Delaware Poets Laureate Receive a 2020 Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets awards a combined total of $1.1 million to 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows

New York, NY (May 28, 2020) – The Academy of American Poets announced today that the Delaware Poets Laureate, Representative Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills, also known as the Twin Poets, have received $50,000 to launch Write Now!, an art-based community building and engagement series, including workshops, readings and service projects, focused on youth in communities impacted by gun violence and fellow veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The series will culminate with the Write Now! Poetry Festival and will take place in April 2021.

The brothers and identical twins are Licensed Master Social Workers and founders of Art For Life – Delaware, a non-profit youth and community development organization rooted in the arts. The Twin Poets were the subjects of award-winning documentaries: Why I Write and Art For Life; which chronicle their artistic social change efforts. Watch the full documentary here. Al is an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD and Nnamdi is a State Representative and professor at Delaware State University.

The Delaware Poets Laureate are two of the 23 individuals that were announced as 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows. These 23 individuals serve as Poets Laureate of states, cities, counties, and the Navajo Nation and will be leading civic poetry programs in their respective communities in the year ahead. They will each receive $50,000* for a combined total of $1.1 million. In addition, the Academy will also provide $66,500 to 12 local 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that have agreed to support the fellows’ proposed projects.

“As we face the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are turning to poetry for comfort and courage. We are honored and humbled in this moment of great need to fund poets who are talented artists and community organizers, who will most certainly help guide their communities forward,” said Jennifer Benka, President and Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets.

Through its Poets Laureate Fellowship program, the Academy has become the largest financial supporter of poets in the nation. The fellowship program is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which, in January of this year, awarded the Academy $4.5 million. The award will fund the program in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

“We are gratified to support the poets laureate fellows as they engage their communities around the unprecedented challenges of our moment, making work that provides meaning, brings beauty, and helps us, in Lucille Clifton’s words, ‘sail through this to that,’” said Elizabeth Alexander, poet and President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows and the communities they serve are Honey Bell-Bey (Cuyahoga County, OH), Tina Cane (Rhode Island), Tina Chang (Brooklyn, NY), Nnamdi Chukwuocha and Al Mills aka Twin Poets (Delaware), Rosemarie Dombrowski (Phoenix, AZ), Beth Ann Fennelly (Mississippi), Angelo Geter (Rock Hill, SC), Margaret Gibson (Connecticut), Rodney Gomez (McAllen, TX), Elizabeth Jacobson (Santa Fe, NM), Stuart Kestenbaum (Maine), Susan Landgraf (Auburn, WA), Maria Lisella (Queens, NY), Porsha Olayiwola (Boston, MA), Alexandria Peary (New Hampshire), Emmy Pérez (Texas), Mary Ruefle (Vermont), Janice Lobo Sapigao (Santa Clara County, CA), John Warner Smith (Louisiana), Laura Tohe (Navajo Nation), Amie Whittemore (Murfreesboro, TN), and Assétou Xango (Aurora, CO).

Additional information about the Academy of American Poets 2020 Poets Laureate Fellows and their projects is available on the Academy’s website.

About the Delaware Poet Laureate
Delaware’s Poet Laureate is an honorary position appointed by, and serving at the pleasure of, the Governor. The Poet Laureate serves as an advocate, educator, and presenter of poetry throughout the state. Delaware’s Poet Laureate program is managed by the Delaware Division of the Arts. The Division promotes the Poet Laureate’s events and activities and manages the calendar of appearances and provides a stipend to the Poet Laureate for appearances at nonprofit organizations. More information about the program is available at: https://arts.delaware.gov/poet-laureate/. Banner photo: Cylinda McCloud-Keal *The Delaware Poets Laureate will receive $50,000 in total.

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Contact: Leeann Wallett, Program Officer, Communications and Marketing
302-577-8280, leeann.wallett@delaware.gov


The Delaware Division of the Arts, a branch of the Delaware Department of State, is dedicated to cultivating and supporting the arts to enhance the quality of life for all Delawareans. Together with its advisory body, the Delaware State Arts Council, the Division administers grants and programs that support arts programming, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts, and integrate the arts into all facets of Delaware life. For more information about the Delaware Division of the Arts, visit arts.delaware.gov or call 302-577-8278.


