2017 Awards in the Creative Arts: Ron Kuka

2017 Awards in the Creative Arts: Ron Kuka


The Joyce J. and Gerald A. Bartell Award recognizes and honors the achievements of faculty and staff and the creative arts in Areas of Outreach public service and other activities involving the larger community
this Year’s recipient is Ron Kuka faculty Associate and coordinator of the creative writing program I’m Ron Kuka. I’m program coordinator in creative writing here I got involved in this program at oak hill oak hill is a medium minimum security facility
oh just about 20 miles from Madison the program was started by two of our graduate students here And I was just invited to come out and read Some my own work there and kind of fell in love with it. We teach classes year-round We have students from the art department from the English Department some from Spanish and we also had a great deal of support from Students in Slavic languages I’ve been teaching the narrative class, but it’s only one of several classes that are taught there So in any given semester, we’ll teach classes in drama Philosophy Afro-Am the thing that struck me at first was How grateful they were for these classes they have to sign up well in advance. There’s no credit involved though I like to see that the program Start – to give credit they’re very hard-working many times I’ll assign a couple of stories for class some of them have read it three or four times And they know more about the story that I do when I come in to teach the story what I’d like to see For part of this grant, I’d like to find some way to plow the money back into the program specifically In finding ways to get keyboards into the hands of the men out there Many of these men have been working on their fiction and their poetry Memoir etcetera for 10 and 20 years I’ve had a couple of students Who’ve written 500 page novels by hand and copied that over so that just gives you an idea about the sort of dedication They have to telling their story. There’s almost no other programs like this across the state and Wisconsin has a very large problem with the number of people it incarcerates the way the devastation plays out, especially in black neighborhoods is significant it’s it’s meant a great deal to get to know some of these guys And I’ve also sensed especially amongst some of our MFA writing students here a real Hunger to find ways to get involved in a concrete way with a sort of greater Wisconsin [music]

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