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3,400 YOUTH INSPIRED

From Literary Arts’ 2021/22 Annual Report

Our Youth Programs returned to classrooms and the concert hall this year. Our Writers in the Schools (WITS) writers-in-residence taught in person, readings took place in school libraries and on stage at Portland Book Festival, and the city-wide youth poetry slam championship Verselandia! made its triumphant return to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. From meeting world-class authors to performing their own work, students across and beyond Portland engaged with inspiring and creative youth programming. 

Writers in the Schools Residencies

We partnered with 23 educators at 11 public high schools throughout the year. While we worked in many creative writing and Language Arts classes, WITS also had writers-in-residence contribute to other classes, such as Communications, English Language Development (ELD), Journalism, and Radio Broadcasting. At Woodburn’s Wellness, Business, and Sports School (WEBSS), poet and essayist Jennifer Perrine worked in Charles Sanderson’s Language Arts and Creative Writing classes, and used their publishing experience to help create broadsides of students’ poetry, which were displayed at WEBSS’ on-campus reading. Fiction writer Matt Smith piloted five mini-residencies at Grant High School, which focused on world building in science fiction. 

Click here to learn more about our Writers in the Schools program.

“I enjoyed the writer’s presence itself and the advice she gave. It was very helpful and she opened up new ideas of creativity for me and unlimited ways to write. This guest specifically made me feel very welcome, accepted, and comfortable to write about whatever.” 

—Gresham High School student 

Click here to purchase a copy of Curiosity in Ones and Zeroes.

Author Visits, Everybody Reads, and Students to the Schnitz

Thousands of students engaged with six world-class authors in the concert hall and classroom throughout the year for the 2021–22 Portland Arts & Lectures season and Everybody Reads. There were 1,533 students in attendance for virtual lectures, and 380 students attended author visits. This year Youth Programs partnered with OPB’s Think Out Loud to combine the live interviews with author visits, giving students the opportunity to participate in the radio program. We held Think Out Loud interviews at McDaniel, Grant, Lincoln, Parkrose, and WEBSS. 

Click here to read more about our Students to the Schnitz program.

“Thank you so much for the Cathy Park Hong event. It was deeply meaningful to me, personally, and I know many of our students felt the same way. Representation really matters and we all appreciate the time and effort that goes into making these author visits happen.” 

— Nancy Sullivan, McDaniel High School librarian 

Verselandia!

We were absolutely thrilled to return to an in-person format for the city-wide youth poetry slam Verselandia! Students finally returned to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall to share their poetry with the larger community. A crowd full of peers, educators, parents, and friends cheered on poets from Portland and east Multnomah County high schools. Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani hosted the evening and McDaniel High School student Nykole Jackson (pictured below) was our Grand Slam Champion. 

Click here to read a Verselandia! 2022 recap.

Workshops and Events

We offered both virtual and in-person events at Portland Book Festival 2021 for grades 6 through 12, as well as for educators. Our sold-out in-person Science Fiction workshop was led by WITS writer Matt Smith, where students worked to hone their world-building skills. Students from across Portland, east Multnomah County, and Woodburn read their published work in front of an audience of nearly 200 at the WITS anthology launch. 

Committed to Equity

  • Continued deepening our relationship with schools outside of Portland, namely Woodburn’s Wellness, Business, and Sports school, where we provide all our youth programming 
  • Further developed our Writers in the Schools Apprenticeship for Writers of Color with author Cecily Wong

Read the full report below.

Click here for a PDF version of the report.