National Poetry Month

Photo Credit: David Hathcox
The Class of 2017 work on a collaborative poetry mural with 21st US Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.

Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, each National Student Poet participates in a poetry event within their region to promote reading, writing, and the appreciation of poetry.

Class of 2018

Darius Atefat-Peckham (Midwest) visited Kansas City and Jefferson City, MO, where he conducted poetry workshops with local public schools, including Leawood Middle School, Sumner Academy, and Jefferson City High School.

Daniel Blokh (Southeast) traveled to Morgantown, WV, for their annual Library “Spring Fling” Conference, where he led a poetry workshop for librarians. During this time, he also taught poetry workshops at Braxton County High School and the Burnsville Public Library.

Alexandra Contreras-Montesano (Northeast) was a featured reader at the 17th Annual Poetry & the Creative Mind Gala at Lincoln Center. Prior to arriving in New York, Alexandra traveled through Portland, Augusta, and Lewistown, ME, to bring poetry workshops to the Telling Room; the Maine Humanities Council; the Maine Youth Court; and Cony High School.

Heather Laurel Jensen (Southwest) headed to Oklahoma City, El Reno, Locust Grove, and Piedmont, OK, to conduct poetry workshops throughout the state. She partnered with the Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry, the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center, Piedmont Public Library, Capitol Hill Library, and the Mabel C. Fry Public Library, and was a featured guest at the Oklahoma Book Awards.

Ariana Smith (West) traveled to Compton, CA, where she partnered with the Los Angeles Public Library to host poetry workshops in after school programs and at St. Julian Barber Shop.

Class of 2017

Annie Castillo (Southeast) read onstage at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Regional Writing Ceremony in Jackson, MS, before visiting a local high school and college to conduct poetry workshops.

Kinsale Hueston (West) traveled to Boise, ID, to lead workshops with high school students and perform original work at readings, hosted in conjunction with the local Alliance Affiliate Partner in Boise.

Ben Lee (Midwest) served as a special guest reader and judge for the Great Plains Louder Than a Bomb finals in Omaha, NE, then worked with multiple public schools in the area by leading poetry workshops.

Juliet Lubwama (Northeast) was one of the featured readers at the Poetry & the Creative Mind Gala in New York City on April 25, reading her original work beside Uma Thurman, Christine Lahti, Terrance Hayes, and Patti Smith, among others. She then headed to Williamsburg High School, conducting a workshop for 25 high schoolers. In addition to her work in NYC, Juliet conducted workshops in libraries, museums, and high schools in Dover, DE, and Brattleboro, VT.

Camila Sanmiguel (Southwest) traveled to Tucson and Phoenix, AZ, where she read alongside acclaimed poet Ada Limón. She led poetry workshops and readings with Arizona youth groups and at art museums, then traveled to conduct bilingual workshops at pueblo libraries in New Mexico and in neighboring New Mexico high schools.

Class of 2016

Joey Reisberg (Northeast) attended the Learning Lamp Literary Festival in Johnstown, PA, co-presenting a youth poetry panel with author Micha Archer, on April 1. From April 1–3 he attended the Festival, and led workshops with its attendees, as well as conducted poetry activities in partnership with the Cambria County Library, also in Johnstown. Later in the month, Joey was a featured reader at the Poetry & the Creative Mind Gala at Lincoln Center, where he read alongside Meryl Streep, Uzo Aduba, and Meg Ryan, among others.

Maya Salameh (West) traveled to Shasta, Redding, and Yuba, CA, for a poetry tour. She partnered with Shasta College to present and lead workshops, attend open mic events, and read her work during an interview with Round Mountain/ Community Radio. She concluded her events as a featured guest at a reading, followed by another open mic, with Poetry Out Loud winners at the Burrows Theater in Marysville, hosted by Yuba Sutter Arts.

Gopal Raman (Southwest) visited public schools in El Paso and Ysleta, TX, in partnership with the El Paso and Ysleta Independent School Districts and the Tom Lea Institute. He led numerous workshops with middle and high school students over the course of two jam-packed days, culminating in a district-wide live broadcast about the connection between poetry and visual art.

Maya Eashwaran (Southeast) spent three days in Nashville, TN, where she conducted three fifty-minute workshops with high school students at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet and one two-hour workshop with high school students at Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet. While in Nashville, she was a featured reader at Parnassus Books as part of their Youth Poet Laureate Book Release, discussed poetry with Nashville’s Youth Poet Laureates, then led workshops at Nashville Public Library in collaboration with SLANT and at Tennessee State University as part of the I Want to Write Conference. Finally, she was a judge for the Southern Word Grand Slam Final at Tennessee State University.

Stella Binion (Midwest) traveled to Minneapolis for a school and library tour, partnering with Tartan High School, Skyview Middle School, North High School, Hennepin County Library–Minneapolis Central, Perpich Arts High School, and Anoka County Library–Johnsville Library. She performed for and conducted workshops with middle and high school students throughout.

Class of 2015

Chasity Hale (Southeast) was invited to read and participate in the advanced writing workshop, Block by Block, in Georgia, at the Ralph M. Gilbert Civil Rights Museum. She also visited numerous Savannah public schools conducting poetry workshops with students in grades 6 through 12.

De’John Hardges (Midwest) partnered with the Ohio Center for the Book to conduct hip hop workshops and readings at the Cleveland Public Library. These workshops focused on building a sense of community, about which he is incredibly passionate.

On April 9, Eileen Huang (Northeast) was an official speaker at Tedxnavesink. She then conducted a library tour in New Hampshire, a new site for the National Student Poets Program. On April 27, Eileen was a featured reader at the 14th annual Poetry & the Creative Mind Gala at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

Anna Lance (West) headed to Montana in April for a two-city poetry tour of Missoula and Billings. Her events will include readings, workshops, and high school visits. Her partners will be Second Wind; Flathead Reservation; Arts Without Boundaries; Celebration of the Arts; and numerous local high schools.

David Xiang (Southwest) traveled to Oklahoma, where he worked with Jason Poudrier, a veteran and a poet, to conduct workshops and readings with local veterans’ centers and in schools where the students are children of military families.

Class of 2014

Read our blog for a full summary of the Class of 2014’s experiences during National Poetry Month in April, 2015.

Class of 2013

Read our blog for a full summary of the Class of 2013’s experiences during National Poetry Month in April, 2014.