How to Become a Writer in your Community

Our British friends at NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education) have published an e-book about how to become a writer in your community. The e-book, Getting Started as a Writer in the Community, written by River Wolton, is available as a free download on their website. Click here to get a copy.


Report from AWP Chicago

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We had a great time at AWP 2012. Thanks for your enthusiasm about the Writers in the Schools movement. We loved seeing you at the WITS booth, at our panels, and at our reception. Once you’ve recuperated, please be in touch.

Renee Watson Guest Stars in H-Town

On August 26th, and 27th, Renee Watson, author, actress, and teaching artist for Community Word Project, led a a series of workshops with the theme, Talking Back to the World: Empowering Students to Define Themselves through Writing and Visual Art.

High points of the training were a dramatization of The Emotional Bus (have you ridden on it before?) and a revision lesson using music from the Fugees. The WITS orientation is designed to inspire and prepare WITS writers for the new school year.

Sheryl Noethe Named the New Poet Laureate of Montana

Founder and Artistic Director of the Missoula Writing Collaborative, Sheryl Noethe, was named the Poet Laureate for the state of Montana. The Missoula Writing Collaborative is a member of the WITS Alliance.  Governor Brian Schweitzer wrote about Sheryl in his appointment letter:

I was particularly struck by your statement, “a few words from an adult can shape a child’s idea of who they are and who they can become.” Your commitment to teaching children that they “have the ability to find their own literary voice” is evidenced in your outstanding work in Montana schools.

For more information about Sheryl and the Missioula Writing Collaborative, click here. Sheryl’s two-year term begins in August 2011.

Our Difficult Sunlight

Georgia Popoff, an independent teaching artist in central New York, has something to celebrate, a new publication. Her book, Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community, written in collaboration with Quraysh Ali Lansana, has just been released.  Georgia was a panelist in one of the WITS Alliance panels at the 2011 AWP Conference in Washington DC last week. You can read more about the book publication and launch schedule here.

Key West Literary Seminar Shares Archival Collection

Key West Literary Seminar has added new lectures to their Audio Archives Project, presenting the finest recordings from acclaimed poets such as Poet Laureate Kay Ryan and past laureates Richard Wilbur, Billy Collins, Robert Pinsky, Rita Dove, Charles Simic, Maxine Kumin, and Mark Strand. The archive also houses lectures from historians Eric Foner and David Levering Lewis in addition to readings from Pulitzer Prize novelists Geraldine Brooks, Junot Diaz, and William Kennedy.

The Audio Archives Project is an essential resource for teachers and professors of literature. You can listen to the podcasts online and subscribe to current recordings via iTunes or through RSS feed.

Back to School: Great Books for Teaching Writers

As the new school year looms ahead in the not-so-distant future, it might be a good moment to restock your library of teaching materials. Teachers & Writers Collaborative has published more than 80 books to support WITS teaching. Favorite resources for writers who teach include:

Poetry Everywhere: Teaching Poetry Writing in School and in the Community, by Jack Collom and Sheryl Noethe, contains 60 writing exercises and more than 450 example poems by children, teachers, and poets. It also discusses how to integrate poetry writing into the English class, sound and rhythm, using great poems as models, traditional poetic forms, poetry units, investing and adapting exercises, revision, publishing, and other essential topics.

The Adventures of Dr. Alphabet: 104 Unusual Ways to Write Poetry in the Classroom and in the Community, by Dave Morice, features innovative ideas for engaging students, including poetry mobiles, poetry robots, postage stamp poems, rolodex poems, chopstick quatrains, and other inventive exercises.

Old Faithful: 18 Writers Present Their Favorite Writing Assignments, edited by Christopher Edgar and Ron Padgett. In this book, 18 writers describe their single best writing assignment: the one that never fails to inspire students to write autobiographical pieces, fiction, poetry, and plays.

In addition to books, T&W publishes the quarterly Teachers & Writers magazine, winner of 10 Educational PressAwards for Excellence. The magazine covers contemporary issues and innovations in creative writing education, and engages writers, educators, and students in a conversation on the nature of creativity and the imagination.

