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FW: Writing Our Stories

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  • Amos J Wright
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    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2010




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      Writing Our Stories 2010

      November 30, 2010

      From Jeanie Thompson, Executive Director of the Alabama Writers' Forum:

      Jeanie Thompson chats with a McNeel School student writer.

      Jeanie Thompson chats with a McNeel School student writer.

      The Alabama Writers' Forum's signature literary arts in education program, Writing Our Stories, has never been stronger. Your continued support of the Forum as an associate member and your additional generous gifts to support ongoing programs and services such as the Alabama Book Festival teacher workshop, Book Reviews Online, and First Draft enable the Forum to support literary arts in our state as it has since 1993.

      As the new year approaches and you sift through the hundreds of worthy requests, please remember the Forum. To make a year-end donation or give a gift membership by credit card, contact: writersforum@... or 334-265-7728. Or mail a check to: Alabama Writers' Forum, PO Box 4777, Montgomery, AL 36103-4777.

      Thank you!

      WOS students receive national recognition

      A mother congratulates her son after the Mt. Meigs reading.

      A mother congratulates her son after the Mt. Meigs reading.

      On October 21, twelve newly published authors presented their work from Open the Door 13. The event marked the beginning of the fourteenth year of Writing Our Stories (WOS) at the Lurleen B. Wallace School on the Department of Youth Services (DYS) Mt. Meigs Campus. Two students returned to campus with family members for the event.

      Speaking to the assembled audience of students, guests, faculty, and staff, Principal Cleveland Gavin said, "I'd like to say to you authors that you have accomplished much with this book, and you should be proud. People years and years from now will be reading your work."

      "New writers, persevere," he continued. "Take advantage of the opportunities you have. Always do what's right. We call this 'discipline.'"

      Before the reading, Marlin Barton, assistant director for Writing Our Stories and a teaching writer with the program since its inception, informed the audience about a particular honor given to three of his students-their inclusion in the Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children's Paintings, a poetry and painting exhibit sponsored by the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University in Ohio. The students' work was also included in the travelling show and in the exhibit's catalogue.

      "After I sent the students' work to the poetry center, I received a short note," said Barton. "'Wow!' it read. It's wonderful to receive national recognition in an international arts program."

      Lisa Williams-Gallacher and Maureen Womack are the cooperating teachers at Wallace School.

      Terrible War

      The air fertilizes flames of terror.

      Clouds inherit billowing smoke.

      Bombshells rain over my land.

      My old home erupts into broken glass,

      shattering my hardened heart.

      The shadow of Grandpa's carcass

      melts into my tears.

      The sound of his last breath

      surrenders my knees.


      Open the Door 13

      T.J. Beitelman continues discipline theme

      T.J. Beitelman has a book signed by a McNeel author.

      T.J. Beitelman has a book signed by a McNeel author.

      "'Discipline,' another word, another transformation," said Alabama School of Fine Arts creative writing teacher T.J. Beitelman, addressing the authors of Be the Change. "Discipline isn't punishment. A discipline is something you are called to; it's a way of living. Writing is most certainly a discipline, a way of thinking, a way of seeing, a way of living in the world. Writing is a commitment. It isn't easy. It can be hard, and that's my point."

      Beitelman was the keynote speaker for the October 28 book event for the students at Adele Goodwyn McNeel School on the DYS Vacca Campus. Five newly published authors from teaching writer Tony Crunk's creative writing classes read from their work. Members of his new classes then read their favorite selections from Be the Change.

      "The fact that I hold this book in my hand means many wonderful, sensitive, insightful things have been published," AWF founding executive director Jeanie Thompson told the students. "I am proud of you, and you should be proud of yourselves."

      After the reading, the authors and their guests attended a reception in their honor, hosted by former cooperating teacher Linda McQueen, in the school's media center.

      Harold Abram Jr. is the cooperating teacher at McNeel School. Arthur Tigner is its principal.


      The ocean

      is like ice

      against my skin.


      The smell of popcorn

      is overwhelming

      like perfume.


      The taste of salt

      in the air

      is bitter as lime.


      The waves


      like a rabid dog.


      The sunset of my dreams

      is in Florida

      like my heart.


      Be The Change

      Kelley Parris-Barnes applauds Sequoyah writers

      Kelley Parris-Barnes delivers her keynote address.

      Kelley Parris-Barnes delivers her keynote address.

      J. Walter Wood Jr., DYS executive director, welcomed the two returning published writers, new WOS students, guests, faculty, and staff to the book release event for Holding On, the anthology of poems and stories from the students at Sequoyah School on the Chalkville Campus, with a nod toward their families.

      "I especially thank you parents and grandparents for making the effort to attend today," he said. "I know you will be as proud of your children and grandchildren as we are."

      Kelley Parris-Barnes, director of the Alabama Department of Child Abuse, delivered the keynote address at the November 4 event.

      "You find yourself in a system that's open twenty-four hours a day, but the doors are always locked. With this book, you have unlocked those doors," she said.

      "You've learned to create, a way to communicate, a way to work through your feelings," she continued. "You're going to take with you what you've learned here, and you don't know now where that will take you."

      In what has become an annual tradition at Chalkville, teaching writer Priscilla Hancock Cooper presented a single red rose to her published writers and to her new students, who read their favorite poems from the new book.

      After the reading, the students and their guests enjoyed a reception in the school's library.

      Janet Dickson is the cooperating teacher at Sequoyah School. Cheryl Bufford is its principal.

      Walls Won't Hit Back

      Hit the walls,

      Walls won't hit back!

      Hit the walls,

      Walls won't hit back!

      Throw the punches,

      Hear my knuckles crack.


      Walls won't hit back,

      But they always win!

      Walls won't hit back,

      But they always win!

      I have no feeling,

      Hands bloody and swollen.


      Walls always win,

      But my anger is gone.

      Walls always win,

      But my anger is gone.

      Relief comes over me,

      Pain in my hands won't last long.


      Holding On

      Writing Our Stories

      A Sequoyah student autographs Holding On.

      A Sequoyah student autographs Holding On.

      Writing Our Stories is an award-winning creative writing collaborative program whose partners include the Alabama Department of Youth Services, the ABSOP project, and the Alabama Writers' Forum. Additional funding has been provided by the Alabama State Council on the Arts. The Children's Trust Fund provided funds for the WOS Curriculum Guide.

      Copies of this year's anthologies are available from the Forum for a $5 shipping and handling charge for each book. To order, contact the Forum at 334-265-7728, toll free at 866-901-1117, or at writersforum@....

      Photos by Jamie Martin.


      The Alabama Writers' Forum

      P.O. Box 4777

      Montgomery, AL 36103-4777


      Toll Free: 866-901-1117



      © 2010 The Alabama Writers' Forum, Inc.

      The Alabama Writers' Forum

      The Alabama State Council on the Arts



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