PageSlayers Welcomes Guest Artist, Elia Khalaf

Throughout the summer, our instructors will once again be joined by several visiting artists who work and create art within Miami and beyond. Our hope is to introduce our campers to working artists whose careers may inspire them to visualize their own creative lives in a new light. In addition, our guests can help connect our students to the greater artistic community with Miami and beyond. Now that we are less than 1 week away from starting our first camp session, we thought it would be a great time to introduce one of our visiting artists. Below, you can find our Q&A with Elia Khalaf, a visual artist and graphic designer living between New York and Miami. He has worked as a designer for EXILE Books, Books are Nice, and The New World Symphony. Elia is currently spearheading a project called Made Up Memories as a Miami Awesome Foundation grantee.

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1. What kind of work do you do? My work deals with issues of public amnesia and construction of identity through narrative bookmaking and community-based art.

2. What are you looking forward to most during your time with PageSlayers? I am thrilled to foster a safe playspace of self-expression with PageSlayers. I can’t wait to see the campers’ inspirations and inner-worlds materializing!

3. What lesson are you most excited to share with the campers? That we are walking, talking stories and we CAN author our own lives.

4. Why do you think it is important for students in Miami to be exposed to art and creative writing at a young age? Young students in Miami, for all this city’s cultural richness and diversity, need to be exposed to art and creative writing to be inspired—to witness the power of collaboration, and to develop their own unique voice.

5. Where can students, parents, and supporters find your work? Check out my portfolio at elia-khalaf.com or my Instagram, @eleeyuh.

 

Give the Gift of PageSlayers on #GiveMiamiDay

We’re proud to announce that PageSlayers will participate in Give Miami Day, a 24-hour online giving event on Thursday, November 16th that provides individuals in our community with the opportunity to build a greater Miami by making charitable gifts to local, nonprofit organizations.

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During the 24-hour donation period beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, November 16th, you’ll be able to access the online profiles of more than 520 local nonprofits—including PageSlayers—and make a contribution through the Miami Foundation’s event-specific page.

If you are considering donating to PageSlayers this calendar year, we encourage you to contribute through Give Miami Day. The Miami Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and partners will extend the reach of your generosity by making a bonus gift for every donation between $25 and $10,000 received during this time.

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100% of proceeds from Give Miami will provide operational support for PageSlayers. Every gift is tax deductible and sustains PageSlayers’ efforts to provide free creative writing summer camps to rising 4th and 5th graders in Opa-Locka. Your contributions will translate into hiring professional, published writers-of-color as teachers, visiting instructors such as Edwidge Danticat, procuring supplies and PageSlayers camp shirts, and creating a PageSlayers Zine showcasing the writing of each camper.

We appreciate your support in helping ensure PageSlayers continues to thrive as an innovative creative writing program, fostering the next generation of writers-of-color in South Florida!

If you're ready to donate, click here.

Meet Our Session Three Instructors: Chioma Urama & Itzel Basualdo

Unbelievable as it is, we've come to our final session of PageSlayers this summer! How time flies.

Today marks one week in with our new crop of future novelists and poets. As we move into our final week for the summer, we'd like to introduce to you the duo of instructors guiding us to the finish line: Chioma Urama, coming back to us after leading our first session in June, and homegrown Miami artist and writer, Itzel Basualdo. 

Chioma Urama

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Tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from originally? What sort of writing do you do? What are you working on right now? 

I’m from Northern Virginia, about 20 minutes outside of Washington, DC. I write fiction and dabble in poetry frequently. Right now, I’m working on getting my yoga teacher training certification. I’m learning to integrate mediation, breathing, and visualization practices into a creative writing curriculum for a more holistic approach to teaching.

What made you want to join the PageSlayers teaching staff this summer? 

I love teaching creative writing and working with children and PageSlayers presents the wonderful opportunity to do both. It’s also very important to me to be able to work with black children and to provide them with the tools and instruction that is often considered a luxury or a privilege in our society.

What are you looking forward to most in the program? 

I’m really looking forward to getting to know the kids! My teaching style is very collaborative. I work with the ideas, issues, and concerns that my students bring into the classroom to build creative assignments.

When did you first fall in love with creative writing? 

I fell in love with writing very early on (probably 2nd or 3rd grade) after reading a story called “Amelia’s Notebook.” It’s a children’s story written like a diary with doodles and postage stamps and restaurant napkins pasted in the margins of the pages. I’ve been writing and journaling and sticking leaves and feathers in between the pages of my notebooks ever since.

Why do you think it is important that students in the program have the opportunity to be exposed to creative writing at an early age? 

Creative writing presents children with a safe space to begin to think critically about their world. It encourages them to engage their imaginations and promotes self-confidence that strengthens other areas of learning.

Where can students, parents or supporters find out more about you and your work? 

I’m in the works of putting together a site, so be sure to check back for updates soon!

Itzel Basualdo

Tell us a little about yourself: Where are you from originally? What sort of writing do you do? What are you working on right now? 

I am, as they say, one of those who was born AND raised in Miami. Against my Argentine father and Mexican mother's will, I have begun to establish myself as a visual artist. Lately, I've been working on a small book that addresses and presents the crisis in Venezuela from multiple sources: Twitter, interviews, and that of an absolute outsider. I will also be an MFA candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago beginning August 2018.

What made you want to join the PageSlayers teaching staff this summer?

I wanted to join PageSlayers because I enjoy working with children; I was excited about the possibility of teaching creative writing! And I like creative writing! 

What are you looking forward to most in the program? 

I think what I'm looking forward to most is seeing the children enjoy themselves and enjoy the writing process. I think PageSlayers offers these kids a wonderful introduction to the possibilities that exist in writing, and is helping those who had already become enamored by it tap into it even more. I hope that beyond learning about metaphors and rhyme, PageSlayers allows them to see the world through a different lens.

When did you first fall in love with creative writing? 

I think I first fell in love with creative writing in elementary school. I don't remember who, but someone gifted me with a journal in the second grade and after that, my life was forever changed. I've kept a journal since then, and from there I moved on to writing short stories about spies and a half-cat/half-human girl named Cassandra.

Why do you think it is important that students in the program have the opportunity to be exposed to creative writing at an early age? 

I think it is important for the children to be exposed to creative writing from an early age so they view and treat literature differently—so they can see for themselves that reading and writing doesn't have to be boring. It is much like planting a seed, this appreciation for literature. It is something that they can take with them, and it might be a short story, or novel, that helps them navigate a difficult period of their lives.

Where can students, parents or supporters find out more about you and your work?

You can very soon follow me on my website, and check out my film photography (posted on occasion) on my Instagram.