Power of Words 2015

Jimmy Santiago BacaJoin us September 18-20, 2015 at Unity Village in Kansas City, MO for our 12th Power of Words Conference: Transformation, Liberation & Celebration Through the Spoken, Written and Sung Word, with workshops, performances, talking circles, celebration and more, featuring writers, storytellers, performers, musicians, community leaders, activists, educators, and health professionals. The conference, founded in 2003, features workshops in four tracks: narrative medicine, social change, right livelihood (and making a living through the arts), ecological literacy, and engaged spirituality.

Gloria_Graham_Jimmy_Santiago_Baca “How can one diminish the power of words and what they have done to me? They’ve changed my life, taught me to love, described what deep learning is, opened my eyes, shaped my speech, all bound together and much more to give me an amazing life, and this conference swells with that importance. It’s the epiphany and epicenter of using language to learn to love ourselves and others.” — Jimmy Santiago Baca

Keynoters

Jimmy Santiago Baca, born in New Mexico of Native American and Mexican descent, went from being a teenage runaway and inmate at a maximum security prison to one of America’s most beloved poets. His books include poetry collections, prose, and an award-winning memoir, A Place to Stand, which was also the basis for a new film of the same title. Baca has devoted his post-prison life to teaching others who are overcoming hardship, and writing about barrios, addiction, injustice, education, community, love and beyond. He has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in prisons, community centers, libraries, and universities throughout the country, and in 2005, founded Cedar Tree, Inc. to bring education and encouragement to people of many backgrounds.

Sha Cage, E.G. Bailey and family

Sha Cage, E.G. Bailey and family

Sha Cage is an interdisciplinary artist, actress, playwright, poet, director, filmmaker, producer, and visual artist. She is co-founder, artistic and managing director of MaMa mOsAiC, a woman of color performance collective, and she has been featured in many plays and performances, including with Penumbra Theatre, Pangea World Theatre, and Theare De la Jeune Lune. She is development director of Tru Ruts Endeavors, and the Minnesota SpokenWord Association, which she co-founded with her husband, E.G. Bailey.

E.G. Bailey is a Liberian-born multidisciplinary artist, actor, spoken word artist, filmmaker, playwright, director, and producer. Since ’95, he has co-founded and co-produced Write On RaDio!, an award-winning weekly literary radio program on KFAI Fresh Air Radio, and Arkology, an award-winning spoken word and music collective. His album American Afrikan was recently nominated for an Independent Music Award, and he is executive director of the Minnesota Spoken Word Association, which he co-founded with his wife, Sha Cage.

MADIBA  [Muh•Dee•Buh]: This uniquely innovative performance duet has auspiciously adopted the South African leader, Nelson Mandela’s widely known nickname. E.G. Bailey and Shá Cage respectively from Liberia and Mississippi represent the diasporic legacy of continent of Africa and the American South. Theirs is a performance collaboration blending and bending words, layered voices, and cacophonous rhythms reminiscent of Sekou Sundiata mixed with Jessica Care Moore.

Darren CandyDarren Canady’s work has been seen at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, the Alliance Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Fremont Centre Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, the BE Company, American Blues Theater and Kansas City’s own Barn Theater. Darren is an alum of Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, and the Juilliard School. He is a former member of Primary Stages’ Dorothy Strelsin New Writers Group, the T.S. Eliot US/UK Exchange, and the America-In-Play theatre collective. He currently teaches playwriting at the University of Kansas.

Xanath Caraza PoetaXánath Caraza is a traveler, educator, poet and short story writer. Her many awards include the International Latino Book Award, and she is a member of the Con Tinta literary organization and Latino Writers Collection in Kansas City. Born in Mexico of Spanish and Aztec descent, she teaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in between writing, and presenting workshops and readings in Europe, Latin American, and the U.S.

Gloria_Graham_Jimmy_Santiago_BacaPRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS & EVENTS:

P1. Rewrite Until You Hit The Motherlode – Jimmy Santiago Baca: Jimmy will lead participants through a process of rewriting poetry and prose until we bring the best version of the writing to the surface. Using rewriting and other prompts, feedback on one another’s work, and reading what we’re writing and revising out loud, participants will seek out the motherlode of a piece of writing’s full potential.

