Sarah McCartt-Jackson is a Kentucky poet, folklorist and educator who has received an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and has served as artist-in-residence for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Shotpouch Cabin at Oregon State University. She is the author of four poetry collections: “Stonelight”, “Calf Canyon”, “Vein of Stone” and “Children Born on the Wrong Side of the River”. She has taught creative writing at all ages and levels, from elementary school students to high school and college. She leads writing workshops throughout Kentucky and specializes in motivating students of all abilities who wish to write. Through poetry and teaching, she aims to inspire people of all ages to connect, reflect, meditate and take action for the future of all our ecosystems from fern to fiddler. Her artist residencies promote greater understanding and deep connections through poetry and creative writing.
Potential Residency Project
Students learn about different types of ways to tell stories, through poetry and fiction, while creating a classroom storybook that combines different types of creative writing with one piece from each student. The residency culminates in students sharing their work aloud with others.
Residency Length: Four weeks (20 days)
Appropriate Grades: second grade through high school
Individual Student Poetry Book
Students learn about different forms and types of poetry while creating a poetry book. Students present their work in a culminating reading for the whole classroom, grade or school.
Residency Length: From five days to 20 days (one to four weeks)
Appropriate Grades: Second grade through high school
- Creating (developing new artistic ideas and works)
- Performing/Producing/Presenting (reading their work)
- Responding (understanding and evaluating how writing conveys meaning)
- Connecting (relating artistic ideas and work with personal meaning and external context)
To encourage students’ participation in the creative process, my workshops are designed so that each student creates individual works. Depending on the type of workshop or residency, this could become part of a booklet created by each individual student or several pieces contributed to a classroom project book.
Sometimes students, especially those in middle school and high school, can be intimidated by poetry. My workshops are designed to encourage play in our writing. Regardless of age or ability level, I begin workshops by creating a welcoming, safe environment through different exercises. Some strategies I use to engage students in the creative process include freewriting, group/collaborative writing, group storytelling, collaborative reading, sharing out through mini-readings and formal readings, and peer encouragement and feedback.
During the residency, I encourage teachers to be part of the classroom and write and share alongside their students. As the artist-in-residence, I do the same, so I can model writing behavior and illustrate willingness to be vulnerable (especially with older students), word and sound play, and drafting processes. Ideally, the teacher participates with the students to model these creative processes, as well.