The Florida Literary Arts Coalition and Flagler College established a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, an outstanding organization that promotes education, creativity, and success among young people in underserved neighborhoods, keeping them off the streets and in school pursuing the future. The principal participants were at-risk youth, Dr. Michael Gills, Boys and Girls Club Director of Development Darby Stubberfield, Emily Hoover, and Dr. James M. Wilson, Flagler College.
This event built a connection between our local literary community and the members of The Boys and Girls Club of St. Augustine, which we hope to strengthen in the coming years. If this event is successful, perhaps Flagler College students can continue to produce workshops with club members in a similar fashion. Michael Gills has worked with underserved community members in Salt Lake City—specifically teenage girls with behavioral issues—and has published their poems in chapbooks.
The Florida Literary Arts Coalition "Other Words" Conference, in association with Flagler College and the Cyprian Center for Expressive Arts, conducted a one-day Poetry Tour (including workshops and readings) through St. Augustine and Hastings, Florida. Poets Lisa Zimmerman and Tonia Rochelle, and journalist Wil Haygood lead the workshops and readings.
The Other Words Poetry Tour was conducted in conjunction with the Coalition's annual Other Words Conference on November 4-6, 2010 in St. Augustine. The tour hosted Lisa Zimmerman, a Colorado poet, Tanya Rochelle, from Atlanta, to present creative writing programs at three locations in the St. Augustine region. Wil Haygood visited two high schools in St. Augustine.
Through engaging "word play," the Other Words Tour provided opportunities for elementary and middle-school students to write, share and learn more about the impact of creative writing and its relevance in their lives. Although Florida has mandated state requirements for arts education among the areas of dance, theater, art and music, there is no corresponding state or county mandate for education in creative writing, an often-overlooked discipline in the creative arts. The tour will help fill that void.
O.U.R. 21st Century Community Learning Center, Hastings, Florida: Located in rural town of Hastings, near St. Augustine, the youth-focused O.U.R. Center hosts arts classes in its after-school enrichment program. Flagler College, Other Words' host institution, has a long history of involvement at the O.U.R. Center through a program of after-school poetry outreach, conducted by Flagler College Professor Kim Bradley.
During the 2009 "Other Words" Conference Recreational Center (6150 South Main Street, Hastings) after school teen-age students worked with writers Shobha Sharma and Chad Sweeney.
Sharma talked about haikus and their history and asked students to write some haikus. She brought some picture postcards to give them ideas. Sharma teaches at Northeastern Illinois University, where she taught English as a second language (ESL) to recent immigrants for almost ten years. Her writing has appeared in anthologies from Tall Grass Press, Jane's Stories Press Foundation, and in the collection My Little Red Book.
Poet Chad Sweeney to Hastings to work with students from the second to fifth grade. Sweeney read "Karawane," Hugo Ball's sound poem of nonsensical German words. The kids wrote their own versions and performed them. Some of their poems are posted here: http://juiceupthetruesay.blogspot.com/2009/11/chad-sweeney-visits.html. Sweeney is the author of Arranging the Blaze, An Architecture, and A Mirror to Shatter the Hammer. He is co-editor of Parthenon West Review and editor of Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds. He earned an MFA from San Francisco State University and is a Ph.D. candidate in literature/poetry at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.