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Former U.S. Poet Laureate and 2016 Stone Award recipient Rita Dove visits Roosevelt High School.

INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION OF READERS AND WRITERS Literary Arts’ Youth Programs inspire public high school students to write, revise, edit, publish, and perform their own writing through: • Semester-long creative writing residencies through Writers in the Schools (see page 4) • Student publication in print and digital chapbooks (see page 6) • Students to the Schnitz program and author visits (see page 7 ) • College Essay Mentoring project (see page 10 ) • Verselandia! city-wide youth poetry slam (see page 11 ) Public high school principals, teachers, and librarians throughout Multnomah County partner with Literary Arts’ Youth Programs because they believe the programs: • Increase student engagement with reading and writing • Teach students new tools for becoming stronger writers • Help students read and write a range of texts in a variety of ways • Build community around literature • Contribute to student achievement in reading and writing


11 33 25

Public High Schools participated in semester-long residencies taught by professional writers Teachers learned new strategies to teach writing




A SNAPSHOT Classes worked with a writer

School Librarians held poetry slams at their schools to prepare for Verselandia!

Local Writers shared their expertise with youth


attended Verselandia!


20 participated in the Verselandia! poetry slam

were mentored by community members at college essay writing tutorials held at Benson, Franklin, Madison, and Roosevelt High Schools

354 attended student readings



participated in semester-long residencies

attended slam poetry classes at Literary Arts

1,076 attended an author event at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

173 shared their work at student readings

9 were mentored individually and in small groups by writers

56 attended comic and slam poetry workshops at Wordstock: Portland’s Book Festival

768 participated in author visits to schools



WRITERS IN THE SCHOOLS RESIDENCIES Residencies are creative writing workshops tailored to meet the unique needs of each teacher and class. The core of Literary Arts’ Youth Programs is semester-long Writers in the Schools (WITS) residencies taught by local professional poets, playwrights, graphic novelists, and fiction and non-fiction writers who model and share their disciplined creative writing practices with high school students. Each residency is uniquely designed to support, deepen, and extend existing curriculum. Students become stronger, more confident, and more enthusiastic writers by learning new strategies for starting, sustaining, and revising their writing projects. In addition, students get the opportunity to experiment with new creative ideas and techniques. WITS programming reinforces the real world importance of reading and writing in all professions and is designed to meet state and national standards for the arts and language arts. WITS provides professional development for teachers. Teachers need to earn Professional Development Units (PDUs) each year to maintain licensure; in 2015-2016, 108 educators earned 1,168 PDUs by participating in the youth programs of Literary Arts. WITS served 15 new-to-WITS teachers, demonstrating our commitment to reach new teachers each year. WITS hired 25 writers: 18 returning writers to maintain program stability and 6 new-to-the-program writers. As part of our commitment to build a roster of teaching artists that reflects the rich diversity of Multnomah County’s schools, we seek writers from all of our various communities. 1,101 students participated in semester-long residencies.

WITS Writer Lisa Eisenberg leads a residency at Wilson High School.


Students were much more engaged in the class. They wanted to write. One student, near the end of the residency, told me that she couldn’t stop thinking in poetry. ”



My daughter is confronting her stage fright tonight and developing the love of writing. This is great!”


Madison High School student shares her work at a WITS residency reading at Bipartisan Café.

WITS STUDENT READINGS At the end of each residency, students share their work with their communities through public readings. Sharing your poetry, plays, fiction, and comics with friends, family, and community members is a great way to grow as a writer. WITS coordinated 16 student readings at local cafes, bookstores, galleries, and restaurants. This includes 11 individual school readings, as well as readings at Wordstock: Portland’s Book Festival, the WITS Fundraiser held at Bluehour, and slam poetry open mics at Literary Arts’ downtown center. A total of 191 students shared their work with a total audience of 868 youth and adults.

Slam Poetry Classes @ Literary Arts and the St. Johns Public Library Eighteen students attended slam poetry workshops taught by local spoken word artists Alex Dang, Leanne Grabel, and Jacque Dixon. As a culminating activity, students shared their poems during public readings.

