Guest Post

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Azalea City Center for the Arts

Azalea City Center for the Arts (ACCA) will have its grand opening on August 25th from 5 - 8 p.m.

Christopher Paragone, Executive Director of the new center, is no stranger to Mobile’s arts community. As owner and director of Sunnyside Theater, Chris brought exciting new stage productions and innovative theater to the Mobile area. Thanks to his foresight, parents can now enroll their children and themselves in a variety of arts classes under one roof! If you've been playing the running-between-activities game, this is your opportunity to catch your breath, even take a class yourself.

Registration is now open for all of the wonderful classes in drama/theater, voice, piano/instruments, photography, art, and creative writing (that's me). Those who attend and register for a class at the Grand Opening receive a free tee-shirt.  Go to to view all the fall classes.  See you at the grand opening festivities.

My writing classes are for adults, children, and teens. The classes are for those who love to write, those who hate to write, and those who want to improve their writing. Below is a brief outline of each. Classes last are $45 a month unless marked differently. Monday/Wednesday classes are limited to 10 students each and last one hour.

Imagination Writing     3rd - 5th grades     Mon. - 3:30

Imagination Writing     6th - 8th grades     Mon. - 4:45
I Lost My Noun!          9th - 12th grades   Mon. - 6:00

I Hate Writing!            3rd - 5th grades     Wed. - 3:30
I Hate Writing!            6th - 8th grades      Wed. - 4:45
Jet Pets                        9th - 12th grades    Wed. - 6:00

Adult Creative Writing   Fri. - 12:00    (brown bag: 45 minutes)

ACT/SAT Bootcamp       9th - 12th grades  Sat. 10:00 - 12:00    $70 per month

Creative Writing for Adults (18+) Sat. 1:00 - 3:00     $70 per month This is the first in a series.

Imagination Writing:     Classes foster the healthy use of imagination through both independent and collaborative writing projects. The program incorporates the parts of speech in a fun way, assisting participants to improve written schoolwork, enhance reading comprehension, understand sentence structure, and build vocabulary in a relaxed environment. The curriculum includes creative activities specific to the grade levels. Speed is not the goal. Having fun with words is!

I Hate Writing!     Through word games and collaborative writing projects, this class explores writing as it relates to the creation of animated movies, television, and games. Children participate in hands-on activities, discovering their potential to express themselves through the written word. In a safe environment—where innovation fosters a love of learning—children build their writing skills.

I Lost My Noun!     This class is for students who want to strengthen their writing skills and improve their grades at school (not just in English.) An emphasis on the importance of good writing skills in relationship to their high school experience and future careers is the focus. Activities build the skills needed for the ACT/SAT exams. In a no-pressure environment, they work both independently and in collaborative projects to have fun with words and explore the possibilities.

Jet Pets:      If passing English and writing classes is a struggle for your child, they will enjoy mastering a few techniques to make life easier. If they love writing and breeze through English and writing classes, they will have a ton of fun stretching their creativity to write on the subjects of their choice. The class focuses on how to write a cohesive piece of creative fiction and a short piece of non-fiction.

ACT/SAT Boot Camp:      Prepares students to take the writing and reading comprehension portions of the ACT and SAT tests. Differences between the two tests are addressed. Emphasis is on specific styles of writing. Realistic test questions are part of the curriculum. Feedback on writing skills is designed to build the student’s confidence. 9th and 10th graders benefit by improving their written schoolwork in addition to early preparation for the ACT and SAT exams.

Adult Classes:     (age 18 & up) To learn the craft of writing, one needs to do two things frequently: read and write. Just as artists and musicians learn their craft by studying the work of the masters, accomplished writers do the same. This series of creative writing classes begins with a look at the genres of fiction and the conventions that define them. Students will read a mix of classic and contemporary work, including short stories and begin to identify characterization, point of view, setting, and plot. Writing exercises will include a few surprises. Beginners are welcome.  Textbook: Creating Fiction: Edited by Julie Checkoway, 1st Edition

Please contact me with any questions. I welcome your comments.        Mahala

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Visions of Writing

Don’t you just love those aha moments? I had one yesterday while talking with another writer. She asked what I envisioned for the children in my creative writing classes. I didn’t have a definitive one-liner to share with her. I rambled about my ideas for them, my passion to help them find their way in a complex world; her face glazed over. She wanted a succinct answer, and I gave her a jumble of what we had already discussed.

