Of Willimantic's Arts at the Capitol Theater,
Has Nurtured Many Young Writers
She Also Teaches At Eastern Connecticut State University
Willimantic ACT Teacher Wins Surdna Fellowship
by Teddie Sleight
ACT School creative writing teacher Lisa C. Taylor has been awarded a prestigious arts fellowship from the Surdna Foundation, which was established in 1917. She will spend the summer writing poetry in Ireland.
ACT School creative writing teacher Lisa C. Taylor has won a $5,500 fellowship from the Surdna Arts Teachers Fellowship Program, a national foundation aimed at strengthening the artistic abilities of teens and supporting the artistic revitalization of arts teachers.
Taylor is the first Surdna winner at the six-year-old ACT School. Surdna has also awarded ACT a $1,500 grant to support post-fellowship writing activities in the school. ACT, which stands for Arts at the Capitol Theater, is the regional, public, arts magnet high school administered by EASTCONN in downtown Willimantic.
Taylor, a published poet, has taught creative writing at ACT for six years. She helped create and establish ACT's award-winning creative writing program. Numerous ACT students have won the annual IMPAC-Connecticut State University Young Writers contest for Windham County, as well as the Connecticut Writing Project, while other ACT creative writing students have been invited to attend prestigious writing programs like the New England Young Writers' Conference at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College in Vermont, and the Broken Bridge Writers Workshop.
"I'm deeply honored to have this opportunity," said Taylor. "I know it will help me to continue creating innovative opportunities for the students at ACT."
Taylor plans to use the Surdna Fellowship to travel to Ireland this summer to create a collection of poetry with the Irish writer Geraldine Mills, with support from Ted Deppe, an American poet who lives in Ireland. The collection will represent perspectives from both sides of the Atlantic and will reflect both Irish and American culture.
Taylor said she plans to bring Mills to the ACT School to work with students in October as part of her post-fellowship activities. She also plans to set up an exchange of creative writing between Irish secondary students and ACT students next year.
Taylor, who earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast Creative Writing Program at University of Southern Maine, teaches creative writing at both ACT and Eastern Connecticut State University.
She is the author of three collections of poetry, including Talking to Trees (Finishing Line Press), and Falling Open (Alpha Beat Press). She just completed a fourth collection, which has not yet been published. Her work has appeared in anthologies, literary magazines, and journals and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Twenty-one teachers nationwide were awarded the Surdna Arts Teacher Fellowship Program prizes. The winners, who represent 17 specialized public arts high schools, excel across a broad spectrum of visual, performing, and literary arts. The New York City-based Surdna Foundation, which awards $37-million in grants annually, was established in 1917. Learn more at www.surdna.org.
EASTCONN, a public, non-profit, Regional Educational Service Center, has been serving the education needs of northeastern Connecticut schools and communities since 1980. Visit www.eastconn.org.