Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds documents 15 years of an amazingly successful experiment: asking accomplished writers to teach creative writing workshops in juvenile detention facilities, homeless shelters, inner-city schools and centers for newly arrived immigrants.
The National WritersCorps program, with branches in San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York, was founded in 1994 as a new model of community activism and engagement, where creative writers are trained and employed to provide literacy skills and artistic empowerment to young people in need. The skills and insights gained by these teaching artists have often combined to create a watershed experience in their own career trajectory.
Here is a collection of work—both poetry and prose—from many of the talented people who have formed the ranks of WritersCorps teachers over the years, along with personal essays in which they share their experiences of entering a classroom for the first time, teaching sestinas and hip hop beats, and forging relationships with young people from diverse ethnicities, ages and backgrounds.
In the words of one writer-teacher: "Writing in community gathers us around the proverbial campfire and reminds us why we do this: because hearing stories helps us make sense of the world, and because telling them helps us make sense of ourselves."
In Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds, readers follow these teaching artists on their journey into the halls and streets of America's diverse neighborhoods, as they enrich the lives and creativity of their students—and find their own voices changed in the process.
The collection includes contributions by Ishle Yi Park, Thomas Centolella, Will Power, Stephen Beachy, and Jeffrey McDaniel.
For more information about the teachers included in this collection, check out sfartscommission.org/WC.
Praise for WritersCorps:
"It has been so exciting for me to read what WritersCorps has been writing, those who are going to carry poetry in the future. "
—Tille Olsen, author of Tell Me A Riddle
"I am in love with WritersCorps."
—Robert Hass, Poet Laureate of the United States
"This anthology is more than a record of WritersCorps. It is a chronicle of our times."
—Martín Espada, author of The Republic of Poetry
Chad Sweeney is the author of three poetry collections; his poems and translations have appeared widely, including in Best American Poetry 2008. Sweeney is co-editor of Parthenon West Review, a journal of contemporary poetry and translation, and is a PhD candidate in literature at Western Michigan University. He taught for the San Francisco WritersCorps for seven years.