New Book Makes Strong Case for Writers in Schools Programs

9781441111944Forthcoming from Bloomsbury in January 2014, Terry Ann Thaxton’s book Creative Writing in the Community makes a powerful statement in favor of the expansion of Writers-in-Schools programs. Here’s some of the buzz surrounding the new book:

“Terry Ann Thaxton’s thorough and thoughtful guide to community-based creative writing programs mixes inspiring stories with concrete strategies to turn inspiration into action. The voices gathered in Creative Writing in the Community make the strongest possible case for the value of the literary arts and convey the joy of helping students
find their voices as writers, whether those students are seven or seventy years old.” – Amy Swauger, Director, Teachers & Writers Collaborative

Creative Writing in the Community is a unique, comprehensive guidebook – an indispensable, whole-hearted resource both for aspiring writing teachers and practicing writers who, like the author, believe that the union of creative writing and service based learning can build confidence and generate, in learners from all walks of life, a sense of hope, possibility, and purpose.” – Michael Steinberg, Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University and co-author (with Robert Root Jr) of Those Who Do, Can; Teachers Writing, Writers Teaching (1996)

From the publisher: Each chapter is packed with easy-to-use resources including: specific lesson plans; case studies of students working with community groups; lists of suitable writing examples; “how to…” sections; examples and theoretical applications of creative writing pedagogy and techniques; reflection questions; writings by workshop participants. Enhanced by contributions from directors, students and teachers at successful public programs, Creative Writing in the Community is more than an essential guide for students on creative writing courses and leaders of community-based learning programs; it is practical demonstration of the value of art in society.

Terry Ann Thaxton is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Central Florida and the founder of Literary Arts Partnerships. Other directors and leaders of WITS Alliance programs who authored chapters are Terry Blackhawk, Allen Gee, David Hassler, and Robin Reagler. To pre-order the book, click here. It will be officially released in January 2014.

Get WITS at AWP 2014 in Seattle

AWP WITS Alliance leaders
Bao-Long Chu, Amy Swauger, Terry Blackhawk, Robin Reagler, and Robin Davidson

If you want to learn more about Writers in the Schools (WITS) programs, please join us at the annual AWP Conference. This year it will take place in Seattle starting Feb. 26, 2014. Here is a listing of our panels. A more complete list including meetings and receptions will be posted in December.

Writers in the Schools (WITS) Alliance
2014 AWP Conference Schedule
Seattle, Washington

Visit us at Booth #200 in the Bookfair

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
W103. WITS Membership Meeting
Room 2A, Washington State Convention Center, Level 2
Writers in the Schools (WITS) Alliance invites current and prospective members to attend a general meeting led by Robin Reagler, Executive Director of WITS-Houston.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
R218B. Being Juvenile is a Good Thing: A Reading of Old Writers Inspired by Young Writers
Room 304, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 3
(Rebecca Hoogs, Terry Blackhawk, Garth Stein, Nick Flynn, Dorothea Lasky)
In a recent New Yorker profile of James Salter, the writer dismissed his teenage writing as “terrible”—a common refrain for most writers of renown—yet such false modesty does damage to the public perception of what young people can do. This panel will present writers who have worked with Writers in the Schools programs to read their work and the work of the amazing young people who have inspired them. The reading will also feature a special guest appearance by a young writer from Seattle.

4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
R253. From Page to Stage, Performance Poetry and the WITS Process of Teaching and Learning
Willow Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
(Mary Rechner, Desmond Spann, Aricka Foreman, Monica Prince, Janet Hurley)
Competitive Poetry Slams inspire diverse youth populations to produce dynamic poetry on both the page and the stage. Panelists explore the complexities unique to teaching students to write poetry meant for performance, the socio-political history of the form, the nuts and bolts of organizing youth slams, and the expanding world of opportunities for young performance poets.

7 pm to 8:15 pm
Writers in the Schools Reception
Greenwood Room, Sheaton Seattle

Friday, February 28, 2014

9:00 am to 10:15 am
F114. Preparing for Exuberant Life Beyond the MFA
Room 602/603, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Michele Kotler, Lauren Berry, Peter Hyland, Jason Whitmarsh, Elizabeth Wales)
For the writer with a fresh new MFA degree, getting a college teaching job is becoming increasingly more difficult, but there are many other options available. On this panel, five writers will share their career paths to meaningful and satisfying full-time positions in the city of their choosing. The options include working with Writers in the Schools (WITS) programs, becoming a grant writer, teaching in a high school, and becoming a technical writer and a literary agent.