Jimmy Santiago Baca, born in New Mexico of Native American and Mexican descent, went from being a teenage runaway and inmate at a maximum security prison to one of America’s most beloved poets. His books include poetry collections, prose, and an award-winning memoir, A Place to Stand, which was also the basis for a new film of the same title. Baca has devoted his post-prison life to teaching others who are overcoming hardship, and writing about barrios, addiction, injustice, education, community, love and beyond. He has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in prisons, community centers, libraries, and universities throughout the country, and in 2005, founded Cedar Tree, Inc. to bring education and encouragement to people of many backgrounds.

kelly_new_head-copyP2. In Praise of Who & What We Love – The Power of Writing & “Playing Back” Poems of Affirmation — Kelly DuMar: Praise is a life enhancing currency enriching both givers and receivers. Expressing gratitude uplifts our spirits, and receiving positive feedback helps us acknowledge unclaimed gifts. From creative writing prompts, we’ll generate poems of praise, then spontaneously illuminate the truth & beauty of the poems by presenting them using Playback Theatre. (Experiential/ 120 min./ Engaged Spirituality, Narrative Medicine)

Kelly DuMar, M.Ed. is a poet, playwright and workshop facilitator whose chapbook “All These Cures,” won the 2014 Lit House Press poetry contest. Kelly’s poems have been published in many literary journals, and her award winning plays have been produced around the US. She produces the Our  Voices Festival of Women Playwrights & Poets, held at Wellesley College, now in its 9th year. Kelly’s certification in psychodrama and passion for Playback Theatre inspire her creative writing workshops with transformative energy. Her website it kellydumar.com

Thandiwe Shiphrah (front) presenting a collaborative performance at a previous Power of Words conference

Thandiwe Shiphrah (front) presenting a collaborative performance at a previous Power of Words conference

P3. Ringing True: Cultivating Joy and Gathering Courage – Thandiwe Shiphrah: In this collage of creative ideas and strategies, Thandiwe creates a compelling visual and auditory environment where poems, fables, and a few bells and whistles reveal how a love of language enabled her to express herself artistically, serve her community, and sustain a career in the arts for more than two decades. Her pre-conference workshop will immerse participants in a visually interesting interactive listening and writing experience so that participants can explore their curiosities and harness the creative power of the written and spoken word. Participants can then participate with her (their choice) in a short performance Fri. evening at the conference opening. (Performance, with an installation / 45 Minutes / Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories, Right Livelihood, Social Activism)

Thandiwe Shiphrah is a multidisciplinary artist, an independent curator of community arts programs, and a writer and producer of performance events. For the past 25 years, she has been passionately exploring the link between the arts, personal life enrichment, and healthy community development, with a focus on cross-cultural communication and social inclusion of marginalized groups. Her poetry and mixed-media art have appeared in numerous journals, anthologies, and magazines. For more information, watch this video of Thandiwe.

Darren CandyP4. Playing for Change: The Active Reveal — Darren Canady: In his speech to his players, Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet tells them the purpose of theatre is “to hold as ’twere the mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.” Even four centuries ago, Shakespeare understood that drama must respond to its place and time with arresting images that can’t be ignored. In this workshop, we’ll work through some basic exercises that not only explore the fundamentals of dramatic structure, but how modern theatrical practice can continue to “hold up the mirror.” (Informational, Experiential/ 120 min./ Social Activism)

Darren Canady’s work has been seen at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, the Alliance Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Fremont Centre Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, the BE Company, American Blues Theater and Kansas City’s own Barn Theater. Darren is an alum of Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, and the Juilliard School. He is a former member of Primary Stages’ Dorothy Strelsin New Writers Group, the T.S. Eliot US/UK Exchange, and the America-In-Play theatre collective. He currently teaches playwriting at the University of Kansas. See an interview with him here.

10262024_10152397904407645_549634693429981165_nP5.Write From the Earth – Ken Lassman and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg: We all live somewhere, but how much do we know about and interact with our most local earth and sky? By embracing a bioregional approach — recognizing that our work, community, lives, and spirit are grounded in understanding our place as part of the web of life – we can learn how to tap into the local genius of place, and from that experience, garner greater direction, orientation, strength, and courage. Come discuss and experience – through walking and writing on some of the Unity Village trails – how writing can deepen our relationship to place, local habitats, and the life force. Participants will receive tools and inspirations to incorporate into their teaching, facilitation, counseling, activism and everyday practices. (Experiential / 90 min / Ecological Literacy)

Ken Lassman is author of Wild Douglas County as well as the weekly Kaw Valley Almanac, a guide to seasons and cycles in Kansas. He has been involved in a host of bioregional and other ecological organizations over the years, and helped found the bioregional movement locally and continentally. An occupational therapist, and director of Habilitation Services at Kansas Neurological Institution, he also leads frequent nature and star walks. Ken’s passions include walking and hiking through prairie and woodlands.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, author of 19 books (including poetry, fiction, memoir, and anthologies), and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches. She has been facilitating community writing workshops throughout the U.S. and elsewhere for over 20 years, and she has been one of the founders and organizers of the continental and local bioregional movement. With singer-songwriter Kelley Hunt, she offers Brave Voice writing and singing retreats and performances.

