A collaboration between Seattle Arts & Lectures, Writers in the Schools, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Partners in Print.
Over a decade of community collaboration
Since 2011, Partners in Print has collaborated with Seattle Arts and Lectures’ Writers in the Schools (WITS) program to design, print, and publish an annual volume of poetry broadsides written by patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital. In this program, young poets work alongside veteran WITS Writers-in-Residence Sierra Nelson and Ann Teplick. These young poets capture the truth of their experiences from their own perspective and use their vivid and healing imaginations to create an alternate world to inhabit.
The impact of becoming a published poet is amplified in a hospital setting, where a sense of self beyond one’s medical diagnosis can be eroded. These letterpress-printed broadsides provide a tangible reminder of the transformative and healing power of words—both for the writer and the reader.
The creative process
Each year, we convene over 20 local letterpress artists and a myriad of in-kind donors to bring Words of Courage to fruition. The broadsides are collated into handmade, cloth-bound portfolios, created by master book binders Bonnie Thompson Norman and Jules Remedios Faye. The portfolios are then distributed to the poets’ families and the participating artists. Several portfolios go to Children’s Hospital and Seattle Arts and Lectures (SAL) for display, donor appreciation, and fundraising purposes.
The entire creative process is also rewarding from the artist’s perspective: from reading the work of the young poets facing unimaginable challenges with such courage, to attempting to create a broadside that adequately reflects this courage, and sharing the creative process with fellow printers.
Words of Courage furthers the mission of Partners in Print by using the power of the press to help amplify the voices of our most vulnerable community members. Over the years, broadsides have been printed in Lushootseed, Arabic, Spanish, Tagalog, and Braille.
We have seen that these poetry broadsides have an extraordinary regional impact. In 2018, Seattle Children’s Hospital presented a broadside portfolio to the Dalai Lama to represent the depth and spirit of arts engagement that happens there. They are showcased at all Seattle Arts & Lectures’ events, travel to all Seattle Public Library branches, and are displayed annually in the community gallery at the Seattle Art Museum.
Words of Courage touring exhibit schedule:
- September 2023 | Seattle Public Library, Douglass-Truth Branch
- October 2023 | Seattle Public Library, Beacon Hill Branch
- November 2023 | Seattle Public Library, Rainier Beach Branch
- January 2024 | Seattle Public Library, Ballard Branch
- February 2024 | Seattle Public Library, Greenwood Branch
- March 2024 | Seattle Public Library, Columbia Branch
- April/May 2024 | Jack Straw Cultural Center, Seattle
THIS YEAR’s Volume
I Can Be Strong as a Coconut’s Outer Shell
For the 2023 edition of Words of Courage, 26 local letterpress artists rose to the challenge of capturing 22 young voices in print, transforming patients from Seattle Children’s Hospital into published poets. We invite you to savor this year’s volume.See what’s inside
Words of Courage is made possible in part by in-kind donations from: