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Here is Frances Aldana with her lovely family, fabulous Mitchell Kaplan who made the evening possible for us (Books & Books owner and co-founder of the Miami Book Fair), along w/ Luke the Wonder Dog & me.

I want to send my gratitude out to Mitchell Kaplan and Nikki Giovanni again, and to the dedicated Debra Linn, events organizer at Books & Books, who handled all of the poetry submissions for our local end of the national contest and arranged for Nikki Giovanni to visit local schools and read at the event with Frances.  Kudos & thanks also go out to Cristina Nosti, who helped plan and facilitate the free poetry workshops that I was lucky enough to lead at Books & Books Coral Gables location.  What fun we had!

If you’re not familiar w/ Books & Books – the finest independent book stores in the nation – you are missing out on the greatest community of book lovers and the most comprehensive collection of fine books available today.  Please support them!  They do so much for us – bringing in amazing authors and poets and other artists, free story and craft times for kids, and So Much MORE!!!

http://www.booksandbooks.com

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About deniselanier

I am an educator & advocate, poet & performer, speaker & storyteller who believes in the power of narrative to transform & transport, create & connect. I was the shy, awkward girl who didn’t fit in, was often bullied, happiest with my nose in books, whose best friend was my dog. After being cast in a play in my teens I discovered a way to be comfortable in my own skin, bringing to life the words of a character. Costumed in make-believe I dared to be more of myself than I ever allowed off-stage; I claimed my voice. I spent most of my adult life teaching others to raise their own voices, through acting, creative writing, even slam poetry. When the diagnosis of MS intervened in my 30s I had to let go of acting, which is why most of my storytelling is now expressed through page and less “formal” interactions with stages. I devote much of my time to kids, teaching them to use words & imagination, developing authentic, resilient, remarkable voices. I endeavor to grow in my students the belief, the truth, that we are all artists & the change-makers in our own stories. My best friend still has fur & four legs. My mobility assistance dog is my constant companion, teaching assistant & muse to many. Luke is also chief partner in crime; I’m getting a reputation for stealing things. As inventor of a poetic form called klepto-collaborative, I pickpocket words & phrases from others, reshuffling & reshaping the puzzle-pieces into a colorful, storied mosaic of diverse voices. Taking something from every speaker at a conference in real-time, I craft a collective poem that highlights the messages of the day, repurposing ideas & refashioning stories, weaving them together in a manner that never loses the originality & spirit of the speakers’ themes. So while I may be a word thief, I figure being eco-conscious makes up for it. I’m available to facilitate wordy goodness in your community, school, workplace or play space. I like to think I have way of transforming annual meetings into something interactive, cooperative & memorable. Through my klepto-collaborative poems I aim to delight, to ignite conversation, and maybe even incite innovation. I earned an MFA from Florida International University, where I edited Gulf Stream Literary Magazine. I’m the founder of WordPlay, a poetry-in-the-schools project inspired by Dave Eggers. My poetry has appeared in Bloomsbury Review, Cake, Luna, Best American Poetry blog (a collaborative poem with the phenomenal Denise Duhamel), Wicked Good Life, and various anthologies. My non-fiction has appeared in the Miami Herald and my fiction has been nominated for Best New American Voices. www.deniselanier.wordpress.com & www.wonkybent.wordpress.com

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