Camille Decker to Represent Delaware in 2020 Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington

Sanford School senior to advance to
National Finals in Washington, DC

Smyrna, Del. (February 26, 2020) – From a field of 15 Delaware high school students, Camille Decker, a senior from Sanford School, earned the title of 2020 Poetry Out Loud Delaware State Champion at the state finals held in Smyrna, Del. on Feb. 25. The first runner-up was senior Sarah Zhu, from Wilmington Christian School and the second runner-up was Daniel Patrick Johnson, a senior from Mount Sophia Academy.

Daniel Patrick Johnson, Camille Decker and Sarah Zhu all hold their 2020 Delaware Poetry Out Loud state finalist awards
Daniel Patrick Johnson (Mount Sophia Academy), Camille Decker (Sanford School), Sarah Zhu (Wilmington Christian School)

Decker’s dynamic performances of “Double Dutch” by Gregory Pardlo and “Mingus at the Showplace” by William Matthews earned her a spot in the third and final round of six contestants where she recited William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper.” Her sense of humor, range of tone and confident style came through in the poem by Matthews, which can be found at the Poetry Foundation’s website.

For her winning presentation, Decker will receive $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington with a chaperone to compete at the National Semifinals which will be held at Lisner Auditorium on Tuesday, April 28. The National Finals will be held at the Terrace Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, April 29 at 7pm. Sanford School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. Sarah Zhu, the first runner-up will receive $100, and Wilmington Christian School will receive $200 for its school library.

Front Row (l to r): Paul Weagraff, Director Division of the Arts; First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney; Charmaine Pasicolan; Rebecca Wisniewski; Natalia Castillo Vazquez; Julie Griswold; Penn Smith; Estelle Hegenbarth; Sarah Zhu; Camille Decker Back Row (l to r): Shalom Ighodaro; Sam McGarvey; Josh-Samuel Ikechi-Konkwo; Alex Free; Ian Hayes; Daniel Patrick Johnson; Reuben Everhart; J. Mack Wathen, Chair, Delaware State Arts Council

The Poetry Out Loud state competition, sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

Learn more


2020 Delaware State Finalists

Name Community
Josh-Samuel Ikechi-Konkwo Cape Henlopen High School
Sam McGarvey Delaware Valley Classical School
Ian Hayes Dover High School
Natalia Castillo Vazquez Hodgson Vo-Tech High School
Rebecca Wisniewski Milford Senior High School
Shalom Ighodaro MOT High School
Daniel Patrick Johnson Mount Sophia Academy
Reuben Everhart Newark Charter High School
Charmaine Pasicolan Saint Mark’s High School
Camille Decker Sanford School
Alex Free Seaford Senior High School
Penn Smith Sussex Central High School
Julie Griswold Tatnall School
Sarah Zhu Wilmington Christian School
Estelle Hegenbarth Wilmington Friends School

All photos should be credited with – Photo Credit: Joe del Tufo

About the Delaware Division of the Arts
The Delaware Division of the Arts is an agency of the State of Delaware. Together with its advisory body, the Delaware State Arts Council, the Division administers grants and programs that support arts programming, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts, and integrate the arts into all facets of Delaware life. Funding for Division programs is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. For more information about the Delaware Division of the Arts, visit arts.delaware.gov or call 302-577-8278.

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Contact: Leeann Wallett, Program Officer, Communications and Marketing
302-577-8280, leeann.wallett@delaware.gov


Chelsea Anokye-Agyei to Represent Delaware in 2019 Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington

Hodgson Vo-Tech senior to advance to
National Finals in Washington, DC

Smyrna, Del. (February 26, 2019) – From an initial field of 20 Delaware high school students and then twelve state finalists, Chelsea Anokye-Agyei, a senior from Hodgson Vo-Tech High School, earned the title of 2019 Poetry Out Loud Delaware State Champion at the state finals held in Smyrna, Del. on Feb. 26. The first runner-up was Samuel McGarvey from Tall Oaks Classical School and the second runner-up was Sarah Stevenson from Milford Senior High School.

Photo Credit: Joe del Tufo Top Three – First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, Sarah Stevenson, Chelsea Anokye-Agyei, Samuel McGarvey, Division of the Arts Director Paul Weagraff

Anokye-Agyei’s final recitation, “The Albatross” by Kate Bass, earned her high marks with the judges. The full poem can be found on the Poetry Foundation’s website.

