Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Paper Notes Ct. Review's Program Placing Poets & Writers In Schools

Waterbury Paper Notes
Connecticut Review's
Program Placing
Poets & Writers In Schools

Young Writers 10th Annual Kickoff Also Cited
Deadline To Enter Competition Is Feb. 1, 2007

Pilot Writing Program Makes Borough First Stop

Waterbury, Ct.
Tues., Jan. 2, 2007

NAUGATUCK - Students at Naugatuck High School will soon get English lessons from the pros.

As part of a pilot writing program sponsored by Connecticut Review, a literary magazine published twice a year, professional poets and writers will spend a semester at high schools throughout the state teaching about their work, with Naugatuck High School as the first stop.

Andy Thibault, the chairman of the IMPAC-Connecticut State University Young Writers Trust and an editor at Connecticut Review magazine, said Naugatuck was chosen because Superintendent John Tindall-Gibson is a long-time supporter of the annual Young Writers contest that the two organizations sponsor.

"Naugatuck seems to have a respect and appreciation for education, and so it seemed like a good place to start," Thibault said.

Elizabeth Thomas, a poet and performer who designs and teaches writing programs and workshops for schools and organizations throughout the country, was tapped as the first teacher for the program. She will present poetry lessons in English classes at the high school throughout the spring semester.

What that means for Naugatuck High School students is that in addition to their normal English lessons, they will learn poetry from Thomas, who was a member of three Connecticut National Poetry Slam teams and who founded UpWords Poetry, an organization that works with creative arts, particularly for young writers. Thomas has also presented poetry and performance workshops for students in fifth through 12th grades.

Thibault said that the English department will determine which courses will receive visits, and how often.

"We plan to put as many poets and writers in as many high schools as possible," Thibault said. The writers are affiliated with Connecticut Review and are chosen by the high school English departments.

Tindall-Gibson said the program is part of an ongoing effort to teach reading and writing in the high school. The 2005 profile of Naugatuck schools, compiled by the state department of education, found that Connecticut Academic Performance Test scores for the borough were lower that state averages in reading and writing. In reading, 34.8 percent of Naugatuck students met the state goal, compared with 46.5 percent statewide. In writing, 47.7 percent of Naugatuck students met the state goal, to 52.4 percent in the state.

"Reading and writing are fundamental and something we target in the school system," Tindall-Gibson said.

Thomas will appear a kickoff for the 10th anniversary of the IMPAC-Connecticut State University Young Writers competition at 6 p.m. Jan. 19 at the high school. [Feb. 1, 2007] is the deadline for submissions to the contest, which has a $1,000 prize for poems or prose submitted in each of Connecticut's eight counties. The top poet and writer statewide will each earn a trip to Dublin with a parent.

Reporter Paul Singley contributed to the article.


Young Writers 10th Anniv. Kickoff,
Naugatuck, Jan. 19, 2007

[updated 12-28-06]
Poets and writers
on the bill include:

Amy Ma, Charlotte Crowe, Robin Cullen, Ravi Shankar, Elizabeth Thomas, Jon Andersen.

  • Young Writers Trust link

    MULTI-MEDIA DAY GRANTS & FUN ... grant money for teachers, students.}

    Deadline To Earn $1,000
    For Poem Or Prose Work;
    Event Jan. 19, 2007 In Naugatuck Features
    Live Jazz, Food, Poets & Writers

    Connecticut Review & IMPAC-CSU Young Writers Trust
    Cordially Invite Teachers, Students And The Public To:


    Naugatuck High School cafeteria
    Friday, Jan. 19, 2007, 6 p.m. Reception

    Book vendor for this event will be the Fabulous Rainy Faye
    of Rainy Faye Bookstore & Art Gallery, Bridgeport, 203-336-6911.

    LITCHFIELD, Connecticut. Dec. 28, 2006 -- Prior winners of the IMPAC-CSU Young Writers competition will be featured during a 10th anniversary kickoff Friday, Jan. 19, 2007 at Naugatuck High School.

    Among the prior winners appearing will be the 2005 state prose champion, Charlotte Crowe, and the 2001 state poetry champion, Amy Ma.

    Crowe, a senior at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Canton HighSchool, has been accepted at Brown University. Her story, "Korean Laundry," tells about a U.S. Marine and his respect for a civilian worker during the Korean War.

    Ma, a graduate of Wesleyan University and Conard High School in West Hartford, intends to work as an English teacher. She is doing graduate work at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

    Ma's winning poem for 2001 was entitled, "My Schizophrenic Uncle Tan." She produced a short story collection working with author Kit Reed at Wesleyan. Her other plans include attending law school and opening a "rock-and-roll-themed makeup boutique."

