The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

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Creative Justice Youth Symposium

Date(s): Thursday through Friday, June 17 - 18, 2021
Community Event, Open Mic, Panel, Reading, Workshop
Genre and Form(s): Community, Human Rights, Poetry, Social Justice
Cost: Free

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About this Event

As the world awakens to injustice, we must all work together to build a strong foundation on which to rebuild a more just world. The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University is proud to sponsor the second annual Creative Justice Youth Symposium, Thursday through Friday, June 17 - 18, 2021 on Zoom. Each day will consist of a workshop and community open mic.

The symposium will center on creative writing as a skill for resilience and community building through workshops, panels, and community open mics. The symposium is open to youth ages 13 - 24.

Please note: while this event is free and open to the public, you must register through Eventbrite to receive the Zoom link. Space is first-come, first-served. Attendance will be capped at 30 guests in order to allow everyone the opportunity to speak. Registrations do not guarantee or reserve seats. The Zoom link for each workshop can be found in the online event page. If you have any questions or require different forms of access, please reach out to Angie Dell at

Please register for each workshop you wish to attend! This will help the facilitator know how many people to expect.

About the Workshops

Thursday, June 17

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM  Hip Hop Lit: A Poetic Practice for the Child in You with Teré Fowler-Chapman

In this workshop we will examine the ways intersection of hip hop and literature cultivate healing for some of the oldest wounds. We will do this by engaging in meaningful dialogue of past rhymes and storytelling, understanding how these works play a role in our present, and use these tools to write a map towards a more intentional future. Join me as we explore the works of Sandra Cisneros and Kendrick Lamar. Through uncovering their commonalities and differences we will uncover our own.

Is your inner critic a poet? What would happen if you gave them the mic? We’ll see. Come and write your own inner dialogue poem! Learn some deep breathing techniques and share your poem with an intentional virtual community.

By being present in this virtual workshop you are committing to the following agreements: Taking care of myself by respecting my limits and capacity is the start of the poem, I show respect for others by holding space for others’ experiences and voices, my writing practice is an ongoing journey not a destination.

12:15 PM - 1:15 PM ● Exploitation versus Empowerment in the Creative Youth Activism Space with Akhila Bandlora and Heather Laurel Jensen

Join Akhila Bandlora and Heather Laurel Jensen, the 19-year-old co-founders of Creative Youth of Arizona, as we discuss our biggest takeaways after five years working as creative advocates both in Arizona and nationally. We’ll reflect on starting our own organization, advice for others, and our regrets, culminating in a discussion & journaling session to cultivate goals for the future and learn from the past. Come participate and ask questions or simply listen and absorb; we’d love to have you either way. 

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM ● Collage 101 with Amber McCrary

Amber McCrary will instruct attendees on different ways to collage (physically and digitally). Using sample photos, Amber will illustrate how to collage in adobe spark, canva and by hand. Attendees can learn to to distribute their art by to converting the collages to PDFs which can be posted online or printed.

3:15 PM - 4:15 PM ● Building Liberated Worlds: Using poetics, lived experiences and imagination to create hopeful fantasies with Sean Avery

In times of social turmoil, the role of the artist is to imagine a different world, where the injustices and unfairness of our present one is undone, reversed, overcome, or non-existent.

This presentation uses the work of Danez Smith and Marlin M. Jenkins, two Black queer poets, who use poetry to build worlds that protect black folks from violence, and prevent exploitation of their culture, bodies, and labor.

By examining their writing, we learn how to responsibly evoke new possibilities, and dream other worlds through language that take care of those who are the most vulnerable in ours. (this applies to writers of any genre)

Friday, June 18

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM ● Writes of Passage with Sareya Taylor

Writing your story can be a way of understanding your place in the world. Sareya Taylor will host a workshop on crafting your story to orient yourself as a young adult.

12:15 PM - 1:15 PM ● Scared of Your Shadow: Finding Your Persona in Poetry with Hunter Hazelton

This workshop aims to help writers to find their voice to create an authentic persona in their poetry. We will read some distinctive voices in contemporary poetry and write original work with short quick-write prompts. Sample works and writing prompts will challenge the content, structure, and images used in our poetry.

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM ● Where Do I Begin with Allie Mahai

Generating poetry when you have too much to say or not enough. Sometimes being able to take things away can help you understand what you have. Transforming the texts that surround you can give you renewed perspective on how to understand your poetry and generate more. This workshop will focus on starting and sustaining your poetry practice through exercises using black out poetry.

3:15 PM - 4:15 PM ● Community Open Mic

About the Author

Sean Avery is a gamer and Hip-Hop nerd, who’s only wish in our world is to watch an unproblematic, Black sci-fi TV show. Until then, they toil as a Cultural Worker and Digital Organizer for the prison abolitionist people’s movement, Mass Liberation Arizona, while also creating rap, poetry, prose, and performance. Their work questions the limits of Black masculinity, media (mis)representation, and personal narrative. 

Allie Mahai

Allie (pronounced 'Ollie') is a Senior Poetry major in the Creative Writing program. She's an ENG 102 Writing Mentor, satirist for the State Press Magazine, and a cast member of Tempe Late Night. In their free time, they like to read, write, watch TV, and knit.  She's excited to meet and work with everyone!

Amber McCrary is a Diné poet, zinester, feminist and artist. She is Red House born for Mexican people. Originally from Shonto, Arizona and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. In the small town of Flagstaff is where she discovered her love for Punk Rock and the Do it Yourself Culture. She earned her BA from Arizona State University in Political Science with a minor in American Indian Studies. She received her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry at Mills College.
Sareya Taylor

Sareya Taylor is a 19 year old White Mountain Apache and Navajo student. Sareya’s pronouns are they/them/she/her. Sareya is a poet who focuses on the Indigenous peoples of America and the trauma they may have experienced in their lives. Sareya also brings attention to and counters the stereotypes and misrepresentations of Natives that our society’s media and culture supports. They served as the Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of Phoenix and currently serve as a member of the International Indigenous Youth Council and a honorary 25 under 25 youth leader.