From this website, I found the open book background I employed in this site. Editing of the picture was necessary.
This is the graphic with which I framed the title on this site.
This is the background picture I edited for the purposes of my home page.
Baraitser, Marion; Melzak, Sheila (2014). Reading and Expressive Writing with Traumatised Children, Young Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Unpack My Heart with Words. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com
Marion Baraitser, award winning writer and professor at Metropolitan University, wrote with piece with the help of Sheila Melzak, Consultant Community Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and director of the Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile, as a resource for teachers and counselors to use literature to help young victims of disaster. It not only delves into psychological theory but offers practical examples of bibliotherapy’s power to help, in this case, young refugees and asylum seekers through their problems. The two blended their expertise to show the therapeutic quality of the written and spoken word. This was not only a primary source of Baraitser and Melzak witnessing the therapeutic effect of words first hand but an invaluable resource in understanding the history and the theory behind bibliotherapy, the means my paper proves to fostering empathy and global understanding.
Birkerts, S. (2004). The Truth About Reading. School Library Journal, 50(11), 50.
Sven Birkerts; director of the Bennington College Writing Seminars, editor of the college’s literary journal and a professor at Harvard and Emerson; not only notes the decline in literary reading but offers insight into the reason behind this disturbing fall. He claims that a new culture of instant access has robbed people of the attention span needed to sit and appreciate a work of literature, even citing his own children’s addiction to computers and television and texting. Birkerts’ piece not only emphasizes how many years the decline of literary reading has been taking place but offers reasons for this decline, particularly in modern culture. His reputed sources are a powerful research to explain the scope of the world’s drop in appreciation for writing and literature.
Bowman, C. (2000). Using Literature to Help Troubled Teenagers Cope with Health Issues. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.
Dr. Cynthia Ann Bowman; Assistant Professor of English Education at Florida State University, winner of the James Britton Award for Inquiry in Language Arts, and Chair of the Conference of English Education Commission for the Preparation of Teachers with Disabilities; put together this resource for counselors and teachers to understand and use bibliotherapy. Bowman is a product of bibliotherapy herself. She was crippled with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and her only solace was literature, authors that taught her about the world and inspired her to make a difference. She gathers fellow authors and therapists in this piece, all explaining how pieces of literature can help adolescents through crisis. She not only forges the link between literature and improved mental health but provides lists of extra resources for educators. This telling work explains the scope of literature’s power to expand people’s horizons and remind them they are not alone. This was a powerful resource in proving the healing power of bibliotherapy from reputed authors and therapists. It proves the importance of the written word, of the conversation between author and reader.
Burch, S. (2014, September). Poetry and the Spoken Word. Retrieved February 21, 2016, from http://projectempathy.net/
Sage Burch scatters her Capstone paper through her website, the product portion of her project. Her project in proving the importance of poetry and the spoken word to inspiring empathy has been an important platform in planning my own service. She delved into the uniting powers of poetry and I am tackling the therapeutic powers of writing and literature as a whole. Our projects may not be the same but the similarities have been important in proving the merits of the written word and my service.
Cognard-Black, K. A. (2016, May 25). A High School Writer [Personal interview].
As an attendee of the workshop at St. Mary's Library, Cognard-Black's observations are perhaps the most accurate measure of the workshop's success. I relied on her observations as a teenage writer, teenagers being the demographic on which my project rests. She had insight into the successes and downfalls of my library service and, as something who has grown up writing with the support of English-professor parents, she can attest to the importance and benefit of having a network of people encouraging the reading and creation of good writing.
Cognard-Black, J. A. (2016, July 15). The Words Must Circulate [E-mail interview].
St. Mary's College English and creative writing professor Dr. Jennifer Cognard-Black elucidates the fundamental importance of publication. She states, from her extensive experience publishing her own work and teaching literature, that writing cannot accomplish the goal of sharing insight about the human condition unless it is published for people to read. Writing cannot change minds unless it is published.
Davis, E. (2016, May 18). Elizabeth Davis Email Correspondence [E-mail interview].
Elizabeth Davis, teen services coordinator at St. Mary's Library, was a vital contact in preparing the workshop at the Library. I met with her to discuss the contents of the workshop and work through logistics like advertising and setting aside a space and having laptops, seating and tables ready. Ms. Davis' advice as an authority on teen services was important to me planning an effective workshop with a sound turnout and appreciating the gravity of its success.
