A longtime writer, Lisa Taylor asked herself what she could bring to the community when she moved to Mancos about a year ago.
Hailing from Connecticut, she’s a published author, and has a poetry book releasing this year.
On a local level, she’s using that talent to inspire teens to channel their creativity and musings into poetry with a new program, “Writing for Resilience.”
Taylor will lead poetry sessions at the Mancos Public Library every Tuesday from 4:30 to 6 p.m beginning Jan. 25 through early May. She’s tapping into local organizations to bolster the program, including the Mancos Creative District.
She plans to contract artists from the district to create poetry broadsides – illustrations of the written pieces.
After reading poetry, the artists will then intuitively paint the words into a visual reality.
“I want to pay the artists a fair amount to because that’s important. ... It’s an important statement that this grant valued artists enough to say that artists need to be paid. And they do,” Taylor said.
She’s launching the program with a $17,000 grant from the Colorado Creative Corps American Rescue Plan grant by the Colorado Creative Industries and National Endowment for the Arts.
Taylor taught writing at the high school level, as well as at Eastern Connecticut State University for 13 years, and beginning next month, she’ll be a teacher for Writers.com.
Although she spent 18 years as a counselor, going back to school later in life to master in creative writing was the best decision she ever made, she said.
She’d love to inspire an emerging mind to pursue the same path, she said.
Taylor enjoys working with teenagers.
“I like their energy,” she said. “I think poetry is really natural for them. They may not know that, but I think it is.”
Poetry, she said, is more lenient and free and doesn’t always have to abide by the conventional rules of grammar.
“How I teach is going to be radically different from how they probably are used to getting taught in school, because I really believe in unqualified acceptance of all the kids, that their individual voices matter,” she said.
Everyone is welcome, and no concept is off-limits, she said.
“That was my other motivation for doing this — was to give kids who aren't the sports kids, and aren't the kids that have so many niches, to fit into a creative outlet,” she said.
She can relate – sports weren’t her forte, she said.
She’s willing to be a mentor for anyone who might be interested in continuing on beyond the program, she said.
She’s already dreaming up ways to breathe life into the programs, like hosting poetry slams, inviting a guest poet to speak and celebrating National Poetry Month in April.
Jenni Kitchen, youth director at Mancos Public Library, is excited for the writing program to join a lineup of monthly events geared toward 12- to 25-year-olds at the library, including game nights and cafe-style talks.
“They have a lot of fun,” Kitchen said. “It's good to get together.”
She’ll be facilitating the program at the library.
“I’m probably going to write some too,” she said.