Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lao American counterpart to the National Student Poets Program?

The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services have partnered with the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers to launch the National Student Poets Program (NSPP), the country's highest honor for youth poets presenting original work.

What would it mean for the Lao American community or other Lao communities in diaspora to develop a similar program? There are many elements to it that would be intriguing to implement that could have significant long-term benefits for us in the future.

In the US version of the program, they are seeking 5 "outstanding high school poets whose work exhibits exceptional creativity, dedication to craft, and promise will be selected annually for a year of service as national poetry ambassadors."

National Student Poets will be chosen from among the national medalists in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards by a jury of literary luminaries and leaders in education and the arts.

Student Poets will receive college scholarships and opportunities to present their work at writing and poetry events, and will be featured at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, in cooperation with the Library of Congress. Awards will be presented in September 2012. Each National Student Poet will receive an academic award of $5,000 and an acknowledgement of their accomplishment. It is anticipated that these young poets will work with poet mentors and serve as a resource for the U.S. Department of Education and the Library of Congress during their one-year tenure.

During their year of service, the National Student Poets will promote the appreciation of poetry and the importance of creative expression through readings and workshops at libraries, museums and schools in communities in the five different regions represented by the awardees. The National Student Poets will be announced next summer and introduced at the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival in Washington, DC in September 2012.

For Lao Americans, we too could certainly use at least 5 outstanding emerging Lao American poets in our community who would serve as literary and cultural ambassadors in their region. It would be important to have an ongoing commitment to these writers and to have some sense of how we might encourage them to be bold and experimental, excellent in craft but also innovative. And were the program to become popular enough, how might we continue to reach out and meet the needs of younger Lao American poets and writers?

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