JC Wayne Brings Creative-Writing “Adventures” for Young NM Learners
By Bill Nevins, Staff Writer
An exciting addition to New Mexico literary-educational resources is on our immediate horizon. Vermont-based, Harvard-educated artist/poet/educator JC Wayne is bringing her POARTRY Project (https://poartry.org) to New Mexico in 2023, with a specific focus, she says, on workshop offerings for early elementary-school age kids (grades 1-3), their teachers and interested community groups. JC visited New Mexico in May 2022 and she plans to return this year. In October 2022, she was appointed Youth Director of both the non-profit New Mexico State Poetry Society (NMSPS) and the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, according to an announcement on the NMSPS webpage. We contacted JC at her Charlotte, Vermont home office to ask about her plans for working with kids and teachers in New Mexico.
In our October 31 phone interview and in email follow ups, JC Wayne described her presentations as “voicing-art adventures” and “child-guided, organic play with words, art and nature”. She explained that she works in creative writing and art and performing art with all ages, including adults and elders via the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Poetry Society and the Central Vermont Council on Aging. She has developed specific projects working with children via the Sustainability Academy of Burlington, Vermont and other organizations including her own POARTRY Project. JC tells us these include “Outdoor Adventures in Poetry and Art, Poetry of Nature Adventure Walks and a July 2022 paddling expedition, in which we explored a form of poetry which I made up called a “secret box poem”, which has been recorded and posted on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/733595571/a3811c206c
JC says she is very interested in coordinating efforts with local environmental community groups and she admires the work that has been done along these lines in New Mexico in our open spaces.
She tells us she likes to encourage young writers, especially those who “She finds creating ekphrastic poetry, which focuses on writing about a work of visual art, to be a useful “assignment” for kids to try. Some even combine writing with painting, under JC’s guidance.
When asked what she feels about the current New Mexico poetry scene, JC explains that, while she has great respect and admiration for the vitality of the “slam” and Poetry Out Loud contest- poetry models popular among many adult and teenage poets in New Mexico and elsewhere, her own approach in working with very young aspiring writers does not focus on competition. “Young kids need to be in a space where there are no mistakes, where they have a time in their day where they are not being explicitly or implicitly corrected, criticized or told they are making mistakes. it’s so important and central in my work with kids that they experience a space of no mistakes, so it’s so important that I provide such a space for them to experience that freedom from “mistakes”.
JC also reminds us that the NMSPS youth outreach effort does include young adult and teen poetry interest including slam and other competitions. “What I do like about the slam environment is that the poets are primarily there to lift each other up.”
“Poetry humbles me,” JC says, adding that, now that reduced covid restrictions have made travel more accessible, she looks forward to joining and contributing to “the fiery, magnetic New Mexico literary and art community”. n