Xanath Caraza PoetaP6. Writing Is as Necessary as the Air I Breathe: Writing with Intention: In this workshop, we will explore how writing is meaningful to each of us.  For each participant, we will work with free verse poetry and stream of consciousness as a way to connect with important topics.  We will address how to edit and make our poems tridimensional. Finally, we will practice how to read our poems with intention in order to honor our individual creations. (Experiential/ 120 min./ Healing Stories, Engaged Spirituality)

Xánath Caraza is a traveler, educator, poet and short story writer. Her many awards include the International Latino Book Award, and she is a member of the Con Tinta literary organization and Latino Writers Collection in Kansas City. Born in Mexico of Spanish and Aztec descent, she teaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in between writing, and presenting workshops and readings in Europe, Latin American, and the U.S.

CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS:

1A. The Healing Poadam and alleewer of “Role” – Adam Blatner and Allee Blatner: The word “role” is particularly useful because it evokes the dynamism of the pretend play of childhood, the power of dramatic enactment, and the possibility of creative explorations and change. We can become more conscious of the roles we play in our lives. As we begin to name those roles we can refine them to create better relationships. Inherent in play is a potential for healing. Participants will be guided in exercises using this user-friendly language to examine and explore interpersonal relationships in order to develop greater flexibility. Anyone who works with groups will be able to bring the techniques learned in this workshop to a wider audience. (Experiential / 90 min / Narrative Medicine, Healing Stories).

Adam & Allee Blatner co-authored a book on role playing and have presented workshops nationally and internationally for over 30 years. Adam is Board Certified in both Psychiatry and Psychodrama, and is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Texas A&M Health Sciences Center in Round Rock. Allee is extensively trained in psychodrama and together they currently teach “Action Explorations” to medical students. Watch Adam’s “Potential of Sociodrama” here.

1B. PathJudithcolorways and Portals: Into the Light Using Poetry – Judith Goedeke: Come for the sheer joy of finding yourself where you least expect! Through transformative poems we will explore our inner landscapes privately and in community. Along the way, we may toss overboard anything in the way of progress, and align ourselves more closely with what is truthful, unshakeable and gorgeous. This process benefits everyone who wants to delight more in the miracle of life, revel more in its exquisite beauty, and avoid unnecessary suffering. It also benefits artists who wish to expand their repertoire of techniques that help access deep insights for themselves and their readers/listeners. (Experiential, Informational/ 90 Minutes / Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories, Engaged Spirituality)

Judith Goedeke: From a deep desire for all of us to transform suffering into strength, Judith has conducted monthly poetry gatherings in secular and spiritual communities since June, 2010. Judith is a poet, seeker, former teacher and acupuncturist who believes that love prevails and healing is real. Her work appears in TLA’s Chrysalis, and in international journals and anthologies. River of Silver Sky is her first book. She fervently hopes all of it will do some good. (Photo credit to Barbara Maloney)

kelly1C. Finding Your Inspiration Through Artistic Channeling – Kelly Hams Pearson and Sharon Gibson: All art is conversation, a dialogue or discussion between and with the artist, the particular medium/work of art and/or the audience. In this workshop the presenters will encourage and assist participants in holding those conversations with their artistic muses, a practice that will allow them to unleash their artistic inspiration and take their creativity to new heights. This relaxed, experimental workshop will benefit artists of all genres and backgrounds. It is especially useful for those who find themselves stuck, burned out or questioning their talent and/or potential. Anyone with an open mind and willing heart is encouraged to attend. (Informational, Performance / 90 Minutes / Social Activism)

Kelly Hams Pearson is a director with the Kansas City area Circuit Court system and is committed to children, youth and family issues. She works, writes and performs in the genres of poetry, creative non-fiction and experimental theater. The winner of several national writing fellowships, her most recent theatrical work was staged at the St Louis Women in the Arts Conference, the Kansas City Fringe Festival and ArtsTech/MyArts of Greater Kansas City. Her poetry and essays have appeared in the Crucible Journal of Creative Writing, Origami, The Black Chronicle and Splendid Table.

IMG_0130 (1)Sharon Gibson retired to her first love, poetry, after completing a Master’s in Business and management career. Her poems appeared in Seasons To Come, Write­On, and Grist. They earned honorable mention in several contests and placed first in a Missouri State Poetry Society contest. The recently published anthology, Melange a Trois features her work. Sharon was thrilled to work with Kelly to develop and perform “Gertrude Stein and June Jordan: Conversations Across Time, Culture, and Place.” She believes the experience opened new doors for her writing and wants to open those doors with you in your chosen field.

mia susan amir1D. Transmissions: Bodies/Echoes/Ash: An Audience-Engaged Grief Ritual and Workshop on Improvisation as a Creative and Political Tool — mia susan amir and Freddy Guiterrez: The first third of this offering features a performative, audience-engaged grief ritual by mia susan amir. This interdisciplinary work combines narrative, embodiment, set interaction, and projection, performed to an original score. This work is an exploration of the condition of “Dybbuk Consciousness,” or the ways we can become haunted individually, collectively, culturally, and politically when our narratives go untold; when there is no place for grief to live. This work experiments with the curative potential that exists in the act of coming into contact with the intersections of the stories that make us. The second two thirds of this offering, features an interactive workshop led by amir and Freddy Gutierrez. Through facilitated discussion, writing prompts, and embodiment, we explore and build fluency in improvisation — or the act of deep listening — as a creative and political tool, urgently relevant to the work of responding to grief, on the systemic, community, and interpersonal scales.