Our community partners hosted WITS readings: Annie Bloom’s Books, BiPartisan Café, Bluehour Restaurant, Broadway Books, Cathedral Coffee, Independent Publishing Resource Center, Miss Zumstein Bakery & Coffee Shop, Origin’s Coffee, Portland Art Museum




Check out our chapbooks at What-We-Do/WITS

Being published is thrilling for writers of any age. Publication provides writers with validation, encouragement, and exposure to a larger audience. Each year, WITS publishes a print anthology and digital chapbooks of exemplary student work created through our residency program. The 2014/2015 WITS anthology, Off Center, features the work of 82 students. WITS also published a digital chapbook, Exploring the Depths, featuring the work of 52 additional students. Visit our website at to purchase the anthology

Writers in the Schools 2014-2015 Student Anthology

$10.00 US

The core of the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program is semester-long residencies taught by local professional poets, playwrights, graphic novelists, and fiction and non-fiction writers who model and share their disciplined creative writing practices with high school students. Each residency is

In 2014-15, WITS placed 24 local, professional writers in 42 classrooms at Portland public high schools and alternative programs. These writers worked with 1,049 students who wrote, revised, edited, and performed their own creative writing. This anthology is a showcase of their poems, plays,

WITS is a program of Literary Arts, a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to engage readers, support writers, and inspire the next generation with great literature. For more information about WITS and the other programs of Literary Arts, please visit or stop by our center at 925 SW Washington.

“I learned that quality is better than quantity and you must revise over and over to obtain a pearl.” —Grant High School student

—Madison High School student

Students honored

Editors from Glimmer Train and Burnside Review honored students by selecting their favorite pieces from the print anthology and awarding prizes for poetry and prose.

Featured student poem from Off Center (page 34), inspired by “Border Crossings” by Betty Laduke, on display at the Portland Art Museum:


Author Ella Stewart Lincoln High School WITS writer Amy Minato


“I feel more confident writing and reading my work in public.”

wits stud ent a n t ho l og y 201 4 — 2 01 5


for just $10 and download the chapbook for free.


fiction, creative nonfiction, and comics.


uniquely designed to support, deepen, and extend existing curriculum.

work 82 students’ featured

Freedom The sun smiles down on their reaching arms. Faces turned upward, they dream. By them, their children watch— by them, their children dream. They see birds fly overhead, free, so the people hug their children to their chests, and with them step into a new land. And as they walk towards the heart of this land, their children, too, grow feathers.


STUDENTS TO THE SCHNITZ AND AUTHOR VISITS Students participated in literary experiences beyond the classroom by attending lectures and engaging with authors.


students to the Schnitz

These students attended an author event at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, including the Everybody Reads lecture with Cristina Henríquez. Our Youth Programs provided student tickets to all Portland Arts & Lectures and special events featuring Jane Smiley, Anthony Doerr, Adam Gopnik, Robin Coste Lewis, Mohsin Hamid, and Phil Knight. Q&A sessions 768 attended

Our Youth Programs coordinated 12 author visits to schools featuring nationally known writers Jane Smiley, Anthony Doerr, Adam Gopnik, Mohsin Hamid, Bruce George, Jessica Mehta, Cristina Henríquez, 2016 Stone Award recipient Rita Dove, and Phil Knight.

Author Bruce George visit Benson High School.

donated 535 books

Our Youth Programs purchased books from Powell’s and Broadway Books for students to read in preparation for author visits and lectures.

Centennial High School student asks author Cristina Henríquez about her novel The Book of Unknown Americans.

As part of the Everybody Reads community project, WITS partnered with Multnomah County Library and The Library Foundation to host Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Hundreds of students and teachers attended the author event. Henríquez also spoke to students at Centennial and Roosevelt High Schools. Author Cristina Henríquez visits Roosevelt High School.



WITS EVALUATES RESULTS After working with a WITS writer‌ 100% of teachers reported student engagement with reading and writing increased.

93% of teachers reported an increased feeling of community in their classes.

88% of teachers agreed their students are more able to sustain a writing assignment.

88% of teachers agreed that their own teaching was enriched and they will use WITS lessons in the future.