Her question stayed with me as I drove home. I help businesses develop their visions and missions and goals. I have a tagline for Written Word – my editing/writing/teaching business. Why couldn’t I translate my goals for the children into a succinct statement?

I’m the writing instructor for the new Azalea City Center for the Arts scheduled to open in August where a plethora of creative instructors will teach children dramatic arts, dance, voice, instruments, photography, art, and, of course, writing. I have lessons outlined and creative activities planned. Why couldn’t I summarize my own vision?

Then, my writing angel (haven’t talked about her in this blog in quite a while) flew into action, and my aha moment came. My vision for the children is the same as my tagline for the adult writers and businesses that I assist.

I want them to have a competitive edge!

My vision is to help them succeed in school, in life, in liking themselves. Like so many of my clients, when someone asked me what my vision was, I froze. Thankfully, my writing angel helped to get back on track.

May your angels visit you often,

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sue Brennan Walker, Poet Laureate of Alabama

We are honored to have Dr. Sue B. Walker as our guest today. Dr. Walker is the Poet Laureate of Alabama and professor at the University of South Alabama. Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for her poetry publication, Blood Will Bear Your Name, Dr. Walker is not only an outstanding poet but a strong supporter of writers and poets. She frequently hosts readings and promotional opportunities for poets. Her publishing house, Negative Capability Press, continues to produce exceptional works. 

Today, Dr. Walker discusses the advantages of taking a writing class and what's new in poetry.

Poetry Writing As A Class Act

Hemingway once said all he wanted was to “write one true sentence.” For poets, that would be “one true line” or poem. Let me address two things related to writing poetry: 1) Why take a writing class? and 2) What’s new in poetry?
If I am to grow as a writer, I must move beyond what I know how to do. Alice asked the Cheshire cat: “How do I there from here?” He replied: “It depends on where you want to get to, my dear.” A writing class introduces new ideas and provides individual feedback from several people who are also writers in response to a certain set syllabus.

Many writers belong to critique groups in which members respond to each other’s work and make valuable comments on how a manuscript might be improved. The writers benefit from the other members’ suggestions. So the question is: “why take a class?”

A class offers a particular focus that does not ordinarily apply to a critique group. Let’s say I offer a class on Prose Poetry. For example, we’ll read Ezra Pound’s “Retrospective.” We’ll read prose poems by Rimbaud and Baudelaire and begin our class on prose poetry by writing haiku. Everyone is doing the same assignment, so we discuss process as we move from writing haiku to using the images in the poems we just wrote to compose a prose poem. We discuss our work in relation articles we read. Thus, there is a progression that differs from what is offered in critique groups.

What’s new in poetry? Are you familiar with the prose poem? Oulipo? A seriocomic poem? The verse novel? Who is Harryette Mullen? Jim Morrison? Selah Saterstrom? A class provides a syllabus and a context within which each person’s writing can evolve in new and exciting ways.

Dr. Sue B. Walker

Friday, July 6, 2012

June MAC Contest Winner

Congratulations to Gisele Sara Cesar, June’s winner of the MAC Contest. Gisele is a high school senior and Christian writer from Northport, New York and the first young adult winner. Her poem aptly incorporated the two required words love and grow.

Morning Thunder

I cracked with fury over your ignorance
The most petrifying explosion ignited your fears
Sent three rippling echoes through your burdening memory
You fear me as if I remind you of your weakness instead of your strength
Perhaps I am your Shepard, leading you through the valley of darkness
Shaking you with morning thunder, awakening your heavy heart

Consider goodness in the eye of my storm
For when you look up you see rain and fear me
but when I look up I see Heaven and love you
Search for clarity in my cries
Lift your head to the sun
Feel solace on your face

Not as much furious but empathetic and apologetic
Not as much a menace but your guardian angel
Love me and in return I will grow circles gardens around your head
I feed upon your morning prayers to break my fast
I meditate upon your worries and requests to stay afloat in the clouds
You remind me of the key to unlock the golden gates above me
The prayers spoken from your lips are my passage
In return I will be your protector, your watchful wingman

All I ask is that you do not coward away from stormy skies
Rather kneel at the base of my booming tornado
Pray up the column of clouds extending downward to you
Extending my hand to you, extending my comfort to you

Good morning faithful servant of God
I promise to carry you to Him upon my lofty hovering cloud
Promise to never let you fall into doubt, worry or worse yet- Fear.