mia susan amir was born in Israel/Occupied Palestine, and currently lives between Vancouver, BC, Coast Salish Territories, and Oakland, CA, Ohlone Territories. She is a writer, educator, and interdisciplinary performer who has used creative practice in grassroots efforts towards environmental, social, and cultural justice for 17 years. She is the Creative Director of The Story We Be, a Vancouver-based community writing institute, which offers intergenerational writing and performance intensives for transformative change and collective healing. mia also teaches creative writing at Langara College. mia received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Mills College. She is currently working on a memoir entitled A Memory of Sand and Silence. Her work has been published on Digging Through the Fat, and Lemonhound, and she has performed across Canada and the United States.

Freddy GutierrezFreddy Gutierrez, (MFA 15′, Mills College), vato de aquellos, facilitates writing and performance arts spaces with men and youth who are policed, imprisoned, and marginalized by the prison-industrial complex. The bulk of his poetic creations have been performative in that the works have gone from the page to the stage and the street. Freddy has read and performed at cultural centers and universities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California, as well as, to support many of the local social protests, rallies, and direct actions for campaigns concerned with immigrant rights, housing and tenant rights, indigenous rights, and the criminalization of youth of color. He’s published poems with California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s LoWriter of the Week, The Acentos Review, and POOR Magazine.

Diane_Silver1E. Re-Envisioning Democracy — Diane Silver: We complain about politics as if it was as uncontrollable as the weather, but even in a flawed democracy, we are not powerless. Based on the theory that we can’t achieve a goal until we can imagine what it looks like and then believe we can reach it, this session leads participants through a series of exercises designed to enable them to envision democracy as they think it should be. Participants will collaborate to create a shared vision of a positive future. The session will end with a guided meditation designed to enable participants to pair positive emotion with their vision for the future. We can’t achieve unless we can first believe. Social activists — particularly those who feel that they are on the edge of burn out or beyond the edge — may benefit the most. (Experiential / 90 min / Social Activism)

Diane Silver, after more than 20 years as a facilitator, believes that if a session isn’t undertaken with love, it isn’t worth doing. Beginning with a workshop on Writing for Healing, Diane has led numerous sessions on topics ranging from the personally transformative to the political nitty gritty. She has spoken at progressive churches and taught writing at two universities. In her political life, she has agitated for LGBTQI-rights, served as communications director for a candidate for Congress, and consulted with the Kansas Democratic Party. Her current book-in-progress is entitled The Joyful Heretic: How to Reconcile Rejecting God With Living a Spiritual Life.

laura packer2A. Storying Our Grief: the Transformative Power of Loss – Laura Packer: Loss is part of the human condition; grieving loss is essential for healing but we lack cultural guidelines for how to grieve and others are often uncomfortable with our grief. This experiential workshop uses storytelling and writing to understand and express grief in ways that will help us and others. This workshop is appropriate for all who have lost something vital in their lives and want to understand that loss through writing and symbolic language. Participants will leave with tools to help themselves and others understand the value of transformative grieving.”

Laura Packer knows the best way to the truth is through a good story. She is the winner of the 2010 National Storytelling Network Oracle Award and the 2012 League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling Brother Blue Award. Laura has used the transformative power of writing and story to help her heal from the 2014 death of her husband. She has taught and performed around the world. Please refer to http://truestorieshonestlies.blogspot.com/search/label/grief for some of her writing on grief.

maria2B. Making Mandala Magic: Transformation & Healing from the Inside Out – Maria V. Johnson: This experiential exploration of the power of mandala making begins with Maria briefly introducing the form and sharing her own experience of the process. She’ll then lead participants in hands-on exercises and safe sharing in the group. Quickly quieting the mind, opening subconscious intuitive creative channels, & promoting relaxation, focus, integration, creative flow, and spiritual oneness, mandala making provides an effective antidote to anxiety and a necessary requisite for healing trauma. (Experiential, Informational / 90 Minutes / Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories, Engaged Spirituality)

Maria V. Johnson is a musician, writer, mixed media artist, interdisciplinary scholar, dedicated yogini, and professor in the school of music at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Maria has performed in Kirtans and facilitated/participated in various art-music-yoga workshops at academic conferences and community yoga studios. She has had several showings of her art, and her mandalas were featured in the 4th Fuller Future Festival art show, “Buckminster Fuller and the Sacred Geometry of Nature.” In spring 2014 she offered a new course on Sound Healing, and is currently developing a course on Healing and the Creative Process

10734111_785221541524697_2696144798684309629_n2C. Thoughts are Things: The Bridge Between Intention & Manifestation – LaVetta Westphal-Rolfs & Verne Brien: Words hold the key to unlocking the sacred space within each of us. If “thoughts are things,” then words are the bridge between intention and manifestation. Utilizing Self Integration, Authentic Movement, and Compassionate Communication, participants will explore their own bridges and inner landscapes through dialogue, movement, and expressive arts. (Experiential, Informational / 90 min /Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories)

10368204_878251702186134_5486215957758816099_n LaVetta Westphal-Rolfs, Learning for Life Center educator, consultant, and visionary, co-facilitates with Verne Brien. They focus their practice and workshop presentations on assisting others to authentically and compassionately discover and deepen understanding and acceptance of themselves and others. Verne’s wit, wisdom, and winning ways work their magic through humor, song, and movement.

