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.
AWP 2019 was a huge success! We had so much fun connecting with WITS Alliance members, hosting and attending dynamic panels and readings, and meeting writers from across the country. See some highlights from our time in Portland below! Panel highlights: Literary Changemakers: Representation & Visibility in the Writing World Panelists: Tina Cane, Suzi Garcia,……WITS Alliance at AWP 2019 — WITS Houston
Check out this essay by Peter Markus, THROUGH THE EYE OF A FEATHER: HELPING STUDENTS SLOW DOWN, PAY ATTENTION, AND SEE ANEW, published in Teachers & Writers Magazine.
The essay provides a procedural teaching methodology by one of the great WITS masters. Pete works with InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit, and his most recent book is Inside My Pencil: Teaching Poetry in Detroit Public Schools (Dzanc, 2017). Here is one student poem that came out of this lesson.
Through the Eye of the Feather
I can see my dead uncle.
I can hear a pencil writing.
I believe I will heal and walk.
I can touch my future self.
When the feather speaks it says
get out of bed.
When the feather sings it brings
joy into my life.
Big things are happening at The Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University in Ohio. Because of their established outreach program, Teaching Poetry in the Schools, Wick is a member of the WITS Alliance. Their most recent public event engaged the community in the creative process and helped each participant discover more about their personal vision conjured up by the word HOME:
Last weekend the Wick Poetry Center welcomed hundreds of guests to the May Prentice House and Poetry Park. While the second annual Kent Creativity Festival—a collaboration of Kent State University, the City of Kent, Main Street Kent, local businesses and non-profit organizations—provided community members a chance to paint, act, build, and dance, we invited participants to create and decorate poems through our Emerge application. Our guest writers crafted their own poetry from sources including a meditation on our ever-present black squirrels, the history of Kent, and a response to the politics surrounding the renewal of DACA by prominent American writers. Working from these original documents, writers of all ages were able to leap over the daunting anxiety of the blank page and craft their own “found” Emerge poem.
Next, each visitor had the chance to offer up their own original stanza to a growing community poem about Kent:
Kent is the smell of firewood and wet soil after the first rainshower of the year. Kent is music flowing straight into your soul calling you to sing out for the place that is your home. Kent is crunching acorns and car engines. Kent is a rumbling train with a blue heron flying overhead, reflected in a crooked river. Kent is a paintbrush adding the most vibrant colors to every aspect of life.
The Wick Poetry Center, led by poet David Hassler, helps lead a number of national movements, including the WITS Alliance, Lit Net, and the Poetry Coalition. For more information about their work in Ohio, click here.
Congratulations to the Missoula Writing Collaborative on a beautiful series of poems and photographs by young writers featured in The Missoulian. The portrait series demonstrates the power that children can harness through the art of writing. See the entire series here. An article by Caroline Patterson explains more about what students gain through the writers-in-the-schools experience.
On August 24th, InsideOut Literary Arts Project will honor founder Terry Blackhawk for her visionary work in Detroit Public Schools. This fundraising event, Share the Light, will support education programs serving thousands of inner city students. The gala will take place at the McGregor Memorial Conference Center, a masterpiece of world-renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki. The evening will feature live performances by InsideOut students and alum. Supporters can attend the event and/or purchase pages in a tribute book to honor Dr. Blackhawk. For more information, click here.
The Bechtel Prize honors the best essay about teaching creative writing with publication and a prize of $1000. Finalists also receive cash prizes. Direct from the Teachers & Writers Collaborative site, here’s more information:
Teachers & Writers Collaborative (T&W) seeks submissions for essays that explore creative writing and arts education, the theme of the imagination, and/or creative writing.
Submissions for the Bechtel Prize may include:
- Explorations of critical issues in creative writing and arts education.
- Literacy narratives, first-hand accounts about the process of writing or teaching writing.
- Memoirs about how and why the author became a writer or early experiences with literature and the imagination.
- Reflections on the writer’s life and how poets and writers stay connected to their imaginations.
- Portraits of key teachers and mentors in the author’s life.
Tayari Jones will choose the winner of the 2018 Bechtel Prize. Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage (Algonquin Books, February 2018). Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship, and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Silver Sparrow was named a #1 Indie Next Pick by booksellers in 2011, and the National Endowment for the Arts added it to its Big Read Library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is currently an associate professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.
The essay selected to receive the Bechtel Prize will appear in Teachers & Writers Magazine and the author will receive a $1,000 honorarium. Honoraria totaling $500 are shared by the authors of entries selected as finalists for the prize, which may also be published in Teachers & Writers Magazine.
Selection criteria for the Bechtel Prize include the essay’s relevance and appropriateness for readers of Teachers & Writers Magazine, most of whom teach writing at the elementary, secondary, or postsecondary level. T&W welcomes submissions written in a poetic, lyric style; as well as personal narrative, reportage, and essays.
Prospective entrants for the Bechtel Prize are encouraged to visit the magazine to become familiar with the publication, and to read past winners of the award. The submission deadline for the 2018 Bechtel Prize is Friday, December 1, 2017.