Community Arts Partner

Participant Details

Community Arts Partner Name
Sierra Nelson
Partner Type
Profile Photo
Individual Bio or
Organizational Statement
Sierra Nelson is a Seattle-based poet, performing artist, multidisciplinary collaborator and teaching artist working in Washington for over seventeen years. Earning her B.A. in English from Vassar College (1997) and M.F.A. in Poetry from University of Washington (2002), she has taught through Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools (WITS) program at McClure Middle School, Port Townsend High School, and Seattle Children’s Hospital. She has also taught innovative creative writing youth intensives through Centrum’s Middle School Explorations in Port Townsend and Hugo House’s Scribes Program in Seattle, and teaches adults through University of Washington’s Creative Writing in Rome Program, U.W.’s Friday Harbor Marine Labs on San Juan Island, and at the Hugo House. She has also been a guest teaching artist at Seattle’s juvenile detention, Seattle and King County Public Libraries, International District Community Center, Ballard High School, the Seattle Aquarium, and elsewhere. Sierra's books include award-winning I Take Back the Sponge Cake (Rose Metal Press), In Case of Loss (Toadlily), and Who Are We? (with 7-inch record), and her poems have appeared in publications such as Crazyhorse, Tin House, Pleaides, Poetry Northwest, and Alive at the Center, and in installations including at SIM Gallery (Reykjavik, Iceland) and the Seattle Aquarium. As co-founder of acclaimed literary performance groups The Typing Explosion and Vis-a-Vis Society, she has collaboratively written, performed, and created installations nationally and internationally, including during the Venice Biennale and at the Frye Art Museum. She is also a MacDowell Colony Fellow, founder of Seattle’s Cephalopod Appreciation Society, and winner of the Carolyn Kizer Prize and a 2014 CityArtist Grant from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

Contact Information

First Name
Last Name
2114 20th Ave S
Address 2

Grade Levels Preferred

Grade Levels Preferred
K-2, 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th

Artistic Disciplines

Poetry, Performance, Performance Art, Collaborative Writing, Collaborative Performing, Multimedia Poetry, Poetry Installations (text-based audio, visual, interactive and/or site-specific), Video Poems, Poetry & Science Collaborations
Literary Art or Spoken Word/Performance Poetry, Theater, Multidisciplinary


Previous School Partnerships
Other Trainings or Certifications
Sample Lesson Description: Student / Classroom Residencies
Sample Workshop Description: Teacher Professional Development

Areas of Experience and Expertise

Approved Professional Development Provider
Approved Classroom Residency Provider
Experience with English Language Learners
Experience with Students in Special Education

Lesson Plan

Integrated Art
Cultural Art

Teaching Approach

Teaching Philosophy + Approach
I truly believe that every person can be a writer: we all have unique experiences, perceptions, and imaginations to express – often surprising ourselves once we open the door to the process – and each voice is worth hearing. As children we all have an innate ability to be creative given the freedom, opportunity, and encouragement to continue. That is one of our most crucial roles as teaching artists: to advocate for this space and opportunity, and to give this encouragement.
Curriculum Integration Possibilities
  • Science
  • Math
  • Art
  • Dance
  • Geography
  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature
  • Language Studies
Special Skills and Areas of Expertise
  • Creative Writing Workshops for Teachers (Professional Development)
  • ELL
Testimonials from Schools
Jeanine Walker, WITS Program Director,  Seattle Arts & Lectures Rebecca Hoogs, Associate Director, Seattle Arts & Lectures
  • Email:
  • Phone: (206) 621-2230, ext. 18
  • Website:
Martha Worthley, Young Artist Project Program Manager, Centrum Sarah Leon, Youth Programs Coordinator & Adult Student Services, Hugo House  




Image Description
As a teaching artist at Hugo House's Scribes Program, Sierra Nelson helps students write collaborative poems using typewriters from Vis-a-Vis Society's collection.
Image Description
Collaborators Sierra Nelson and Rachel Kesler (a.k.a. Vis-a-Vis Society) scientifically graph answers from original multiple-choice poems on an overhead projector, with results presented as song, dance, or new poem.
Image Description
Site-specific interactive installaton (Bridge Motel, Seattle) by Vis-a-Vis Society (Sierra Nelson & Rachel Kessler, joined by Anne Bradfield). 100 unique collaborative poems were exchanged with live audience participants.
Image Description
Poetry project written in collaboration with scientist Adam Summers' photographs of stained fish skeletons; poems and photographs debuted together as an installation at the Seattle Aquarium.
Image Description
Poetry project written in collaboration with scientist Adam Summers' photographs of stained fish skeletons; poems and photographs displayed in another installation at the Secrets of the Sea exhibition, Lewiston-Auburn College, Maine.


Video Description
Interview with teaching artists Sierra Nelson and Ann Teplick working with Seattle Children's Hospital patients through the Seattle Arts & Lectures' Writers in the Schools (WITS) program, along with students sharing their poems.
Video Description
Interview with collaborating performance artists Sierra Nelson and Rachel Kesler (a.k.a.Vis-à-Vis Society) about their multimedia performances and science+poetry process.
Video Description
Original video-poem collaboratively written, performed, and filmed by by the Vis-a-Vis Society (a.k.a. collaborating artists Sierra Nelson and Rachel Kessler)