J_DelNegro_headshot_2012_02Feb_202D. Women in Folktales: Images and Transformations – Janice M. Del Negro, PhD: Drawing on her experiences as an award-winning storyteller, author, and educator, Del Negro discusses changing images of women in traditional folk and fairy tales and popular media. Del Negro names the nameless in her story retellings, bringing emotional authority to the women at the center of the tales. A combination of lecture, storytelling, group discussion, individual and group activities, and Q & A invites participants from all arenas to discover and reflect on the metaphors, images, and language that shape contemporary folk and fairy tale retellings. (Experiential, Informational, Performance / 90 Minutes / Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories)

Janice M. Del Negro, PhD: is an Associate Professor at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. Her most recent book is _Folktales Aloud: Practical Advice for Playful Storytelling_ (ALA, 2014). Her latest recording is _Fortune’s Daughters: Ghost Tales and Folktales_. An experienced and sought-after presenter, Del Negro has been featured at the Tejas Storytelling Festival, the National Storytelling Network Conference, the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Northlands Storytelling Network Conference, and many other celebratory events.

2E. The Hidden Storytelling Skills: How to Perfect and Teach Them – Doug Lipman: Some narrative skills are thought to be “natural talents,” but can, in fact, be learned and taught. Learn how the “story adjustment sliders” encapsulate the hidden storytelling skills, and how playful, creative exercises based on them can round out your unconscious storytelling skills and help you teach them to others. This knowledge will benefit all writers and storytellers, especially those who wish to teach writing or storytelling, and those who wish to make these forms of creative expression available to all. (Experiential, Informational / 90 min / Social Activism)

Doug Lipman literally “wrote the book” on storytelling coaching. Over nearly four decades, he has continued to develop new understandings of how stories work, how we learn them, and how to help others tell them effectively. His latest book (in process), How to Become a Natural-Born Storyteller, describes concrete ways to develop the full range of skills that “natural” storytellers seem to be born with – but, in fact, have simply learned without being taught.

 

rebecca hom3A. Once Upon A Time in Oregon – Rebecca Hom: The story of a rural Oregon town that stood up to hate; and the Chinese pioneers that may have been responsible for such inclusive attitudes – decades after their deaths. Rebecca explains, “The reason I tell is to promote harmony and understanding. I find that through life stories we find that we are not so different one from another.” She believes that the threads that connect us through sharing our stories can weave strength, can help us resist the differences that would pull us apart. (Informational, Performance / 45 Minutes / Social Activism)

Rebecca Hom has traveled across the US and onto six continents to share, gather and create stories. She was a presenter on the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau series 2010 through 2012 presenting ‘Climbing Gold Mountain: Stories of Chinese pioneers in the West’. The “Once Upon a Time” story was a key piece in this program.  Catch one of her stories here.

3B. Having Opened the Book: Poetry, Movement, Art, Sound and Voice on Grief and Healing – Mary Ladany, Kathleen Kelly, Mary Lindroth: Having Opened the Book utilizes classical and contemporary modes of theater to draw the audience into a charged theatrical space and experience. The script consists of 27 poems that incorporate the voices of a grieving mother, a daughter killed in a tragic accident, and a chorus embodying dream, memory, ancient masters, contemporary poets, and sacred scriptures. This performance gives voice to those who have suffered great loss and are questioning the stubbornness of loss, the persistence of longing as well as the wonder of existence. Having Opened the Book is one mother’s response to the tragic loss of her child. A hybrid performance of poetic conversations it consists of text, spoken word, movement, images, breath and sound. (Performance / 45 Minutes / Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories, Engaged Spirituality)

Kathleen Kelly is a professional actress and acting teacher at Kean University.  She has performed Off-Broadway and regional theatre. She has also taught at Rutgers University, and The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Drama in New York.  She has directed and produced  Off-Broadway. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Rutgers University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wright State University. 

Mary Ladany is a poet, a Writing Specialist and adjunct professor in English at Caldwell University. The cycle of poems that comprise Having Opened the Book are her response to a journal her daughter, Kate, kept from when she was twelve until the year she turned sixteen.

Katie Ladany was a runner, a writer and a teacher of mathematics. She died in 2009 at the age of 23.