Finn, E. (2015). Hold on to the will to read. CCPA Monitor, 21(9), 38-39.
Ed Finn, editor emeritus of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ The Monitor, chronicles not only the United States and Canada’s plummeting interest in reading but proves how vital literacy is to nurturing the mind, even to having a higher life expectancy. He, along with the Newspaper Association of America, U.S. Department of Education, author Caleb Crain, author Ursula Le Guin, University of Minnesota professor Dr. David Snowden, and psycholinguist Dr. Susan Kemper, capture social media and television overshadowing the quality literature that activates the mind. Finn makes a point of referencing Snowden’s 2001 book Aging with Grace; What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier, and More Meaningful and Kemper’s analysis of the nuns Snowden studied. They proved through the study of nuns’ brains, ones void of the levels of dementia in most people, that a lifelong love of reading and subsequent development of idea density; the ability to comprehend, interpret and process written language; pushes off dementia and increases life expectancy.
Fishburn, M. (2007). Books are Weapons. Book History (Pennsylvania State University Press), 10223-251.
Matthew Fishburn’s “Books are Weapons” chronicles the history of book burnings, particularly those of the Holocaust. Hitler, with the help of Joseph Goebbels, convinced the German people that the book burnings isolating their culture were meant to scrap any notion of German weakness. However, the symbol took on an opposite meaning for the United States; it inspired Americans to defend freedom of speech, to defend the knowledge and expression of literature. It is why Fishburn makes a point of referencing the seniors at New York’s City College that, instead of burning their books, donated 4,000 pounds of scrap paper to the salvage drive. The book burnings may have had a sinister purpose but it was a necessary push the world needed to defend its values, its freedom.
Gable, G. (2007). The Kids Are Alright: They Just Don't Read. Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technologies, 7(19), 9.
Gene Gable, publishing technology consultant and writer, chronicles the global falling interest in reading, from newspaper circulation to book publishing. Gable provides charts from reputed studies proving the world’s lack of book sales and children deviating from reading and writing. Gable not only corroborates these reports but blames technology for the fall. His report proves that people of all ages prefer modern media like television to reading. He emphasizes the global epidemic of technology eclipsing the written word. His statistics are a powerful resource to proving the global decline in reading and, along with other pieces, suggesting that modern technology is to blame.
Gorrell, N. (2004). Teaching Empathy through Esphrastic Poetry: Entering a Curriculum of Peace. In V. Monseau (Ed.), A Curriculum of Peace: Selected Essays from English Journal (pp. 73-88). Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English.
Nancy Gorrell's study into the impact of poetry on her English students, the future readers and writers of the world, is vital to my Capstone's efforts to hold classes showing the impact a piece of literature has on a person's sense of community. She proves through her own lessons with students charged with reading Peter L. Fischl's poetry and writing ecphrastic poems of their own that the act of jotting down and trading words inspires empathy. It is this critical and slumping power to relate to others that abridges the amount of disaster running amuck in the world and that empowers people to process it. She proves through the reactions of poetry from her students that abridging apathy, the purpose of my Capstone, happens one person at a time. Her example will be vital when I work to draft lesson plans of my own.
Hager, B. A. (2016, May 26). Books, Libraries and Everything in Between [Personal interview].
Mrs. Hager has been a vital element to students at Leonardtown High School advancing in their research and her story of struggle captures both the power of reading to bring people together and to expand the mind. She was not always confident in her reading and writing and understands the impact a person experiences when they welcome these vital tools. They were paramount to her healing her fear of reading and to finding her calling, an important story in the discussion of the merits of the written word.
Harper's Magazine. (2016, February 16). About Harper's Magazine. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://harpers.org/history/
The staying power of Harper's Magazine shows the power and importance of words. People rely on stories to process their lives and have continued to turn to literature and literary magazines such as this to do so. I used the magazine's history to show that literature is a focal point of people's lives, not something they must do for English classes.
Hedin, R. (2004). Old Glory: American War Poems from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terrorism. New York, NE: Persea Books.
Robert Hedin’s piece exemplifies the purpose of this project. Hedin’s piece is a collection of people efforts to process one of the disasters of the world: war. Whether as early as the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War or even the current war on terrorism, it captures peoples’ use of writing to process this violence and share the pain of the human collective. Though it was published in 2004, Old Glory’s poems on terrorism are all too real today as organizations like ISIS infest the world and challenge humankind to process its violence. Hedin’s piece is important to proving that, through human history, people have turned to the written word to process disaster and share their pain.