To see the full catalog of books offered by T&W, to read a sample article from Teachers & Writers, or to order books or a subscription, go to the T&W website. You can also place orders via phone (toll-free) at 1-888-BOOKS-TW.

Opportunities for Writers from Teachers & Writers Collaborative

Teachers & Writers Collaborative has recently announced two new fellowships for writers, the T & W Fellowships and the Ellen Levine Fund fellowship.

1) Teachers & Writers Collaborative (T&W) announces the 2009–2010 T&W Fellowships, awarded to support early-career development for two emerging writers. The 2009–2010 Fellowships are made possible by the generous support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, following initial support from the Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund in the New York Community Trust.


Applicants for T&W Fellowships must:

  • Be age 35 or younger at the beginning of the Fellowship period
  • Live in New York City or be able to plan an extended stay in the area (T&W cannot assist with finding housing for individuals who do not currently live in New York.)
  • Show exceptional artistic promise and a commitment to a writing career
  • Demonstrate financial need


The 2009–2010 T&W Fellowship period is September 14, 2009, to June 18, 2010. During that time, T&W Fellows will receive:

  • A $20,000 stipend and the opportunity to apply for an additional small stipend to support research or travel
  • Office space and resources (e.g., computer, supplies) at T&W
  • Opportunities to meet with experienced professionals from publishing, literary arts, theater, or other fields related to the Fellow’s work
  • Exposure to all aspects of T&W’s work, including writing residencies, publications, and the 2020 Visions reading series

As part of their fellowships, the 2008–2009 T&W Fellows are participating in a pilot two-week residency program at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The opportunity to spend time at Pocantico may be made available to the 2009–2010 Fellows.  Visit the Teachers & Writers site for complete guidelines.


2) Later this year, the New York Community Trust will make the second annual award of at least $7,500 to a writer working on a second or third book of fiction or creative, literary nonfiction, who doesn’t yet have a publishing contract for the work. This award is supported by the Ellen Levine Fund for Writers.

Teachers & Writers Collaborative will again serve as a nominator for the award this year. The 2008 award went to a writer whose work T&W submitted: Gabriel Brownstein for his novel in progress titled I Was Here but I Disappeared.

Submissions to be considered for nomination by T&W should include contact information for the author (mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number(s)), an outline of the book, and 50-75 pages of the manuscript. Submissions should be mailed or hand-delivered to:

Amy Swauger
Teachers & Writers Collaborative
520 Eighth Ave., Ste. 2020
New York, NY 10018

Submissions will not be accepted via e-mail or fax.

The deadline for submitting work to T&W is 5:00 PM (Eastern), Friday, May 15, 2009. T&W will review submissions and select one or two as nominees for the award. The winner of the 2009 award will be notified by the New York Community Trust in late summer/early fall.

Please send questions regarding the 2009 award to aswauger at, or call 212-691-6590.

WITS Alliance, Chicago-Bound!

reception-invite-209-jpegThe WITS Alliance is sponsoring a program strand of the AWP Conference in Chicago on Feb. 10-14, 2009.  Here is the 2009  WITS Alliance Schedule of Events at AWP:

Wednesday, February 11

· 12-5 PM: Set up WITSA booth #218 Hilton Chicago, Southeast Hall, lower level

· 4:30–5:45 PM: WITS Membership Meeting—Private Dining Room, 3rd Floor

· 6:30—8:30 PM: Steering Committee Meeting

Thursday, February 12

· 9:00–10:15 AM Panel: My Voice, Wide as the Sun: Preparing to Teach Creative Writing in K–12 Classrooms—Lake Ontario, 8th Floor

· 1:30–2:45 PM Panel: From the Ground Up, Developing a Writers-in-the-Schools Program at Your College—Joliet, 3rd Floor

· 7:00–8:00 PM: WITS Alliance Reception—Marquette, 3rd Floor

Friday, February 13

· 12:00 – 1:15 PM Panel: Building Online Literary Communities: An Overview and Case Studies –Boulevard Room A, B, C, 2nd Floor

