WordPlay Introduces Writer-in-Residence Program

The local non-profit organization, WordPlay, has recently added another dynamic to its ranks that will help further its creative writing curriculum.

With the help of a grant from the Andrew Jergens Foundation, a foundation that focuses on the health, education and social welfare of children in the Greater Cincinnati area, WordPlay is able to form a writer-in-residence program for the 2014-15 academic year.

The program is the first of its kind in the area, as writing residencies are typically housed at universities or colleges. Essentially, two writers will be added to WordPlay's roster, one of which will be a professional, and the other will be a graduate student in the creative writing field.

"The idea is that our professional writer will not only work directly with our kids and contribute to our creative writing curriculum, but will serve as a pedagogical guide for our graduate student resident, as well as our volunteer writing instructors" said Libby Hunter, co-founder and Executive Director of WordPlay. "Now that we have our main after-school programs firmly established, we are ready to bring a deeper level of impact to the children we serve."

Hunter said the Writers will not only benefit the students, but will also be able to assist the tutors and help them better understand the basics of teaching creative writing.

Serving as WordPlay's professional-level Writer is Pauletta Hansel, author of numerous collections of poetry and long-time teacher of poetry and creative writing to all ages. In this capacity, Hansel will perform duties that will range from creating writing prompts and projects for students to leading a monthly writing circle for tutors and editing WordPlay's first collection of student writing, slated for spring 2015.

"I am excited to be selected to be WordPlay’s first Writer in Residence," Hansel said. "WordPlay is a courageous and energetic literary organization, and I had the privilege of working with the Enter Stage Right Group earlier this year. One focus now will be on writing with the young people who come to WordPlay for its daily offerings of homework help and creative activity."

The role of the graduate student-level Writer will be split between two people; Woody Skinner, a PhD candidate at UC, and Theresa Kulbaga, a long-time WordPlay writing instructor and English professor at Miami University. Hunter said that the division of the graduate-level role between two people is temporary and will be assigned to only one graduate student in 2015. They will issue a request for proposals to area creative writing programs in November 2014 to fill that role.

"Having this level of writing instruction available to students as an enhancement of our after-school and Saturday programs is very exciting," Hunter said. "This way, not only are the children who come for our creative writing workshops receiving top-notch writing instruction, but the students attending tutoring sessions have a chance to work with the Writer-in-Residence, too."

WordPlay Writers-in-Residence oversee young writers circles on Thursday evenings at 5 pm, Saturdays at noon and 2 pm and are available in the writing center Monday afternoons 3-5 pm. For more information on enrolling your student for WordPlay's writing programs, contact 513-541-0930, or email info@wordplaycincy.org.

Now in its third year, WordPlay is taking on multiple projects and programs around Cincinnati, including their management of 6 high school teams for the Louder Than a Bomb poetry competition, due to take place in 2015.

Bryan Shupe is WordPlay's journalism intern for the fall semester 2014.

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