Leiris, A. (2015, November 16). Husband of Paris Attack Victim Sends Defiant Message to Isis. Retrieved December 13, 2015, from The Huffington Post.
Antione Leiris wrote a letter to the terrorists that took his wife in the recent Isis terrorist assault on Paris. In spite of what terrorists took from Leiris and his son, in spite of the scar they left on his life, he vows not to let the terrorists take his freedom to move on with his life or the love for those he still has. He vows not to let the terrorists paralyze him and this humble letter echoed through international news as a call to all mankind not to let terrorists succeed in disrupting everyday life, in scaring people from trusting their neighbors. This letter proves the power of the written word both to Leiris processing the loss of his wife and to the world feeling his strength of character, his call not to let terrorism imprison peoples’ values.
Lenhart, A., Arafeh, S., & MacGill, A. (2008). What Teens Tell Us Encourages Them to Write. Retrieved July 15, 2016, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2008/04/24/what-teens-tell-us-encourages-them-to-write/
The Pew Research Center's study into teen writing; the kind of writing in which teen's partake, the interest teens have in the craft, what influences such writing; was in invaluable tool in intelligently targeting the teen demographic. The Center's years of research were important to centering my service around teens at all. When I first embarked on this project, I knew I want to inspire writing wherever it would make the most difference in the community. Along with my own observations at teenager's overall weak interest in literary writing, the Center showed me that the teenage years are an ideal time to ingrain literacy skills people can use throughout their lives.
McBride, J. (2008). Song Yet Sung. New York, New York: Riverhead Books.
James McBride’s Song Yet Sung is set in the United States’ dark era of slavery. Main character Liz, the Dreamer, fights through oppression and a manhunt for her corpse as she inspires her fellow slaves with her precognitive dreams of the future. McBride’s piece not only shows the human side to this era in American history but a novel’s ability to teach readers the gravity of history. Students read about slavery in history textbooks but they cannot appreciate the gravity of this difficult age until they see relatable characters experiencing it. The past only becomes real through characters like McBride’s.
Milliot, J. (2015). Percentage of Adult Book Readers Dips. Publishers Weekly, 262(43), 4.
Jim Milliot’s piece provides the reports of the Pew Research Center tracking the fall in American reading levels. Through nearly all formats, the percentage of adults who read fell from 2011 to 2015. He includes a graph showing the clear fall in adults reading in all formats, from print books to audiobooks. Milliot studies multiple age groups and every one shows a sharp decline in interest in reading. This was a valuable resource in proving that the problem of lack of reading exists. Only through statistics such as those Milliot provides, can my paper prove that the world must combat this decline.
Monseau, V. (2004). A Curriculum of Peace: Selected essays from English Journal. Urbana, Ill., Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English.
Monseau has compiled the curriculum and lesson plans of English teachers across the nation exemplifying the link between the reading and writing of literature and global understanding. This piece will be invaluable in my service both in Leonardtown High School’s creative writing program and, once I have more details, to service with the St. Mary’s County library. The collection with act not only as a guide in my service but a looking glass into the idea that the link I am presenting is so vital, there is a book dedicated to teaching it.
Moreci, J. (Producer). (2015, December 2). How to Be a Good Beta Reader [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJc4PB1bMTc
Jenna Moreci's vlog (video blog) intends to teach people how to properly edit a novel. While the writing of the workshop was on a much smaller scale, her witty advice as a published author was vital to workshop participants understanding my lesson on proper editing. Moreci's relatable vlog platform made my lessons concrete. They inspired participants to edit the writing of one another honestly and respectfully. It constructed the proper atmosphere for great editing.
Popova, M. (Adapter). (2014). What is Literature For? [Video file]. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/10/09/school-of-life-literature-reading/
This video sums up the importance of writing and literature to expand the heart and soul. It has been important to explaining my stance. It has been important to explaining that literature plugs people into the network of the human collective and to find the support of outside sources to processing the problems of their lives.
Poston, B. (2009). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Surgical Technologist, 348.
