Friday, July 21, 2017

YA Lit Trifecta for @CWPFairfield: @kwamealexander @crowechris @MaryRandHess

Kwame Alexander
There is magic during the summer months, but then there is MAGIC. It's not "Look at my magic wand, Dumbledore" or "If I wiggle my nose, I can clean my house" magic, but something more special. It's the magic of brilliant minds willing to share wisdom, expertise, writing processes, creativity and poetic storytelling with high school youth, graduate students, and teachers who are part of the Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield family.

Because of a tremendous heart and vast generosity, CWP ordered early copies of SOLO to use with a special National Writing Project camp this summer called Project Citizen - Flying Lessons from the Prose. We are also using Ellen Oh's Flying Lessons & Other Stories, too, and asking the participants to 'go solo' with 'flying lessons' they have for their own imagined readers.
The goal, too, is to discuss how language is always political and writing one's life is a great way to counter what Adichie called the 'single story.' My love for diversity was behind the program, too, and I used National writing Support to hire exceptional teachers from a variety of schools and
Mary Rand Hess
purposefully mixed urban, suburban, and rural youth. We have 24 students, including a team of 5 young women who flew from S. Dakota and are members of the Lakota Sioux tribe. They brought with them an extremely supportive teacher, as well, and a desire to bring their world to Connecticut.

Music, and dance, have united with poetry and Op-Ed to unite kids on a mission to right what they see are local, national, and global issues. The writing will be published in POW! Power of Words, and included in a special website being creation by NWP.

The joy of yesterday, however, was the coincidence and luck that three authors offered their time to speak with young writers about their craft, their stories, their work with youth communities, and what they hope for next.
Chris Crowe
Kwame Alexander offered his usual wit and although he jokes about his genius, we all agreed after reading SOLO - the guy is a genius. We've all committed to a writing life in Panera Bread, too.

Mary Rand Hess added even more flavor to the day, sharing her humor, her dedication to rock & roll, poetry, and collaboration, a commitment to Blade, and a tremendous talent of not being a 'spoiler' for those still finishing the book (Man, oh, Man. Kemoy really wanted to discuss the ending - cough cough cough....and it was pretty unanimous that sequels are desired). For me, I simply thanked her for being the missing ling in young adult literature - providing narrative prose and language play to the game of reading with kids!

Finally, Chris Crowe, a fellow National Writing Project director, SKYPED from Utah to share his love of historical fiction and the choice of writing DEATH COMING UP THE HILL in haiku form (everyone left the conversation with new desires to write zombie poetry and, after a challenge to write a 5/7/5 poem with one word per each line: 5 syllables/7syllables/5 syllables, to think outside-the-box about the stories we share ... and the genres we use to share them). "I think I can do a book about the Congo," said a young woman attending Ubuntu Academy. "Tell my story of coming to America" (and when she does, I'll send it to all 3 writers).


Phew! Wipes sweat from brow. I did it, Chris! This is a summary of CWP-Fairfield's summer objectives: We are pushing curiosity with young writers as they explore autobiographical interests in making the world a better place. Boom (maybe a stretch).

Seriously, though...I am forever grateful to three stupendous writers, awesome presenters, kind human beings, and tremendous champions of kids and teachers.

Ubuntu! Ubuntu! Ubuntu!

It's time to order pizzas! Friday proms at CWP!

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