The end of the school year is approaching here in New York City, and we are looking forward to the gentle pace of July and August. The summer slowdown brings more time for reading, for writing, and for thinking creatively about the work we do to bring young people to the literary arts. We hope that the ideas in this issue of Teachers & Writers Magazine will stimulate your own creative thinking, and that you’ll share thoughts inspired by this issue and other new content that we post every week. You can connect with other readers by posting a comment in the box that appears at the bottom of every article, or write directly to the Editorial Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With this issue we introduce a new series, “Young Writers of the World,” providing bright snapshots of the writing life, as told from our students’ perspectives. We kick off the series with portraits of two student writers in Teachers & Writers Collaborative programs: Adelle and Ethan. Each column features a brief interview with the student, a photo, a sample of his or her wonderful work, and a description of the lesson plan that inspired the student’s writing. We think you’ll enjoy hearing from these fresh, new voices, and from others to come.
Matthew Burgess’ interview with Ron Padgett offers a look back at the early days of the writers-in-the-schools movement, as well as exploring Padgett’s most recent work as a poet. In “Where Voices Are Made, and Where They Find Us,” Emily Hughes shares her experience as an MFA candidate in poetry working in the schools; while Sarah Dohrmann gives us a snapshot of the challenges and joys of being a teaching artist in her essay, “Hunger.”
Last year, our friends and colleagues at California Poets in the Schools celebrated their 50th anniversary by publishing Poetry Crossing: 50+ Lessons for 50 Years. They’ve allowed us to share two of their lesson plans in Teachers & Writers Magazine, with more lesson plans to follow in the coming year. In his lesson plan, Jeffrey Pflaum shows us how the simple phrase “A Penny for Your Thoughts” can get students to think about thinking and to brainstorm writing ideas.
This issue presents two strategies for connecting students to poets via long distance. In her video lesson plan, “A World of Poetry,” Texas poet and teaching artist Amanda Johnston explains how she uses technology to enable her students to engage with poets as far away as London. Andy Fogle connected his students with poet Arthur Sze via an online interview. Both the interview, “Seeking the Silk Dragon,” and Fogle’s essay about teaching Sze’s work to high school seniors, “Playing with Difficulty,” are featured in this issue.
University of Evansville professor Margaret McMullan describes her experience working with a student for whom writing about being abused offered a path to healing. “Stepping into the Fire” is an unflinching portrait of a young woman’s courage and of a teacher navigating sensitive terrain when her student seeks guidance in writing about abuse.
Finally, New York City high school student Juan reads his poem inspired by Larry Bradley’s “Barber.” Enjoy watching and listening to Juan’s work, and have a great summer!
The Teachers & Writers Magazine Editorial Board
David Andrew Stoler
Photo (above) by Senior Airman Brett Clashman