This past week, Sundress Publications and A Novel Idea bookstore sponsored Secluded: A Virtual Writing Conference with three days of online talks, readings, and even happy hours. I was able to attend Ira Sukrungruang’s keynote “Writing as Survival,” in which he spoke about the role of writing during times of chaos, uncertainty, and despair. Both a teacher and a father, his insightful honesty provided a sense of grounding. Ira named authors he encourages his students to read, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxanne Gay, and Claudia Rankin, commenting:
Not to say these books will give you an answer, but to me, these books inform me, it insulates me in a community of people who want to talk instead of who to say something – who is refusing to listen. One of the things that I always preach nowadays to my students is that I’d rather you listen to the world at this point before you even open your mouth. But when you open your mouth, and I encourage them to, I encourage you to write, to speak out, to protest peacefully, to go out there and say what’s on your mind, what’s ailing your heart. But I think you also have to listen to what the world is trying to tell you.
The conference was free and recorded for replay here.
Remember Jay Lit Review, the companion journal to the Journal of African Youth Literature, seeks critiques, commentary, research, essays, and translations on a rolling basis. Fields of interest: African (youth) literature and literacy; African (youth) culture and language studies; African language education; feminist/gender, post/decolonial, reader-response, linguistic, comparative, etc. analysis; translation into/from African languages; related areas of study. Topics: African youths, youth culture and literature; reflections on teaching African languages; multilingualism in Africa, linguistics, related subjects.
The National Writers Project Radio recently posted a podcast version of their interview and discussion with Richard Koch and Elizabeth Dutro who have both recently authored books in regards to teaching in an age of stress and trauma. The interview was conducted on February 18, 2020.
Richard Koch, now retired, is a former English professor from the University of Iowa and Adrian College (my alma mater), and is the author of The Mindful Writing Workshop: Teaching in the Age of Stress and Trauma. Elizabeth Dutro is a professor and chair of Literacy Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of The Vulnerable Heart of Literacy: Centering Trauma as Powerful Pedagogy.
” . . . the space we’re in with all these proliferated programs around trauma and that they can be one more way that certain children are marginalized in school, seen as damaged rather than full of knowledge that should count in schools . . .”
NWP Radio is also offering a free download of The Mindful Writing Workshop on their site. Do check out the full discussion. It’s an interesting conversation on education, children, and teaching and definitely worth a listen to in these stressful times.