For her winning presentation, Anokye-Agyei will receive $200 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington with a chaperone to compete at the national championship on April 29 – May 1. Hodgson Vo-Tech High School will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry materials. Samuel McGarvey, the first runner-up will receive $100, and Tall Oaks Classical School will receive $200 for its school library.

The Poetry Out Loud state competition, sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is part of a national program that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition.

Photo Credit: Joe del Tufo Back row: First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, Samuel McGarvey, Brandon Greenlee, Ashton Driver, Chelsea Anokye-Agyei, Daniel Patrick Johnson, Nadia Sheikh, Mariela Rivero (behind), Emma Elliott (floral pants) Front row: Catherine Enslen, Megan Chen, Anne Rosenthal, Sarah Stevenson, Division of the Arts Director Paul Weagraff

Reverend John G. Moore, Susan Kehoe, First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, Dr. Ethan Joella, Dr. Jesse Zuba, Dr. David Teague, Christian Wills, Chet’la Sebree, Heather Morrissey

Learn more


Name School
Landon Hayes Cape Henlopen High School
Jo Griffin Concord High School
Emma Elliott* Dover High School
Chelsea Anokye-Agyei* Hodgson Vo-Tech High School
Amy Garcia-Perez Indian River High School
Tyler Keeler Laurel Senior High School
Sarah Stevenson* Milford Senior High School
Nadia Sheikh* MOT Charter High School
Daniel Patrick Johnson* Mount Sophia Academy
Megan Chen* Newark Charter High School
Ashton Driver* Red Lion Christian Academy
Anne Rosenthal* Sanford School
Alex Dornenburg Seaford Senior High School
Liliana Yenovkian Sussex Academy of the Arts & Sciences
Brandon Greenlee* Sussex Central High School
Charmaine Pasicolan St. Mark’s High School
Samuel McGarvey* Tall Oaks Classical School
Catherine Enslen* Ursuline Academy
Mariela Rivero* Wilmington Christian School
James Tallman Wilmington Friends School

 *2019 Delaware State Finalists

All photos should be credited with – Photo Credit: Joe del Tufo

About the Delaware Division of the Arts
The Delaware Division of the Arts is an agency of the State of Delaware. Together with its advisory body, the Delaware State Arts Council, the Division administers grants and programs that support arts programming, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts, and integrate the arts into all facets of Delaware life. Funding for Division programs is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. For more information about the Delaware Division of the Arts, visit arts.delaware.gov or call 302-577-8278. Image: 2018 Award Winners exhibition at the Biggs Museum. Painting (right) by Thomas del Porte, 2018 Established Professional, Visual Arts: painting

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Contact: Leeann Wallett, Program Officer, Communications and Marketing
302-577-8280, leeann.wallett@delaware.gov


Media Alert: 2019 Poetry Out Loud State Finals – Tuesday, Feb. 26

Twelve Delaware high school students to compete for the state title

MEDIA ADVISORY
February 22, 2019

WHAT: Twelve Delaware high school students will participate in the state finals for Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest at Smyrna Opera House. The winner of this competition will represent Delaware and advance to the National Finals in Washington, DC on April 29 – May 1, 2019, where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed. This program is sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Foundation.

WHEN: Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. Students start arriving at 5 p.m.

WHERE: Smyrna Opera House, 7 W South Street, Smyrna, DE 19977

WHO: Finalists, Featured Speakers and Judges will be:

 

2019 Delaware State Finalists

Name School
Emma Elliott Dover High School
Chelsea Anokye-Agyei Hodgson Vo-Tech High School
Sarah Stevenson Milford Senior High School
Nadia Sheikh MOT Charter High School
Daniel Patrick Johnson Mount Sophia Academy
Megan Chen Newark Charter High School
Ashton Driver Red Lion Christian Academy
Anne Rosenthal Sanford School
Brandon Greenlee Sussex Central High School
Samuel McGarvey Tall Oaks Classical School
Catherine Enslen Ursuline Academy
Mariela Rivero Wilmington Christian School

Speakers and judges will be:

Speakers:

Paul Weagraff, Director, Delaware Division of the Arts

J. Mack Wathen, Chair, Delaware State Arts Council

Mistress of Ceremonies:

