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Arts Council grant helps Longleaf Press launch a Writing Mentorship Program for youth in Cumberland

Updated: May 11, 2023

[Fayetteville, North Carolina] – Tapping into the power of imagination, creative writing is an effective learning tool that motivates under-resourced and at-risk youth and strengthens their language skills, critical thinking, and expressive communication through their thoughts and feelings. Longleaf Press presents a series of after-school writing workshops and one-on-one writing mentorships to middle and high school students in Cumberland County to build creative writing skills.

In celebration of National Poetry Month (April), Longleaf Press, a new Fayetteville-based independent publisher of poetry and literature, presents the 2023 Writing Mentorship Program. The initiative is funded via an $8,000 Project Support Grant awarded by the Arts Council of Fayetteville|Cumberland County (Arts Council). “The grant funding will enable us to offer free, priority enrollment for students receiving free or reduced lunches, as well as for anyone who requests a fee waiver due to financial hardship,” said Shannon Ward, Longleaf Press Executive Editor. “Additional support is provided by a Spark the Arts Grant from the N.C. Arts Council enabling us to bring in many of the facilitators from out of town.”

The writing mentorship program will feature a host of notable literary educators conducting a variety of interactive writing workshops designed to motivate youth to explore, visualize, and communicate life experiences through their words and interpretations. In addition, local literary professionals will conduct one-on-one sessions with students after school on any writing-related project which may include college application essays, homework, and other creative pieces.

The Writing Mentorship Program will culminate in the publication of an anthology of original literary works written by Cumberland County youth participating in the program. Youth workshop participants will also be invited to perform their literary works for the public at a book release celebration. To view full details of the 2023 Writing Mentorship Program workshops and facilitators, visit:

Workshop dates and locations vary.


The Poet/Artist Connection: A Collaboration of Paintbrush & Pen

When visual artists and writers collaborate, magic ensues. Students will discuss how visual artists and writers draw inspiration from each other and how to foster a successful partnership. Then, in collaboration, they will create works of visual and literary art to be exhibited in Downtown Fayetteville.

Workshop: Saturday, April 1 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Location TBD

Grades 6 through 12


A Poem Can Do That?

Students will sharpen their lyrical chops by crafting unusual forms of poetry. They will experiment with blackout poems, concrete poems, and ekphrastic poems. Students will also make music with words by writing blues poems and new verses to familiar songs.

Workshop: Monday, April 3 and Thursday, April 6 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Zoom Session

Grades 6 through 12 Facilitator: Carole Boston Weatherford


Images and the Poetic Monologue

Students will focus on creating vivid and powerful images through writing based on using the five senses. They will create free verse poems and gain an understanding of how poets move from abstract ideas to concrete images. Students will also learn how to incorporate the use of imagery in the writing of poetic monologues and learn the basics of creating character-driven persona poems.

Workshop: Wednesday, April 4 4:00 PM - 5:50 PM

The Arts Center, 301 Hay Street, Fayetteville, NC

Grades 6 through 8

Facilitator: Howard Craft


Rap It Up!

Students will learn about the history of Hip Hop in the United States, how it started, the literary devices involved, and major figures involved in its conception. They will create their own rap based on a subject the majority votes on.

Workshop: Thursday, April 13 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

The Arts Center, 301 Hay Street, Fayetteville, NC

Grades 7 through 12

Facilitator: Jeffery Boston Weatherford


Lead into Gold: How to Expand Your Poetry Skills and Make Money from your Poems

Students will focus on how to go deeper with their poetry and learn tools to expand their writing skills. They will learn what a metaphor map can do for some stellar lines, how to unlock their senses to stay inspired, and how to challenge their writing. Students will also focus on how to make money from their poetry, learn the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the poetry industry, plus what they can do right now to start their own brand.

Workshop: Monday, April 17 and Tuesday, April 18 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The Arts Center, 301 Hay Street, Fayetteville, NC

Grades 9 through 12

Facilitator: Shane Manier


More With Less, Exploring Short Form Poetry

These poems are cups / that I pour my life into. / Here, / Drink! - Kamand Kojouri. A few lines can be a revolution in a small cup. This workshop is an invitation to lift the lid on what students might find there, and on what they might put there. Students will explore short form poetry, ancient to modern, Sappho to Dylan. They will have a chance to find out what the page wants to write in the container of their own life.

Workshop: Tuesday, April 25 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Zoom Session

Grades 9 through 12

Facilitator: Larry Sorkin


Writing in All Your Tongues: A Bilingual Workshop

The U.S. has no official language, though almost every facet of the American Educational system neglects the languages of many students. Students that were bilingual or monolingual in one language before entering school sometimes lose or fail to develop their home language. Students will receive prompts and exercises to encourage them to use their home/heritage languages in their creative writing whether it is in their stories, poems, or personal essays.

Workshop: Wednesday, April 26 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Zoom Session

Grades 6 through 12

Facilitator: Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés’


Writing Off the Page: A Literary Salon Series

Workshop 1: Wednesday, April 26 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

The Arts Center, 301 Hay Street, Fayetteville, NC

Grades 9 through 12

‘Building Our Human Museums” is a literary salon exploring the concept that what we keep… keeps us. Students will learn how a personal relic informs the facilitator about her history and identity. Students will learn about the things we keep -- both as individuals and as a community -- and how their own personal and collective identities are shaped by the stories they tell in relation to these relics. Each student will construct a human museum using the materials provided, and then they will write letters to the curators of the museums.

Workshop 2: Thursday, April 27 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Location TBD

Grades 9 through 12

Students will view the documentary ‘Romeo Is Bleeding’, discuss themes that resonate with their own life experiences, and learn how poetry is a powerful framework for storytelling.

Workshop 3: Friday, April 28 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Location TBD

Grades 9 through 12

“Writer as Agitator and Historian”. After students tour various historical sites throughout Fayetteville, in addition to examining the wealth of primary sources (articles), they will write a love letter to the Market House to signify their emergence as young historians, researchers, and agitators who are understanding the importance of their communal lineage and connections to history.

Facilitator: Jaki Shelton Green Facilitator: Nicholle Young St. Leone


“The Arts Council is pleased to partner with Longleaf Press in support of this much-needed literary arts program," says Bob Pinson, Interim President and CEO of the Arts Council. “We are also pleased that more funds have been made available for the 2022-23 Project Support Grants and that we are reaching deeper into previously underserved areas of our community as evidenced by the many new applicants we have received this year.”

Project Support Grants increase opportunities for access to cultural arts programming in Cumberland County. Nonprofit agencies, colleges and universities, and municipal entities qualify to apply. Learn more about the Project Support Grant program at



Longleaf Press Shannon C. Ward, Executive Editor 706-799-8425


About the Arts Council of Fayetteville | Cumberland County

The Arts Council of Fayetteville|Cumberland County is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization based in Fayetteville, NC that supports individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development, and lifelong learning through the ARTS. As a primary steward of public and private funding for arts, cultural, and historical activities in the Cape Fear Region, all affiliated programs of the Arts Council exemplify our 5 core values: Excellence, Accountability, Transparency, Collaborations, and Innovation.

In the year 2021-22, the Arts Council distributed almost $1 million in grant funds and allocations to Cumberland County arts and culture non-profit organizations, artists, and municipalities.

Grants, programs, and services of the Arts Council are funded in part by contributions from community partners, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, and the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources.


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