    "I remain enslaved by poetry and accept my fate as such," Ma said.

    Established poets and writers, some of whom have served as judges, will also read from their works. Poets appearing at the event will include Elizabeth Thomas, Ravi Shankar and Jon Andersen. Robin Cullen, a co-author of Couldn't Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters, will be among the prose writers appearing.

    Festivities will begin with a reception including the Jen Allen Jazz Comboand hors d'oeuvres at 6 p.m. in the Naugatuck High School cafeteria.

    Thomas is working with Connecticut Review and the Naugatuck system to develop a prototype writer in residence program for schools throughout the state. She is a teaching artist certified by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism.

    The Young Writers Trust invites Connecticut's young poets and writers to enter its 10th annual competition.

    Entry forms can be downloaded from the Trust's homepage, www.ctyoungwriters.org

    The CSU System mailed entry forms to all public, private and parochial secondary schools this fall.

    About 3,500 young writers have competed in the IMPAC-CSU program, which has awarded more than $135,000 since 1998.

    Poets and writers in each of Connecticut's eight counties win $1,000prizes, awarded during ceremonies at the four CSU campuses in Willimantic, New Haven, New Britain and Danbury. The top poet and writer from that set of winners each earn a trip to Dublin with a parent for the presentation of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Dublin Writers Festival and related activities. Statewide poetry and prose champions will be announced during the annual dinner in June 2007 at the Litchfield Inn.

    IMPAC, a leading productivity firm, also endows the International IMPACDublin Literary Award, which at 100,000 Euros is the world's largest prize for a single work of fiction.

    IMPAC Chairman Jim Irwin and retired CSU Chancellor Bill Cibes expanded the Young Writers Program from Litchfield County to cover the entire state in 2000. Chancellor David Carter, formerly president of Eastern Connecticut State University, has been a champion for the program and has undertaken initiatives to expand participation.

    The CSU System serves more than 35,000 students, making it the largest public university system in Connecticut. A total of 166 academic programs are offered throughout the system, and more than 5,000 degrees are awarded annually.

    IMPAC-Connecticut State University Young Writers Trust
    Andy Thibault, Chairman
    231 Beach St.
    Litchfield, CT 06759




    860-690-0211 or 800-814-6931
    * Fax: 860-567-9119


    WHAT: Recharging the Sensorium: Multimedia Day of the Arts
    WHERE: CCSU, New Britain, CT
    WHEN: Friday, April 27th, 2007
    HOW: By submitting a proposal for any work that utilizes more than one media
    in its construction. Can be collaborative in nature or solo, so long as text
    is conjoined with something else (visual, dramatic, sonic, film, etc.).
    Submit something to sensorium2007@gmail.com as soon as possible.
    WHY: Because you* can receive funding ($500 for accepted grants) for your
    work and be featured on a national stage

    NOTE: *You includes teaches and / or students.



    Ravi Shankar
    Assistant Professor
    CCSU - English Dept.


    Elizabeth Thomas designs and teaches writing programs and workshops for schools and organizations throughout the U.S. These programs promote literacy and the power of the written and spoken word for all ages. Thomas is the founder of UpWords Poetry, an organization dedicated to creative arts programming, particularly for young writers.Her website is www.upwordspoetry.com

    Thomas works with young writers and teachers throughout the country.

    During the 2005/2006 school year she traveled the east coast presenting school workshops throughout New England, Georgia, Florida and the Florida Keys. She was a keynote speaker for the Florida Council of Teachers of English in October 2005 and the Florida Literacy Coalition in May 2006. She was a featured author at the Amelia Island, FL Book Festival and performed in Providence, Nantucket, NYC and Block Island.

    In June, 2006 she coordinated the Writing/Poetry Program for the World Scholar-Athlete Games. Held for two weeks at the University of Rhode Island, young writers, athletes, instructors and coaches from around the globe (157countries were represented last year) work and play together. She taught at the Games in 2001 and 2003. Go to www.internationalsport.com for moreinformation.

    In 2004/2005 she was the poet-in-residence for Images of Cultural Identity (Capitol Region Educational Council/Bushnell) and worked with 5th grade students from Hartford, Newington and Farmington. She was Program Director for WordsAlive in the Middle, a program funded by Hartford Public Schools. The program brought 7th and 8th grade students from Lewis Fox Middle School in Hartford and Horace Porter School in Columbia together to read and write creatively.

