Nancy Cook is a writer, teaching artist, and community builder. She coordinates the “Witness Project,” a series of free community writing workshops in Minneapolis designed to enable creative work by underrepresented voices, and, as an artist affiliate for the Southwest Minnesota Housing Authority, she helps design arts programs for adults in transitional housing. Holder of both an MFA in creative writing and a JD degree, and the sole parent of an adopted child, Nancy formerly worked full time in academia, teaching and supervising students in community justice work while maintaining an active writing practice and teaching creative writing in multiple venues, from college campuses to prisons. She currently teaches at a number of local arts centers and serves as a manuscript reviewer for Coffee House Press and as creative nonfiction editor for Kallistogaia Press. She is widely published and recently completed her first book of short stories, arising from a residency on the grounds of the former Fergus Falls State Hospital in western Minnesota. She has also served as writer-in-residence at Gettysburg National Military Park and is spending the early part of 2019 in Omagh, Northern Ireland, as International Artist-in-Residence.
While at Plyspace, Nancy plans to offer a series of writing workshops that focus on developing a community narrative about Muncie and its environs. Among the possible projects are a “Poetry Map” in which the literary and the geographical combine to provide new definition, description, and reflection on significant points of interest in the area through poetry. Or writers may contribute to writing “The Biography of a Town” by developing poems and narratives around such themes as houses, daily tasks, adornments and dress, amusement, means of communication, and beliefs, using a taxonomy developed by Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola. Workshops are designed for writers of any experience level, from absolute beginners to published authors. With participants’ permission, writings will be collected and made available in printed form. It’s expected that arrangements will also be made to provide writers the opportunity to participate with the teaching artist at a reading and community conversation.