Tara Westover at Franklin High School

Tara Westover at Franklin High School

Tara Westover’s dry humor, sincere optimism, and palpable conviction have surfaced triumphantly from an arduous personal history. Her best-selling memoir recounts the early decades of her life in commanding and visceral detail, but Westover remains gracefully enigmatic. Her demeanor is consistent between a performance hall and a high school library. However, the customary PAL high…

WITS Anthology Launch at the Portland Book Festival

WITS Anthology Launch at the Portland Book Festival

When fourteen student writers assembled outside of the Portland Art Museum on a Saturday in early November, it wasn’t raining. It certainly wasn’t warm, and the acute sunlight was misleading, but the fall day was dry, an elemental improvement from previous Portland Book Festivals. By 10 o’clock that morning, the Park Blocks had already seen…

Jill Lepore

Jill Lepore Visits Madison High School By Joanna Rose, James Stone, and Jeremiah Marcum: The 34th season of Portland Arts & Lectures launched on Thursday, October 11 with Jill Lepore, award-winning historian, staff writer at The New Yorker, and author of the just published These Truths, a history of the United States.  Her lecture at the Arlene Schnitzer…

DeRay Mckesson Visits Grant High School

By Joanna Rose DeRay Mckesson’s afternoon talk at Grant High School got started a little late because the staff had to keep setting up more and more chairs. The library eventually filled to almost 200 students, and meanwhile Mr. Mckesson, wearing his signature blue vest, walked up and down rows of kids, shaking hands and…

WITS Reading for Franklin High School

WITS Reading for Franklin High School

The WITS end-of-residency reading for Franklin High School was standing-room-only at Bipartisan Cafe. Friends and family came to support students reading work they produced while in Bryan Dickman, Dana Vinger, and Elisa Wong’s classes. They worked with WITS writers Alex Behr, David Ciminello, or Cari Luna. In one case, a student worked with both, and…

WITS Reading for Roosevelt High School

WITS Reading for Roosevelt High School

Friends, family, teachers, and WITS writers packed Cathedral Coffee on a Wednesday afternoon for the end-of-residency reading and celebration. Depending on which WITS writer each student worked with, they presented a different genre: poetry, playwriting, or storytelling. The poets were from Renee Mitchell’s class and worked with WITS writer James Gendron. The playwrights were from…

WITS Reading for Lincoln HS

WITS Reading for Lincoln HS

by Cassie Duncanson Monday night found three different classes from Lincoln High school at Literary Arts to celebrate the end of residencies for their Writers in the Schools authors, Bettina de Leon Barrera, Lisa Eisenberg, and Mark Pomeroy. Barrera worked with Trevor Todd’s classroom, a group of intrepid students that put together a Spanish-language magazine.…

Classroom Visit: WITS writer Emilly Prado at Gresham HS

Classroom Visit: WITS writer Emilly Prado at Gresham HS

by Cassie Duncanson This week, I found myself driving out to Gresham to visit Ms. Alethea Work’s second period class of 38 students. Before the students got to work, Ms. Work wrote an Anaïs Nin quote on the board, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection.” Local author Emily Prado…

Viet Thanh Nguyen visits Reynolds High School

Viet Thanh Nguyen visits Reynolds High School

by Mel Wells Before his lecture at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, award-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen spent an afternoon with over 100 students at Reynolds High School. Two students gave a polished introduction to Nguyen, one of whom mentioned that her father was also a refugee from Vietnam.  Nguyen began by asking how many…

Visiting Cari Luna’s WITS Residency at Franklin HS

by Cassie Duncanson This past week, I had the pleasure to stop by Dana Vinger’s classroom at Benjamin Franklin High school and observe WITS author Cari Luna as she led a lesson focused on political writing with Ms. Vinger’s seventh period class. For a warm-up writing exercise, students had to consider a contemporary political issue…