This text was vital in explaining the importance of the publication of literary magazines through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It explained the levels of needs people have of their lives, the two most pertinent being the belongingness and esteem stages. Literature is a means to accomplish these needs, both in linking people to the global dialogue of literature and giving them the sense that they are connected. Connection is vital to the human psyche and Maslow’s research of human needs underscores the need for more platforms of human connection like the reading and creation of literature.
Picasso, P. (1966). Statement to Marius de Zayas (1923). cited in Edward Fry (ed.), Cubism, New York, 168-69.
Pablo Picasso writes a statement denying the misconceptions of art and peoples efforts to overanalyze his work. He criticizes the false link people forge between naturalism and painting. He validates the value of cubism, explaining it is no different than any other school of painting regardless of whether everyone understands it. He criticizes the idea of time in art; people change, not the art. He wants people to return to an appreciation for the pure power of art to arouse feeling and discovery and meaning in the individual. This was important to exposing that though art is fiction, it has the power to convey the truth.
Rodriguez, M. R. (2016). Counting. Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://plainchina.vcu.edu/works/fiction/counting.html
Megan Ross Rodriguez' lyrical short story "Counting" illustrated the marks of a powerful piece of writing for the participants of my writing workshop. It modeled the workshop's lesson of what a great short story should look like and provided a jumping point for participants to invent stories of their own. It was important to the workshop that participants not be confined to a strict prompt. I decided, instead, to use this short story to show the impact great writing has on people and to ask that participants to write about some element of rhetoric or some theme from the story in whatever platform they desire: essay, short story, poem, screenplay. The incorporation of this story was vital to the success of the workshop and inspired an anthology of stories and poems.
Sanders, S. R. (2006). Signs. In X. J. Kennedy, D. M. Kennedy, & J. E. Aaron (Eds.), The Bedford Reader (9th ed., pp. 219-223). New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.
This is a resource for teachers to teach essay writing. It also serves as an anthology to analyze the breadth of styles and rhetorical devices authors use. For my purposes, “Signs” was an important element to emphasis the power of the written word. Scott Sanders’ piece walks readers through the signs littering human culture. He lists case after case where people are driven to post their ideas and messages in words. He uses this breadth of examples, from outlandish names on a map to signs arguing for and against abortion, to prove people’s instinctive need to write. Words are the means by which people make sense of the world, the means by which they exert some control over their environment. His message corroborates my paper’s mission to prove the importance of the written word.
Sizmur, J. (2008). Attitudes to Reading Survey- Rhyme or Reason?. Literacy Today, (57), 29.
Juliet Sizmur, Senior Researcher at the National Foundation for Educational Research, not only notes a fall in people’s reading of poetry, a form of literature, but tracks one class’ exercise to prove the importance of poetry. The class had the freedom to interpret and present a poem about rocketing into space in whatever way they chose. They presented their skits and recitations to their peers and teacher Trevor White notes the understanding they learned. He stresses that, by learning that poetry can be interpreted many different way, students acquired open-mindedness. They acquired empathy for their peers, a skill my paper emphasizes is necessary to any effort at global piece. This study was an important up-close example of literature’s power to foster empathy.
Uleman, J., & Bargh, J. (1989). Stream of Consciousness and Stress. In Unintended thought (pp. 328-331). New York, New York: Guilford Press.
This piece studies the relationship between the stream of consciousness and stress. The excerpt I used emphasizes through psychological theory and studies that writing without a purpose, in a stream of consciousness, empowers people to express and process their emotions. Dr. Uleman and Dr. Bargh highlight their study where college undergraduates were asked to write in this manner periodically for two months. They noted that in every case, the student’s coefficient of emotional awareness rose. The stream of consciousness proves the healing power of writing. When people are able to vent their emotions to an unjudging page and read over them, they gain insight into their subconscious. People’s writing, this study proves, holds up a mirror whereby people can understand themselves.
Wogman, A. (2016, February 12). The Written Word [E-mail interview].
Amy Wogman's interview was vital when I was planning my service. Her words provided the glue between my two plans of action, one as the sponsor of Leonardtown High School's creative writing club the other as a teacher of writing and literature. Her input was vital to understanding the efforts of a teacher to teach the importance of the written word and hear the impact she sees the act of reading and writing has on her students.
Wolff, T., & Bailey, T. (2011). On Writing Short Stories (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
On Writing Short Stories was an important resource to both learning how to run a successful writing workshop and understanding its benefits. It explained the profound effect short stories have on people, the way they are able to call on peoples' everyday lives and speak a truth everyone can understand. This resource understands the ability of the short story to connect, an understanding that was important in me having workshop participants read a short story before they wrote and basing my prompt off the reading.
