Ivy Clarke, a junior at Mercer University, is passionate about elevating underrepresented voices through the arts. Ivy is an active campus and community volunteer, and she has a clear vision for how to empower local high school students through facilitated poetry workshops. With a planned pilot implementation in academic year 2021-22, local high school students will participate in weekly poetry workshops that will focus on written and spoken word poetry. Ivy will help them pursue dissemination opportunities such as poetry readings, poetry competitions, and publishing venues, empowering participants to let their voices be heard. The pilot implementation will include fellow Mercer students to ensure long-term sustainability of these poetry workshops.
Growing up gay in a world where queer lives are repressed, I have turned to poetry as a tool for radical self-expression and strength. My literary activism expands beyond my own experiences, though, as I find other people of marginalized racial, religious, class, and ability groups likewise underrepresented. In the pursuit of both English Literature and Creative Writing degrees, as well as publishing my own work in literary magazines, I have become comfortable with my voice, identity, and craft. My experiences as a writing tutor for university students, the Arts and Culture section editor of my university newspaper, and editorial internships with both Macon Magazine and Mercer University Press have trained me to lead my own high school poetry workshop. This workshop will teach the local, majority-minority high school students the craft of writing, connect them to publishing and reading opportunities, and provide them with an environment that is uplifting and empowering for themselves and their communities. I will work closely with Prof. Chelsea Rathburn, the Poet Laureate of Georgia, in addition to other professors and students as Mercer University to connect the workshop students with the most resources possible and ensure the workshop’s sustainability after I graduate.