PEN in the Community (PITC) brings professional writers into underserved schools and communities in two ways: through our Writer in Residence program and through our Guest Speaker program.
The PITC Writer in Residence program is a generative writing workshop that takes place in a classroom, community center, nonprofit organization, shelter, or reservation over the course of 6 to 12 weeks. Written work collected during the residency is published by PEN Center USA in PITC anthologies, which are windows into participants’ lives—their struggles, hopes, and experiences. PITC teaching artists are selected from PEN Center USA’s diverse membership to best match the needs of the community where they will teach. An interested writer may also apply to become a PITC teaching artist and subsequently become a PEN Center USA member. All PITC teaching artists must also be PEN Center USA members.
In preparation for a PITC Writer in Residence program, PITC teaching artists, teachers and community leaders attend a day of training at the PEN Center USA office. Then, in collaboration with the teacher or community leader, the PITC teaching artist develops a PITC CURRICULUM, with the goal of helping the participants complete a solid body of creative writing work. Throughout the semester, the PITC program coordinator makes visits to each school or community center and communicates with all PITC teaching artists, teachers and community leaders on a weekly basis.
The program culminates with the publication of an anthology of participant work, and a public reading for all participating schools and communities in December and May.
The PITC Guest Speaker program connects professional writers to schools and communities for a one-time visit to talk to students and community members personally about the life of a writer, answer questions, and read from their work. Visits can be in person or via Skype.
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PITC teaching artists collaborate closely with partner schools and community sites to develop a tailored curriculum that meets the needs of the participants. For schools, the program begins with a 1-2 day summer professional development session focused on integrating creative writing into core curriculum.
At schools, the program consists of 12 workshops taught over 12 weeks by the PITC teaching artist. 6-9 of the workshops will be taught in the host teacher’s classroom, with the remaining 3-6 workshops by the teaching artist held in other teachers’ classrooms at the school.
At community sites, the program consists of 6-12 workshops designed to meet the needs of community members. Often, these residencies can be an opportunity for participants to rediscover writing as a tool for growth, healing, self-expression and communication.
Participant work at schools and community sites is collected by the PITC teaching artist throughout the residency and published by PEN Center USA in an anthology that combines work from all sites, one in fall and one in spring. The anthology is presented at a final public reading for all participating schools and communities. The fall reading will be in December; the spring reading will be in May.
Both our PITC Writer in Residence program and our Guest Speaker program are offered free of charge.
PITC teaching artists sit down with the host teacher or community site leader at the beginning of the residency to create a schedule that works best. Classes usually last one to two hours. Fall classes end two weeks or more before the final reading date in December; spring classes end two weeks or more before the final reading date in May.
If you are a teacher and would like to request a PITC Writer in Residence for 2016-17, please fill out a SCHOOL RESIDENCY REQUEST FORM.
If you work at a non-profit or community center and would like to request a PITC Writer in Residence for 2016-17, please fill out a COMMUNITY SITE RESIDENCY REQUEST FORM.
If you are a writer and would like to apply to become a PITC writing residency teaching artist for spring of 2016, please fill out a TEACHING ARTIST APPLICATION.
For schools or sites that don’t have the capacity to host a 12-week residency but would like to have a professional writer talk to students and community members, PITC’s volunteer Guest Speakers will arrange a one-time visit. The chance to meet a writer in person can be thrilling, and also life-changing for students and other people who have never had the opportunity to think of writing as a possible path in life.
Though most of our participating writers live in Los Angeles, schools and community sites outside of L.A. can still participate via Skype. If you are a teacher or community site leader and would like to request a PITC guest speaker, please email Program Manager Ellie Herman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a writer and would like to volunteer to become a PITC guest speaker, please fill out a GUEST SPEAKER APPLICATION.
At this time, all PITC writing residencies are paid for by PEN Center USA.
PEN Center USA is generously supported by the Herb Alpert Foundation, California Community Foundation, City of Los Angeles – Department of Cultural Affairs, The James Irvine Foundation, Kayne Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, UCLA Extension Writers Program, and Jamie Rosenthal Wolf & David Wolf.