NEW YORK, April 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- At a time when the arts in schools are being cut across the nation, America's inaugural class of National Student Poets, five teenagers who serve as literary ambassadors for poetry, are spending the month of April spreading the word about their craft. During Poetry Month, each young poet will visit diverse communities across the United States to host workshops and participate in events that encourage other young people, interested adults, and educators to see poetry as a dynamic and thriving literary form.
"Through reading and writing poetry, young people learn to be creative, think critically, and broaden their horizons – and those lessons will stay with them for the rest of their lives," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "I am proud of these five young people, not only for working hard and expressing themselves so beautifully, but also for challenging the rest of us to see the world in new ways as well."
The National Student Poets are Luisa Banchoff, age 17, of Arlington, VA; Miles Hewitt, age 18, of Vancouver, WA; Claire Lee, age 16, of New York, NY; Natalie Richardson, age 17, of Oak Park, IL; and Lylla Younes, age 17, of Alexandria, LA. They were selected by a renowned panel of jurors in 2012 from a pool of outstanding writers, grades 9-11, who received a national Scholastic Art & Writing Award for poetry through the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. The National Student Poets Program is the nation's highest honor for youth poets and a signature initiative of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the Alliance.Each of the National Student Poets' events and community service projects recognize the power of young writers to impart new skills, inspire their peers, and engage others in the appreciation of poetry:
- Luisa Banchoff and the Red Mountain Writing Project in Birmingham, AL will collaborate on student and teacher workshops focusing on the power of words in effecting change, honoring the 50 th anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.
- Miles Hewitt will organize and facilitate an At Home At School poetry workshop and performance for youth ages 6-12 at Washington State University, Vancouver.
- Claire Lee will conduct a series of workshops for third- and fourth-graders to help students strengthen their reading and writing skills at the East Harlem Tutorial Program in New York City. Additionally, Claire will read original works at the annual Academy of American Poets gala, which directly benefits National Poetry Month.
- Natalie Richardson will be featured as part of Feed Your Soul, a poetry festival for engaging those in the community who are new to poetry, hosted by 826michigan, Inside Out Literary Arts and the Detroit Public Library.
- Lylla Younes will conduct a workshop with inner-city youth in Albuquerque, NM in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Health and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.