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December 13, 2023

Catching up with Christine Bissonnette - Creative Spark grant recipient

Back in September 2020, I designed and facilitated an 8-week poetry writing workshop for teens, funded by a Creative Spark Grant. I remember sitting down with a pen and several pieces of paper, and sketching out my grant proposal. We were in the first 6 months of the pandemic. Everything felt both loud and quiet. Within this atmosphere of uncertainty, I wanted to give teens an opportunity to engage in honest conversation with one another, and support them in recognizing that their voices mattered. I wanted to do this using poetry. It was the first grant I’d ever received and I couldn’t wait to get started.

I named the workshop Poetic Disruptions and brought together a group of 8 students to join me for free, with ArtStarts support.

It’s been three years since I taught this workshop with ArtStarts support, and I still look back on it with so much fondness. I was able to bring together an incredibly gifted, thoughtful, and attentive group of teens who brought a lot of curiosity and presence to every class. In the final week students gratefully shared that this 8-week series had taught them to approach writing and inquiry with a spirit of discovery, rather than with a desire to get it right. They also shared that it had expanded their awareness to include experiences other than their own. “I feel like I learned a lot about the soul of poetry,” said another. 

I have so much gratitude towards ArtStarts for kickstarting what has become such a rewarding career.

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