Dale Davis (poet)

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Dale T. Davis is an American writer, educator, publisher, producer, scholar, dramaturge, and advocate for young people. She was one of the founding poets of ANew York State Poets In The Schools. As a publisher she established The Sigma Foundation, a limited edition, private press with Dr. James Sibley Watson, Jr. avant-garde filmmaker and publisher and editor of The Dial magazine, the leading modernist journal of arts and letters. The Sigma Foundation published the work of Margaret Caroline Anderson, Mina Loy, and Djuna Barnes. The Sigma Foundation’s books are in many permanent collections, including The Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Library, Yale University and The Collection of American Women, Smith College.[1]

In 1979, she founded The New York State Literary Center (NYSLC) where she continues to serve as Executive Director. Writers, editors, and artists who have worked with Dale Davis as integral contributors to NYSLC’s programs included Homero Aridjis, William Bronk, Kenneth Burke, Robert Creeley, Malcolm Cowley, Robert Fitzgerald, Kamilah Forbes, Jonathan Galassi, Hugh Kenner, Ted Kooser, James Laughlin, Ruth Maleczech, Emir Rodriguez Monegal, Octavio Paz, William Stafford, Carrie Mae Weems, and Eliot Weinberger.[2] Davis’ belief in all young people extended NYSLC’s reach to students at the highest risk for educational failure. Today NYSLC serves the incarcerated through interdisciplinary, strength based arts programs.[3]

NYSLC has published over 600 books of writing by young people, 30 children’s books by incarcerated youth, and has produced 30 CDs. A NYSLC program was featured at the William Carlos Williams Centennial at the Harvard Club in New York for the Modern Language Association Convention. NYSLC’s programs have been the subject of articles in New York Magazine and The New York Times, honored by The President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities, The Center for Disease Control National AIDS Clearinghouse, the American Council on The Arts, The National Alternative Education Association, The National Dropout Prevention Association, the Annenberg School of Communication, Arts In Criminal Justice, and a documentary by Columbia University’s EdLab. In 2014, Dale Davis received the Andrew P. Meloni Award from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office for dedication and commitment to improve the education of those incarcerated through NYSLC's arts, education, and rehabilitation programs.

Dale Davis has lectured and conducted teacher education programs in Juneau, Alaska, Honolulu, Hawaii, the Mississippi Delta, and throughout the country. As a recognized expert on Youth Culture, she served as a consultant to ABC Network. She has presented papers on her work with young people at state and national conferences, including College Board's National Forum, Education and The American Future, on employing arts learning with underserved populations to foster cultural understanding and unleash students’ creativity to prepare students to tackle today’s pressing issues. She has served as a panelist for Massachusetts Cultural Council’s first Creative Teaching Fellowships Program. She has served as both an Education Panelist and Literature Panelist for The New York State Council on The Arts.

As an advocate for Teaching Artists, Davis was one of the founders of New York State's Association of Teaching Artists (ATA) in 1998. In 2006 she became the Association of Teaching Artists’ first Executive Director where she continues to serve. She is in communication with Teaching Artists nationwide and consults on training and professional development for artists who teach in schools and in communities. ATA now reaches over 5,000 artists and arts professionals weekly. In 2010 with the encouragement and support of Teaching Artists and arts education organizations throughout the country, ATA became a national network and community of practice. In 2011, ATA convened the first national gathering of Teaching Artists, the Teaching Artists Forum, at the Center for Arts Education in New York City. Now in its sixteenth year, ATA continues as a model in pioneering serving artists who work in education and community venues.

Dale Davis’ installations, combining the writing of young people and her own photographs, have been exhibited in several prominent venues. She has written 12 theater pieces, adapted from the writing of those with whom she has worked, that have been performed in juvenile justice facilities, prisons, and jails. Her writing has appeared in publications from The Iowa Review to Op-Ed in The New York Times. Recent publications include chapters in Unseen Cinema, Classics In The Classroom and columns in the online publication, The Bakery.

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