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Friday, September 9, 2016

FLOTUS Recognizes 2016 Class of National Student Poets, and Is Moved To Tears

You're a poet, and you know it.

You know you’re a bonafied poet when you’re invited to the White House to recite your work in front of the First Lady of the United States and your peers.

First Lady Michelle Obama recognizes the 2016 Class of National Student Poet with poetic snaps. (Photo/CD Brown).
The 2016 class of the National Student Poets Program (NSPP) bought their imagery of the world, culture and poetic stylings to the White House Thursday were they were recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama was noticeably brought to tears as she reflected on the brilliance of this year’s ‘Poetic Five’.


“If you ever wonder if what we do makes a difference, it does", she said. 

This year’s class consisted of a diverse group of tenth and eleven graders representing the mid, south, north, and western regions of the United States.


Maya Eashwaran of Georgia reflected in her poem, Linquistics, on what it means to be Indian in an American culture.

“I've started shedding ethnicity like hair, she read. "Mother, I fear I may go bald".

Eashwaran said she wrote her poem when she realized she was speaking more English than her mother tongue. “The thing that caught me was how much I was losing a part of my culture”, she said.

The ceremony was also graced by poet/rapper Q-Tip, who is  famously known for his 1990's song, Vivrant Thing. He read from a poem he had written for the occasion, reflective of poetic greats - past and present. 

Rapper/poet Q-Tip speaks during the
2016 Class of National Student Poets ceremony. (Photo/CD Brown.)
 “Hughes, Hurston, Giovanni, Poe, Rakim. Yes, your favorites [and] never-heard-of's soon to be loved and studied stood here in Recognition Hall; they danced and moved”, he read.

So ‘moved’ were the first lady and members of the audience that NBC News anchor Harry Smith called the event, “humbling.” 

Maryland poet Joey Reisberg couldn’t have imagined that his poetry would have landed him at the White House.


2016 NSP, Joey Reisberg (Photo/CD Brown.)
 “I think all poets have an inferiority complex, like I’m never going to amount to anything. So, being here really reading my work in front of Mrs. Obama was so surreal”, Reisberg said. “I was imaging myself, like wow, I’m going to be here inside reading work with my peers; work that I’ve created, work that I’m familiar with. That was just so special”, he said.

The NSPP, in partnership with the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, strives to inspire young people to achieve excellence in their own creative endeavors and promotes the essential role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success.

Poets are selected from a pool of National Medalists in Poetry through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. From this pool 35 semi-finalists are selected based on creativity, dedication to craft and promise.  Winners receive $5,000 in academic awards. The Class of 2016 was appointed by Mrs. Obama.

To learn more about this year's Class of the 'Poetic Five' click here.  Click on a photo to begin gallery.

NSP Alumni
2016 Class of NSP (L to R)
Stella Binion, Joey Reisberg, Maya Salameh,
Maya Eashwaran, and Gopal Raman
2016 NSP program attendees
First lady having fun with the 2016 Class of NSP
   

NOTE: 'Poetic Five' moniker and photos by CD Brown

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