3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
F235. Storytelling for a Cause
Cedar Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
(Kate Brennan, Karen Lewis, Lisa Murphy-Lamb, Philip Shaw, Lisa Howe Verhovek)
Make a difference through the art of storytelling. Led by members of the Writers in the Schools Alliance, this panel discusses how to craft meaningful stories that further the work of a charitable cause. With experts from the nonprofit sector, the philanthropic community, and the marketing industry, hear what makes an effective story and how to best share that story with targeted constituents. This panel will also touch on topics such as cause marketing and guerrilla marketing.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
S182. Creativity and the Future of K-12 Education
Room 609, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Jack McBride, Cecily Sailer, Harold Terezón, Tina Cane, Sheila Black)
According to creativity advocate Ken Robinson, schools are “killing creativity.” As schools struggle to reinvent themselves and become more relevant, what is the role of the arts in the classroom? How can the teaching artist enhance education in the age of the data-driven? Four Writers in the Schools teaching artists and administrators discuss the precarious position of creative writing and the arts in the K-12 classroom.

1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
S216. Rivers and Tides: Balancing Leadership with the Writing Life
Room 615/616/617, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Amy Swauger, Jeanine Walker, Jennifer Benka, David Hassler, Stephen Young)
The desire to make a difference in the world does not always coexist peacefully with the desire to write poetry. Many writers struggle with balancing the demands of being literary and being a leader. These panelists hail from five different literary organizations, and they discuss how their careers and their poetry have fed (and sometimes bled into) one another.

US Poet Laureate Visits WITS Program in Detroit


PBS NewHour is doing a series of stories about poetry in America led by the U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Tretheway. Correspondent Jeffrey Brown reports on Natasha’s visit to WITS Alliance member program InsideOut in Detroit. Read more about the young poets of Detroit here and here. Or watch the full segment from PBS NewsHour here.

iO's Justin Rogers celebrating his Detroit last night on the PBS NewsHour: "I looked at what my city is now and realized I enjoy what I have here more than what my fantasy city is, and that these negative things, they are there, but there are so many other positive things, that I'm going to enjoy what I have here." Photo by Regina Boone, copyright 2013.
iO’s Justin Rogers celebrating his Detroit last night on the PBS NewsHour: “I looked at what my city is now and realized I enjoy what I have here more than what my fantasy city is, and that these negative things, they are there, but there are so many other positive things, that I’m going to enjoy what I have here.” Photo by Regina Boone, copyright 2013.

 

Free Resources for Teaching Poetry in the Schools

House of Colors by Judy Kaufman
House of Colors by Judy Kaufman

Teaching poetry can be tricky. Here are some great links that may help.

Please add your favorite teaching resources in the comment section below.

 

WITS Leadership Position Open in San Francisco

Emerson-2012-laurenThe Center for the Art of Translation in San Francisco seeks a qualified visionary and passionate professional to be its next Executive Director. Here is the official announcement:

About the Center for the Art of Translation
Founded in 2000, the Center is a San Francisco-based non-profit which broadens cultural awareness
through international literature and translation. The Center aims to make global voices and great literature
accessible to the public through three programs: Two Lines Press, publishing literature in translation;
the Poetry Inside Out literacy program; and Two Voices, an event series spotlighting international
writing. As Two Lines Press celebrates twenty years and other Center programs mature, we are seeking
an experienced Executive Director to lead a talented, professional staff, build financial resources, and
guide the organization toward future growth and success. The ideal candidate will bring a passionate
commitment to the arts, proven non-profit management and fundraising experience, and interest in
literature and translation.

Responsibilities
• Provide leadership to develop and implement a long-range strategy for the organization.
• Ensure ongoing programmatic excellence, rigorous program evaluation, and consistent quality of
finance and administration, fundraising, communications, and systems.
• Develop strategic fundraising initiatives, taking a lead role in relationship cultivation, individual
donations, and fundraising events; oversee development staff and grantwriting.
• Lead and manage high-performing staff; provide coaching and performance assessment.
• Actively engage Center partners and funders, and identify new opportunities for growth.
• Keep apprised of trends in the philanthropic, publishing, and education fields, as well as in the local
arts community.
• Develop, maintain, and support a strong and involved Board of Directors.
• Oversee and manage annual budget; help produce monthly and quarterly financial reports and projections
and supervise annual financial review/audit.

