Jill Biden tells National Student Poets that poetry feeds a hungry human spirit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden paid tribute to the power of poetry as she honored the 2023 class of National Student Poets on Monday at the White House, saying poetry “feeds our spirit."

“In so many moments throughout my life, I turned to poetry,” the first lady said, citing her dark nights and brighter days or moments of unbridled joy or unbearable heartbreak. “Poetry has been a refuge, a soothing companion that gives voice to emotions I can't always articulate on my own.”

“Poetry feeds our sprit when we're hungry for something more,” she added.

The five students, each representing a different region of the United States, read their work before an audience of classmates who joined remotely from their respective hometowns and parents and other relatives seated in the White House auditorium.

The poets are: Gabriella Miranda of Salt Lake City; Kallan McKinney of Norman, Oklahoma; Shangri-La Hou of St. Louis; Miles Hardingwood of New York City; and Jacqueline Flores of Fort Meade, Florida.

The poets receive scholarships and serve as literary ambassadors, bringing poetry to their communities through service projects, poetry readings, workshops and other opportunities.

President Joe Biden, who is of Irish ancestry, has a soft spot for Irish poets and often quotes them in his public remarks, especially Nobel laureates Seamus Heaney and William Butler Yeats.

Jill Biden said she hoped the students would remember the experience of visiting the White House. She also hosted last year's class of National Student Poets.

“I hope you wrap yourselves in this moment and draw strength from its power,” she said. “And I hope you know that President Biden, the vice president, the second gentleman and I see you, we hear you, and we’re counting on you to keep going. Keep sharing your gift with the world.”