The Word Artist in the Public Square

The Word Artist in the Public Square: with Kansas Poet Laureate Emerita, writer, author, and mentor Denise Low. Six Weeks: Nov. 9 – Dec. 20.

Creation begins in isolated moments and finds fulfillment in shared community experiences. Literary citizenship is a term that can refer to, according to Becky Tuch, “attending readings, subscribing to literary magazines, interviewing writers, reviewing books, reading a friend’s manuscript, blurbing books.” These are ways to support fellow writers and literacy. Explore ways these generous acts spread out into communities as support for an informed citizenship. Learn personal ways to engage in the public square of readings, social media, reviews, contests, and conferences. Learn ways the individual can keep artistic integrity and be effective in the cross-currents of public presentations of creative works.

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Week One: Public Reading Basics: Presentations and Promotion

Reading opportunities include everything from informal coffee shops to professional venues, radio, online video and podcasts. How does the artist best present work for these situations? What are promotional opportunities? And when must the arts practitioner say, “no mas!” Setting limits is part of maintaining authenticity.

Week Two: Publication and Personal Balance

Successful publication can lead to interactions with audience at book launches and presentations. How best can an artist take advantage of these opportunities while achieving personal goals? Sometimes publishers say no to wonderful manuscripts. Dealing with rejection is a way to build confidence as well as a portfolio of publications.

Week Three: Dialogue of Reviews, Blogs, and Blurbs

Writers seldom leave all their sheaves of writings in drawers like Emily Dickinson, so entering the public square as an artist is part of the process. Dialogue with other writers includes online responses, blurbs, formal reviews, and more. Drawing attention to individual work within the cacophony of social media can be done.

Week Four: Conferences, Workshops, and Residencies

Professional conferences can be overwhelming or exhilarating. Residencies and workshops are other temporary, non-academic activities where writers gather to develop professional-level skills. How can an individual best navigate these opportunities, as well as membership in a professional organization?

Week Five: Contests and Grants: When to Enter; How to Judge

Competition is part of the writing world, from local arts grants to poet laureate positions to prestigious contests. TLA professionals may choose to apply for these resources themselves; they may also find themselves asked to adjudicate awards. Here are professional suggestions for success as applicant or judge, including how to keep sensible limits on value of these activities.

Week Six: Building Community with Participation

Ongoing readings series, desktop publishing ventures, newsletters, blogs, online video or audio series, and other venues can enhance both individual and institutional profiles. This is a way to make artistic vision accessible to a wider community.

Who Should Take This Class: This class is ideal for people who do word arts–writing, storytelling, spoken word, theater, and other forms of TLA–and are ready to put themselves out there more in the world and in their work. Because of the innovate exercises and engaging discussions, this class would be very appropriate for both new and seasoned word artists who want to learn more, and find greater community together.

Format: This is an online class. Each week, a new week will open full of resources, reflections, discussion questions, and writing prompts. Students should expect to spend 3-5 hours per week perusing resources and readings, answering a discussion question, engaging in several writing prompts, and responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

Denise.12.insight.blacktilt.email_-150x150Denise Low, 2nd Kansas Poet Laureate, is award-winning author of 25 books of prose and poetry, including Jackalope (short fiction, Red Mountain Press); Mélange Block (poetry, Red Mountain Press); Ghost Stories (Woodley Press, a Ks. Notable Book; The Circle -Best Native American Books); and Natural Theologies: Essays (Backwaters Press). She has British Isles, German, Delaware (Lenape/Munsee), and Cherokee heritage. She edited a selection of poems by William Stafford in an edition with essays by other poets and scholars, Kansas Poems of William Stafford (Woodley). Low is past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She blogs, reviews, and co-publishes Mammoth Publications. She teaches professional workshops nationally as well as classes for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies. Her MFA is from Wichita State University and PhD is from the University of Kansas. Her website is Also see:,, and