    She has presented poetry/performance workshops for YPI www.ypi.org,a co-educational, residential summer camp offering one and two week workshops for young people in grades 5 through 12, interested in writing and the visual/performing arts.
    In July 2002 - 2004, Thomas co-hosted a multi-day workshop called 'The Spoken Word: Performance Poetry' for UConn's Confratute a summer institute for teachers from around the globe on enrichment learning and teaching.

    From 1998 to 2001, Thomas was Program Director for Words Alive, a greater Hartford, CT in-school writing program. Six high schools were involved (New Britain, Wethersfield, Hartford, East Hartford, Weaver and South Windsor).The program hosted noted poets and writers Naomi Ayala, Martin Espada, Marc Smith, Jack Agueros, Gayle Danley, Claribel Alegria, Ernesto Cardinal, D.J. Renegade, Roger Bonair-Agard, Sara Holbrook, Wayne Karlin, Patricia Smith, Cheryl Savageau, Doug Anderson, Luis Rodriguez, Devorah Major, the Welfare Poets and others. It was sponsored through a grant provided by the Capitol Region Educational Council (CREC).

    Thomas was a member of three CT National Poetry Slam teams (1994, 1995,1997), a member of the 1998 U.S. team that traveled to Sweden and an individual competitor at NPS in the 2003 (Chicago) and 2005 (Albuquerque).

    She is an organizer/coach for Brave New Voices/National Youth Poetry Slam and Festival. She organized and hosted the 1st National Youth Poetry Slam in Hartford, CT in 1998. The event included teams from the CT, Washington DC, NYC and Worcester, MA and a team from the Navajo Indian Nation of New Mexico. Since 1998, she has traveled with the CT team to New Mexico, San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Los Angeles and NYC. Brave New Voices 10 will be held in New Orleans in April 2007. Want more information, please send an email to: upwordspoetry@earthlink.net

    As an advocate for youth in the arts, Thomas has presented workshops for the Florida Literacy Coalition, Florida Council of Teachers of English, New England Association of Teachers of English, College Explorers of the Florida Keys Community College, CT Commission on Culture and Tourism and The Connecticut Poetry Festival. She has worked with The Greater Hartford Academy of Performing Arts, Charter Oak Cultural Center, Bushnell Partners Program, Poetry Live/Litchfield Performing Arts, CT Commission - Master Teaching Artist Program, the Greater Hartford YMCA, Curbstone Press and the Greater Hartford Arts Council. She is a member of the executive board of the New England Association of Teachers of English, a writing mentor for the Sunken Garden Poetry Series/Young Poets Competition and a steering committee member/in-school artist for the Windham Area Poetry Project.

    If you would like a brochure listing some of the workshops offerings, please email upwordspoetry@earthlink.net to request a copy.

    As a poet and performer, her work continues to be featured throughout the U.S. A partial Calendar of upcoming readings and workshops is available. Her first book of poetry, 'Full Circle' was published in 2000 by Hanover Press. Two poems included in the book are Ebb Tide and Revelation . She is currently working on her second collection of poems and has just finished a book on creative writing for children and teachers entitled, 'If Only RedCould Talk'. For information on ordering, please email to upwordspoetry@earthlink.net.

    Elizabeth is a poet who believes in the idea of "poetry as remedy and resource" and throughout her life uses writing as a tool to help understand things that don't make sense.


    Connecticut Review is the literary journal of the
    Connecticut State University System.
    It is published twice annually, in the Fall and the Spring.

    Stomp and Sing: Poems by Jon Andersen

    Curbstone Press April, 2005

    Stomp and Sing is Jon Andersen's highly-acclaimed debut book of poetry. The poems illuminate the concerns and aspirations of the new working class generation,and serve as an imagistic autobiography. Clear and direct, narrative and lyrical, they take us from mountaintops to local cafes, from lumberyards to town sidewalks, and range in theme from the impact of racism to the consolation of nature. Luis Rodriguez, author of Always Running, writes: "Jon Andersen's poems sing of a life lived, devoured, explored, and awake. Who writes like this anymore? Oh, for more Jon Andersens in our midst, to remind us we are more complex, nuanced, and meaningful than many are daring to be."

    Jon Andersen was born in 1970 in New London, Connecticut. He currently lives with his wife and family in Willimantic and teaches at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs. His poems have appeared in numerous journals including Connecticut Review, Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, The Progressive, and Rattle.

    Ravi Shankar

    is poet-in-residence and assistant professor of English at Central Connecticut State University. Shankar is the author of Instrumentality, a collection of poems published by Cherry Grove Collections in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has served as a judge in the IMPAC-CSU competition for several years and was keynote speaker in 2005.

