Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Between the Lines: InsideOut Reaches Kids

by Zinta Aistars
for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate

Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guests: Peter Markus and Nandi Comer

Nandi Comer and Peter Markus

Schools across the country have been dealing with financial pressure by cutting spending on the arts. But since 1995 in Detroit, the InsideOut Literary Arts Project has been sending writers to schools throughout the city. It's now in 30 schools. Over the years it has introduced many thousands of students from kindergarten to high school seniors to the literary arts.

The project was founded by Terry Blackhawk, a teacher who wanted to help students overcome obstacles to self- expression. With her was senior writer Peter Markus. And one of the students in the beginning, Nandi Comer, is today a writer-in-residence, teaching the next generation of students.
Peter Markus says, “Our job, whether or not we are met with resistance, is to get the students to see that they can do what we are asking them to do. We put them into situations where they can see that isn’t quite as daunting to write a poem as they thought it might be. Many of them have never written a poem before.”
The anthology To Light a Fire: 20 Years with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project (Wayne State University Press, Made in Michigan Writers Series, 2015), includes essays from poets and writers like John Rybicki, Jamaal May, Robert Fanning, francine j. harris, Isaac Miller, Nandi Comer, and many others, about their experiences working with students.
InsideOut's success in Detroit has won national attention. It's been feature in a public television program. And it won a recent award from the White House: the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, presented by Michelle Obama.
The First Lady said in her opening remarks at the award ceremony...

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