Here at WordPlay, we couldn't be more thrilled to announce this year's new Writer-In-Residence: Jori An Cotton.
As the WordPlay Writer-In-Residence, Cotton will be filling an integral three-fold role: infusing teen programs and Young Writers Circles with her fresh ability to deepen the quality, breadth and impact of creative content, overseeing an annual publication of student work through The WordPlay Press, and implementing projects that expand WordPlay's connections with community.
Cotton, a seasoned spoken-word performer, has significant experience inspiring young people through the power of poetic storytelling. Prior to joining WordPlay, she oversaw the implementation of spoken word and poetry slam programs at Walnut Hills High School, The School for Creative and Performing Arts, McAuley High school, Taft Information Technology High School, Hughes STEM High School, and Woodward Career Technical High School; as well as leading Crossing the Street open mics and coordinating Voices of Freedom spoken word workshops with the hip hop and arts nonprofit organization Elementz.
In addition, her educational background in social work and experience with organizations like Starfire Council allows her to bring a poignant level of additional skill and expertise to the role.
Cotton is as passionate about joining WordPlay Cincy as the organization is about leveraging her talents and expertise for their young writers.
“I am so excited to be the new Writer in Residence at WordPlay. I look forward to working with the kids and teens giving them the tools to narrate, write and speak their own story.”
The WordPlay Writer-In-Residence makes it a focus to amplify the stories and magnify the self-worth of every WordPlay scholar. Cotton’s approach to teaching perfectly espouses that.
“Self-expression builds confidence and helps young people understand and process their world and the world around them. I look forward to challenging the students as well as myself to grow creatively.”
The WordPlay Writers-in-Residence are seasoned authors, poets or literary performers with ties to community-building in Cincinnati who serve in their role at WordPlay for 1-2 years at a time. Past title holders have included creative writing workshop leader Kelly Thomas, Miami University’s Dr. Theresa Kulbaga, Author Woody Hayes, Poet Elese Daniels (an essential coordinator in the Ink Your Love project) and finally our city's first ever Poet Laureate Pauletta Hansel.
Past projects implemented by Writers In Residence have included writing days in local schools and larger projects like The WordPlay Poet Tree, which workshops with 400+ students annually in local schools to create a living work of art that is a gift to the public--gifts of poems as "leaves" to pluck from park trees during National Poetry Month each April.
The program is made possible each year thanks to funding from The Ohio Arts Council, other local foundations, and supporters like you.
For more information about the WordPlay Cincy Writer-In Residence program, please click here: www.wordplaycincy.org/writer-in-residence.