Volusia Voice ACA

Published on July 15th, 2013 | by NSB Observer


ACA hosts 6th Annual Teen Writing Residency

Entering its 6th year, The Atlantic Center for the Arts hosts “your word” a teen writing residency, offering writers, ages 14-18, a wonderful opportunity to study with top notch Master Writers, while exploring their creativity in a nurturing environment.

The essence of Atlantic Center’s Artists-in-Residence program is to provide talented artists the opportunity to work and collaborate with contemporary masters. Selected through a competitive application process by the master artists with whom they wish to work, these teen associate artists come from around the world. During their stay, the artists spend a portion of the day working with the master artist and their group in meetings, workshops, casual conversations and other activities. They are free to spend the remainder of their time pursuing their own projects.

On the importance of a writing residency just for teens, Ren Morrison, ACA’s Community Education & Outreach Manager explains, “Most teen writers are just beginning their journey as a writer and our residency affords them a unique chance to get valuable feedback and advice from not only the Master Writers they will study with, but also: the other teens, the Fellow Writer, the Writer in Residence, the chaperones and even myself. Almost everyone they will be in contact with is a writer—each at a different stage of their career. It is an experience and opportunity like no other. “

ACA’s “your word” Masters will give three free readings during their stay.  Each of the readings will be held at 7:30 PM at Atlantic Center for the Arts Main Campus, Joan James Harris Theater located at 1414 Art Center Avenue, New Smyrna Beach, FL  32168.

About the Masters:

Mat Johnson Mat Johnson

Graphic Novelist & Writer, Author of Incognegro & PYM

“Mat Johnson writes with all the probing intelligence of James Baldwin, the scalding satire of Dany Laferriere and the technique of a master craftsman, all of which make him one of the most exciting, important and gifted writers of his generation.” —Chris Abani.

Born to an Irish-American father and an African American mother and raised in the Philadelphia area, Mat Johnson writes primarily about the lives of African Americans, using fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels as mediums. He is the author of the novels PYM (2011), Hunting in Harlem (2003), and Drop (2000); the nonfiction novella The Great Negro Plot; and the graphic novels Incognegro (2008), Dark Rain (2010), and Right State (2012).

PYM  (2011, Spiegel & Grau) has been described as a riveting adventure novel and a cutting, insightful meditation on race, literature, and obsession. Says Percival Everett, “Johnson’s new novel is nothing short of fantastic, in every sense. I fell in love with the voice, the tone and the world of Pym. This is an adventure novel, a work of historical and social commentary, a rumination on identity. The only problem I could find with this novel is that I didn’t write it. It’s a beautiful piece of work.” Johnson’s first novel, Drop, is a coming of age novel about a self-hating Philadelphian who thinks he’s found his escape when he takes a job at a Brixton-based advertising agency in London, UK. Drop was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and was listed among Progressive Magazine’s “Best Novels of the Year.” The work prompted Interview Magazine to name Johnson a “Writer on the Verge.” Hunting in Harlem, a satire about gentrification in Harlem and an exploration of belief versus fanaticism, was awarded the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Novel of the Year.



Mira BartókMira Bartók

Mira Bartók is a visual artist, commentator for New England Public Radio and the author of The Memory Palace, a New York Times bestselling memoir and winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, noted in The Best American Essays series and has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Mira has also received grants from many organizations, including the Fulbright Program, the American Scandinavian Foundation, and Pen-American. She lives in Western Massachusetts where she runs Mira’s List, a website that helps artists find funding and residencies all over the world. She is currently working on an illustrated young adult novel set in Northern Norway during World War II, and an illustrated steampunk book for teens. You can find her at: http://www.mirabartok.com. 



Taylor MaliTaylor Mali

Acclaimed Performance Poet, Education Advocate, Author of What Teachers Make

“To watch Mali is to watch a full-body poetic assault—with humor his central weapon.” —The Portland Phoenix

“Taylor Mali is a ranting comic showman and literary provocateur.” —The New York Times

Taylor Mali is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement. He is one of the few people in the world to have no job other than that of “poet.” Articulate, accessible, passionate, and downright funny, Mali studied drama in Oxford with members of The Royal Shakespeare Company and puts those skills of presentation to work in all his performances. He was one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry and was the “Armani-clad villain” of Paul Devlin’s 1997 documentary film SlamNation. His poem “What Teachers Make” has been viewed over 4 million times on YouTube and was quoted by the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman in one of his commencement addresses.

Mali is vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, having spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math and S.A.T. test preparation. He has performed and lectured for teachers all over the world and in 2012 he reached his goal of creating 1,000 new teachers through “poetry, persuasion, and perseverance.” Based on the poem that inspired a movement, his book of essays, What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World, is his passionate defense of teachers drawing on his own experiences, both in the classroom and as a traveling poet. Mali is a highly sought-after keynote speaker.

Born in New York City into a family whose members have lived there since the early 1600s, Taylor Mali is an unapologetic WASP, making him a rare entity in spoken word, which is often considered to be an art form influenced by the inner city and dominated either by poets of color or otherwise imbued with the spirit of hip-hop. He is the author of two books of poetry, The Last Time As We Are (Write Bloody Books 2009) and What Learning Leaves (Hanover 2002), and four CDs of spoken word.

Mali received a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in 2001 to develop “Teacher! Teacher!” a one-man show about poetry, teaching, and math which won the jury prize for best solo performance at the 2001 U. S. Comedy Arts Festival. Formerly president of Poetry Slam Incorporated, the non-profit organization that oversees all poetry slams in North America, Taylor Mali makes his living entirely as a spoken-word and voiceover artist these days, traveling around the country performing and teaching workshops as well as doing occasional commercial voiceover work. He has narrated several books on tape, including “The Great Fire” (for which he won the Golden Earphones Award for children’s narration).


  • Tuesday, July 23 at 7:30 PM:  Mat Johnson, fiction – Reading – followed by Q & A, and book signing at the Atlantic Center for the Arts-Main Campus, Joan James Harris Theater. This event is free and open to the public.
  • Wednesday, July 24 at 7:30 PM:  Mira Bartok, memoir – Reading – followed by Q & A, and book signing at the Atlantic Center for the Arts-Main Campus, Joan James Harris Theater. This event is free and open to the public.
  • Thursday, July 25 at 7:30 PM:  Taylor Mali, poetry – Reading – followed by Q & A, and book signing at the Atlantic Center for the Arts-Main Campus, Joan James Harris Theater. This event is free and open to the public.
  • Friday, August 2 at 7 PM:  INsideOUT - Closing reception and informal studio visits with teen Artists-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts-Main Campus, Joan James Harris Theater. This event is free and open to the public.

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