Qualifications
• Minimum of 5 years senior non-profit management experience with successful outcomes.
• Passion for the arts and the work of arts organizations.
• Significant experience leading fund development, including private donor cultivation and solicitation
and event fundraisers.
• Experience in developing organizational strategies that enable growth.
• Demonstrated ability to lead, support and inspire an equivalent size organization.
• Excellent human resources and project management skills.
• Ability to think strategically and programmatically while managing operations.
• Excellent oral and written communication skills, and the ability to represent the Center.
• Sense of humor and ability to maintain effective working relationships with a small staff.
• B.A. in a related field.

Preferred
• Senior management experience at an arts organization.
• An advanced degree in the arts, education, or non-profit management.
• Experience with foreign languages, publishing, and/or K-12 education a plus.
This is a full time position; salary dependent on qualifications and experience. The Center offers a generous
vacation package, retirement plan and benefits package.
To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to catexecutive2013@yahoo.com and addressed to:
Executive Director Recruiting Committee. Please tell us how you heard about the position.

A World of Language, Literature & Learning

Fellowships for Emerging Writers

kw_beachThe deadline to apply for a fellowship to the Key West Literary Seminar is September 30th , 2013. Here is more information from their site:

Presented annually, the Joyce Horton Johnson Fiction Award, Scotti Merrill Memorial Award, and Marianne Russo Award recognize emerging writers of exceptional merit. Past winners include fiction writers Patricia Engel, Nami Mun, and Kristen-Paige Madonia; and poets George Green and Brynn Saito.

This year’s award winners will receive full tuition to our January seminar and workshop program, round-trip airfare to and from Key West, seven nights’ lodging, financial support for living expenses while in Key West, and the opportunity to appear on stage during the Seminar.

The deadline is September 30. Complete details are here.

This year the Key West Literary Seminar will be held January 9th -19th, 2014.

Annual Teaching and Poetry Symposium in August

Casa-De-Maria-14The 2013 CPITS TEACHING AND POETRY SYMPOSIUM will take place at the  Casa de Maria Retreat Center, Santa Barbara, August 23-24-25, 2013. Workshops will be led by award-winning poet Laure-Anne Bosselaar who is the author of A New Hunger (Ausable Press, 2007), Small Gods of Grief (2001), which won the Isabella Gardner Prize for Poetry, and The Hour Between Dog and Wolf (1997). Her poems have also appeared in Ploughshares, The Washington Post, AGNI, and Harvard Review, as well as in numerous anthologies. Poetry performances will feature Laure-Anne Bosselaar and California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, who will also deliver the Keynote Address.  Workshops on poetic craft, teaching strategies, open mic, and more will make this a weekend to remember. To sign up email info@cpits.org or follow CPITS on Facebook to get the latest program details.

 

Applause for the Meta-Four 2013 Team!

Several Writers in the Schools (WITS) Programs provide youth programs in slam and performance poetry. Congrats to the winners who will compete at Meta-Four Houston at Brave New Voices in August!

The WITS Blog

m4 team after grand 513Houston, we have a team!

After competing at Space City Slam in a series of six poetry competitions, six young poets were chosen to represent WITS’s performance poetry team, Meta- Four, and the city of Houston at the international youth poetry slam festival and competition, Brave New Voices, in Chicago, August 7-11.

The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee announced the winners, who rode in the grand prize winning car “Big Red” in the Houston Art Car Parade. Congratulations to Outspoken Bean, the Meta-Four coach, and to students Sarah Portugal, Terell Cloud, Jennifer Layer, Jordan Simpson, Tiffany Ike, and Daniel Ortiz! See you in Chicago!

Thanks to the support of United Airlines, who generously donated round trip tickets, Meta- Four will be flying all the way to Chicago free of charge! Also a special thanks to the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and Travelers Insurance for their continuous support of Meta-Four…

View original post 6 more words

WritersCorps Announces Winners in Poetry Video Competition

jayraj-highres1On Saturday, April 13, WritersCorps held the third annual Poetry Projection Project, a festival of short films inspired by youth poems, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Poetry Projection Project was emceed by WritersCorps teaching artist, Anhvu Buchanan, or “Mr. B,” as he’s known by his students. The audience enjoyed a reading by four WritersCorps poets– Haley, Nicole, Senobia, and Melissa– followed by a screening of short films.