Zusak, M. (2006). The Book Thief. New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Markus Zusak’s work of fiction rattled the literary world and touched the hearts of readers around the world. Main character Liesel Meminger may not exist but her story captures the power of words amid the Holocaust. It captures the book burnings Hitler instated to enslave his people, the Mien Kampf that perpetuated Hitler’s propaganda campaign and, most important, Liesel’s growth through words. Liesel’s journey to learn to read crafts a deep bond with her foster father and on-the-run Jew Max. She learns the tolerance and understanding Hitler tried to scrub from his nation. She, through the stealing of a single book, overcomes the prejudice and fear haunting Germany. This piece is both example of literature teaching a character Liesel understanding and the power of one book to arouse the hearts of readers of all nations.
YOU WILL NOT HAVE MY HATRED (2015)
Friday night, you took an exceptional life -- the love of my life, the mother of my son -- but you will not have my hatred. I don't know who you are and I don't want to know, you are dead souls. If this God, for whom you kill blindly, made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife would have been one more wound in his heart.
So, no, I will not grant you the gift of my hatred. You're asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are. You want me to be scared, to view my countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You lost.
I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago. Of course I am devastated by this pain, I give you this little victory, but the pain will be short-lived. I know that she will be with us every day and that we will find ourselves again in this paradise of free love to which you have no access.
We are just two, my son and me, but we are stronger than all the armies in the world. I don't have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.
My Triumph Lasted Till the Drums (2004)
My Triumph lasted till the Drums
Had left the Dead alone
And then I dropped my Victory
And chastened stole along
To where the finished Faces
Conclusion turned on me
And then I hated Glory
And wished myself were They.
What is to be is best descried
When it has also been—
Could Prospect taste of Retrospect
The tyrannies of Men
The Transitive toward.
A Bayonet’s contrition
Is nothing to the Dead.
No Man Knows War (2004)
Needless to catalogue heroes. No man
weighted with rifle, digging with nails in earth,
quickens at the name. Hero’s a word for
knows only three realities: enemy, rifle, life.
No man knows war or its meaning who has not
stumbled from tree to tree, desperate for cover,
or dug his face deep in earth, felt the ground pulse with
the ear-breaking fall of death. No man knows war
who never has crouched in his foxhole, hearing
the bullets an inch from his head, nor the zoom of
planes like a Ferris wheel strafing the trenches…
War is your comrade struck dead beside you,
his shared cigarette still alive in your lips.
Percentage of Adults Who Read a Book in Last Year (2015)
Book Sales 2006 vs. 2007 in Millions of Dollars (2007)
Competition for Media Time by Age Group (2007)
Favorite School Subjects Among 6-11 Year Olds (2007)
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (2009)
Warsaw Ghetto Boy (2004)
Instytut Pamieci Narodowej/Institute of National Memory, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives. Warsaw, 1943.
To the Little Polish boy Standing with His Arms Up (2004)
Poem from the Archives of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, California ©1994 Peter L. Fischl
The Woman’s Cry (2004)
Son, whatever you do keep those hands up.
Soon in time, you will be able to put them down
And let them move freely.
You will be able to play with all the children again.
But son, whatever you do, keep those hands up.
Soon in time, you won’t have to think about danger or fear.
But son, whatever you do keep those hands up.
Soon in time, they will see how they hurt my little boy…
He is just a child
Son, whatever you do keep those hands up.
Soon in time, the whole world who kept silent
Will come out and help.
Senses shut down.
No longer can you hear
or feel or see.
SEE the troubled eyes
the little fingers and
the tattered clothes.
They call only to you—
Senses shut down.
You cannot cry back
nor do you want to.
This Innocence is your enemy.
With the switch of a button
—Your Heart is turned off—
Morning Coffee, 7:42 A.M. (2004)
Today the paper said that
Thousands of bodies were found in
Landfill across Eastern Europe—
This body is half-decayed and blasted
Hair shot back and half there, exposing
A broken-down skull, lined with cracks and
Footsteps, dirt-stained and parasitic—
I look to see what sex the thing is,
(I smoked too much last night and my lungs
feel tight and raspy, my throat is raw and tastes like
salt, and if I cough real hard I can still taste the
tobaccos.) and the caption tells me it’s female—
Here a sexless, bloodless body shares the page
With a family on a picnic in central park—
The Written Word (2016)
The Psychology of the Necessity of Poetry and the Spoken Word: The Finalized Event Outlook (2014)
Questions After Video:
What do you notice about the way the stories are being told?
