By Susan Hildreth
Last weekend, the fresh, young voices of five student poets were introduced to the American public. They are the National Student Poets of 2013, and I was privileged to meet them. These poets’ works were among the 400 selected for National Scholastic Art & Writing awards from thousands of entries. From the top entries, a panel of esteemed poet jurors selected the five who would receive the nation’s top honor for young poets. And, boy, do they deserve it. I am amazed at the depth and intelligence of these young poets in our challenging world!
The announcement of the new student poets on Sunday took place at the National Book Festival on the National Mall, where IMLS sponsors the Pavilion of States.
The weekend was a whirlwind of activities for the students that began with arriving in Washington and included orientation meetings, media training, receptions, dinners, a gala, and even a photo session at the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama.
The National Student Poets Program is a real favorite of mine, and I am thrilled that IMLS joins the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers to support it. Now in its second year, the program strives to inspire young writers and to promote the essential role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success.
The five new National Student Poets are now literary ambassadors and have a full slate of service activities ahead of them for the year, including poetry readings and workshops, community service projects, and many national Poetry Month events in April. The poets represent five regions of the country, so watch for events in your area.
I am delighted to introduce them again here and to encourage you to be on the lookout for them as their creative words and ideas begin to ripple out into the world.
Sojourner Ahebee, 17, Interlochen, MI, Midwest Region
Nathan Cummings , 18, Mercer Island, WA, West Region
Louis Lafair, 18, Austin, TX, Southwest Region
Michaela Coplen, 17, Carlisle, PA, Northeast Region
Aline Dolinh, 15, Vienna, VA, Southeast Region