In an effort to promote creative writing, literature, and literacy in multiple forms to various audiences—local, regional and national—we have created a number of special projects and have answered the call to partner with campus and community organizations and businesses. Many of these projects, while advised by faculty, are produced (curated, edited, organized, designed and hosted) by the collaborative efforts of our graduate students.
Each installment of United We Read features readings of original creative work by a faculty member and three graduate creative writing students. Held four to five times per year in various bookstores, bars, and cafés across Milwaukee, and open to the community, UWR offers audiences an array of literary genres, from poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to visual and interactive texts. The popular reading series is occasionally themed with titles such as “The Haunting,” near Halloween, or “After the Love,” near Valentine’s Day, and showcases diverse voices from our talented faculty and students.
In partnership with other UWM campus units, such as the Union’s Socio-cultural Programming and the Inclusive Excellence Center, we offer volunteer opportunities for graduate students to facilitate creative writing workshops open to all UWM students, faculty, and staff. The workshops may be linked to other special events on campus or to the University’s focus for the academic year. For example, in conjunction with the 2014-2015 Year of the Humanities, the workshop series “In Memoriam: Maya Angelou” asks facilitators to develop their own curriculum using Angelou’s work and life as a springboard for discussion and inspiration to create original work of any written form. Workshop participants share finished work at a culminating special edition of UWM’s Lyrical Sanctuary Open Mic & Performance Series.
Think While You Drink: The Literary Circular
The Literary Circular is a celebration of flash fiction and prose poetry composed by graduate creative writing students at UWM. Each semester, six to seven entries of one hundred words or less are printed on the sleeves wrapped around coffee cups in the Grind Coffeehouses at the Student Union and UWM Library. Hundreds of these prose nuggets are distributed at each location, offering the treat of delicious prose with a savory beverage. One’s palate may never be the same.
Eat Local :: Read Local
Through Eat Local::Read Local, UWM bridges the gap between more than 25 local restaurants and local writers in order to connect with the wider community through poetry. Printed poem cards are distributed to Milwaukee and Madison area restaurants, such as Bacchus, Café Hollander, Harvest, La Merenda, The Nitty Gritty, Odd Duck, Palomino, and Sala, which then pass them out to diners throughout April (National Poetry Month). Poem-prompt cards also encourage diners to participate further by writing their own words in response to their meals. In addition, the program hosts readings in Milwaukee and Madison during April to celebrate contributors’ work over shared food and drinks.
Poetry Everywhere is a collection of 34 animated poetry films created by students working with docUWM, a documentary media center at UWM, and our Creative Writing program, in association with the Poetry Foundation. The short videos, including the work of contemporary poets nationwide, feature a wide variety of poetic and visual aesthetics. The project was originally conceived by Creative Writing Professor Liam Callanan who sought a space for poetry on Milwaukee city buses. Through TransitTV, the Milwaukee Public Transit system aired the Poetry Everywhere films, which also appeared on other transit systems and public television stations throughout the nation. They are currently available at PBS.org.