At the beginning of November, ACW hosted our 19th annual High School Writing Retreat at Paul Smith’s College — a free, two-day event where students from schools all across the North Country gather to study writing, performance, and collaboration. We welcomed a record number of high school students from over a dozen Adirondack public, private, and home schools.
Each year, the retreat is led by acclaimed spoken-word poets from New York City. Talented, diverse, and known for their ability to cultivate creativity and kindness in their students, our 2023 teaching faculty included: Jon Sands, Roya Marsh, José Olivarez, and Noah Arhm Choi.
On Thursday morning, students spent time in workshops with instructors, learning different approaches to writing and performing poetry. These workshops also allotted time for students to find inspiration, draft new work, and get feedback from teachers and peers.
Day one concluded with an open mic in our main performance space where students were encouraged to share a new piece of writing they’d crafted that day.
While the day was over for students, the faculty went on to perform at ACW’s “Poetry on Broadway” on Thursday evening. This event was open to the public, which gave community members a chance to meet and hear from these acclaimed poets while they were in town.
The second day kicked off with another round of performances and pep talks from the faculty and ended with a collaborative poem challenge. Students from different schools were invited to write a poem together. With the guidance of the instructors, groups of 4-6 students worked together to write and plan a performance of a poem.
After the retreat, George Rogers of Franklin Academy in Malone stated, “every student asked if they could attend again next year. They learned a lot, and—more importantly—they found their tribe.”