Youth Programs

Meet the new WITS Assistant: Mel Wells


Hello, my name is Mel, and I’m addicted to written words. You can laugh, but I’m serious. I have friends who hide their magazines when I come over because I get sucked into the articles and stop paying attention to the conversation. I’ve stumbled into classes or work with puffy, bloodshot eyes and zero attention span not because I was partying all night, but because I’d found a book that I simply could not put down. It’s embarrassing.

On the other hand, books saved my life. No, I wasn’t shot in the back and the bullet was stopped by a hardcover in my bag (although that would be kind of awesome). Nor had I decided to pull a Virginia Woolf until I read a passage by my favorite author and decided life was worth living. Sometimes I wish it was that cleanly dramatic. Instead, books taught me how to breathe when it felt as though life was drowning me.

My attempt to explain: I believe that everyone feels like a lonely oddball sometimes (as someone who hit 5’10” in 6th grade, I’m well acquainted with awkward).  Books gave me a chance to see the world through someone else’s eyes—to try on other people’s perspectives—as I was figuring out my own story. The more I read, the more I realized that everyone, everywhere, is making things up as they go, and that I could write my own story however I wished. This drawn-out epiphany handed me a get-out-of-jail-free card and has made me a passionate believer in the power of storytelling.

Books also led me to my current position at Literary Arts, specifically as an assistant to Mary, the WITS Program Director. I’m excited to be here…like doing-cartwheels-when-the-boss-isn’t-looking excited. My job includes a little of everything (office management, social marketing, editing, and event planning, to name a few) but best part is working with people who are fun, wicked smart, and dedicated to nurturing the literary community in Portland. I can’t wait to see a fresh group of students learning to see and tell about their world in new ways. I’m excited to learn what they have to tell.

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