Mary Lindroth, Ph.D. is professor of English and Drama at Caldwell University.  For the past year she has been working with Mary Ladany and Kathleen Kelly developing and performing Having the Opened Book for various audiences at venues ranging from Hamilton Stage to Freespace Dance/Yoga Montclair.  When she is not working with Mary and Kathleen or teaching, she is attending as many plays and performances as she can.

Mel Ryane 3C. Teaching Will: What Shakespeare and Ten Kids Gave Me That Hollywood Couldn’t – Mel Ryane: Mel will present an informative and entertaining talk featuring her teaching methods, a reading from her memoir, and inspirational videos of her students in action. They say kids don’t get Shakespeare — but in fact kids wrestle with gigantic Shakespearean themes of power, revenge and love every day in schoolyards across the nation. In her six years volunteering to run the Shakespeare Club at a public elementary school in Los Angeles, Mel developed a pedagogy that teachers and volunteers can use to empower students of any age. Teaching Will entwines the story of Mel’s tumultuous first year of the Shakespeare Club with the personal arc of her acting career. (Performance / 45 min / Social Activism)

Mel Ryane’s memoir, Teaching Will: What Shakespeare and 10 Kids Gave Me That Hollywood Couldn’t, has been called “lively” and “funny” by Publishers Weekly and “a bravura performance” by Kirkus Reviews. Mel became a professional actor during her teens in her native Canada, then followed her career to New York City and to theatres across North America. In addition to her writing, Mel teaches “From Page to Podium: Reading Your Work Aloud,” a workshop that helps writers find their public speaking voice. She also offers school workshops introducing Shakespeare to students. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their dog and cat.

Katthead for Goddard3D. Inter-Acting Globally, Thinking Locally: TLA & Embracing the Unexpected – Katt Lissard: One of the many frames for TLA is using collaborative performance as a tool for social change and community building – even (or especially) when that collaboration happens to be spontaneous! Globalization and our growing connections to people and cultures previously remote or inaccessible, challenges us to look at how what we’re dreaming about and hoping to do might have impact far beyond our own “backyards.” Using the example (via images/video) of The Winter/Summer Institute and its theatre-making around HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, we’ll look at ways an individual or localized initiative might take off in unexpected ways– and examine how your own idea/project/workshop could be the first step for connecting and interacting on a larger, international stage. (Informational, Experiential / 45 min / Social Activism)

Katt Lissard is interim TLA Coordinator at Godddard College, where she teaches in the Individualized Masters Program. She’s artistic director of The Winter/Summer Institute, an HIV/AIDS theatre project based in New York and Lesotho – a country in southern Africa where she’s been teaching and making collaborative theatre since 2005. Her essay, “Venus in Lesotho: Women, Theatre and the Collapsible Boundaries of Silence,” is in Palgrave Macmillan’s recent book Feminist Popular Education in Transnational Debates. Katt is a Mabou Mines Resident Artist.

4A. The Present Tense; The Palpable Word – Penny Weiner and Deborah altus-deborahAltus: This experiential workshop nurtures true communication skills. Activities developed for actor training involve participants in language and “being” in an inescapable and often delightful fashion. Simple techniques enhance awareness and physiologic involvement in the current moment, the participant’s state of being and the words they are speaking or hearing. The goal of this experiential workshop is presence – to be more present in your own life and to experience ways to help others be the same. (Experiential / 90 min / Social Activism)weiner-penny

Penny Weiner is a playwright, director, performer, teacher and theater producer. She’s been teaching at Washburn University (Topeka) Theatre Department since 1990. She has directed over 40 full productions for Washburn as well as theaters in Lawrence and Kansas City. Much of her work is on new play development, adaptation and area premiers. Weiner especially enjoys teaching Acting I, where students work on presence, paying full body attention to the acts of listening, speaking and being.

4B. Your Joy Journal: Memories, Moments and Wordplay – Lyn Ford: Creatively play with words and ideas, and begin a journal that sheds light on personal, joyful truths. Craft a simple keepsake acknowledging the seeds and roots of your joy. Work at playfulness and play with the work of nourishing memories and nurturing imagination. This workshop encourages freeing our minds by playing with words and ideas, in order to model simple, reproducible, experiential writing exercises and activities with possibilities for adaptation and integration. (Experiential/90 Minutes/Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories, Engaged Spirituality)

Lyn Ford is a nationally-recognized storyteller and workshop leader, and a teaching artist with the Greater Columbus (Ohio) Arts Council, the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, the Kennedy Center’s State-Based Collaborative Initiative, and the Thurber House young writers sessions and summer camps. She is the author of two folktale and family story collections: Affrilachian Tales and Beyond the Briar Patch, as well as a set of tautly twisted tales, folktale information and writing exercises: Hot Wind Boiling Rain: Scary Stories for Strong Hearts. Lyn is also a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader.

