Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Ray of Light for Troubled Women

Poet Melanie Almeder reading from her book On Dream Street>

There's a story in the Roanoke Times this a.m. detailing my good friend Melanie Almeder's writing class for drug and alcohol addicted women at Bethany Hall. I recommend you read it here.

Mel's one of the truly good and generous people I've known and her work with these women can have a transformative effective on them. I've seen people in these settings given a new sense of themselves, become the people they should have been in the first place and I think you can expect nothing less in this case, especially with the compassionate and loving Mel teaching.

Mel's a Roanoke College English professor (a former Teacher of the Year there, nominated for Virginia Teacher of the Year four years in a row), author (On Dream Street is her recent book of poems), a great storyteller and much, much more. She was quite possibly the most popular presenter at our Roanoke Regional Writers Conference this past winter and she's a poet, for heaven's sake, a discipline that scares the hell out of most of us. I find it telling that she was so impressed with those in her class that she said that having this editor or that noted writer in front of her was intimidating. Fact is, she's better than all of the rest of us combined and the people who impressed her so much would be the very first to say that.

Mel makes poetry attractive, accessible and possible. As she must with these vulnerable, enthusiastic, fortunate women at Bethany Hall.

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