which reflects the national imprimatur of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in advancing arts education, links the National Student Poets with audiences and resources in their neighborhoods through the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ community-based network of libraries and museums, and builds upon the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers’ long-standing work with educators and creative teens through the prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The program works in coordination with the Library of Congress and the U.S. Department of Education and the academic awards are generously provided by the Bernstein Family Foundation. More information on the 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 is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 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 thro
ugh 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 talent of millions of students through recognition, exhibitions and publications. Over the past six years alone, students have submitted more than a million works of art and writing and more than $30 million has been made available in scholarships and awards to top winning participants. www.artandwriting.org.

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