Off the Wall: The Write Stuff

Welcome to Off the Wall. We’ve skimmed the news around the museum, and want to share the highlights with you.

Written while looking for an afternoon snack.


When the poem stops, you should go through the windshield.” -Tony Mares



One hundred and twenty students. Four middle schools. One incredible workshop at the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Eight years ago, a unique creative writing program was born at the FJJMA. Each year since then, the best and brightest of Norman sixth graders are selected from four local middle schools to participate in an intensive one-day workshop designed to open their hearts and notebooks to the wonderful world of creative writing.


Nathan Brown. He holds a Ph.D. in Creative and Professional Writing from our favorite university, and was the State of Oklahoma’s 2013 and 2014 Poet Laureate. With his free hand that isn’t holding that Ph.D., he carries instruments, cameras, and multiple poetry awards. He enjoys many hobbies, including traveling, performing readings, giving concerts, and long walks on the beach (probably). He can often be found speaking at and leading workshops in high schools, universities, and community organizations on creativity, creative writing, and the necessity of poetry to readers of all ages. You can learn more about this fearless champion of creativity by visiting his website. We give him an additional 10 points for having such a pun-y web address.IMG_1235


Under Brown’s tutelage, the students wander the halls of the FJJMA, finding inspiration from the works on our walls. They are given notebooks in which their responses to the works are meticulously recorded or invented, depending on the nature of their respective assignments. During their day at the museum, they fill a considerable portion of their notebooks with half-formed thoughts, clever ideas, and nuggets of narratives. At the end of the day, each student has the opportunity to choose their favorite piece of writing from their notebook to be included in an anthology of the group’s writing. A reception celebrates the end of the workshop, and students attend along with their parents teachers. At that time, each student is given the final anthology of their works, complete with pictures from their time at the museum.


It is always interesting to see which works inspire sixth graders. Enjoy a few samples from the Creative Writing anthology from this past year:

My Heart – Nick

Inspired by Toshio Iezumi, M051101 Glass Sculpture, 2006; Gift of Mark Landrum, 2013

Twists, turns everywhere

People looking in and out

But they never see it.

My heart.

Untitled – Kiana

Inspired by Maynard Dixon, Moonrise Over the Desert, 1925; The Eugene B. Adkins Collection at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma and the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma

It rises

It falls

The mountain stands nice and tall

Clouds form

Here not there

The moon in the sky

Fresh air

The plains

The hill

Every time I see this

My heart stands still.

The Mountain’s Threat – Olivia

Inspired by William Penhallow Henderson, Road to Taos at the Rio Grande, n.d.; Purchase, Richard H. and Adeline J. Fleischaker Collection, 1996

Hello, my name is Shela, and I am a mountain by a road leading to Taos at the Rio Grande. I tower over those pretty human beings. I am an all-powerful being and people climb me like a jungle gym. This cannot go on. Anyone who tries once more will be crushed by my all-powerful rocklings. So, for the both of us, I would halt from climbing me because you won’t live to tell the tale.

The Creative Writing program is made possible through generous support from the Harris Foundation, and transportation is provided by Norman Public Schools.

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