Writing the Community Partners

Here are the partners that make Writing the Community happen!

K-12 Schools Spring 2018

City High School
Safford IB Magnet School
Pueblo Gardens Elementary  
Ochoa Elementary School
Doolen Middle School
Safford K-8 School
Borton Magnet School

Mentor Teachers

Lisa O'Neill is a writer and writing teacher living in Tucson, AZ. Originally from New Orleans, she has lived in Tucson for nearly a decade where she has taught writing at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College. She developed curricula for taught creative writing workshops with incarcerated students at juvenile and adult detention through the Inside/Out program and has also taught writing workshops at The University of Arizona Poetry Center and The Body Love Conference. Lisa received her MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Arizona and previously served on the board of The University of Arizona Poetry Center and literary nonprofit Casa Libre en la Solana. She works as teacher, editor and creativity usher, helping writers discover and clarify their voices and stories. Lisa is dedicated to working for social justice with her community. Her writing has been published in defunct, drunken boat, Diagram, The Feminist Wire, Essay Daily, and Edible Baja Arizona among others. She is the founder, editor, and curator of literary blog The Dictionary Project and is currently writing a book on sound and silence.

TC Tolbert often identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, dancer, and poet but really s/he’s just a human in love with humans doing human things. The author of Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press 2014) and 3 chapbooks, TC is also co-editor (along with Trace Peterson) of Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books 2013). His favorite thing in the world is Compositional Improvisation (which is another way of saying being alive). www.tctolbert.com


Brook Bernini is a teacher and organizer guided by a commitment to working for social justice. She currently teaches GED classes at Pima Community College, where she has had the opportunity to focus on the art of teaching and developing curriculum, and is loving learning from and with the students there. She engages in migrant, racial, and climate justice organizing. Originally from Massachusetts, Brook moved to Tucson in 2001 and immediately fell in love with the desert and the community here. Her years of living in the borderlands have instilled a love of language and an appreciation for the ways learning a language opens up new understandings. Brook holds a Masters in Geography from the University of Minnesota, where she was driven by a desire to learn about how solidarity economic efforts can effectively be fostered as a way to both increase economic security and social equity. She enjoys dancing wherever and whenever possible, writing, growing food, and biking and hiking as ways to experience the world around her.  

Saraiya Kanning is a creative writer and visual artist with an interest in wildlife and ecology. As an educator, she seeks to inspire students with joy and curiosity for art making. She often highlights the intersection of art and science in her workshops and enjoys facilitating writing exercises that celebrate Sonoran Desert ecology. Kanning holds an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Arizona, where she taught undergraduate writing workshops.  In 2015, she placed first in the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards for the short story “Awakening.” As a journalist, her work has appeared in The Nature Conservancy, Birding, Edible Baja Arizona, and DesertLeaf. She teaches silk painting at The Drawing Studio. You can view her visual art at raebirdcreations.com


Rachel Mindell grew up in Tucson. She holds an MFA in Poetry and an MA in English Literature from the University of Montana. Until recently, she was living in Missoula, where she served as a poet in the schools on the Flathead Reservation and directed the Montana Book Festival. Her chapbook, Like a Teardrop and a Bullet, was released last year by Dancing Girl Press. Individual poems have appeared (or will soon) in DIAGRAM, Bombay Gin, Interim, The Journal, BOAAT, and elsewhere. She writes content and manages promotions for Submittable.  



Words on the Avenue's founder, Teré Fowler-Chapman is a gender fluid writer, activist, and playwright—by way of Sonoran desert | by way of Boot's Bayou. This poet was the first African American executive director of the Tucson Poetry Festival. This poet thinks that being the first is uncool. They took over their grandfather’s legacy and published their first chapbook, Bread &, released by Hope Etcetera Press in Spring 2017. They are a National Arts Strategies' Creative Community fellow, and a Bettering American Poetry 2016 nominee. They are an educator, a spouse, and a family man. You can find Teré or their work forthcoming or published/performed in/at: Centennial Hall, Thinking Its Presence Conference, TENWEST Festival, March on Washington Film Festival — The Smithsonian National Arts Museum, University of Arizona’s VOCA, University of Houston-Victoria’s Downtown Art Series, TEDxTucson, Tucson Weekly, Feminist Wire, Arizona Public Media's PBS & NPR, KXCI National Radio Station, Literary Orphans & more. When Teré grows up they want children with their wife’s smile, pronouns to no longer exist, a tiny house with a lot of land, and time to go to soccer games on Saturdays.

Berkley Carnine is a queer organizer, educator, writer, and musician of mixed European descent who grew up in Oregon and lived in the Bay Area. After receiving her MFA from Arizona State University, she lived in  Flagstaff, Arizona for five years teaching activist themed courses at Northern Arizona University, organizing around indigenous solidarity, and fostering queer creative community. She's currently living in Tucson and is a teaching artist for the University of Arizona Poetry Center's Writing the Community program. She is completing her first novel. Her short stories have appeared in Entropy Magazine, Educe Literary Press, Cahodaloodaling, and Crab Fat Magazine. Her non-fiction and essays have appeared in Left Turn, Counter Punch, and Waging Nonviolence.

Charlie Buck received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Nevada Arts Council.  She’s had residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and is currently working on a novel.  She’s taught writing from first grade to college level, and especially enjoys working with grade schoolers and youth awaiting adjudication.


Benny Sisson is a recent graduate from the University of Arizona's undergraduate Creative Writing program. They studied poetry and have worked with Writing the Community for two years now. While the focus of the past few years has been teaching and pedagogical work, they truly just enjoy artistic collaboration. This program was a chance for them to teach poetry, a passion, as well as learn from the creative and often unabashed minds of children. The amazing experience of teaching in Tucson schools has been the one of the most enjoyable of their life. In the fall, Benny plans to move east and work toward an MFA in poetry from Adelphi University on Long Island, NY. They will continue teaching and taking all they have learned here in the desert with them, always.



Nancy Pitt

Elizabeth and Bryan Falcόn