Teacher of Writing, Lover of Words
I have deep respect for the wounded writer who writes and strong affection for free-writes that set the writer free.
The term wounded writer belongs to poet Carl Leggo (2002) who frequently used it to describe himself. “Even now in middle age, I can still hear my grade 11 teacher say, “You’ll never be a writer” and I can still hear other teachers and professors declare that my writing was mediocre, awkward, incoherent, faulty, loose, and fragmented.”
I have been teaching writing since 2000 and have crossed paths with many writers, themselves wounded in their own way and all with different stories to tell.
My story is that I have always loved writerly things: gel pens over ballpoint, pencils and their cases, notebooks, sharpeners, bookmarks, and paper. I save greeting cards and handwritten recipes, often tucked between sheets of a favourite book. Vintage ink bottles line my kitchen windows.
My first poem was published in a local newsletter when I was 10 years old. By 13, I wrote a short story romance that no doubt sent my 8th grade teacher into hysterics. In high school I wrote endlessly on the trifecta of adolescence: being liked, liking yourself, and how to live with your parents. Once, I forgot my journal on the city bus and agonized for years over this loss. I entered a short story contest at 17 (and was rejected just like you would have been if you’d written about the afterlife), followed by three chapters for the novel that I secretly hoped was my ticket out of town. Disaster, these chapters. But not one teacher made me feel like a wounded writer. And yet, I identify with the wounded writer.
To write something in spite of your inner critic who says you can’t write anything good is compelling writing to me because it means that deep down you know you’ve got stories that belong to your soul that are louder, more powerful than the critic.
When I’m not writing I’m painting. Or at the dog park. Or working on my downward dog.
I live in Windsor, Ontario, Canada but I earn my crust teaching writing across the border in Rochester, MI, USA.
Leigh, S.R. (2017). First grade children discover the power of expression by creating descriptive drawings. In R. Meyer & K. Whitmore (Eds.), Reclaiming Early Childhood Literacies: Narratives of Hope, Power, and Vision (pp. 141-149). New York, NY: Routledge.
Leigh, S.R. (2015). Empowering pre-service teachers through praise and forgiveness poems. Literacy Practice & Research, 41(1), 25-30.
Leigh, S.R. (2015). “I’m a writer. But I’m an artist, too. Look at my artist’s notebook”: Developing voice through art and language. Journal for Learning Through the Arts: A Research Journal on Arts Integration in Schools and Communities, 11(1), 1-12.
Leigh, S.R. & Ayres, L.J. (2015). Writing influences: A timeline of teaching writing as a process. Michigan Reading Journal, 47(2), 23-35.
Leigh, S.R. (2014). Wounded writers ask: Am I doing it write? Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
Leigh, S.R. (2014). The circus of design. In R. Meyer & K. Whitmore (Eds.), Reclaiming Writing Composing Spaces for Identities, Relationships, and Actions (pp. 38-41). Routledge.
Leigh, S.R. (2013). Portal writing: Helping writers re-think their writing. In J. Richards & C. Lassonde (Eds.), Strategic Writing Mini-Lessons for All Students, Grades 4-8 (pp. 155-162). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Leigh, S.R. (2012). The classroom is alive with the sound of thinking: The power of the exit slip. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 24(2), 189-196.
Leigh, S.R. (2012). Writers draw visual hooks: Children’s inquiry into writing. Language Arts, 398-406.
Leigh, S.R. (2012). The power of the sketch (book): Reflections from high schoolEnglish students. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 539-549.
Leigh, S.R. (2012). Re-seeing story through portal writing. Journal of the Assembly on Expanded Perspectives in Learning, 17, 83-94.
Leigh, S.R., & Cramer, R. (2011). Two voice poem: A conversation with writers on writing. English Journal, 82-89.
Leigh, S.R. (2010). Violent red, ogre green, and delicious white: Expanding meaning potential through media, Language Arts, 87(4), 252-262.
Leigh, S.R. (2010). Cut up, cover up, and come away with ideas for writing! ReadWriteThink, Lesson plan retrieved on August 10, 2010 from http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/cover-come-away-with-30617.html
Leigh, S.R. (2010). Color my world: Expanding meaning potential through media. ReadWriteThink, Lesson plan retrieved on August 10, 2010 from http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/color-world-expanding-meaning-30559.html
Leigh, S.R. (2009). Her ways with pictures and words: An interview with Marie-Louise Gay. Bookbird, 47(4), 41-49.
Leigh, S.R. & Heid, K. (2009). First graders constructing meaning through drawing and writing. Journal for Learning Through the Arts: A Research Journal on Arts Integration in Schools and Communities, 4(1), 1-12.
Leigh, S.R. (2009). Unlucky arithmetic for teachers: Thirteen ways to raise a non-writer. EdDigest, 20.