88% of students reported that they know more ways to get started writing.

84% of students reported that they know more ways to sustain a piece of writing.

83% of students reported that they know more ways to revise their writing.

90% of students agreed working with a writer gave them the opportunity to experiment with creative new ideas and techniques.

95% of parents queried said they believed working with a professional writer helped their student develop her/his writing skills.

Opposite page, clockwise from the right: Student performers at the annual WITS luncheon fundraiser. Benson High School student shares his writing at a WITS end of residency reading. WITS Writer Cooper Lee Bombardier talks with student during a residency at Grant High School.



It was one of the greatest opportunities that I’ve had in my life. I like writing and never got a chance to work with someone who was good and professional at writing. Now I feel good about my writing and I think I can be a good writer if I work hard, which I never thought before.” (Cleveland HS)

Students describe how working with a professional writer changed Having a working professional their approach to their writing:

writer in our class made me more excited to write. Because every time she came, we learned even more skills on how to elaborate on our stories and write even better. I am glad we had this opportunity.” (Wilson HS)

It allowed me to explore other creative styles that I hadn’t thought about before. I also got to make a form of art, which is a plus and it made me more excited to come to class. I didn’t like poetry before, but now I love it!” (Grant HS)

After working with a professional writer, I am able to write like I’ve never before, in which I can write out everything that I think of and be creative. It changed my life.” (Benson HS) 9


COLLEGE ESSAY MENTORING PREPARES STUDENTS FOR THE FUTURE We train volunteer mentors to work with students on their essays for college and scholarship applications.

76 volunteer 136 students mentors served by

Benson High School student discusses her essay with a mentor.

I was able to talk my thoughts out and organize the information I had. My mentor provided me a different view to answer the essay questions.”


Mentoring session at Roosevelt High School.


Literary Arts’ Youth Programs coordinated College Essay Writing workshops in collaboration with local public high school teachers. This year, we trained 21 new mentors and had 55 returning mentors. These volunteer mentors helped 136 students generate ideas and revise drafts of their essays for college admissions and scholarships through events at Benson, Franklin, Madison, and Roosevelt High Schools, as well as two Saturday drop-in sessions at the Literary Arts center in downtown Portland.


VERSELANDIA! This annual high school poetry slam is presented by Literary Arts in partnership with public high school librarians, who each host poetry slams at their schools. Verselandia! is the grand slam for winners from individual school slams.

Verselandia! 2016 was hosted by Anis Mojgani, a twotime National Poetry Slam champion and author of three poetry collections, at the Newmark Theatre on April 18, 2016. The judges were Alex Dang, Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, Chabre Vickers, Stacey Villalobos, and Dan Wieden.

12 high 20 students schools from performed for an audience of parents, teachers, 763 peers, and poetry fans.

This year’s top 5 finalists 1st: Teá Johnson, - GRANT HIGH
SCHOOL 2nd: Lily Lamadrid - FRANKLIN HIGH

2016 Verselandia! contestants.

Wieden + Kennedy generously sponsored Verselandia! and invited the finalists to their offices in Portland. During their time at Wieden + Kennedy, students performed in the atrium for W+K staff, learned about the W+K 12 advertising school, and had lunch at Bluehour with Dan Wieden.

2016 Verselandia! winner Teá Johnson of Grant High School.



Support for our Youth Programs is provided in part by:

