Former Deep writing fellow Kristopher Monroe is now a journalist for the Savannah Morning News, where he writes weekly stories on art in Savannah. He’s written a great article on Block by Block that previews our upcoming West Side Block Party.

Some highlights of the piece:

“We were often creating lesson plans that helped explore power, perspective and privilege,” says [Block by Block director Keith] Miller. “We brought in parents and community leaders and they went on tours in and out of Savannah, so we were pulling from all of these examples of history and then we were picking them apart.”

After picking them apart, they’d then reconstruct the stories in new and enlightening ways. For example, one of the exercises involved having each youth interview someone in their family about a story they’d never been told before. They then created “story maps” from the transcripts of these oral histories and used a Basquiat collage painting as a way of thinking about how to disassemble, then reassemble their stories in a way that would take their writing to the next level.

“It created this really powerful experience where the stories they created were much more rich because they were really focused on the details,” says Miller. “We’re taking a holistic approach to what we call fostering fearlessness. It’s really intense. And it’s really cool because there isn’t another program like it here.”

One of the stories that came out of that exercise was from a young author’s great-grandfather, who told about how his mother was lynched. At 9 years old, he sought out and killed the people who lynched his mother, then had to be shipped to North Carolina in a coffin to avoid capture. The poem that grew from that astounding tale is included in a handsomely designed book that will also be available at the block party.

Read the full article here.