NEA Big Read In Clayton’s Fourth “Write It Out” Workshop Will Be Led By Two JoCo Poets For National Poetry Month

CLAYTON – The Hocutt-Ellington Memorial Library continues its National Endowment for the Arts Big Read exploration of The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros with a fourth and final “Write It Out” workshop on Saturday, April 23, 2022 from 10:00AM – Noon at the Library, 100 S Church Street. The NEA Big Read Clayton is presented in partnership with the Johnston County Writers Group and other sponsors, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The workshop, entitled “Write It Out: Using Words to Write a Family Poem,” will be led by Benson poet Teresa McLamb Blackmon and Clayton poet Leslie Waugh. The workshop takes place during National Poetry Month.

Sandra Cisneros attended graduate school for poetry at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, finishing her MFA in 1978. In her free time during the workshop, she started writing what would become The House on Mango Street. Published in 1984, the book has since sold more than 6 million copies and is read in many middle schools, high schools and universities. She has also published poetry collections.

In the workshop, participants will be guided to write a family poem inspired by The House on Mango Street. This slim but powerful coming-of-age novel by Sandra Cisneros is chock-full of imagery and creative language, hallmarks of poetry. Participants will read passages from the book to help them visit their own Mango Streets — the people, places and family relationships that live in their memories — and mine prompts for short writing exercises and a family-themed poem. No writing experience is required.

Workshop co-leader Leslie Waugh is a journalist, nature photographer, and yoga instructor, and founder of Write From Your Heart, teaching writing as a spiritual practice. Her writing by her has been featured in The Washington Post, the Smithsonian Magazine blog, “When Women Waken: A Journal of Poetry, Prose and Images by Women” and “Red Sky: Poetry on the Global Epidemic of Violence Against Women.” She has received honorable mentions for her essay “Holy Family” (Johnston County Arts Council, 2020) and the poems “Running for My Life” (Carolina Woman, 2015) and “A Sunday Morning in January” (Franklin County Arts Council, 2021 ). Ella’s Leslie and her husband live in downtown Clayton.

Workshop co-leader Teresa McLamb Blackmon grew up on the family farm in Benson and is a retired educator with Johnston County Schools. Her poetry collection, Daddy Said, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2020. Her poem “Class Disruption” won First Place in the inaugural Johnston County Adult Writing Contest (Poetry) in 2021, and three of her poems are published in the Johnston County Literary and Historical Journal 2021. Her chapbook, A Cast of Characters, has been accepted for publication in 2022.

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.

Clayton is one of 61 communities nationwide participating in the 2021-2022 NEA Big Read. From September 18, 2021 – May 5, 2022, the Clayton community will celebrate The House on Mango Street with a full calendar of events including book discussions, art and theater classes, panel discussions, virtual author appearances, and more.

For more information on this event, please contact Joy Garretson. You also can view a full calendar of events for the NEA Big Read in Clayton at

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.