Writers for Readers 2019: UMKC grad students teach creative writing to community with help of Kansas City Public Library

Kara Walters

For the past five years, Writers for Readers has been a program put on by UMKC’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, in collaboration with Literacy KC. The program gives grad students real world experience teaching writing to teens and adults.

This year, the program has a new collaborator: the Kansas City Public Library.

Creative writing professor and author Whitney Terrell says students will be teaching creative writing at the Kansas City Public Library for underserved populations. He says they will also be working with the library to help develop a new book festival and book/literary award for the city.

MFA candidate Chris Arnone feels strongly about the annual Writers for Readers events. 

“Writers for Readers is such an important event,” Arnone said. “Not only does it provide a wonderful service to the Kansas City Public Library, but it provides funding for MFA students in the English department.”

The program’s annual fundraising event will take place Nov. 13 to raise money for students and scholarships that allow students to participate in the program. Terrell says students will also be able to continue teaching at Literacy KC with the help of a separate grant.

“Our MFA program is so great,” said Arnone. “And it has also been deeply affected by budget cuts and underfunding. It would be so much harder for students to take part in the program without Writers for Readers [fundraising events].” 

Beyond giving the students the funding they need to succeed and going through the process of building a literary festival and book award, Terrell says a goal of the event is “to publicize the importance of the Kansas City Public Library in the Kansas City community and how important our partnership has been with them.”

At Writers for Readers 2019, event goers can expect a fun night, including dinner and complimentary drinks. 

Academy Award-winning screenwriter and University of Kansas Professor Kevin Willmott will talk about his work on the film “BlacKkKlansman,” as well as his experience working with Spike Lee, the director and co-screenwriter of the film. Director, screenwriter and UMKC Associate Teaching Professor Mitch Brian, along with Terrell, will join him in that discussion.

Notable co-chairs for the event, co-presented by Kansas City Public Library, UMKC’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and the Friends of the Kansas City Public Library, include Peter Browne, Julie Walker-Browne, Marilou Joyner and Jeannette Nichols.

Writers for Readers 2019 will take place at the UMKC Student Union–Room 401, 5100 Cherry Street on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Tickets are sold out. 

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