First Lady Michelle Obama To Honor Two Brilliant Indian-American National Student Poets


Maya Eashwaran, Gopal Raman will be appointed as Literary Ambassadors at White House ceremony

By Geeta Goindi

Washington, DC – First Lady Michelle Obama will honor and host five top student poets from different regions of the nation, two of whom are of Indian origin: Maya Eashwaran of Alpharetta, Georgia; and Gopal Raman of Dallas, Texas.

It’s an incredible achievement: two Indian-American whiz kids will be appointed as National Student Poets for the first time, at a White House ceremony, September 8, hosted by the First Lady. The National Student Poets Program is the country’s highest honor for young poets, grades 10-11, presenting original work.

As a first generation Indian-American, Maya’s works focus on foreigners and their though process. She often incorporates personal experiences dealing with assimilation in a modern era.

Gopal Raman, 17, a senior at St. Mark’s School of Texas, is inspired by nature. But, the influence of poets like Billy Collins, Wallace Stevens, and Walt Whitman leads him to experiment with different styles and subjects. For Gopal, poetry distills images and emotions into a form that brings people together. In addition to writing poetry, the teen edits for his high school newspaper and chairs the St. Mark’s Literary Festival.

The National Student Poets Program is now in its fifth year, established in 2011 to showcase the work of young poets for a national audience. The goal is to inspire other young people to achieve excellence in their own creative endeavors and promote the essential role of writing and the arts in academic and personal success.

The Program is presented by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Maya and Gopal, together with the three other budding poets – Stella Binion of Chicago, Illinois, Joey Reisberg of Towson, Maryland, and Maya Salameh of San Diego, California – constitute the Class of 2016 National Student Poets and will serve as literary ambassadors for a year.

They are all recipients of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards which is the exclusive pathway to be considered for the National Student Poets Program. The 2017 Awards season opens September 14, 2016 and submissions will be accepted throughout the Fall. For details, visit


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