Michelle Obama Unveils Student Poet Program

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November 22, 2011 by WITS Editor

Here’s some news that Writers in the Schools (WITS) students can cheer about. And how great that the First Lady is standing up for poets and poetry!

Students, dig deep and discover the poet laureate within you!

From Reuters:

First Lady Michelle  Obama on Monday helped launched a new arts program to pick five student poets from high schools who will spend one year promoting poetry through readings, workshops and other activities.

The National Student Poets program is created by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, of which the first lady is honorary chair, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services through a partnership with nonprofit group, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

“What you learn through reading and writing poetry will stay with you throughout your life,” Obama said in a statement. “It will spark your imagination and broaden your horizons and even help your performance in the classroom.”

The five National Student Poets will be chosen from a pool of teenagers who have already received a national Scholastic Art & Writing Award for poetry. The selection panel will be comprised of poet Terrance Hayes, “Kenyon Review” editor David Lynn, Alice Quinn of the Poetry Society of America, and the Library of Congress’ Robert Casper.

More than 185, 000 students apply annually for the Scholastic Art & Writing Award and since 1923, winners have included teenagers such as Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates and others.

The first five National Student Poets will be announced in summer 2012, and will each receive academic awards of $5,000. They will serve as literary ambassadors in their communities and encourage kids to develop writing and creative skills.

“The National Student Poets work will give greater visibility to the voice and perspective of today’s youth,” said Virginia McEnerney, executive director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities focuses on increasing creativity in schools and engaging students in being innovative. The Institute of Museum and Library Services makes federal grants aimed at creating strong libraries and museums.

(Reporting and Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

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Writers in the Schools (WITS)


Writers in the Schools (WITS) is the #1 arts education organization in Texas. With 80 writers and educators on staff, WITS reaches over 23,000 students a year in classrooms, community centers, museums, parks, and hospitals.

The glory of WITS is best expressed by the students--in their own words -- so this blog features essays, stories, and poems that were created by K-12 students in our program. All material (c) Writers in the Schools 2007-2013. If you wish to republish this work, please credit both the organization and the author and link back to this site. This material may not be used in commercial ventures of any kind.

Supporting WITS will help bring the pleasure and power of reading and writing to more Houston children helping to improve writing skills, build confidence, raise test scores, and enhance creativity.

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