Write Out in Eastern Kentucky

Morehead State University, located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, has been home to the Morehead Writing Project since 1986.

The Morehead Writing Project held two events book-ending the National Writing Project’s October Write Out event celebrating the National Day On Writing. The two events celebrate the strengths and breadth of the Morehead Writing Project network, according to Site Director Dr. Deanna Mascle.

On Saturday, Oct. 12, MWP hosted a writing retreat, A Story Runs Through It, that offered writers a selection of writing prompts and activities designed to weave narrative and argument to craft more powerful writing. Retreat Coordinator Karen VanKirk led an activity inspired by Georgia Heard’s Heart Maps, Story Matters author Liz Prather offered prompts inspiring writers to employ fictional techniques in nonfiction texts, author John VanKirk shared prompts to weave historical facts into personal writing, and artist and writer Rebecca “Bex” Hall led prompts to weave together the writing of the day into a personal narrative making an argument inspired by our personal stories.

2019 Kentucky Poet Laureate nominee, Tony Sexton, the author of Musings and Scraps, discusses poetry with Fleming County teacher Brandie Trent.

On Wednesday, Oct. 30, MWP hosted its Fall Teen Writers Day Out (a writing marathon) dedicated to the Write Out theme of Making Stories of People, Place, and Perspectives. Mascle selected writing prompts to inspire writing connected to Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia including lifting lines from Eastern Kentucky songs and finding inspiration in the poetry of Wendell Berry. High school writers from Bath, Fleming, Greenup, Lewis, and Rowan counties joined Morehead State faculty, staff, and students to write together and share their celebrations of Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia. In addition, 2019 Kentucky Poet Laureate nominee, Tony Sexton, the author of Musings and Scraps, spent the day writing and talking about poetry with the teens.

“Events like these are the heart and soul of our work with the National Writing Project,” Mascle said. “I love that our retreats connect teachers of writing with writers from throughout our region so they can return to their classrooms and share with their developing writers how professional writers go about their work. Teachers who write are better writing teachers.”

Mascle notes that the National Writing Project is the only professional development organization that focuses on comprehensive literacy for educators at all levels and across all content areas. “We are also unique in that we celebrate the voices of the students in our classrooms as well as the teachers from events such as Write Out to publishing opportunities such as Writing Our Future.”

“Our Teen Writers Day Out is a unique event that is only possible for a NWP site,” Mascle said. “For almost a decade MWP teachers and Morehead State faculty and students have collaborated to host teen writers from throughout a region for a day devoted to writing together. I love that student voices are heard. I love that friendships are forged. I love that writers are inspired.”

Mascle points to the range of writing supported by the work of the Morehead Writing Project including project-based writing, argument writing, and journalism. “Teachers join our network by completing a Summer Institute and we also offer focused professional development sessions on these topics and much more for teachers outside our network.”

“I want to thank Morehead State University for their continued support of our work during these difficult financial times for education,” Mascle said. “Many NWP sites in Kentucky have had to close, but we are still able to offer programs such as these that benefit the teachers and students of our service region as well as the students and faculty of Morehead State.”