Donna DeKuyper, Singer, Actress and Co-Owner, Hotel Blue, Lewes, DE

Judges:

Dr. Ethan Joella, English and Social Sciences Faculty, University of Delaware, Georgetown, Director, Ethan Joella Communications

Susan Kehoe, Managing Partner, Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, DE

Reverend John G. Moore, Director, Philanthropy and Engagement, United Way of Delaware

Chet’la Sebree, 2019 Individual Artist Fellow – Poetry

Dr. David Teague, Professor of English, Associate in Arts Program, University of Delaware

Dr. Jesse Zuba, Assistant Professor of English, Delaware State University

Christian Wills, Former Poetry Out Loud Contestant will serve as the Prompter

Heather Morrissey, Delaware State Arts Council Member will serve as Accuracy Judge

Entertainment:

JW2, is made up of James Witherite (organ) and Jonathan W. Whitney (drums), who bring their own originals and favorites from the jazz, funk, and old-school R&B genres to life.

OTHER: Attendance at Smyrna Opera House is free and open to the public. The 2019 Poetry Out Loud Media Kit for this event is available on our website. Hi-Res photos will be available the day after the event. Use hashtags: #POL19, #iampoetryoutloud, and #DDOA30. Tag us at: @ArtsDelaware

 

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Contact: Leeann Wallett, Program Officer, Communications and Marketing
302-577-8280, leeann.wallett@delaware.gov


The Delaware Division of the Arts to Host Annual Poetry Out Loud State Competition

Twenty students to compete to advance to
National Finals in Washington, DC

Dover, Del. (January 30, 2019) –The free recitation contest will start with a semi-final competition at Modern Maturity Center, Dover on Tuesday, February 5 at 7 p.m. This year’s semi-finals judges are:

  • Jamie Brunson, Executive Director, First Person Arts, Philadelphia
  • Sherry Gage Chappelle, 2016 Individual Artist Fellow: Poetry
  • Russell Endo, 2011 Individual Artist Fellow: Poetry
  • Maggie Rowe, 2016 Individual Artist Fellow: Poetry
  • James Weiler, English/Language Arts Instructor, Woodbridge High School

Twelve finalists will move on to compete at the state finals to be held at Smyrna Opera House on Tuesday, February 26 at 7 p.m. (snow date: Tuesday, March 5, 2019). The finalists will compete for the opportunity to represent Delaware and advance to the National Finals in Washington, DC from April 29 – May 1, 2019, where $50,000 in awards and school stipends will be distributed.


2019 Delaware State Semi-Finalists

Name School
Landon Hayes Cape Henlopen High School
Jo Griffin Concord High School
Emma Elliott Dover High School
Chelsea Anokye-Agyei Hodgson Vo-Tech High School
Amy Garcia-Perez Indian River High School
Tyler Keeler Laurel Senior High School
Sarah Stevenson Milford Senior High School
Nadia Sheikh MOT Charter High School
Daniel Johnson Mount Sophia Academy
Megan Chen Newark Charter High School
Ashton Driver Red Lion Christian Academy
Anne Rosenthal Sanford School
Alex Dornenburg Seaford Senior High School
Liliana Yenovkian Sussex Academy of the Arts & Sciences
Brandon Greenlee Sussex Central High School
Charmaine Pasicolan St. Mark’s High School
Samuel McGarvey Tall Oaks Classical School
Catherine Enslen Ursuline Academy
Mariela Rivero Wilmington Christian School
James Tallman Wilmington Friends School

Learn more

About the Delaware Division of the Arts
The Delaware Division of the Arts is an agency of the State of Delaware. Together with its advisory body, the Delaware State Arts Council, the Division administers grants and programs that support arts programming, educate the public, increase awareness of the arts, and integrate the arts into all facets of Delaware life. Funding for Division programs is provided by annual appropriations from the Delaware General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. For more information about the Delaware Division of the Arts, visit arts.delaware.gov or call 302-577-8278. Image: 2018 Award Winners exhibition at the Biggs Museum. Painting (right) by Thomas del Porte, 2018 Established Professional, Visual Arts: painting

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Contact: Leeann Wallett, Program Officer, Communications and Marketing
302-577-8280, leeann.wallett@delaware.gov