UMKC Creative Writing Boosts Local Literacy

Writers to Readers event for Literacy KC

Thousands of once functionally illiterate adults in Kansas City can now read because of Literacy Kansas City. And hundreds of talented graduate students have perfected their writing skills as members of UMKC’s Creative Writing program in the Department of English.

Now the two groups are joining forces to sponsor the first-ever Writers for Readers event, a benefit dinner and talk celebrating the power of expression through creative writing and reading.

Noted author and Princeton University professor Edmund White will join guests for a reception and dinner at 6 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Kansas City Public Library (Central Branch) 14 W. 10th St., Kansas City, Mo. Then, White will speak about his book, “Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris,” the story of his expatriate years abroad. White will appear with his husband, Michael Carroll, whose short story collection, Little Reef,” won the Sue Kaufman Prize for first fiction in 2015.

“Everything about this night is essential to our quality of life — literacy, diversity, community involvement, support for student scholarships and the arts,” said Whitney Terrell, Creative Writing professor and an organizer of Writers for Readers. “It is at the core of UMKC’s mission to serve the community in this way.”

Funds raised at this event will be used to hire UMKC Creative Writing graduate students to teach creative writing to teens and adults enrolled in Literacy Kansas City’s Ticket to Read. Writers for Readers is based on the idea that learning to read and write may be easier if the students have the means to tell their own stories.

When Edmund White left New York for Paris in 1983, he couldn’t speak French and knew only two people there. But by the time he moved back to the states years later, he had mastered French culture enough to broadcast on French radio and TV, and to converse comfortably with such French icons as Yves Saint Laurent, Catherine Deneuve and Michel Foucault.

Seating for the dinner and presentation is limited to 250. Tickets begin at $25 for students and $50 for others, with sponsorship levels beginning at $500. To view the full list of sponsorship opportunities or to RSVP online, visit Questions may be directed to Literacy Kansas City at (816) 333-9332 or e-mail

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