Lawrence Arts Center Collaborates with Zinn Writers in Residence

Mercedes Lucero and Alex Kimball Williams visit with educators at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School


Zinn Writers in Residence:

In memory of their daughter Rebecca, a gifted poet and lifelong writer, Dick and Diane Zinn support a Writer in Residence each year at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, connecting 7th grade students with inspiring regional authors, filmmakers, and playwrights. For the past five years, the Lawrence Arts Center has partnered with the project, finding artists to collaborate with students for expansive creative writing projects ranging from six-word memoirs mobilized on screen printed t-shirts, to the performance of original one-act plays, and more. 

This year, educators Jackie Stafford, Brooke Zeyer, Adrian McAfee, and Carol Souders will work with poets Mercedes Lucero and Alex Kimball Williams to undertake an exploration of verse poetry novels and novellas within their classrooms. Working through the spring, students will produce personal chapbooks of writing to be shared on April 28th at the Lawrence Arts Center’s 2019 Poetry Fair.

About the Artists:

Alex Kimball Williams

Alex Kimball Williams

Alex Kimball Williams is a multicultural artist, writer, speaker & scientist. They operate within several groups, including BLACK Lawrence (Black Literature & Arts Collective of Kansas), Epicenter (East-side People’s Intercultural Center) & Girls Rock Lawrence. Their work often focuses on identity politics, culture, nature & the beauty of people of color.

Kimball Williams is the recipient of the 2018 MLK Dreamer’s award, an annual, local award given to a community member for spreading a revolutionary vision & change in the community. They are also depicted in the Women of Color Mural recently completed on the Lawrence Public Library. The Langston Hughes mural, also completed in 2018, hosted Kimball Williams as their guest speaker for the mural’s opening.

Whether performing protest songs, speaking out in City Hall meetings, writing online or teaching inclusion & cultural competence, Kimball Williams encourages change in our community. Their multicultural & scientific approach to issues of social & environmental justice is unique, particularly for Kansas.

Mercedes Lucero (photo credit: Fred E. Byrd)

Mercedes Lucero

is the author of Stereometry  (2018, Another New Calligraphy), an interactive poetic curriculum that uses arithmetic’s orderliness to manage a time filled with loss and near loss. She is also the author of the chapbook In the Garden of Broken Things (2016, Flutter Press), which includes “The Possible Causes of Your Suffering,” a finalist for Glimmer Train’s “Very Short Fiction” Award. She is the winner of the 2017 Langston Hughes Creative Writing Award for Poetry and has received several Pushcart Prize nominations. In 2017, she received honors from KC Studio, a lifestyle magazine dedicated to art and culture in Kansas City. Her work has been featured on The Project on the History of Black Writing and published widely including in New Orleans Review, Puerto del Sol, Fourteen Hills, Paper Darts, The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal, The Pinch, and Heavy Feather Review.

Her academic degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Missouri Western State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Northwestern University. She is currently a PhD candidate in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Kansas


Follow Along!

Are you as excited as we are for the project? Follow along with the residents’ reading list:

In the Garden of Broken Things by Mercedes Lucero

Stereometry by Mercedes Lucero

Rebound by Kwame Alexander

Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg

Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry

Street Love by Walter Dean Myers

Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Diamond Willow by Helen Frost

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle