Imaginative Writing Residencies


From Fall 2008 to Spring 2012 the Poetry Center and the Creative Writing Department teamed up to create a Writers-In-Residence outreach program taught by University of Arizona students. The program trained students to be Teaching Artists and consisted of a first-semester seminar which includes pedagogical study, creation of a portfolio of lesson plans and direct classroom observation. In the second semester, students taught interactive lessons in Imaginative Writing in outreach programs at the University and in local schools. This program was designed, created, and facilitated by poet, novelist and teaching artist Laynie Browne.


Residencies generally consisted of a series of one-hour lessons over several weeks. Writers-in-Residence provided lessons, support and materials for teachers who wish to integrate Imaginative Writing into their classrooms. Curriculum for each residency was developed by the Writers-in-Residence in collaboration with classroom teachers to provide vibrant, integrative lessons that will promote a love of language and engagement with reading, writing and performing.

Lessons often include literary models, brainstorming and generating ideas, collaborative writing, individual writing, and performance. Active teacher participation is crucial to the success of the residencies.

Writers-in-Residence read and comment on student’s work, compiled cumulative anthologies of student writing, and organized a student performance at the school in which they taught. All students from participating schools were also invited to participate in a showcase reading at the University of Arizona Poetry Center held in May.


This program benefited the community at large by building bonds between local secondary schools and the University, ultimately creating gateways to academic achievement and increasing college preparedness and enrollment at University of Arizona from local underserved secondary schools.

Quotations from participating teachers:

Sylvia Strauss-Kolb of AZ school of deaf and blind says of her students:
“They felt so free and liberated about expressing themselves.”

Vanessa Stinson of Keeling says:
“I would definitely recommend this program to other teachers and schools. I feel it was a great ‘break from the norm’ and allowed students to discover their own creativity through writing.”

Shirley Blair of Hollinger writes:
“I was amazed when one of my children who rarely speaks audibly in class went to the Poetry Center to read her poem. It was simply amazing. I had to restrain myself to keep from giving her a standing ovation.”

Mary Lewis of Keeling writes:
“Many students who struggle with traditional writing found that they excelled with poetry.”


School Partners

Arizona School for Deaf and Blind, Agua Caliente Elementary, Casa de los Niños, Corbett Elementary, Hollinger Elementary, Keeling Elementary, Khalsa Elementary, Sam Hughes Elementary.

Teaching Artists

Erin Armstrong, Zach Buscher, Matthew Conley, Neil Diamente, Kimi Eisele, Elizabeth Falcón, Hilary Gan, Glen Grunberger, Salma Koachar, Sarah Kortemeier, Lisa Levine, Sarah Minor, Jeevan Narney, Astrid Slagle, Kara Waite, Ben Wallace, Christina Vega-Westhoff.


College of Humanities, University of Arizona
College of Science, University of Arizona


Click here to access past participant poems, lesson plans, and other documents.

Arizona Board of Regents