Special guest juror H.P. Mendoza, an award-winning San Francisco-based filmmaker (”Colma: The Musical,” and “I Am a Ghost”), praised the work of the filmmakers and poets before announcing the winners of the festival:

City Boy” by Jayraj Govender, featuring his own poem.

The Girl with the Birds” by Reel Grrls students, featuring their own poem.

One of the finalists shown at the festival was created by students from WITS Houston in a collaborative project with Aurora Picture Show. You can watch the rest of the selected festival films here and view photos of the event by Cole Anetsberger here

As an organization employing professional writers and teaching creative writing to underserved youth, WritersCorps forges a strong connection to the city’s arts scene.WritersCorps a joint project of the San Francisco Public Library and the San Francisco Arts Commission and has helped nearly 18,000 youth from neighborhoods throughout San Francisco improve their literacy and increase their desire to learn. WritersCorps creates award-winning publications, produce local and national events, and are part of a national alliance with sites in the Bronx and Washington, D.C. In 2010, WritersCorps was honored with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House, presented by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Summer Institute for Advanced Teaching Artists

cwp logo
 

Save the dates: July 19, 22 + 23, 2013!

Apply by June 5, 2013

Summer Institute is a three-day intensive workshop conducted by Community-Word Project for creative writers, visual artists, musicians, dancers and theater artists with 2+ years teaching artist experience.

Summer Institute’s training curriculum is based on Community-Word Project’s “creative process” exploration methods, teaching practices and arts-in-education philosophy developed over 12 years.

Deepen your teaching practice:

  • Explore creative processes and critical thinking
  • Transform creative processes into effective teaching tools
  • Refresh techniques for project-based arts integration
  • Strengthen classroom management strategies
  • Cultivate environments of social change within classrooms
  • Learn best practices in the teaching artist field

Be a part of the movement!

2013 Application

WritersCorps Live in the City by the Bay

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On March 7, 2013, WritersCorps and the Contemporary Jewish Museum joined forces for the third year to present WritersCorps Live at the CJM, featuring award-winning author Tamim Ansary, along with WritersCorps teaching artist Minna Dubin, and 8 students from 8 different WritersCorps sites in San Francisco.

As an organization employing professional writers and teaching creative writing to underserved youth, it is important to us at WritersCorps to have a connection to the city’s literary scene, which is exactly why we participate in public events. A bit about us: we are a joint project of the San Francisco Public Library and the San Francisco Arts Commission and have helped nearly 18,000 youth from neighborhoods throughout San Francisco improve their literacy and increase their desire to learn. We publish award-winning publications, produce local and national events, and are part of a national alliance with sites in the Bronx and Washington, D.C. In 2010, we were honored with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House, presented to us by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Before the reading began, about 80 WritersCorps students were treated to a private tour of Kehinde Wiley’s exhibit “World Stage: Israel,” by interns from CJM’s Teen Art Connect program. Our students thoroughly enjoyed the thought-provoking art and group discussion.

After the tour, students enjoyed some pizza while Tamim Ansary fielded their questions about being a professional writer, and signed their copies of West of Kabul, East of New York. (Thank you to Picador for their generous donation of copies of the book for our students!)

Savannah from Downtown High School started the reading off with a poem called “How to Dance with Wolves.” She was followed by DeAsia, from the WritersCorps Apprentices program, who read a poem that she shared on KALW’s Crosscurrents a few days earlier (check it out here).

Another highlight included Karla, from Hilltop High School, sharing a brave and moving piece on motherhood. Two of our students at the Woodside Learning Center inside the Juvenile Justice Center were represented by two short films of their poems which were screened.

Finally, our featured reader, the award-winning writer Tamim Ansary, treated us to an excerpt from West of Kabul, East of New York, his memoir about his family’s immigration from Afghanistan to San Francisco.

We are always happy to offer a space for our students to share their work and to let the community in on what we are doing.

The next WritersCorps event is Poetry Projection Project — a short film fest based on youth writing — on Saturday, April 13, 2 pm, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. More info on that here.

Alexandra Wilder

Program Associate, WritersCorps

So, You Want to Become a Writer in the Schools?

witsa messenger bagJoin us at the 2013 AWP Conference in Boston, March 6-9. Here is a list of the Writers in the Schools (WITS) Alliance events this year.

