Monday, March 16, 2015
Greater New Orleans Writing Project Hosts WriteFest and 2015 National Writing Project's
Urban Sites Conference
Every year, the Greater New Orleans Writing Project hosts WriteFest, an all-day conference
focused on writing, creativity and teaching. This year, WriteFest will host the 2015
National Writing Project Urban Sites Conference.
The 2015 WriteFest and
the 2015 National Writing Project's Urban Sites Conference take place from 9:30 to
6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 17-18, 2015 at the University of New Orleans’
Fun and field trips are planned all weekend, starting Friday.
You can purchase tickets at GNOWP.org. The newly extended $75 early bird rate is available
until March 15.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
“Teachers from around the country will gather for a weekend of networking, breakout
sessions, and discussion centered around writing pedagogy in the urban classroom,
said Sarah DeBacher, director of the Greater New Orleans Writing Project.
“Our theme is ‘Students Write Their Cities,’ and we will be focusing on ways to encourage
students to use their own voices to define and shape their urban landscapes. In particular
we will be featuring some exciting New Orleans student publishing initiatives, including
Big Class and the Neighborhood Story Project.”
For 35 years, the Greater New Orleans Writing Project at the University of New Orleans
has been a site of the National Writing Project, an organization dedicated to improving
writing and the teaching of writing throughout the Greater New Orleans area and the
nation. The GNOWP strives to achieve its goals through teacher collaboration, inquiry
into best practices, and support of teacher-writers and student-writers in New Orleans
The conference takes place from 9:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 17-18,
2015 at the University of New Orleans’ Lakefront campus, DeBacher said. Fun and field
trips are planned all weekend.
On Friday, the event will feature a visit to Sylvanie Williams College Prep Elementary
School, where New Orleans Big Class, a Ninth Ward nonprofit dedicated to teach young
children to communicate and tell stories through creative writing, has recently created
a Writers' Room.
In the Writers' Room, students receive free tutoring and workshops for both their
academic and creative writing, DeBacher said.
The school visit will be followed by a trip to The Neighborhood Story Project in Treme.
The Neighborhood Story Project was founded in 2004 by two UNO researchers as a book-making
project designed to tell stories about life in New Orleans neighborhoods. The Neighborhood
Story Project works with writers in neighborhoods around New Orleans to create books
about their communities.
"We started at our neighborhood public school, John McDonogh Senior High, with the
idea of our students investigating their worlds," the Neighborhood Story Project's
website reads. "For a year, the students wrote, photographed, interviewed and edited.
In June of 2005, we brought out five books—collaborative ethnographies—about New Orleans."
Over the last 10 years, the Neighborhood Story Project has expanded its practice of
collaborative ethnography outside of schools, producing books and posters that do
the work of telling stories of the city. The Neighborhood Story Project works with
authors and neighborhoods, then celebrates publication with block parties. The books
have gone on to be citywide bestsellers, selling more than 35,000 books.
“You may also wish to join us for a tour of the Lower 9th Ward with a visit to The
House of Dance and Feathers,” DeBacher said, referring to a cultural museum focused
on Ronald W. Lewis' participation in the culture of Mardi Gras Indians, Social Aid
& Pleasure Clubs and Skull & Bone Gangs.
“There will also be a writing marathon in and around the French Quarter, followed
by a read-around. On Friday night, we will host a pizza-and-cocktail reception, featuring
the ‘pizza poetry’ of Big Class students and a performance by award-winning Team Slam
On Saturday, participants will meet at the University of New Orleans to enjoy a day
of breakout sessions, with lunch provided, DeBacher said. Some featured breakout sessions
include “This is My Ferguson! Students (Re)Storying Their Community,” “Making Our
Worlds: Hacktivists in the ELA Classroom,” and “Bringing Voice to the Voiceless: Writing
Keynote speaker, Tony Diaz, will give an afternoon talk, DeBacher said.
Originally from Chicago, Tony Diaz is the author of the novel "The Aztec Love God,"
which Ishmael Reed selected as the 1998 Nilon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction.
Diaz is also included in major anthologies such as "Hecho En Tejas: An Anthology of
Texas Mexican Writers" edited by Dagoberto Gilb, and "Literary Houston."
He has just completed "The Protesters' Handbook," a multimedia project ranging from
text to performance. Diaz is perhaps best known for his work as the leader of the
Librotraficante movement, in which he works to smuggle banned books back into classrooms.
The project began in Arizona after the Arizona legislature banned Mexican-American
studies in public high schools.
Saturday will also feature a performance by Barry Lane and his Literacy Cabaret.
Lane is a writer who teaches writing. His hands-on workshops on writing and revision
and his writing books include "Discovering the Writer Within," "After the End," "Reviser’s
Toolbox," and "the Non-Fiction Toolbox." His work has helped thousands of teachers
to turn their students and themselves into working writers, DeBacher said.