Finalists of the 2019 National Poetry Month Poster Contest for Students

In the fall of 2018, the Academy of American Poets, the originator and organizer of National Poetry Month, invited students in grades 9 through 12 to enter artwork to be considered for the official April 2019 National Poetry Month poster. For the first time in twenty-two years, the 2019 poster, which is sent to 100,000 libraries, schools, bookstores, and community centers nationwide and made available by download on Poets.org, will feature a student's winning artwork. 

The Academy of American Poets is excited to share the following twelve finalists in the first-ever National Poetry Month Poster Contest. These finalists were selected from more than 450 submissions—thank you, again, to everyone who submitted! The finalists' artwork, which features a line of poetry by U. S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, is shown here alongside excerpts from statements the students have provided about their work. Read about the winner of the 2019 contest

 

Ethan A., Grade 12, New York

“The lake in my artwork symbolizes the ‘rippling’ in the poem as the lake ripples from the boy skipping rocks on it…. The abstract experience of the piece also correlates with the phrase ‘Like a wide wake, rippling,’ representing an individual's imagination and having the creativity ‘Floating’ towards the surface, waking in the mind. My piece represents the inventiveness in an individual's mind….”
Ethan A.

Ethan A.

Katie C., Grade 10, Georgia

“Poetry can serve as a unifying light that draws people together. The world is an amazing place, and poetry is a way for people to capture moments of beauty and pain, and share them with others…. The phrase ‘each word is a wish’ refers to the power of language to create and shape our world—to design a future—a future we can all appreciate, like stars in the sky. I want this sky to remind viewers of the infinite possibilities that writing can create…. I want people to experience freedom through reading and let it inspire them to explore poetry during National Poetry Month.”
Katie C.

Katie C.

Naya C., Grade 12, California

“I chose blue hues to match Smith’s steady backdrop of water imagery, and I acknowledged her explicit references to water by illustrating a rippled surface…. The viewer’s eyes pass through this thin barrier before reversing their fall and floating up. There, my surface is anchored by smoke-like thread; one can imagine it swaying in the winds, like the trees at the end of Smith’s poem. The final word of my composition floats in limbo, for everything, though it persistently tries, seldom encroaches on the now.”
Naya C.

Naya C.

Erin G., Grade 11, California

“Words and art are both magical concepts; a person can be living two lives at once—one in reality, and one in their mind…. In my artwork, a girl rests comfortably upon a crescent moon, reading. The words she reads are like a beacon of light in the darkness, turning the night into a new world of possibility. Through the words she reads, the girl can be transported to a whole other realm of reality, and she can exist in whatever way she wishes to. She is lost in an alternate universe, and the rest of the world lies dormant.”
Erin G.

Erin G.

Kailah G., Grade 12, Ohio

“I composed a pile of different colored, older-looking books, stacked from the bottom of the page, to demonstrate the progression of history through time…. To show the ship ‘setting sail,’ I chose to paint water coming out of the open book with the ship floating on top. The ship figuratively holds the history written in the books below it. The ‘history’ ship approaches a seemingly never-ending waterfall to show history continuing on ‘forever.’”
Kailah G.

Kailah G.

Hyowon K., Grade 12, Massachusetts

“I wanted the viewer to empathize with the person holding the book, whose head is tilted up in awe; perhaps at the magnificence of the sky, the brilliance of the streetlamp stars, or simply the beauty of the text in their hand. This world of orange and blue is overwhelming, barely real, and yet it is; the only thing a person navigating this space could do is allow it to occur, to live, to take place around them.”
Hyowon K.

Hyowon K.

Mackenzie R., Grade 12, Wisconsin

“Poetry has been a large part of my youth, through the school assignments of Shakespeare excerpts to the classic tomes of Shel Silverstein. When I think of being young, I think of arts and crafts projects, of children’s books illustrated by artists who helped define an era…. I combined multiple mediums such as acrylics, watercolor, ink, and collage, among other miscellaneous materials such as masking tape, string, and cardboard to create an almost nonsensical amalgamation of textures….”
Mackenzie R.

Mackenzie R.

Maya Angela S., Grade 12, Pennsylvania

“As the viewer’s eyes move down the poster, they can see how the ‘wide wake, rippling infinitely into the distance’ started as the little ripples in the front. This piece parallels the ripple effect, where one action can have an enormous impact on others…. The girl in the boat is based off of Tracy K. Smith, the author of the poem. Whether she is the one who performed an action to make the ripples or is only affected by the waves made by the ripples is up to the viewer.”
Maya Angela S.

Maya Angela S.

Rachel S., Grade 11, Colorado

“I interpreted these lines of poetry as a representation of humanity and its history. All things above the water signify the present while the reflections in the water embody the past. The reflected words suggest ideas from the past working their way back to the present…. My goal in creating this piece is to inspire people to look at poetry from a different perspective and envision the meaning behind each word.”
Rachel S.

Rachel S.

Chaya T., Grade 9, New Jersey

“I chose to create my piece with dyed, folded fabric to give it texture, just like poets use words to craft dimension in their work. The orange hues of the sky can be read as both sunrise and sunset, demonstrating the idea of ‘forever setting sail’ as a continuous course. Tracy K. Smith’s text is featured in white, curved font to represent the fact that poets are like the wind, whether offering gentle breezes or strong gales, always pushing humanity forward.”
Chaya T.

Chaya T.

Julia W., Grade 10, California

“To contrast the dark background, I drew the teardrops with bright colors. Acting as a source of light, the color from the droplets radiate and seep into the areas behind it. Combining the light and color of the droplets, the music lines seem almost transparent, like a shimmer of hope. The teardrops light up the bleak forest with light and color, creating a landscape that is quietly beautiful in its tragedy.”
Julia W.

Julia W.

Susan Z., Grade 9, Tennessee

“I depicted my friend, who is like me in some qualities yet unlike me in others. Still, we both wish, wish to help others, wish to help loved ones, wish to help ourselves. And if we released our wishes into the night, it would create a havoc of complexities, weaving through tree branches, mingling with the clouds. In ‘Duende,’ each word truly was a wish that challenged the notion of the night. However, in my piece, words and thoughts are represented by the harmonized disarray of the stars and the minimalistic words.”
Susan Z.

Susan Z.