Autzen Foundation, Mike R. Barr, Kim & Daniel Bissell, The Bloomfield Family Foundation, The Boeing Company, Tom & Kristen Boothe, Bora Architects, Broadway Books, Susan & Michael Burmeister-Brown, Jan Christensen, The Collins Foundation, Ginnie Cooper, Betsy Cramer, Marian Creamer, Amy Donohue & Paul McKean, Theodore & Nancy Downes-Le Guin, Roberta Dyer, Ann & Mark Edlen Family, Joan Fondell, Bob Geddes, Diana Gerding, Julie Harrelson, Susan Hathaway-Marxer & Larry Marxer, Tom & Betsy Henning, Herbert A. Templeton Foundation, Irwin Foundation, Juan Young Trust, Kinder Morgan Foundation, Carter & Jennifer MacNichol, Phillip M. Margolin, Carol Mayer-Reed & Michael Reed, Richard Meeker & Ellen Rosenblum, Susan Mersereau, Jessica Mozeico, Multnomah County Cultural Coalition, Ernie Munch, Jan & Steve Oliva, Philip S. Harper Foundation, Andrew & Veronica Proctor, Amy Prosenjak & Steven Guy, Jon Raymond, Robert D. and Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust, Carol Schnitzer Lewis, Lori Singer, Kaarin & Van Smith, Miriam Sontz & Joseph Walsh, U.S. Bancorp Foundation, Kristin & Nick Walrod, Jackie & William Willingham, Tom & Marcia Wood, Dr. Candace Young, Morton & Audrey Zalutsky

Public School Librarians Paige Battle Linda Campillo Sandra Childs Kiva Liljequist Leigh Morlock Julie Morris Bryan Smith Nancy Sullivan Ann Stinson Stephanie Thomas Betsy Tighe Public School Principals Petra Callin, Madison High School Carol Campbell, Grant High School Peyton Chapman, Lincoln High School Brian Chatard, Wilson High School Margaret Calvert, Jefferson High School Lorna Fast Buffalo Horse, Alliance High School Filip Hristic, Roosevelt High School Pam Joyner, Metropolitan Learning Center John Koch, Gresham High School Tammy O’Neill, Cleveland High School

Molly Ouche, Parkrose High School Juanita Valder, Franklin High School Curtis Wilson, Benson High School Public School Teachers Amy Ambrosio Jody Adams Noelle Allen Andrea Binder Jennifer Bird Robert Bizjak Scott Blevins Mark Bond Teresa Brandt Nora Brooks Ilsa Bruer Gene Brunak Zandra Ah Choy-Agusen John Carr Stephanie D’Cruz Deanna Delgado Mykhiel Deych Jacque Dixon Mary Flamer Stefanie Goldbloom Kelly Gomes Alex Gordin Kelly Greblo Katie Grone Crystal Hanson Shawnte Hines Crystel Kinnee

Dylan Leeman Eric Levine Sunshine M. McFaulAmadoro Alethea Work Mercedes Muñoz Dave Mylet Nicola Onnis Nathan Pier Eric Pohl Phillip Rafferty Cesar Ramirez Kara Rhodes Tina Roberts Mary Rodeback Tory Rodgers Clair Roix Ed Sage Alicia Smith Chris Smith Kris Spurlock Jamie Suehiro Shawn Swanson Amy Taramasso Trevor Todd Joe Vermeire Dana Vigner Megan Whisnand Writers in the Schools Advisory Council Ginnie Cooper, Chair Carmen Bernier-Grand Joan Fondell Ann-Derrick Gaillot

Diana Gerding Susheela Jayapal Jenny MacNichol Manuel Mateo Ramón Pagán Catherine Theriault Kristin Walrod Cindy Williams Gutiérrez Stephanie Wong Ken Tracey Wyatt Sharon Wynde Literary Arts Staff Andrew Proctor, Executive Director Amanda Bullock Lydah DeBin Megan Gex Jennifer Gurney Hunt Holman Ramiza Koya Marshall Miller Susan Moore Alex Ney Paige O’Rourke Mary Rechner Joanna Rose

Mel Wells Kyle White Literary Arts Board of Directors Jessica Mozeico, Chair Betsy Amster Mike Barr Amy Carlsen Kohnstamm Alice Cuprill-Comas Ginnie Cooper Rebecca DeCesaro Amy Donohue Theo Downes-Le Guin Marie Eckert Robert Geddes Karen Karbo John Meadows Deidra Miner Amy Prosenjak Jon Raymond James Reinhart Barry Sanders Pamela Smith Hill Jacqueline Willingham Thomas Wood

925 SW Washington St., Portland, OR 97205

2015/2016 Youth Programs Annual Report | Literary Arts  

The Youth Programs of Literary Arts inspire public high school students to write, revise, edit, publish, and perform their own creative writ...

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