For Immediate Release
San Francisco, March 16, 2009
Media Contact: Peter Handel, 510-528-0946, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stacey Lewis, City Lights Publishers, 415-362-1901, 415-362-4921 email@example.com
City Lights Foundation Announces New Book
by WritersCorps Teachers
Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds:
The Teachers of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose
SAN FRANCISCO, March 16, 2009 — City Lights Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the legendary independent publisher and bookstore located in San Francisco, today announces a new book titled “Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: The Teachers of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose.”
The WritersCorps program, with branches in San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York, hires accomplished writers to teach creative writing to low-income and “at-risk” youth in juvenile detention facilities, homeless shelters, public schools, after-school programs and centers for newly arrived immigrants. Begun in 1994 as a federally funded pilot project, WritersCorps has evolved into a national arts-in-service model, thanks in large part to the innovative lessons and teaching practices of its teachers.
“Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds” showcases the extraordinary talent of 50 writers who participated in the WritersCorps teaching program over the span of 15 years, including Ishle Yi Park, Thomas Centolella, Will Power, Stephen Beachy, and Jeffrey McDaniel. In personal essays the teaching artists discuss their process and inspiration, answering the perennial question that nags all great writers: Why do I write? For all, WritersCorps was a rewarding experience; for many, it was a pivotal point in their lives and artistic careers.
“I was changed, as a teacher and as a person by working with the many homeless youth, young women, teen moms and first-generation immigrant children,” writes poet Maiana Minahal of her WritersCorps experience. “With each poem they struggled to create, they showed me honest examples of what it really means to own the power of language, to be socially engaged writers — and I thank them for that.”
The essays are accompanied by a rich range of writing — poetry, excerpts from novels and plays, picture-journals — reflecting the diversity and virtuosity of WritersCorps’ teaching artists, as well as their willingness to write with the same honesty and ferocity that they demand from their students. “And how they speak, with compassion, intelligence, and fire,” writes Martín Espada in the book’s foreword. “These writers are unafraid to explore the most intimate details of their own experience; they are equally unafraid to take strong political stands on the great struggles of the day.”
This book, along with another recent WritersCorps release — “Tell the World: Teen Poems from WritersCorps” (HarperTeen 2008) — provides a compelling and vivid portrait of how teachers and students ultimately learn from one another and create lasting, positive impact on each other’s lives and their communities. As President Obama calls for the creation of an Artists Corps, the experiences and stories of writers in governmental arts programs, such as WritersCorps, are more relevant now than ever.
Events and readings marking the publication of Days include:
‘Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds’ Book Launch and Reading
April 15, 7 pm
City Lights Bookstore
261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco
City Lights launches “Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds,” a new anthology that showcases teachers in the WritersCorps program. WritersCorps poets and novelists perform and share their stories about teaching and inspiring youth. Readers include Myron Michael Hardy, Elissa Perry, Milta Ortiz, D. Scott Miller, Chrissy Anderson-Zavala, Karla Robinson, and Russell Gonzaga
WritersCorps at June Jordan’s Poetry for the People
April 29, 7 pm
Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley
Lipman Room, 8th Floor
WritersCorps teachers join poets from June Jordan’s Poetry for the People for a dynamic evening of spoken word. Representing WritersCorps are Chrissy Anderson-Zavala, marcos ramírez, and Anana Esteva.
WritersCorps at Bay Area Writing Project
May 27, 5 pm
6500 Shattuck Ave, Oakland
WritersCorps teachers are the featured guest readers at the Bay Area Writing Project’s monthly reading series. Mahru Elahi, Cindy Je, and Aracely Gonzalez and read from “Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds.”
June 5, 7 pm
826 Valencia St, San Francisco
WritersCorps students, paired with their teachers, read together in this all-ages event. Co-sponsored by 826 Valencia and Intersection for the Arts. Performing are Gloria Yamato, Michelle Matz, Jime Salcedo-Malo, Alison Seevak, Toussaint Haki, and their students.
‘Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds’ DC Book Launch
June 16,6:30 pm
Historical Society of Washington D.C., The Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square
801 K Street NW, Washington D.C. 20001
Hear former WritersCorps teachers read their work and describe their experiences as they taught writing in prisons, halfway houses, shelter and schools, forging relationships with people from diverse ethnicities, ages and backgrounds. Hosted by former WritersCorps teacher Joy Jones. The first 20 guests will receive a free copy of “Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds.”
WritersCorps at the Queer Arts Festival
June 23, 7:30 pm
San Francisco LGBT Community Center
1800 Market St, San Francisco
$12 to $20 sliding scale
Stephen Beachy, Dani Montgomery, marcos ramírez, Cathy Arellano, Aja Couchois Duncan, and Elissa Perry read their work and share insights about teaching for WritersCorps through community settings like Larkin Street and Brava.
“Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds: The Teachers of WritersCorps in Poetry and Prose”
Edited by Chad Sweeney, with a foreword by Martín Espada
Publication date: April 15, 2009
Trade Paperback Original ISBN: 9781931404105 $17.95
Contact: Stacey Lewis, City Lights Publishers, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-362-1901
Praise for WritersCorps
“It has been so exciting for me to read what WritersCorps has been writing, those who are going to carry poetry in the future.” ─ Tillie Olsen, author of Tell Me A Riddle
“I am in love with WritersCorps.” ─ Robert Hass, Poet Laureate of the United States
“This anthology is more than a record of WritersCorps. It is a chronicle of our times.” ─ Martín Espada, author of The Republic of Poetry
WritersCorps, now in its 15th year as a project of the San Francisco Arts Commission, places professional writers in community settings to teach creative writing to youth. Since its inception in 1994, the program has helped more than 15,000 young people from neighborhoods throughout San Francisco improve their literacy and inspire them to learn. The program is part of a national alliance with sites in the Bronx and Washington, D.C., whose shared vision is to transform and strengthen individuals and communities using the written word.