It turns out that sometimes writers, artists, and craftspeople like crawling away from their desks, coffee shops, and studios to share their secrets. Who better to excite in kids the power of writing than the professionals who help create and give passion to it? Dozens of professional writers and artists have led our workshops. Here is a sampling of who they are.
Justin Alvarez is a writer and film director living in Biddeford, Maine. His recent short film "The Fishermen" was an official selection of the 2008 First Run Festival and the Portland Phoenix Maine Short Film Festival. He is also the co-creator and director of the web series "The Uhn." Justin earned a degree in Film and Television Production at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and is currently an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Goddard College.
Wielding a voice that defies the size of her body and strong storytelling sensibilities, Emilia Dahlin has carved out her name as a unique songstress. She weaves mesmerizing tales (complete with Greek myths, robotic messiahs, epic floods, and tax evaders) with raw, rootsy folk and dynamic jazz vocals. Her songs sound as if they’ve been left outside where time and weather have worn cracks for the wind to whip through. Her sky-rocketing energy is delivered with honesty. She’s a “self-made original” and the quintessential indie musician, wearing the hats of artist, manager, booking agent, and publicist at once. Voted Best Local Female Vocalist in 2005, 2006, 2007 in Portland, Maine, and winner of the 2007 NEMO Music Makers Songwriting Competition, Regional Final, Emilia also plays vox, guitar, and ukulele.
Gibson Fay-LeBlanc's first collection of poems, Death of a Ventriloquist, was chosen by Lisa Russ Spaar for the Vassar Miller Prize and will be published in 2012. His poems have appeared in magazines including Tin House, The New Republic, andPoetry Northwest, and he serves as Poetry Editor of Maine magazine. In 2011 he was named one of Maine’s “emerging leaders” by the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media for his work directing The Telling Room, where he still occasionally teaches workshops on poetry, sportswriting, and whatever else might get kids excited about words and stories. He is at work on his first novel.
Johanna (Jones) Franzel is the director of Generation PRX, a project of the Public Radio Exchange that is all about youth radio. Before PRX, she coordinated Community Programs at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (where she co-founded the Youth Noise Network radio group), taught in Costa Rica, Cuba, and New York, and worked as a guide in the Grand Canyon. Jones trained at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and holds a masters degree in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For fun, she teaches radio with Blunt Radio's Incarcerated Youth Project in South Portland.
Rachel Goldman is a passionate writer and photographer. A senior at Bowdoin College, Rachel has studied photography and creative writing extensively and has explored the connections between the two media in her own work. Rachel is a recipient of the McKee Photography Grant through which she wrote and photographed five linked short stories entitled With the Current: Short Stories in Image and Word.
Jamie Hogan is an illustrator, collector of zines, and a professor at Maine College of Art in the illustration department. She won the Jane Addams Peace Association award for her illustrations in Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and the Maine Illustrators Collective. Her most recent book, A Warmer World by Caroline Arnold, is due out in February 2012. She lives on Peaks Island with her husband, daughter, and a rather plump dog.
Glenn Jordan is a sports writer for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He moved to Maine in 1994 to cover a fledgling Double-A baseball team, the Sea Dogs, after having worked at the Hartford Courant in Connecticut and the Concord Monitor and Claremont Eagle-Times in New Hampshire. He studied philosophy at Dartmouth College and has written for news and features as well as sports. His favorite story involves old men who play checkers. He has three children, and still spells better than two of them.
Jefferson Navicky teaches writing at Southern Maine Community College and art at The Cathedral School. His work has appeared in elimae, Tarpaulin Sky, Octopus and others. A chapbook, Map of the Second Person, was published by Black Lodge Press in 2006.
Andrea J. Nolan is the former owner of Amphibious Horizons Sea Kayaking in Annapolis, Maryland, and is the author of Sea Kayaking Maryland's Chesapeake Bay and Sea Kayaking Virginia, both published by Countryman Press. She graduated from Old Dominion University's MFA program in May 2009, where she directed Writers in Community, a volunteer writing outreach organization, and has moved to Maine for a year to finish a novel comprised of connected stories. She has fiction and essays published and forthcoming in journals such as Dogwood, Alligator Juniper, and thePotomac Review, and her essay "Edges" was acknowledged as a "Notable Essay" inBest American Essays 2009, edited by Mary Oliver.
Ever since her poetic grandmother brought her to see Ella Fitzgerald live in concert at age seven, Sontiago has never stopped being influenced by music. Many a summer night her mother would catch her dancing with her own reflection in the sliding glass doors, lip-syncing the entire Like A Virgin album. But it wasn't until her older sister stumbled upon a Philadelphia radio station that reached their boondocks Pennsylvania home that rap fell on Sontiago’s ears. The static-infused Doug E. Fresh recording wasn't enough to satisfy her.
Martin Steingesser’s poems articulate the many seasons of the heart—joy, outrage, longing, whimsy, sadness,” said Maine Poet Laureate Baron Wormser. “A burning, tender voice that rejoices in the ungainly splendors of human feeling.” His book, Brothers of Morning, is published by Deerbrook Editions (Cumberland, Maine: 2002). He is also a performance poet and has given presentations of his poems for diverse audiences, from the Poetry and Jazz Festival, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to the State House at the Maine Capitol. He has been teaching poetry workshops in the Maine Arts Commission’s Artist-in-Residence Programs for 25 years. “Writing and presenting poems is a way I touch and make present a sense of grace I want in my life,” he says. “There are moments I love in poems I have made—when they are given, when windows, doors, walls blow off, and I am in a warm, boundless space with whoever is listening.”
Sara Wilmot is a Maine native and has been celebrating the bountiful scenery that Maine has to offer through the medium of photography for over ten years. She is a professional wedding, portrait, and fine art photographer and feels honored to be doing such work. Sara has an extensive theatre arts background and enjoys the spontaneity of doing Improvisational Theatre. She has also traveled to exotic places such as China, Chile, Argentina, and Detroit.
Henry Wolyniec is, among other things, a comic book artist. With a grant from the Xeric Foundation, he self-published two comic book series, WAHH and Life. He is a graduate of Parsons School of Design in NYC and has been an exhibiting artist for over twenty-five years. In Maine, his collages are represented by Whitney Art Works, and in Boston, by Miller Block Gallery.
Members of the Telling Room Staff and Board also serve as workshop leaders. If you have a workshop idea, please contact us!