    He is a founding editor of the online journal of the arts "Drunken Boat"(http://www.drunkenboat.com). Among many awards won by Shankar are the Gulf Coast Poetry Prize and the Bennett Prize for Poetry at Columbia University. His critical work has appeared in Poets & Writers, Time Out New York, The Iowa Review, and The AWP Writer's Chronicle.

    Robin Cullen

    Excerpt from one of the 11 essays in the book Couldn't Keep it to Myself: Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution.

    Christmas in Prison
    by Robin Cullen

    A crowd gathers to read the new bulletin--long faced women who look like children still waiting for a Santa who never showed. What the sign reallymeans is: No Christmas Presents delivered again this week.

    Each Christmas in prison, the commissary sells overpriced holiday packages. These are the only “gifts’ we are allowed to receive. Folks on the outside place their orders and send money to be deposited in our accounts. An inmate can order a holiday package as well as give herself a Christmas present if no one else has. The cost is deducted from the wages she’s earned, between 75 cents and $2.25 per day for jobs ranging from food prep to janitorial to teacher’s aide service.

    Even if I’d saved three weeks’ pay, I would only afford the lowest priced holiday offering, the “Health Package, “ which sells for $26. It contains Smartfood popcorn, reduced fat Oreos, Stella D0’ro diet breadsticks, and a small box of herbal teas. Herbal tea is not available during the year and I would love to have some, but I’m not willing to spend all that money for the rest of that junk food marketed as “healthy.” Last year I lucked out. Other women who’d received the herb tea but wouldn’t drink it gave me theirs. I made a dozen apple-cinnamon tea bags from last January through April..

    ..In 1997, the first of the three Christmases I’ve spent in jail, every woman on the maximum-security side of the compound found two bags of goodies outside her cell door on Christmas morning. Santa had left me a big blue bag of pretzel rings and a “party size” bag of salsa favaored Doritos. Yuletide decorations were a little “thin” that year: two scrawny, artificial Christmas trees, absent of lights and presents. The one in the dining hall had faded decorations and foil limbs. It barely survived the women brushing by it on the way to the chow line. The tree in the visiting room was in worse shape -- as defeated and sad as the seasonal “returnees,” those emaciated woman returning “home” to Niantic for the holidays, their faces ashen and drawn, their bodies decorated with old jailhouse tattoos. Names, signs, symbols, declarations of eternal love: the women here sometime mark themselves and each other with sewing needles, shoe polish and ink from the barrels of broken Bic pens. For Christmas dinner that year, we ate roast beef.

    A year later, Christmas, 1998, there were no “secret Santa” bags of pretzels or tortilla chips outside our cell doors. But the trees were back, a little more debilitated than the year before. For Christmas dinner, we ate roast beef.

    This past year, no junk food, no trees. We ate roast beef.

    When the trumpet of the jubilee sounds on the day of atonement, the Old Testament promises, liberty will be proclaimed and every man shall be returned to his family. No man shall oppress another (Leviticus, 25). When Jesus preached in the synagogues at Nazareth, He said no one belonged at the celebration more than the poor, the blind, and the imprisoned (Luke 4). Pope John Paul has proclaimed 2000 the Jubilee Year. At York C.I., however, no one’s gotten the message. The trees have disappeared, the roast beef dinner’s endangered, and the “presents “ have been held up until the backup of money orders gets unclogged. We can't get out and Christmas is no longer allowed in. This is a maximum security facility.

    Author's Note: At age 34, Robin Cullen was driving home from a wedding when she and her girlfriend, a passenger in Cullen's truck, changed destination. Cullen became disoriented, entered the wrong side of a divided road and attempted unsuccessfully to correct her error. Her vehicle flipped over, killing her passenger. Cullen was subsequently convicted of "second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, driving while intoxicated." She served three years of an eight-year sentence.

    While incarcerated, Cullen served as a teacher's aide, a literacy volunteer, and a backup puppy trainer for the National Education of Assistance Dogs project. Additionally, she worked in date entry, coding accident reports for the Department of Transportation, seved as lector for Catholic Mass, earned college credits, and painted walls throughout the prison school including one classroom's four-sided mural of an enchanted garden. Upon release, Cullen became certified through the Amherst Writers and Artists Institute to teach therapeutic writing. Presently, she volunteers in weekly sessions at a halfway house, working with women just exiting prison. Now thirty-nine, Cullen is sole proprietor of her own painting company, Color Outside the Lines; she labors full-time through Connecticut, customizing homes inside and out.

    "I never thought it would happen to me," Cullen says of the accident that sent her to prison. "I am grateful for all the love in my life, and for the truth that sets me free."

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