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Davenport Central High School student receives highest award given to young writer in Iowa

2023-24 Iowa Student Poet Ambassador selected for Outstanding Poetry

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Literary representatives from across the state selected award-winning young writer and poet Lola Nakashima-Brooke for Outstanding Poetry from a pool of highly-talented high school students competing for the honor of being the 2023/24 Iowa Student Poet Ambassador (ISPA) and was inaugurated in Des Moines on Friday, April 28th.

As a Davenport Central High School junior, Nakashima-Brooke was an intern in the Midwest Writing Center's Young Emerging Writers Program in 2021 and 2022 and has been published in the Atlas literary magazine as well as her school literary magazine, Indigo Ink.

"The ISPA program recognizes an outstanding young writer and celebrates poetry and the literary arts in Iowa," said ISPA Coordinator Jan Warren. "We are so pleased that Lola will continue in what is now an impressive tradition set by previous ambassadors Shreya Khullar and Johnnie Each."

A committee of partner organizations chose this year's ISPA from a select group of high school students across Iowa who participated in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Iowa Poetry Association, or Iowa City Poetry. There were two rounds in the selection process. First, a blind reading and ranking of each student's poetry, and then the committee selected Nakashima-Brooke based on her ability to serve in an ambassadorial role.

Nakashima-Brooke was inaugurated in the Law Library at the State Capitol at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 28th, as part of National Poetry Month. Representatives from partner organizations attended, and Iowa Poet Laureate Debra Marquart, outgoing ISPA Johnnie Each, and 2023-24 ISPA Lola Nakashima-Brooke read poetry.

About Lola Nakashima-Brooke:
Lola Nakashima-Brooke is a junior at Central High School in Davenport, IA. In 2021 and 2022 she was an intern in the Midwest Writing Center's Young Emerging Writers Program and has published in the Atlas literary magazine as well as her school literary magazine, Indigo Ink. When not writing or reading, she's either playing piano, trombone, or marching baritone. A veteran of marching band and show choir, she enjoys listening to music, eating soup, and collecting photos of romance-era paintings. She plans to attend college for teaching and creative writing.


The University of Iowa's Office of Community Engagement coordinates the Iowa Student Poet Ambassador (ISPA) program, a collaboration between statewide partner organizations. ISPA, an unpaid honor and the highest award to a young writer in the state, is designed to recognize and celebrate a talented student poet, who, in turn, will validate and support the voices of young people in Iowa and raise awareness of the literary arts. ISPA's vision is that Iowa youth will pursue their talents in poetry writing while enhancing enjoyment and engagement with poetry across the state.


ISPA 2022-23 Johnnie Each
ISPA 2021-22 Shreya Khullar

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