Arthur Rimbaud, the 19th-century French poet, was apparently still a teenager when he produced some of his best known works. A new poetry prize announced today aims to spotlight a new generation of young talent, with the idea that these high school poets will serve as “literary ambassadors” who encourage their peers to explore and develop their creative side.
Five outstanding high school poets will be chosen each year under the new program developed by a public-private alliance that includes the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
The award will go to students whose work demonstrates “exceptional creativity” and dedication to their craft, according to the announcement. The winners will receive a $5,000 academic award and be asked to promote the appreciation of poetry and the importance of creative expression through readings and workshops at libraries, museums, and schools.
“What you learn through reading and writing poetry will stay with you throughout your life,” first lady Michelle Obama said in the press release. “It will spark your imagination and broaden your horizons and even help your performance in the classroom.”
The National Student Poets Program is a collaboration of the White House advisory panel, as well as the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.
The presidential panel in May issued a report that highlighted the potential the arts hold to bolster student engagement and academic achievement.
“As the data consistently shows, students who are engaged with the arts do better in school and life,” said Rachel Goslins, the executive director of the presidential advisory panel. “We can think of no better way to demonstrate these benefits than by engaging a class of talented and promising students to work with their peers and lead by example.”
The first batch of winners will be announced next summer and introduced at the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival in September.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.