What makes them poems?
What stands out to you in the poems or their presentation?
What do you agree with/disagree with?
What did you learn?
Could you relate to the stories being told? How so?
Books, Libraries and Everything in Between (2016)
State your name for the record.
My name is Mrs. Hager. Brenda A. Hager.
I would deem that as more leisure reading or reading that you would have in English class but I like to really look at reading from a personal perspective. It can be and is very different than assigned reading where we need both components. Assigned reading is wonderful with the discussion and the learning and the classroom but there is a real need for people to have those reading choices and to have those conversations with others about what they’re reading in a relaxed way that can challenge what they think of after having read something and discussing that with someone else and if you haven’t really experienced that you don’t really know what it is and I feel that there is a decline, and it’s very unfortunate, in that type of leisurely reading in our high school but I wouldn’t say nationally that there is as much. The young adult publishing industry has been exploding over the past several years. Some of the early young adult authors really set new paths for the industry. I think that they saw that young adults really enjoy being able to read and empathize with other experiences and even though it may not be someone or something that you would ever encounter in your daily life, to experience that adds so much to who you are as a person to be able to have those experiences that you’ve read about. It’s different than going and watching a movie. It’s different than some of the other mediums in which you might take in information. It’s a different experience and you can really tell a difference between students that are well-read and students that are not. There is an overlying base foundation where you can tell that they have so much more experience just through not actually doing something but actually reading about the lives of others or about the experience of others whether it is fiction or biography or nonfiction. It really doesn’t seem to matter the genre. You can identify the well-read students. It has a huge effect. I won’t talk numbers right now. We could research it but it has a major effect. I can usually spot it pretty easily.
When I first started my job here at the high school, I had worked in the young adult department, children’s and young adult services, at the public library and had hosted a few Poetry Out Loud events to the public. When I arrived at the high school I was really excited to be able to be involved in something like this at the high school level. And the first couple of years there that Mrs. Gill did it, she did a great job trying to influence. We had someone that came through who you are probably familiar with, Sage Burch, who was amazing. I think that as a vehicle, Sage really probably inspired a lot of others through her performance and her ability to write to see it has “maybe it wasn’t the cool thing at the time” but I think it really sparked a kind of fire that “hey, this is a really unique thing for students to do” and it took off and I like how Mrs. Wogman was able to work with students in the writing club and really the group this year was just outstanding. It really became a competition more so than in past years and it was great to be able to see students in that light and performing really the poetry and expressing the poetry was awesome. I would like to see more. We are hoping with one hour lunch that our reading club, the one Mrs. Bridges and I are wanting to create, will have more space to grow. I hope we can find those students that maybe don’t know yet how great they would be with it and also, the influence of what a writing club or a writing center; those types of things in high school, what that could really do to inspire and promote writing. I think my job is to make sure that you guys have those supports in our school.