4C. Gutless & Grateful: Healing Through the Passion for Life – Amy Amy Oestreicher B&W 2006Oestreicher: In this inspirational performance, survivor Amy Oestreicher weaves her near death experience and unique personal story with an eclectic set of songs, highlighting the disappointments, struggles, triumphs, and humor in her life on a musical journey of hope, determination, and perseverance. A celebration of life through creativity, passion, and gratitude, “Gutless” can touch everyone from trauma survivors to anyone needing inspirational words of courage, humor, and healing. Amy will perform her autobiographical one-woman musical (70 min), talk about the healing process of telling her story, and provide tools for others to do the same.

Amy Oestreicher has written, directed, and starred in her one-woman musical autobiography, inspiring theatre-goers at Stage 72, the Triad (nominated for Best Theatre Debut by BroadwayWorld), The Bijou Theatre, Barrington Stage Company, and in a sold out run as part of the United Solo Festival (NYC). Featured on NYC CBS, News 12, her mixed media art has mounted various solo shows of her inspirational mixed media art. She was recently honored as the Great Comebacks Awards Eastern Regional Recipient.

Sha_Cage_EG_Bailey-300x1684D. In Da Tradition – E. G. Bailey and Shá Cage: We will journey on an interactive performance based exploration around the art of performance through spoken word, activism, and storytelling. A combination of writing, discussion, performing, collaboration & play alongside listening sessions. (Performance, Experiential/ 90 min./ Social Activism, Healing Stories)

Sha Cage is an interdisciplinary artist, actress, playwright, poet, director, filmmaker, producer, and visual artist. She is co-founder, artistic and managing director of MaMa mOsAiC, a woman of color performance collective, and she has been featured in many plays and performances, including with Penumbra Theatre, Pangea World Theatre, and Theare De la Jeune Lune. She is development director of Tru Ruts Endeavors, and the Minnesota SpokenWord Association, which she co-founded with her husband, E.G. Bailey.

E.G. Bailey is a Liberian-born multidisciplinary artist, actor, spoken word artist, filmmaker, playwright, director, and producer. Since ’95, he has co-founded and co-produced Write On RaDio!, an award-winning weekly literary radio program on KFAI Fresh Air Radio, and Arkology, an award-winning spoken word and music collective. His album American Afrikan was recently nominated for an Independent Music Award, and he is executive director of the Minnesota Spoken Word Association, which he co-founded with his wife, Sha Cage.

4E. Dear Storyteller, I Have a Story for You – Mike Seliger, Kristin Stegman: Serendipity paired a Midwest high school teacher with a New York Storyteller en route to a storytelling conference. She attended the conference, learned the value of story in all aspects of life., and now assigns her students to write stories to the storyteller, who replies with story-related responses to each student. fostering self awareness and healing. Presentation includes examples, applicable lessons demonstrating need and hunger for story. (Informational / 90 Minutes / Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories)

Mike SeligerMike Seliger has been a board member of The Healing Story Alliance for the past decade, and is also a former board member and newsletter editor for the New York Storytelling Center. A self-described “creative communicator,” he has been trained in physical performance and clowning as well as storytelling.

Kristin StegmanKristin Stegman teaches all levels of 11th grade English at Northwest High School in Cincinnati. She discovered the power of story and its centrality to her life and those around her, three years ago, and has been applying it in her teaching, traveling, and living ever since. She recently conducted workshops on use of story for her church youth group, as well as other related workshops. Most recently, she traveled to Maine and Canada with educators selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities from across the U.S. to study story as it relates to the role borders of all kinds play in our lives.

Jen-Strauss-storyteller-292x3005A. The Turning Points Personal Narrative Process: Change Your Story, Transform Your Life – Jenifer Strauss: If we change the stories we have been telling about our past, we can transform our lives. The Turning Points Process is a sequence of carefully crafted and consecutive storytelling and story writing activities designed to help people understand choices, break negative patterns, create intentional stories and transform their life. (Experiential / 90 Minutes / Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories)

Jenifer Strauss is a Storyteller, Speaker and Narrative Consultant who uses her Turning Points Narrative Process to help people connect, communicate and achieve their goals. A former teacher of ten years, Jen founded Story Be told in 1993 and has been enriching lives by sharing her comfortable and energy-injected presenting style in over 300 performances, workshops, writing residencies and conference keynotes a year. Co-founder of the Center for Imagination and Co-author of Telling Stories: The Cygnus Storytelling Handbook. A performance of one of my personal stories for Here:Say Traverse City Storytelling, a spoken word venue in northern Michigan. Hear one of her stories here.

beth5B. Journeying to Wholeness: Ceremony to Heal From the Fragmentation of Divorce and Other Loss – Beth Honeycutt: Hurting after the loss of a loved one or searching for relief after divorce? Journey to wholeness using the power of words to facilitate healing. We will explore and experience elements of ritual and ceremony related to releasing and returning from separation. Be ready to reawaken and strengthen yourself through both spoken and unspoken words. Come participate at the level of the mythic as you share in an experience you can take home with you. (Experiential / 90 min / Narrative Medicine)

Beth Honeycutt is director of The Calming Center, where she incorporates over twenty years’ experience as a family law paralegal, focusing on healing after divorce and loss. A full-mesa shaman and graduate of the Healing the Light Body School and a student of Sandra Ingerman and Jose Luis Herrera, she leads workshops on dying consciously and meet individually with clients using processes on healing through energy medicine. Finishing Line Press released her first poetry book, Finding Direction.

