QUEENS LAUNCHES POETRY CONTEST IN SCHOOLS: “WHAT DOES FREEDOM MEAN TO ME?”

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Poetry Contest to Commemorate 230th Anniversary of the Signing of the U.S. Constitution and 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in New York State

QUEENS, NY – Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and the Queens Poet Laureate Maria Lisella announced this year’s Only in Queens Poetry Contest, offered to Queens schools as a homework assignment beginning this week for students in grades four, seven and eleven throughout the borough. Under the theme: “What Does Freedom Mean to Me”, the contest is held to commemorate the 230th anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution and the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York State. The purpose is to inspire and engage Queens students in a discussion about freedom, civil rights, diversity and civic participation through poetry, thought, research and conversation in the classroom and at home.

“Queens is forever proud to be the birthplace of religious freedom and home of the Flushing Remonstrance, the precursor to the Bill of Rights,” Queens Borough President MELINDA KATZ said. “We are pleased to commemorate the anniversaries of two important hallmarks of our nation’s history through an educational poetry contest in Queens schools. We encourage students to express your personal voice about freedom, civil rights and diversity through the art of poetry and prose.”

“We are so lucky to live in Queens, New York, America where the world lives,” Queens Poet Laureate MARIA LISELLA said. “Look, listen, read and write what you hear and observe: at its most powerful, poetry celebrates daily life, which makes it essential to understanding one another.”

The contest is in collaboration with seven notable Queens cultural and historic organizations whose mission and programming are consistent with the contest’s goals: John Bowne House – Bowne Historical Society; Lewis H. Latimer House Museum; Kingsland Homestead – Queens Historical Society; King Manor Museum; Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center & Archives; Louis Armstrong House Museum; and the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum.

“As the home of Rufus King, one of the framers of the United States Constitution and an early voice in the anti-slavery movement, King Manor Museum is thrilled to take part in the Queens Borough President’s Poetry Contest,” King Manor Museum in Queens’ Executive Director NADEZHDA WILLIAMS said. “King was constantly learning, thinking, and writing about freedom and government. While he never put any of those thoughts down as poetry, I am sure he would have loved to hear the applications. What a wonderful way to mark the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution – we look forward to what freedom means to Queens students!”

Statue Cruises, the official ticket and tour provider to the Statue of Liberty Monument, is a supporting partner of the Only in Queens Poetry Contest. The Statue of Liberty stands 305 feet tall in the New York harbor and has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States.

“A record number of visitors sailed on board Statue Cruises last year to visit our symbol of freedom and democracy,” Statue Cruises Vice President and Chief Operating Officer MIKE BURKE said. “We are thrilled to partner with the borough of Queens to engage with our local youth as they share their powerful voices through poetry on what these two milestones mean to them.”

The Only in Queens Poetry Contest begins this week when the contest is distributed to Queens public school students in fourth, seventh and eleventh grades as a homework assignment. The homework assignment will be due on Wednesday, April 19, 2017. Principals in Queens will acknowledge the winners of their school and send the top winner to the semi-final round. Semi-finalists will be selected by a panel of educators from Queens North, Queens South and Affinity Support Centers in Queens. A panel convened by the Queens Poet Laureate will select contest finalists, who will be announced at the end of May and invited to a culminating awards ceremony at Queens Borough Hall.

For more information about the poetry contest, go to www.queensbp.org/poetry or contact Jennifer Walden, Borough President Katz’s Director for Cultural Affairs and Tourism, at jwalden@queensbp.org or 718.286.2677.

Follow Borough President Katz via @melindakatz or www.facebook.com/queensbpkatz

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