My story is, I think, pretty interesting. Most librarians, I think, (this is my disclaimer. I have no data), at least the assumption is, that most librarians were big time readers growing up. I was not. Growing up my Mom read to us. I read as well. But I don’t remember consuming books at a rate I know students do. I did not. The reason was, not that my parents weren’t readers, but that my father was not a big reader. My Mom was more so but it was not promoted in our house quite as much. I struggled as a reader when I was younger. I struggled with comprehension. I struggled with fluency. I hated when the teacher would ask me to read out loud. I hated it and it would be the thing that I would dread. I would count down the next person when we would have to do a round robin type of reading. My heart rate would go up and my heart would be in my throat and it was awful and why, because I wasn’t a fluent reader. It scared me. It wasn’t under later on that I had a friend that influenced my reading and she recommended some books and it was because no one was grading me on my performance. No one was saying “well, you didn’t understand that correctly. You didn’t read that correctly.” It was me and the book and my conversation with my friend about the book and then I started to find me and she would give me different books. Throughout time she would talk about all these books she had read and I’m thinking “oh my goodness. I’m so behind because I haven’t read all these books and so I wanted to just really enjoy reading and it was because of her influence and me not being told that I had to but because I wanted to. I feel like I can bring and empathy with the struggling reader because I was when I was younger. I’ve told lots of students “you may struggle with this but wait until you find a really good book. Let’s go find a book that, I think, you would really enjoy and no one’s telling you have to do it. I bring that story of struggle and I hope that I can be an influence, then, for students that already love to read and students that don’t. I have a fear that a lot of students will go through these years without having all of those great stories that are out there because they can truly change your life. The amount of stories you can experience and the ability to understand others and I just think we’re a better community and a nation if we’re well-read because we’re able to understand others and know more and have a better knowledge base no matter the genre. We know that, in fiction, whether it be sci-fi or fantasy or historical fiction, that everyone has to research. All authors have to do a little bit of research so that you're understanding the setting and what not. I feel like I happened into this career through the journey of where I was going in college and then I was able to get an assistant position after I got my undergrad at the public library and within the first week that I was there, I absolutely fell in love with working in a library and helping people to both love great books, find great books, find information. One other story was an English class in high school. Not being the super well-read student or well-researched student for that matter, I had a teacher who I had to do a research project for on super-fun sites and I really dug in and I absolutely loved this research because she really inspired us to find good stuff and she really question things and you probably see that in me when I work with students. My teacher called out my paper to all of my classmates who were traditionally much higher than me as far as caliber of work I would say. She called out my paper. She called out my bibliography page. She said that it was amazing and wonderful and what a great MLA style paper I had done and that gave me a lot of confidence when she did that and that I had done it the right way and I was really proud of that research and still remember that and I remember at my ten year reunion she came up and said something to me about it. It was a really great experience so that's what I hope I bring to students, that confidence and that drive to be informed, to experience great literature, great stories and that influences what you do both here in the school and in your life and your relationships with others.
Absolutely. I would not have been the one that would have signed up for it, it would have been my friend that got me into it. I think that's where we need to go. If I say "ok, we're going to have a program" it's really about the students. It's about facilitating that but then students and word-of-mouth and getting it out there and making others feel confident with what they are not confident with. It's ok to come in and not know all of it, to come in and just experience it do that you can realize, "oh, I can do this. I can do book club. I'm pretty good at writing." Later on, professionally, after I got my master's in library and information studies (I pursued that degree shortly after I started working at the public library) it all clicked and that's what I tell students. It's your journey and that you'll figure it out but it was later on, professionally, that I started to get involved with the American Library Association's YALSA division (Young Adult Library Studies Association) and I ended up co-authoring a book on library services and technology and I was the last person on earth that when I was younger to think that I would ever be asked to author, to write about a subject whether it be fiction or nonfiction. It's a little known professional resource but I've written a chapter for a book that you can find on Amazon. I'm not rich and famous or anything but it was an accomplishment to have been asked and work with editors. It's a journey but it's about those opportunities that we provide for students or that students provide to others or my friend that got it all started. Realizing that I was actually a pretty good writer was something I did not realize until someone else said you're pretty good at this. Those experiences for students are key. They may even at college have not realized their gift if they have not been provided the correct opportunities or if they are just going through the motions. It's why you really feel it and are using that information, to really synthesize it and to spill it out onto paper that if you really are experiencing that in the right way, then you’ll realize your talents.
Elizabeth Davis Email Correspondence (2016)
The turnout for your workshop was spectacular! I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there. I would have loved to see you in action. Getting teens to show up for a library program is always hit or miss (mostly miss). I’m curious as to what was different about this one. Do you happen to know what schools attendees were from? I wish I had put that on the survey.
The feedback from the survey was wonderful and there seems to be a lot of interest for more writing workshops. If you want to do another one next school please don’t hesitate to contact me. I have an incredibly hectic schedule this week so I will do my best to get the results to you late tomorrow afternoon. If I am crunched for time, can it wait until Saturday?
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Report of Agreement of Writing Workshop (2016)
A High School Writer (2016)
State your name for the record if you would.
Katharine Anne Cognard-Black.
I would say that typically I write to get out excess emotions. Sometimes I’ll just write for fun…Primarily, my writing is related to if I’m feeling a certain way and I don’t want to talk to people because people are stupid or I don’t want to talk to myself because I’m also stupid, I will talk to the paper. I talk to myself too while talking to the paper. I will just write it out and it seems a lot more manageable. I can make it into something très belle.
