National Student Poets Bring Poetry to Life for Audiences Around the CountryNational Student Poets Bring Poetry to Life for Audiences Around the Country

National Student Poets Bring Poetry to Life for Audiences Around the CountryNSPP Poet Michaela Coplen read her poem Appalachian Altibajos to the Vermont Legislature as its morning devotional as part of her National Poetry Month events.
Since the National Student Poets Program (NSPP) launched the class of 2013 last September, these five teenage poets have  been actively participating in readings and workshops, ranging from the White House to military bases to teacher conferences to local libraries, and more. By design, the poets speak to diverse audiences, using their work to inspire and encourage people of all ages to embrace poetry and see the essential role of writing in academic and personal success.

Honorary Chairman of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, First Lady Michelle Obama, said “This year’s National Student Poets are literary ambassadors to people across our country and around the world, and their work exemplifies the extraordinary outcomes that come from encouraging our youth to use their imaginations, be creative and pursue their passions.”

National Student Poets Bring Poetry to Life for Audiences Around the CountryAfter her reading in Cleveland, Sojourner Ahebee took to the streets to distribute poems to celebrate Ohio Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Being a National Student Poet encompasses both service and professional growth and one of the high points of the year is a series of events during National Poetry Month. In early April,  Nathan Cummings, hosted  an entire day celebrating poetry through media, Twitter and poetry competitions at the main Salt Lake City library branch. In Vermont’s Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility Michaela Coplen  led a group of women inmates through a  poetry writing exercise and the next day she opened the Vermont Legislature with a reading of her poem Appalachian Altibajos.  As a featured scholar at the Round Top Poetry Festival in Texas, Louis Lafair did several readings and as well as interact with poets Joy Harjo, Jane Hirschfield, Jericho Brown and other well-known writers.    Ohio Poem in Your Pocket Day pays homage to Ohio’s rich history of poetry and NSPP poet Sojourner Ahebee was there on April 24 to help hand out poems and inspire the state’s next generation of poets through a series of workshops at three libraries in Cleveland.

Frank X Walker and several former state poet laureates were joined by NSPP poet Aline Dolinh  in readings to celebrate the Kentucky Arts Council Kentucky Writers' Day, which honors the birthday of the nation's first poet laureate, Robert Penn Warren a Kentucky native. Dolinh also led a local workshop in found poetry at nearby Western Hills High School.  Like her fellow NSPP poets, Alinh designed and is carrying out a community service project. She is working   with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students at her school for a series of poetry workshops. She is also visiting local Virginia high schools in partnership with Poetry.N.O.W.  to lead after school workshops.  Her workshops will culminate in a public student reading and anthology.  All the poets have found working in schools to be the highlight of their service year and all have developed tools to spark creativity. Alinh describes her found poetry exercise: “I had students get into groups and pick slips of paper out of a bag that contained random lines of poetry and quotes. Armed with only scissors, gluesticks, and a sheet of paper, they had about 20 minutes to assemble a poem from the jumble of words they were given, and the results were awesome!”

All of the poets will be attending events in New York City honoring the winners of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards in early June.  At the end of the month, they have received a special invitation to participate in the Aspen Ideas Festival.  Follow the NSPP poets on Facebook.