WITS Alliance Schedule of Events
AWP 2013: Boston
Hynes Convention Center

All events take place in the Hynes Convention Center unless otherwise noted.
 

WITS Alliance Booth: 210

 

Wednesday, March 6

WITS Day of Service hosted by WriteBoston
12:00 noon -4:00 p.m.

WITS Alliance Membership Meeting
Room 209, Level 2
4:30-5:45 p.m.

Thursday, March 7

WITS Writers on Teaching: A Reading

Lacy M. Johnson, Giuseppe Taurino, Miah Arnold, Stacy Parker Le Melle, Nicole Zaza
Related Panel
Room 102, Plaza Level
10:30-11:45 a.m.

This reading by new, veteran, and former WITS teachers will explore what it really means to be agents of the WITS mission—to engage children in the power of the written word, to nurture imaginations, and to awaken young minds to the adventures of language. Readers will discuss how WITS teaching can sometimes be at least as revolutionary for teachers as for their students, even having potentially life-altering effects on teaching, writing, and overall worldview.

A Reading from Writers in the Schools [WITS Alliance]

Alise Alousi, Bao-Long Chu, Michael Dickman, Tim Seibles
Room 201, Level 2
1:30-2:45 p.m.

Four poets will share work by young students as well as their own work. They will discuss the ways in which their work with school children has affected their own writing. Two of the poets will have participated in the AWP WITS Day of Service and will tell about that. Students from the Day of Service project will be invited to the event.

 

Rowing Your Boat across the Curriculum [WITS Alliance]
Amy Swauger, Sarah Dohrmann, Margaret Dougherty-Goodburn, Mary Rechner, Terry Ann Thaxton
Room 102, Plaza Level
4:30-5:45 p.m.
 

From lyrics on the nesting habits of eagles to odes to the ozone layer, teachers are incorporating creative writing projects in science, math, and social studies curricula. From kindergarten to college, instructors are being asked to merge the disciplines. In this session, panelists will share strategies to engage students in creative writing across the curriculum.

 

WITS Alliance Reception

Room 303
7:00-8:15 p.m.

Friday, March 8

Founder’s Toolkit: How to Start a Non- Profit in Your Own Backyard [WITS Alliance]
Long Chu, Allen Gee, Janet Hurley, Lisa Murphy-Lamb, Jerome Vielman
Room 102, Plaza Level
10:30-11:45 a.m.

If every organization is the lengthened shadow of one person, and if the MFA is the new MBA, then poets and novelists are already equipped with the imaginative drive and divergent thinking necessary to start and operate a successful nonprofit. This panel of founding directors and arts administrators will provide useful information on how to start a literary non-profit. We will guide participants through the process of incorporating one’s passion into a viable project working for public good.

Fundraising with Individuals – Crafting the Story [WITS Alliance]
Jack McBride, Kate Brennan, Lee Briccetti, Michele Kotler
Room 102, Plaza Level
3:00-4:15 p.m.

Non-profits start brainstorm sessions with this phrase: if money were no object. But, money is an object, and not having it is an obstacle. In an economy where revenues and contributions are down, non-profits rely on individual donors. While 70% of all giving comes from individuals, just 5% of donations go to the arts. How do we shape a passion for our work into a message that encourages increased giving? This panel explores ways we craft our stories to win the hearts of individual donors.

Saturday, March 9

Writing to Change the World: Social Justice and Youth Writing Programs [WITS Alliance]
Janet Hurley, Tamiko Ambrose Murray, Glenis Redmond, Christina Shea, Terry Blackhawk
Room 208, Level 2
12:00-1:15 p.m.

Does the endeavor of creative writing intrinsically encourage the subject of social justice and/or nurture the same? Panelists who work with students, elementary through college age, will discuss the art of teaching youth. They will chronicle the ways in which creative writing often triggers or gives space for idealism in students and empowers a sense of agency. What are the teachable moments and what risks are involved?

 
Where in the World is the Writer in Residence? [WITS Alliance]
Cecily Sailer, Alise Alousi, Tina Angelo, Josephine Jones
Room 102, Plaza Level
3:00-4:15 p.m.

Although people might agree poets make the world a better place, poetry is often marginalized to classrooms. What happens when we move the poet from the ivory tower into the real world? What if a poet-in-residence could work in the hospital, museum, theater, or science lab? This panel explores how individuals and arts organizations can enliven and deepen the teaching of creative writing through unlikely collaborations.