5C. Listening to and Through the Body – Seema Reza and Amelia Bane: Being sensitive to the emotions and reactions of others is one of the most useful social skills in creating connection and facilitating workshops, but it can also exact a toll on us. Understanding and listening to the information being received and communicated through our bodies can make us more effective facilitators and communicators and help to prevent burnout. Improv engages the body and mind simultaneously and encourages a united, psychophysical sense of self. Facilitators can use improv to strengthen their body-mind connections and to distinguish between emotions that originate within the self and that which is absorbed from others. (Experiential, Informational / 90 Minutes / Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories, Right Livelihood)

Seema Reza is a poet and essayist based outside of Washington DC, where she coordinates and facilitates a unique hospital arts program that encourages the use of the arts as a tool for nAmelia 57arration, self-care and socialization among a military population struggling with emotional and physical injuries. Seema has performed and presented at Split this Rock Poetry Festival and Survive & Thrive among others. When the World Breaks Open, her first collection of essays and poetry, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. She is in the TLA program at Goddard College.

Amelia Bane is an improviser and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She has trained at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre and the Second City. Amelia currently improvises with the teams Meryl and Girl Heavy.

tina games
5D. Journal Your Way to a New Beginning Using the Wisdom of the Moon – Tina M. Games: Are you on the verge of a new beginning? Where in your life are you ready for a fresh start or a recharge? What doors are closing – so that new ones can open? The new moon phase always brings a time of new beginnings. By tapping into the wisdom of the moon phases – and through the art of journal writing, you’ll be gently led into your own “new moon beginning” with grace, ease, and clarity for what will best support your transitional path. (Experiential, Informational / 90 Minutes / Engaged Spirituality).

Tina M. Games is the author of Journaling by the Moonlight: A Mother’s Path to Self-Discovery. As a certified creativity and life purpose coach, and a certified retreat leader, she is the “Moonlight Muse” for women who want to tap into the “full moon within” and claim their authentic self, both personally and professionally. Through her signature coaching programs, based on the phases of the moon, Tina gently guides women from darkness to light as they create an authentic vision filled with purpose, passion, and creative expression.

FRINGE FESTIVAL:

annetteA Net Full of Hope – Annette Hope Billings: Through the performance of original poetry and prose, the presenter will invite/allow participants to experience how hope permeates varied experiences of living. This work aims to inform and uplift listeners by the hearing of poetry and prose from a presenter who shares writings about experiences as a woman of color, a same-gender loving person and a person called to love justice. Using writings about all that composes living from ease, to humor, to despair, to resilience, to triumph-the presenter will share hope. This presentation would benefit a wide variety–anyone who draws breath. (Performance / 45 min / Narrative Medicine/Healing Stories, Social Activism, Engaged Spirituality)

Annette Hope Billings has broad theatre experience as an actress and director. She has authored poetry, prose and plays, including two collections of poetry. She’s led a variety of presentations both as a registered nurse/case manager and a performance artist, and performed original one woman plays at venues in KS, NE, and in Pensacola and West Palm Beach, FL. She also developed and hosts a monthly open mic event.

IMG_8523 (2)Mosaic: Songs of Tragedy and Triumph – Joy Zimmerman: Music has the power to honor our struggles and celebrate our delight. Blending social work and music, Joy will perform original songs that speak of the broken and the whole, the challenge and the mystery. She will also share the inspiration behind these songs and the ways she uses them as a springboard for self-discovery and discussion in workshops and retreats. We will explore music’s ability to increase resilience, insight, and hope in our own lives and with others.

Joy Zimmerman, LMSW, is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and social worker from the Kansas City area. She performs in a variety of venues and leads workshops and retreats for children, youth, and adults on change and grief, self-discovery, creativity, and the power of music. Through serendipity and good fortune, she discovered and claimed her singing and songwriting voice later in life. Songwriting has become the path which connects all previous roads. She has recorded three CDs of original music in Nashville. Facebook here and here.

2015 Power of Words Conference Committee: Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Ronda Miller – co-chairs, Sharon Gibson, Kelly Hams Pearson, Nancy Hubble, Jose Faus, Sandy Snook, Diane Silver, Mary Wharff, Deborah Altus, Brian Daldorph, Greg Smith, Diane Smith, Joanne Hickey, Stephanie Christenson, Peggy Mulvihill, Willie Young, Michael Caron, Teri Grunthaner.