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Interlochen Arts Academy students receive prestigious poetry awards

Madelyn Dietz was appointed a National Student Poet, the highest honor for youth poets in the United States, and Maia Siegel is a winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, the largest international poetry competition for 11 to 17-year-olds.

Madelyn Dietz

Two students in Interlochen Arts Academy’s creative writing program recently received prestigious poetry awards.

Madelyn (“Maddy”) Dietz, a senior from Saint Paul, Minnesota, was appointed a 2020 National Student Poet, the highest honor for youth poets in the United States. Maia Siegel, a senior from Roanoke, Virginia, is one of only 15 top poets of this year’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, the biggest poetry competition in the world for 11 to 17-year-olds.

Madelyn Dietz, National Student Poet

Dietz is one of five national student poets selected from more than 20,000 submissions that were reviewed by such renowned poets as former U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Edward Hirsch, Danez Smith, and Arthur Sye. A partnership between the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the National Student Poet program was launched in 2011, with winners each representing a different region of the country.

The five young poets will serve as ambassadors for the literary arts within their communities through service projects, workshops, and public readings. Additionally, each received a $5,000 scholarship.

“I am deeply passionate about forming creative communities,” said Dietz. “The National Student Poets Program is a creative community within itself, and its dedication to outreach and service projects works to expand that community across America as a whole. The opportunity to foster and strengthen writing communities (especially in a year that needs the emotional release of writing!) is especially meaningful to me.”

“In her poetry, Maddy writes beautifully about the personal, transforming it to the universal,” said Brittany Cavallaro, instructor of creative writing at Interlochen Arts Academy.” Her language is fresh and exciting, and she has an innate sense of poetic form. We’ve enjoyed having Maddy in the creative writing department this year, and we are so proud to have her representing the midwest region for the National Student Poets program.”

Maia Siegel, Foyle Young Poets of the Year Top Poet

Siegal was selected as one of only 15 top poets chosen from over 15,000 poems submitted to the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Competition by more than 6,000 young poets worldwide. Students entered the competition from over 100 countries, including Afghanistan, Ecuador, Mozambique, and North Korea. Judges Keith Jarrett and Maura Dooley selected 100 winners, made up of 15 top poets and 85 commended poets.

video of Seigel reading her winning poem, “The Kroger Car-Loading Service,” was posted on the competition’s website. The top 15 poems will also be published in a printed winners’ anthology in March 2021, which will be distributed to thousands of schools, libraries, reading groups, and poetry lovers around the world. Additionally, the top 15 poets have the opportunity to participate in a special mentoring program over the course of the year to help them develop as writers.

“This award was really exciting because it showed me that poetry can be speculative, humorous, and sort of weird, and people will still want to read it. They may even like it! Sometimes poetry can feel too self-conscious, and I really wanted to veer away from writing poems that are too caught up in their ‘poemness,’” said Seigel. “It was refreshing to know other people might think that way too. It was also incredibly fun to see my poetry being read in another continent, in another country, and in another time zone.”

“It has been such a pleasure working with Maia these past two years,” said Cavallaro. “Her poetry is clever and inventive without ever losing sight of its emotional center, and she writes about the absurdities of contemporary life with grace. Her recognition from the Poetry Society from Foyle Young Poets is so well-deserved.”

In 2019, Siegel was named the 2019-20 Virginia B. Ball Scholar and received a full-tuition scholarship to Interlochen Arts Academy.

Interlochen's one-of-a-kind creative writing program provides expert instruction to high school writers in a close-knit, supportive setting. Students benefit from small class sizes and a faculty of experienced and dedicated teachers who are also professional writers. Faculty provide individualized mentorship to students in building portfolios, submitting to contests, applying to college, and honing performance skills for public reading opportunities throughout the year. Twenty creative writing students at Interlochen have been named Presidential Scholars in the Arts, one of the most prestigious awards for high school graduates.

“I did not consider myself a writer going into the creative writing program—the teachers at Interlochen absolutely made me one,” said Seigel. “Workshopping consistently, constantly reading, being assigned ambitious, challenging projects: these are really the best things I could’ve done for my writing, and at Interlochen they are baked into the creative writing program. The faculty have pushed me to become a better writer, whether that’s by introducing me to the sonnet form, helping me write my first play, or showing me what it’s like to be the editor of a literary journal, with The Interlochen Review. The Writing House doesn’t let you rest! I love that.”

To learn more about the creative writing program at Interlochen Arts Academy, visit academy.interlochen.org/creative-writing-major.