Spellbound and the Art of Teaching Writing

Congratulations to Matthew Burgess and a cohort of amazing writers on the publication of Spellbound: The Art of Teaching Poetry (Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 2019). This book represents the collective wisdom and best practices for teaching creative writing from the practitioner’s perspective. The writers included, many from WITS Alliance organizations, are Chris Cander, Tina Cane, Sarah Dohrmann, Jennifer Firestone, Joanna Fuhrman, Aracelis Girmay, Susan Karwoska, Jason Koo, Dorothea Lasky, Sheila Maldonado, Peter Markus, Jasminne Mendez, Cait Weiss Orcutt, Bianca Stone, and Tiphanie Yanique. The book contains both a practical how-to approach, as well as a more philosophical conversation explaining how a poem “works” and reflects our most meaningful ideas and experiences.

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.

Bechtel Prize for Essays on Teaching Writing

39-2_cover-fullTeachers & Writers Collaborative (T&W) awards the Bechtel Prize annually in recognition of an exemplary essay addressing important issues in the areas of creative writing education, literary studies, and/or the profession of writing. The deadline to receive submissions for the 2009 Bechtel Prize is 5:00 PM (Eastern), Tuesday, June 30, 2009.

In 2009, T&W is seeking Bechtel Prize submissions that explore the teaching of creative writing in combination with another artistic discipline, such as dance, media arts, music, theater, or the visual arts; or with another academic discipline, such as math or history. We are seeking essays that shed light on the nature of the creative process and want to read your stories about viewing the art of writing through a different lens, and your take on the benefits and challenges of such cross-disciplinary work.

Questions that might be addressed in essays include, but are not limited to, the following:

What are the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach to teaching creative writing?

Are there aspects of the creative processes central to the literary arts that students can understand more clearly in the context of other disciplines?

What are the complications of teaching creative writing with another discipline?

Do writers who teach in an interdisciplinary way find that work influencing their own creative processes?

The winning essay appears in Teachers & Writers magazine, and the author receives a $1,500 honorarium. Authors of submissions selected as finalists for the award share honoraria of $500, and their essays may also be published in Teachers & Writers. The previous winners of the Bechtel Prize can be found here.

Prospective entrants for the Bechtel Prize are encouraged to review a sample issue ofTeachers & Writers to familiarize themselves with the magazine’s style. To order a sample issue of the magazine for $5.00, click here.

Complete guidelines are available on the Teachers & Writers site. Questions regarding the Bechtel Prize should be directed to <bechtel(at)twc.org> (replace (at) with @).

[cross-posted on the WITS blog]