Your workshop was really great. I especially appreciated the time you allotted to both read and your prompt because I think the selection you chose had really great use of rhetoric, repetition and, for people who don’t know a lot about writing, it’s a really great example to base ones writing off of to start using new styles. And so I think using that in conjunction with having the bit on editing helped people that weren’t really sure about editing and what went into it and perfecting their skill there. I already knew some of the things you taught but, overall, for me, what helped me the most was your selection and also the prompt being based off the selection and the time we had to write. I thought that was really great to help me explore many styles.
Reading, I'd say, is another way to get out emotions but it's more of you realizing your emotions through empathy. You can create a character in your head based on what this author picks up and writes down. You and this character have a lot in common sometimes. Sometimes you have nothing in common but there are those little pieces of personality or little experiences that everybody will have something in common with the character and they can use that to build off of and then start to imagine themselves as that character and I think that's really important just as a way to experience new things even if you can't experience them. They can help you feel emotions that you haven't felt because you could relate to that character. It's interesting to have that kind of relationship with the author. It's the idea that they wrote something and now you're reading it and even if you've never met you have a connection. Sometimes when I read, I wouldn't say it always sparks writing. However, typically with short stories where you can examine the writing style more, they definitely provoke some writing.
The only problem is that the people reading your writing might not be spectacular editors. However, I think that when you addressed that in your presentation, that was really great and really helpful because I feel like when I was at least talking to one of the people at the workshop I was editing her piece and after I edited it we talked about the last comment I made and she was like “oh my god I totally understand what you're saying. That makes so much sense. I like that idea a lot.” I had similar things like changing a couple of lines with my poem because my editor said it would sound much better and I agreed with them because more minds and good writers, especially good writers, the more they contribute to a single piece, the more people will view it and the better I get so I think it's a great community and even if you don't produce the most polished piece you still get all your ideas with talking with people of the same writing inclinations.
On some level. For me, specifically, I’ve always had that base of people who I can count on to read my writing but having the experience for it, I think, is really great. Also, there is a St. Mary’s College poetry thing every year, four times every year, and I think if you were to host this event again people from that would definitely be interested in coming to this and vice versa. If you were to do it again, I’d definitely recommend reaching out to the people who attend that. Anyway, all I was trying to say was that I’ve had an experience where I have people to go to, have people who can read my writing, but I know, at least when I was younger, like some of the people who attended your seminar I didn’t always feel comfortable sharing my writing with people or I didn’t always have people who would listen because that’s always important to have.
Overall, it was a great workshop. Snacks were delicious; that’s mainly why I came. No. It was really great to have that community. The only thing I would like to see if you did it in the future would first off being reaching out to more people. While it was great, there are only so many people. The second would be having the people get to know each other a little more. I did get to know a couple of people but those are only people who are really outspoken. So if there was any way that you could get the people that didn’t really talk as much to pipe up, and I know we were short on time (that’s the last thing. I would love it to have been so longer so we would all have a chance to read), but I feel like giving those people who were more shy a chance to read their work would be very very beneficial because it would get them out of their shell. It would give them a chance to have criticism that was positive and people who listen to their work which is all anybody wants, empathy and all.
The Words Must Circulate (2016)
State your name for the record please
I held a writing workshop at the local library and posted an anthology of everyone's work in my school newspaper. I was wondering what you believe to be the importance of publication from your experience as an avid reader and writer. Is it important to the writer feeling they have a voice or to readers finding voices with which they relate? Have you observed any other effects?
There are distinct purposes for writing. For some, writing is a form of thinking--it serves as an aid to memory and organization. For others, writing is a form of self-discovery, such as when someone keeps a journal. Then there are those for whom writing is about communication, such as sending letters or emails to other people; it's a way to stay in contact, to touch base. And then, finally, there are those for whom writing is about art and truth--about taking the stuff all around us every day, transforming it into a creative form, and asking others to re-see it, to see it anew. For this last group of writers, the whole point is to create stories and poems and essays for the whole world; the aim is to connect the self to others. As such, writers of short stories and novels and essays and plays and poetry need to be published. To write a novel and keep it in a desk drawer; to write poetry and fold it into a moleskine; to write stories and tuck them in a folder on the desktop: this is not, ultimately, the purpose of creative writing. The whole point is to change how others understand the human, and to do that, the words must circulate.