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Southern Word

Writer Mentor

Southern Word


Job Summary

Founded in 2008 based on successful spoken word youth development and education strategies; educators, youth development professionals, writers, and poets built Southern Word from the ground up without substantial institutional or investor backing at the start. We have grown to be a national, non-profit leader in the spoken word education field, serving more than 6,500 youth, 40 schools, and 8 Tennessee counties each year.

Due to our passion for helping youth develop their voices and map their own futures, we have extended programming into music production and writing of all genres. In a culture that aggressively markets products and lifestyles to youth, Southern Word equips youth with the tools to transition from passive consumers into active thinkers, creators, and projectors of their own positive identities.

From guiding and hearing the stories of tens of thousands of youth, Southern Word understands our society’s shortcomings as they relate to youth engagement, literacy, diversity, and mental health. We are responding effectively to some of our most entrenched educational and youth development challenges.

The primary purpose of these positions is to support youth in building their writing, presentation, and leadership skills through all forms of writing with an emphasis on poetry and fiction. Writers will work with groups of youth at schools and youth organizations to support their artistic and academic development both individually and as a group.  Writers are expected to plan student-centered, interactive lessons, activities, and curricula for sessions in collaboration with other Southern Word writers. Writers will teach workshops and evaluate their own and other mentors’ workshops in a continuous effort to innovate the curriculum and improve all mentor’s teaching skills and methods. Since mentors are the main drivers of program attendance for workshops, clubs, and events, writer mentors will be part of recruiting and marketing programs and events.

Positions range from one workshop a week to schedules that may be closer to full-time. This is a contract position that runs approximately between August 2024 and June 2025. Hours and compensation vary based on schedule, level of experience, and placements. Mentors often grow their work with Southern Word over time.

Job Responsibilities


  • In conjunction with the Southern Word team, plan, execute, and evaluate writing and poetry clubs, workshops, shows, and poetry slams; primarily for youth in schools and community settings, but also for adults and intergenerational groups at times.
  • Assist with recruiting and marketing programs and events through marketing visits, sample performances, and communication with youth and parents.
  • Present own writing for modeling, demonstration, and inspiration. 
  • Document and submit documentation for all workshops, residencies, shows, and activities.
  • Research and develop new writing activities and curricula for use in workshops and residencies.
  • Support logistical execution of workshops, shows, and poetry slams.
  • Attend team meetings.
  • Other duties as necessary in support of the Southern Word workshops and events.


Must have experience in educational or youth development settings teaching writing.  We have a special interest in applicants who have had success with reluctant writers, multilingual writers, or young people who find writing challenging. Must have experience writing and presenting own writing in front of an audience. Must be active in own artistic pursuits. Must possess excellent lesson planning, teaching, and classroom management skills. Must be able to positively engage groups of youth in learning as well as focus on the strengths and needs of individual workshop participants. Must be flexible and positive in the face of shifting situations. Must communicate responsively via e-mail. Proficiency in a second language is a plus.

Additional Information



How to Apply

E-mail cover poem and resume to info@southernword.org


  • Date Posted: July 9, 2024
  • Type: Contract / Temp
  • Job Function: Educator
  • Service Area: Arts / Culture
  • Start Date: 09/03/2024
  • Salary Range: Approx. $30 - $35/hr
  • Working Hours: Varies in a 7am - 6pm time window