I have been facilitating creative writing workshops for fifteen years around the country in schools, libraries, afterschool programs, summer camps, youth-housing facilities, writing centers, and health clinics. The young writers I work with express themselves through journaling, memoir, poetry, plays, spoken word, monologue, and visual art. While my workshops focus on writing and performance, and certainly help bolster students’ writing abilities, they also encourage the students to feel more comfortable working in groups, improve public speaking skills, and build self-confidence. Through writing, I help young people enter into conversation with themselves and each other, and hopefully come out the other end with a greater understanding and acceptance of who they are.
I believe that the word—spoken and written—has the power to transform both listener and speaker.
I began and continue to do this same creative work through my own writing and artistic practice. I write and perform first-person essays, monologues, and lists about my life, focusing on issues of identity and motherhood. In recent years, both in my workshops with youth and in my own creative work, my focus has turned to literary public art. I’m interested in putting writing in public spaces, making it accessible to people who might not read a literary magazine. Sometimes this is a spoken-word performance on the subway, or covering the steps of the main library in poetry, or lists about motherhood posted on bulletin boards in laundromats. My current writing project is #MomLists, a Bay Area literary public art project about early motherhood. My creative work has been rewarded through artist residencies, grants, and numerous publications. (For links to press, published writing, and video of me performing, click on the Media page.)
Goddard College, MA, Transformative Language Arts, 2008
Eugene Lang College, BA, Cultural Studies: Race, Ethnicity, & Post-Colonialism, 2003
PUBLIC ART & PERFORMANCE ART
#MomLists January 2015 – Present
Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, CA, momlists.tumblr.com
An interactive literary art project offering an alternative motherhood story, consisting of 150 pieces posted in public spaces throughout the Bay Area.
Media: decorative paper, card stock, waxed thread, ribbon, ink
Step to Poetry: An Installation of Popular Culture Poetry May – June 2013
San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, San Francisco, CA
A vibrant, literary-art installation on the library’s main staircase, comprised of 9 poems written by local youth, ages 12-19. The piece transformed the ordinary experience of climbing steps into an interactive engagement with teens’ poetic social critique of the Kardashians, Youtube, etc. On opening night, a “stair crawl” led to a reading and reception at the top of the stairs.
Media: vinyl stickers, ink
Iron Mom: Not Just a Baby Mama May 2013
Brava Theater Center, San Francisco, CA
A multimedia performance exploring teenage motherhood that I directed, edited, and co-produced in collaboration with The Creative Work Fund and the San Francisco Arts Commission.
4th Street Sisters September 2008
Actors Guild of Lexington, Lexington, KY
A showcase of monologues written by teen mothers from the Florence Crittenton Home (a home for youth from unsafe homes), that I edited, co-directed, and co-produced, culminating my “Journal to Stage” project. The free, community performance included a post-show talkback.
Reflections December 2007
School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Lexington, KY
Installation of teen students’ mixed-media self-portraits into their classroom ceiling, transforming the white, monotonous tiles into a permanent overhead exhibition of images representing their true selves.
Media: poster board, oil paint, mixed media
Boxed In: White and Jewish with a Bootie May 2003
The Altman Building, New York, NY
A one-woman show I wrote, directed and starred in, consisting of six monologues about race, body, and coming into womanhood.
WritersCorps, San Francisco, CA July 2015 – June 2016
- Build and facilitate comprehensive yearlong training syllabus for teaching artists (TAs)
- Mentor TAs on planning, curriculum, classroom management, crisis management, etc.
- Coordinate guest speakers
- Plan, coordinate, & facilitate training for teaching artists of Youth Speaks, Streetside Stories, and WritersCorps
- Network and collaborate with other likeminded organizations
Project WHAT! (Community Works West), San Francisco, CA July 2014, 2015
Summer Writing Instructor
- Design memoir writing curriculum for youth with incarcerated parents
- Facilitate creative writing workshops with components on community building, the prison industrial complex, cycles of oppression and identity
- Edit the youth’s 5-page stories for specific audiences so they can use their stories to effect system-wide changes in schools, prisons, police stations, etc.
- Meet with youth 1-on-1 for coaching and story-shaping sessions
- Collaborate with and manage a team of five staff
WritersCorps, San Francisco, CA Aug. 2010 – June 2013
Teaching Artist (Hilltop Pregnant Minors Program and SF Public Library, Main Branch)
- Designed and taught year-long literary arts curricula for youth, ages 12-22
- Built mentoring relationships with youth
- Created, edited, and produced all aspects of final projects, including visual art exhibit, monologue show, public art installation, handmade chapbooks, and many anthologies
- Coordinated, emceed, and supported citywide youth events and performances
- Collaborated with classroom teachers to form supportive partnerships
San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, San Francisco, CA June – July 2012
“Crafty Poetry” Workshop Facilitator
- Developed and led 8-week workshop for youth, merging mixed-media crafts and poetry
Fertile Grounds’ Camp Kadia, Liberty, NY August 2006, 2011
Identity Life-Writing for the Stage Workshop Facilitator
- Facilitated 2-week autobiographical writing-for-performance workshop and directed New York City youth in final performance of their new creative work
Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA Apr. 2010 – Apr. 2011
LINK Fellow and Curriculum Voice Unifier
- Co-wrote curriculum on the power of questioning as a supplement to a museum exhibit
- Edited and shaped multi-authored curriculum to have one voice
Teen Pregnancy and Parenting Project, San Francisco, CA July 2009
“History/Herstory” Workshop Facilitator
- Created and led bi-weekly interactive creative writing workshops for teen parents
The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, Lexington, KY February 2009
Memoir-for-Performance Workshop Facilitator for the “Young Women’s Writers Project”
- Prepared and facilitated day-long workshop on the art of writing memoir for performance
Florence Crittenton Home, Lexington, KY July – Sept. 2008
“Journal to Stage” Workshop Facilitator
- Created and taught 3-month curriculum of memoir-writing empowerment workshops for pregnant teens and young moms from unsafe homes
- Edited, co-directed, and co-produced performance of girls’ monologues at local theater
School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Lexington, KY Aug. – Dec. 2007
Identity-Writing Workshop Facilitator
- Designed and led biweekly memoir-writing workshops and final art project “Reflections”
- Collaborated with classroom teacher to best supplement her curriculum
- 2015: Moderator, “Teaching Artists and Right Livelihood,” San Francisco Teaching Artist Training for WritersCorps, Youth Speaks, and Streetside Stories, San Francisco
- 2015: Moderator, “Creative Writing as Liberatory Education,” Howard Zinn Book Fair, San Francisco