Saturday, February 14

· 9:00–10:15 AM Panel: A Room of One’s Own: Student Writing Centers—International Ballroom South, 2nd Floor

· 10:30 – 12 noon Panel: Writing Helps Kids…But Can You Prove It? Private Dining Room 4, 3rd floor

· 4:30–5:45 PM Panel: Best Practices: Teaching Expressive Writing with Hospital Populations—Astoria, 3rd Floor

· 6:00 PM Dismantle booth at bookfair

To learn more about the WITS Alliance , contact Robin Reagler via email at  rreagler (at)

Call for Creative Writing Exercises for a New Book

If you are a writer who teaches creative writing, this call for essays miight be just for you.  Here is a letter from Scott Minar, the editor a book forthcoming from Autumn House Press.

Dear poet-teachers,

I would like to invite you to participate in developing a new collection of poetry writing exercises and an accompanying poetry anthology for Autumn House Press tentatively titled The Poet’s Work. I hope you will consider sending me a submission for this book.

The Poet’s Work will be an exercise book, an anthology, and a textbook for poetry writing designed for undergraduate college or university students. In it, I hope to publish seventy-five of the best poetry writing exercises I can find. Should your work be selected for inclusion in The Poet’s Work, you will receive 2 copies of the book itself; and your work will be prominently displayed in what I hope will be a very popular creative writing textbook for years, perhaps decades to come. I hope that this will be an attractive project and expect to include some well known poets in The Poet’s Work, but I will also include the best exercises I find, regardless of status or reputation. It will include appendices with a variety of supplemental resources for ways to pursue poetry outside of the classroom as well. The overall structure of the book will be largely determined by the focus of the submissions I receive when considered as a whole, but I anticipate that chapters of exercises and examples might be formed around some of the following categories (or ones similar to them): Narrative Scenarios, Content, and Beginnings; Lyricism and Following Sounds; Rhythm, Form, and Meaning; Voice and Direction; Misdirection, Surprises, and Spin-Offs; Meter, Oralizing, and Performance; Conceptual Pieces and Meta-poetry; Revision, Alternating Versions, and Expansions.

The overall design of the exercises in this book will seek to respond to a few questions for writing teachers, including the following: What makes a poem wonderful for you? How do you teach those features or aspects to students? Specifically, what kinds of exercises have you developed to explore or develop these features in student work? In addition, the sample poems and the anthology that will function as both examples of the exercises themselves and inspiration for writers studying poetry and generating drafts of their own work.

These are the guidelines for submission: Each submission should include 1) a brief statement explaining what you like about this exercise and what it accomplishes or hopes to accomplish, 2) detailed instructions for the exercise itself, and 3) any student sample poems that have been generated by the exercise or examples from your own poetry that do the same or poems by others that you feel are particularly good examples of the exercise’s realized goals. With regard to this last item, you may of course chose to submit all three: student samples, examples from your own work, and references to poems by others that you use or may use when teaching this exercise to your students.

Submissions via e-mail are most welcome. Attachments to an e-mail will be perfectly acceptable; however, you may want to copy and paste your submission into the text of your e-mail itself, as attachments—as we are all aware— sometimes generate difficulties. Please e-mail your submissions to If you would prefer to send a hard copy of your submission, please address it to Dr. Scott Minar, Ohio University Lancaster, 1570 Granville Pike, Lancaster, OH 43130. The deadline for submission to The Poet’s Work is December 15, 2008. Please be aware that your submission itself will constitute a “permission to print” acknowledgement from you to Autumn House Press.

Please contact me if you have any questions. I hope you will feel free to share this call with others you know who might be interested in submitting an exercise. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

Scott Minar

Professor of English

Ohio University Lancaster

A Poem as Big as the City

Teachers & Writers Collaborative (T&W) launched its new project, A Poem as Big as the City, in July. This initiative will engage 6,000-10,000 young people in writing poems about their experiences growing up in the neighborhoods of New York City.


The project will culminate in public readings featuring the young poets and well-known New York writers that will be held in all five boroughs, and in the publication of A Poem as Big as the City, a collection of material written during the project.