Seattle Arts & Lectures, Centrum, and the Port Townsend School District are collaborating for a 3rd year to bring professional creative writers from the Seattle area to Port Townsend to work with the entire student population at Blue Heron Middle School, as well as with two classes at Port Townsend High School. Six writers will teach students for ten days from November 28 through December 9, 2011.
The 4th grade will work on memoir and personal narrative with writer Karen Finneyfrock. Finneyfrock’s young adult novel, Celia, the Dark and Weird, is due from Viking Children’s Books, a division of Penguin, in 2012. Her book of poems, Ceremony for the Choking Ghost, is out on Write Bloody press.
The 5th grade will work on fiction with writer Rachel Kessler. Kessler is a writer, educator, and performance artist. She is a founding member of the literary performance art groups The Typing Explosion and the Vis-à-Vis Society. Collaborative poems have appeared in Tin House, TATE, and USA Today. She is working on her own versions of favorite fairy tales.
Selected students from the 5th grade will read their work from 9:15 – 10:15 on Friday, December 9, 2011 in the Commons at Blue Heron Middle School. The public is invited to attend.
The 6th grade will work on fiction with writer Samar Abulhassan. Abulhassan holds an M.F.A. from Colorado State University and worked in California public schools for seven years. Born to Lebanese immigrants and raised with multiple languages, she is a 2006 Hedgebrook alum and the author of two chapbooks, Farah and Nocturnal Temple.
The 7th grade will work on poetry and fiction with both Abulhassan and Jeanine Walker. Walker’s work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Cream City Review, Web Conjunctions, and elsewhere. A recipient of the Donald Barthelme Memorial Fellowship for fiction, she has taught writing to youth at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth, Richard Hugo House, and Writers in the Schools. She is currently at work on a novel.
The 8th grade will work on fiction with writer Peter Mountford. Mountford’s debut novel, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2011. His award-winning short fiction has appeared in Best New American Voices 2008, Boston Review, Phoebe, The Normal School, and Conjunctions.
The 6th through 8th grade will celebrate their writing at an evening reading on Thursday, December 9, 2011 at 5:30 in the Commons of Blue Heron. The public is invited to attend.
Two 11th grade classes at Port Townsend High School will work on poetry with writer Tara Hardy. Hardy is the founder of Bent, a writing institute for LGBTIQ people based in Seattle. In 2002, she was elected by the people and named by the city council as Seattle's Poet Populist and won the Seattle Grand Slam Champion. She holds an MFA from Vermont College in fiction writing.
The 11th grade will celebrate their writing at an evening reading on Thursday, December 9, 2011. Time and location to be determined.
The Writers in the Schools (WITS) program matches a local creative writer with a public elementary, middle or high school or hospital to design innovative and culturally relevant lesson plans that meet the goals of the participating classes while engaging students. The program invigorates both students and teachers with fresh ideas and encouragement. Teachers report that students' quality of writing improves, and they become more confident in expressing themselves.
Support for the WITS program at Blue Heron came from the Port Townsend Education Foundation; district Title II monies; Centrum, who provides housing for the Seattle-based writers; and Seattle Arts & Lectures.