This year, for the first time, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers offered a new opportunity for educators whose student received recognition in the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards—the 2020 Writer’s Retreat for Educators. The two educators chosen for this opportunity would have participated in the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project’s annual New Orleans Writing Marathon, which is a five-day writing retreat for writers across the nation. Unfortunately, this year’s retreat was canceled due to COVID-19. Instead, the educators will now be offered a $1,000 stipend and the opportunity to engage in online networking and enrichment experiences over the summer.

We are pleased to announce that Melissa Goodrum and Michael Carson have been selected by author and writer Edwidge Danticat as the recipients of the 2020 Writer’s Retreat for Educators.

Meet the Residents

Melissa Goodrum

she clicks in her throat &
makes opera notes come up,
oratoria & swim out
her heart beats tree-echos to gold-ing women
the drummer makes
that familiar
pleased & ugly face    he’s listening
to her song
& the bassist melds

she who looks like Aunty Rose by Melissa Goodrum

Melissa Goodrum is an educator in Brooklyn, NY who has a long history of literary accomplishments. Melissa’s poetry can be found in The New York Quarterly, The Torch, The Tiny, Rhapsoidia, canwehaveourballback?, Transmission, Cusp, a harpy flies down—a chapbook by Other Rooms Press—Urgent Bards, The Bowery Women Poems, and the anthology Like Light: 25 Years of Poetry & Prose. Her first collection of poetry, definitions uprising, was made available thanks to NY Quarterly Books in 2013. In May of 2019, great weather for MEDIA released her second full-length collection, something sweet & filled with blood.

During the retreat, Melissa hoped to soak in the liveliness of New Orleans to create a group of geographic visual poems. These poems would explore her family’s history, from their journey across America to the various music they have recorded. She had also been looking forward to connecting with other writers. Fortunately, the recipients are being offered online networking opportunities over the summer in place of the residency.

Michael Carson

“This had to be the most horrible thing about his war injury, not the scarring and the misplaced features, but how it emphasized the gap between appreciable moments, and left you in that blank opening, like you were between black letters on a page.”

Nabbob by Michael Carson

Michael Carson is a retired army veteran who served as an infantry officer in Iraq and now teaches in Texas. Since 2012, he has taught high school English as well as veterans writing classes in and around Houston. His writing has appeared in the anthology The Road Ahead: Fiction from the Forever War and the Numéro Cinq Literary Magazine

Michael hoped to use the retreat to complete the novel he has spent the past year and a half writing. Although, he won’t be able to spend a week in New Orleans concentrating on his writing, he is a dedicated writer and hopes to have a draft of his novel near completion this summer.

If the opportunity to spend five days focusing on your writing and interacting with other educators and writers sounds exciting to you, stay tuned for information about next year’s Writer’s Retreat for Educators!

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