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ELAN ArtEd: Literary Arts in Schools: Writing to Understand Ourselves, Our Experiences and the World We Live In

Literary Artists Inspire Grants



“Basically, we human beings, what we do is we tell stories. We tell stories about everything.”
Raquel Rivera 


Literary Arts offer a unique way to engage and express, particularly in times when we are all looking to understand and better articulate our experiences and ways forward. ArtistsInspire’s published Authors, Poets, Screenplay Writers, Spoken Word Artists & Storytellers help students express their creativity and deepen their understandings of themselves, their experiences and world events. All our Artists are vetted for their professional work and experience engaging children and youth in oral and written literary activities. Our current Literary Artists  include published authors, poets & spoken word Artists with diverse specialities and lived experiences: 

Angela Leuck, Deanna Smith, Jason Selman, Patti Warnock, Rachel McCrum, April Ford, Eliza Robertson, Matthew Bennett Young, Raquel Rivera, Carol-Ann Hoyte, Monique Polak, Keith Henderson, Lori Weber, Anna Leventhal, Tawhida Tanya Evanson, Catherine Austen, Liana Cusmano, Joel Yanofsky, David Homel and Laurie Gough.

When asked what Literary Arts brings to schools and students in these times, our Literary Artists are nothing if not articulate! Jason Selman responds that Literary Arts offers students a chance to say:


“This is my story; this is what I’m going through; this is what I’m thinking about as we’re in this really peculiar time. They get a chance to voice how they feel and talk with someone about it and transfer that into art, into writing, into spoken word, into something that has a life of its own.”


Monique Polak is passionate about students’ need for Artists and Literary Arts now given these times of social distancing and isolation:


“It’s hard being a teenager with all of this. They need us, they need that connection, they need any kind of hope we can give them and also the reminder that this won’t last forever. And that’s another thing that stories give us, they take us out of our own stuckness, our immediate lives that we’re in.” 


She emphasizes further, “I think that’s a lesson about the pandemic. I mean, talk about people watching Netflix, reading… We. Need. Stories. We need stories. It’s connection!”

From another angle, author Raquel Rivera views engaging with teachers as a collaborative effort to create an experience that is helpful to them. As she says: 


“The questions I ask (teachers) are: ‘Is there something you need? Is there some way I can support you in what you’re doing with the class already?’ It’s kind of an exchange, a creative experience, in support of whatever the teacher’s curricular needs may be. Basically we can do anything together.”


In addition, Raquel says: 


“Being able to articulate our own stories, our own ideas is a huge life skill as each of us go through trying to figure out the ultimate questions: ‘Who am I and where do I fit?’ This is what the Literary Arts brings to any segment of the curriculum, a kind of ability to articulate our unique thoughts, hopefully for the betterment of everybody. These things apply to texts, to emails, to social media, to school projects of course, and finally to our own sort of thinking…our own journals where we ask ourselves the deep personal questions that help us guide us through this very complicated world that we have here.”


As Raquel underlines so beautifully, our writers can get students writing and speaking to make sense of their learning in English Language Arts and other subjects, particularly social sciences (geography, history & citizenship) and ethics & religious culture. 

From the shortest literary form (Haiku) to children’s books and award-winning YA/adult fiction, biography and more, ArtistsInspire has dynamic literary artists to recommend. We invite teachers to contact us to talk about which of our Literary Artists would best connect with their students based on the topics/themes/styles that would align with their plans for the year. This year we are also partnering with Poetry In Voice to create an ArtistsInspire version of their popular Poet in Class program. 

What does this all mean from a student’s perspective? As one Littoral School Board student who has now published her poetry and writing said about Angela Leuck’s influence on her, “Angela’s visit was the turning point in my life. I did not know where I was going, I did not know what I wanted to do… Angela was willing to give me a chance, and for that I am ever so grateful for her.”

For more information about our Artists and our $1500 School Grants, see:

Artist Profiles (select Literary Arts in the search engine)

School Grant guidelines and application


For complete ArtistsInspire interviews:

Jason Selman:

Jason Selman on what Literary Arts brings to schools

What motivates you to engage with students?


Monique Polak:

How do you find teaching online?

What do Literary Arts bring to schools and students in these times?


Raquel Rivera:

What are your goals as a Teaching Artist working with schools and students?

What does Literary Arts bring to students and schools?


For ArtistsInspire projects in Literary Arts:

Dealing with Anti-Black Racism Through a Poetry Workshop

Mentoring a Lifelong Love of Writing

Beyond Virtual: Workshops that Carry On After the Screens Turn Off


To connect with our Partners:

Poetry In Voice – Poet in Class program, contact Tessa Griffin tessa@poetryinvoice.com

LEARN blog post by Ben Loomer, English Language Arts Consultant: The Kids Will Be Alright: Poetry Meets English Language Arts