Literacy Feature: Laura Tilsner and Working In The Schools (WITS)

In my years as a proponent of literacy and creative self-expression through writing and the arts, I’ve learned a lot and been inspired by a world of energizing, insightful, and creative students, teachers, administrators, and collaborating artists. Some organizations I have worked and/or volunteered with include Working In the Schools (or WITS), Literacy Chicago, and…

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A House of My Own, Stories From Sandra Cisneros’s Life

Sandra Cisneros’s writing is honest and poetic, and lacks the self-consciousness of someone aspiring to be erudite. I mention this because I think for someone who is multi-lingual, who has read a lot, and lived and traveled around the world; who graduated from a prestigious writing program, and has been lauded with the prestigious MacArthur…

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Memory of First Reads

Note from Leslie: Clicking on colored text will allow you to discover more about that item! One of my early memories is of receiving books in the mail beginning the year prior to entering kindergarten. I’m not sure if there were pre-school programs back in those days. My family—-including parents, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and older…

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How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson

Earlier this week I was immersed in sharing poetry, movement, and collaborative creative expression with second graders at Carstens Elementary-Middle School in Detroit. As I began to write about it on the train ride home, I was reminded of Marilyn Nelson’s book, How I Discovered Poetry. While her volumes of poetry are usually found in…

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“My Friend Victoria”: Finding Value in Uncomfortable Readings & Viewings Part Two

PART TWO (Read PART ONE) The farther away I get from my first impressions of this story the more it becomes other things. Is this what happened when Jean Paul Civeyrac began with Doris Lessing’s novella, “Victoria and the Staveneys” as the starting point for his film “My Friend Victoria,” which ended up being particularly…

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“My Friend Victoria”: Finding Value in Uncomfortable Readings & Viewings

PART ONE I am having difficulty thinking about the film “My Friend Victoria” and the Doris Lessing novella “Victoria and the Staveneys,” from which the film was adapted. Hours of writing, reading, pondering, and frowning and I am no closer to a clear composition of my impressions than I was a month ago when I…

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Art Exhibition Books: A Few African American Art Titles

Listen people: I’ve been quite fortunate to receive lovely, thoughtful gifts this season, so after viewing the “30 Americans” art exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts, it was hard to justify purchasing a heavy stack of books on the subject of African Americans and art. I took photos instead. (Photographing these titles means that…

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“The Essential Self: Meditations On The Politics of Identity”

I have enjoyed many an hour in galleries, museums, and—quite frankly, folk’s homes and work spaces—looking at visual art, artifacts, photographs, maps, and what-have-you, “reading” what these things have to say to me. Do you do that? Its kind of like being on the soul’s treasure hunt, looking for visual resonances, dissonances, and clues about…

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