Teachers & Writers Magazine – Now Online

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Teachers & Writers Magazine is now ONLINE with a beautiful site and archives too. With the transition from print to web, anyone can subscribe for FREE. Here’s more about the journal:

T&W publishes Teachers & Writers Magazine as a resource for teaching the art of writing in kindergarten through college and in non-classroom settings. The online magazine presents a wide range of ideas and approaches, as well as lively explorations of T&W’s mission: “educating the imagination.”

Classroom teachers and WITS Writers can search lesson plans on the site. You can submit articles online too. Subscribe today!

What’s New in Seattle?

The Seattle Writers in the Schools (WITS) program has released a new video about their work in Washington classrooms. To find out more about this great educational program, visit the Seattle Arts & Lectures site. “From songs to sonnets, from cover letters to love letters, Writers in the Schools (WITS) inspires young people to discover and develop their authentic writing and performance voices.”

What Do Texting and Ancient Poetry Share?

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Check out a wonderful essay, Texting the Shining Princeby David Andrew Stoler from Teachers & Writers Magazine. In it Stoler tells about how he made ancient Japanese poetry relevant and vital to New York City teenagers. It’s a great read! Here’s an excerpt:

And while it may be true that each generation of teenagers invents the entire world from scratch (just ask them!), we’re not talking here about text messages and Twitter, despite the similarities. No; a thousand years ago teenagers in the Japanese Court were doing the same thing as their modern counterparts—sending secret messages back and forth—limited then by formal poetic structure instead of digital character count. These messages, though, were being sent under markedly different conditions than those faced by modern-day texting teens: traditional court etiquette made it difficult for a teenage boy to even properly see a girl who wasn’t  in his family, forget about holding a conversation. And if the wrong boy was caught talking to the wrong girl, they weren’t simply sent to their rooms, didn’t  just get their phones taken away for a month—they were exiled far away, sent to live a life of poverty, coldness, and isolation.

 

So, instead, Japanese teenagers—and, in fact, most members of the Heian  Japanese court—sent each other poems. A glimpse of just the outline of a member of the opposite sex behind a carriage window screen was all it took to begin a steady stream of poems back and forth. Often snuck out in the sleeves of staff members, the poems followed the strict structure of early 11th-century Japanese Waka, a form  that  dictated  a set number of characters /syllables, and whose subject matter often revolved around nature. The quality of the metaphors—and the penmanship—were used to judge the potential suitability of a sweetheart: the equivalent of today’s Jordans or Uggs. Puns and double-meanings abounded—if the poems were intercepted, one could at least then argue his or her innocence.

 

The form was famously immortalized in Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji,  a classic text considered by some to be the first-ever novel.The book follows the life and loves of the title character from his boyhood to his death (and beyond, actually—the English translation is 1000-plus pages long and goes deep into the romantic history of his sons, too), and is loaded with Waka that are both opulent and emotional. It also makes a perfect lesson for middle and high school students today, connecting them to the history of poetry via a structure and a type of secrecy that are immediately familiar to them from the late-night texting barrages that swell their parents’ cellphone bills each month.

 

Click here to read the rest of the essayFrontcover1-229x300

 

Can I get 100 AWP members to vote–again?

Please help AWP make it to the governance finish line!

Literary Citizenship

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Let’s practice some genuine literary citizenship, people. Let’s do something positive.

AWP is this close to having a quorum. They are at 54%. They need to get to 60%. By next week!

Incentive for them: If they get to 60%, they save beaucoup bucks in legal fees, and they’re better equipped to serve you.

Incentive for you: You can win a Kindle Fire or Paperwhite. Plus, you know, making a difference and all that.

Just go here and vote.

Even if you voted last year–the last time I tried to help in this effort–you have to vote again!

How should you vote? Vote yes or no. Doesn’t matter. Just vote.

Who should vote? Every freaking body. Tenure-track faculty. Non-tenure track. Individual members.

What are you voting for? Here’s the explanation from my friend and colleague, Jill Christman, member of the AWP board.

We are closer than we have *ever*…

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Where To Be at #AWP14

photo by Porter Anderson
photo by Porter Anderson

If you want to learn all about Writers in the Schools (WITS) opportunities across the US and abroad, please join us at the annual #AWP14, the Conference. This year it will take place in Seattle starting Feb. 26, 2014. Here is a listing of our panels, meetings, and receptions.

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

Visit us at Booth #200 in the Bookfair

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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
Being Juvenile is a Good Thing: A Reading of Old Writers Inspired by Young Writers
Room 304, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 3
Featuring Rebecca Hoogs, Terry Blackhawk, Garth Stein, Nick Flynn, Dorothea Lasky

4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
From Page to Stage, Performance Poetry and the WITS Process of Teaching and Learning
Willow Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
Featuring Mary Rechner, Desmond Spann, Aricka Foreman, Monica Prince, Janet Hurley

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
Preparing for Exuberant Life Beyond the MFA
Room 602/603, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Featuring Michele Kotler, Lauren Berry, Peter Hyland, Jason Whitmarsh, Elizabeth Wales

3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
F235. Storytelling for a Cause
Cedar Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
Featuring Kate Brennan, Karen Lewis, Lisa Murphy-Lamb, Philip Shaw, Robin

Saturday, March 1, 2014

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
Creativity and the Future of K-12 Education
Room 609, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Starring Jack McBride, Cecily Sailer, Harold Terezón, Tina Cane, Sheila Black

1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
Rivers and Tides: Balancing Leadership with the Writing Life
Room 615/616/617, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
Jeanine Walker, Jennifer Benka, David Hassler, Stephen Young

For more detailed information about each of these panel discussions, click here.

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.