Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Iowa City West High School Student Selected to Serve as Ambassador for Outstanding Poetry

In April of 2021, Iowa City West High student Shreya Khullar was inaugurated in Des Moines as Iowa’s first Student Poet Ambassador.

Inspired by poet laureate Amanda Gorman, who spoke at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Belin-Blank Center’s Jan Warren created the Iowa Student Poet Ambassador program.

Woman smiling
Jan Warren

“The Iowa Student Poet Ambassador is an exciting new program that recognizes an outstanding, young writer and celebrates poetry and the literary arts in Iowa,” says Warren, assistant director for Student Services at the Belin-Blank Center and coordinator of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Iowa and Midwest Region-at-Large.

The ambassador was selected from a pool of over 300 creative writing entries, including more than 100 pieces of poetry, from students across the state. Khullar earned multiple gold medals in the 2021 Scholastic competition. A selection committee made up of individuals from the partner organization selected Khullar based on her poetry and ability to serve in an ambassadorial role. The Iowa Student Poet Ambassador program is a collaboration of the following partner organizations:

  • Belin-Blank Center and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
  • Iowa Arts Council
  • Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature
  • Iowa Library Association
  • Iowa Poet Laureate Program
  • Iowa Poetry Association
  • State Library of Iowa/Iowa Center for the Book
  • University of Iowa Arts Share

Khullar was inaugurated in the rotunda of the State Capitol on Friday, April 30th, 2021, the last day of National Poetry Month.  Representatives from partner organizations were in attendance and poetry was read by Iowa Poet Laureate Debra Marquart and Khullar. 

She will again join the Iowa Poet Laureate to discuss poetry as part of the Scholastic Celebration on March 5th, 2022.  The Scholastic Celebration is presented by the Belin-Blank Center, the host of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Iowa and Midwest Regions.

Since her inauguration, Khullar has shared her poetry via podcasts, media interviews, an All Iowa Reads event, an UNESCO poetry workshop, and more. Khullar will also assist in the inauguration of the new Student Poet Ambassador in April of 2022.

For more information, visit belinblank.education.uiowa.edu/students/scholastic/.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

The Belin-Blank Center in the University of Iowa College of Education recognizes original creative work by Iowa students every year through the Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. This is the country's longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative students in grades 7–12.

In 2021, more than 330,000 works of art and writing were submitted to 100 Affiliate regions across the country. As one of the largest national affiliates, the Belin-Blank Center adjudicated over 6,000 pieces of art and writing from the Iowa and Midwest Regions. Since the program’s founding in 1923, the awards have fostered the creativity and talent of millions of students, including renowned alumni who have gone on to become leaders in their fields, such as Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Philip Pearlstein, and Sylvia Plath. More recently, Stephen King, Richard Linklater, Zac Posen, and Lena Dunham received Scholastic Art & Writing Awards when they were teens.

Read more from the Annual Report 2021.