North Country Young Writers’ Festival

Save the Date! May 14-May 16, 2021

A Virtual Event Free to New Hampshire Residents

(Logo designed by Jocelyn Paradis – Gorham High School)


The North Country Young Writers’ Festival is a youth-focused, youth-driven event, from the logo (designed by a student from Gorham) to the festival workshops in creative writing (taught by college and graduate students) to the panels of readers (including New Hampshire’s Youth Poet Laureates and Poetry Ambassadors).

Hosted virtually this year by White Mountains Community College, this free festival is designed for 7th-12th students from New Hampshire with a casual interest in creative writing and also for those who are considering writing as their college major or profession.

With seven workshops on a range of topics (poetry, screenplays, short stories, drama), a lively Submit-a-thon, readings with published authors, a chance to meet the state’s youth poet laureates (and learn how to become one), fun writing games with prizes, a marathon poem written over 48 hours, and the opportunity to join the editorial board of a new North Country student literary magazine, this festival will be a memorable experience!

Meet the high school students who dared to step on stage and memorize poems for Poetry Out Loud! Meet one of the most prolific writers on Earth, a Hollywood screenwriter, who happens to live in Berlin, NH! For the state’s teachers, we have a special opportunity, a Saturday workshop delivered by Penny Kittle, “Teaching Poetry to Transform Thinking About Writing.”

Stay tuned for more details about festival events! Registration details will be available here on March 10. Want to become involved with the festival? Have questions? Email



Workshop for Teachers | Penny Kittle

Teaching Poetry to Transform Thinking About Writing

Poetry is big thinking in small spaces. The study of poetry teaches an attention to word craft that engages and challenges readers and writers. Poetry invites study at the word and phrase level, ignites a passionate response, and when shared, strengthens a classroom community. When we guide students to imitate writing craft and play with form, they find themselves in words. Studying poetry teaches efficiency with language, clarity of thought, and an attention to tone and pace. Come to read, write, create, and study poetry together. 

Penny Kittle teaches freshman writers at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She was a teacher and literacy coach in public schools for 34 years. She is the author of Book Love, and Write Beside Them, which won the James Britton award from NCTE, as well as two memoirs of teaching. She is the co-author of 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents with Kelly Gallagher and also co-authored two books with her mentor, Don Graves. She is the founder and president of the Book Love Foundation, which annually gives classroom libraries to teachers throughout North America. She was given the Kent Williamson Exemplary Leadership Award from NCTE’s Conference on English Leadership and the International Literacy Association’s Thought Leader award. She works beside teachers and leaders across the world to empower young readers and writers. 


Our Team

Alexandria Peary | Festival Director/New Hampshire Poet Laureate: Alexandria Peary is the 2020 recipient of an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship. She is the author of seven books, most recently The Water DraftProlific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing, and the anthology COVID Spring: Granite State Pandemic Poems. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, Yale Review, New American Writing, Gettysburg Review, Southern Humanities Review, and the North American Review. She specializes in mindful writing to alleviate writing anxiety and blocks. More information about her initiatives as state poet laureate can be found at her blog and on Twitter @NHPoetLaureate  She is a professor at Salem State University and lives in Londonderry, NH, with her family.

Hannah McCarthy | Festival Advisor: Hannah McCarthy is a seasoned executive and higher educational professional with 40 years of senior leadership responsibility.  Now retired she previously  lead two colleges for a combined 33 years. Additionally she  held other administrative  positions in higher education and served as CEO of a small public company. McCarthy’s commitment to higher education earned her honorary degrees from Franklin Pierce University, St. Anselm College and Newbury College as well as The Harold Hyde Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership from Plymouth State University.

John Achorn | WMCC Festival Advisor: John Achorn received his PhD in Medieval/Renaissance Studies at the University of Toronto, with a minor in Rhetoric and Composition. An English Professor at the White Mountains Community College in Northern New Hampshire, he chairs the Arts, Humanities, Communication, and Design Academic Focus Area. He loves the outdoors, particularly the mountains, rivers, and lakes, and appreciates beauty and goodness in the search for truth.


Makenna Allen | Festival Intern, White Mountains Community College (student): Makenna Allen is an eighteen-year-old aspiring high school English teacher studying at White Mountains Community College. She is a self-described literature enthusiast, a lover of art and music, and an amateur coffee connoisseur.



Via D’Agostino | Workshop Leader, University of New Hampshire, (graduate student): Via D’Agostino is a second-year student in the University of New Hampshire’s MFA Fiction Writing program and a proud Ravenclaw. She has over twenty-five works published in journals such as Hispanic Culture Review and The Rectangle, and she loves to read and write YA Fantasy. When she’s not reading or writing, she can usually be found hiking in the mountains, stargazing, or off traveling to some far-flung corner of the world—for novel research, of course.

Brooke Delp | Workshop Leader, Salem State University (graduate student): Brooke Delp is a graduate student at Salem State University in the M.A. Writing program. Brooke has published poems in literary magazines, online and in print, most recently in The Brooklyn Rail. Her recognitions include Salem State’s Award for Creativity in Art and Design. Brooke has also represented her university in the Greater Boston Intercollegiate Poetry Festival. Brooke currently serves as Assistant Managing Editor and Nonfiction Editor of Soundings East.

Lily Greenberg | Workshop Leader, University of New Hampshire, (graduate student): Lily Greenberg is a poet from Nashville, Tennessee and a third-year poetry student in the University of New Hampshire’s MFA Writing program. She works as a research writer for her university and serves as Editor-in-Chief of Barnstorm Journal. Her poetry has appeared in Third Coast Magazine, storySouthRiver Heron Review, and she is the recipient of the 2020 Dick Shea Memorial Prize in Poetry.  

Luke Harding | Workshop Leader, Plymouth State University (student): Luke Harding is a Junior at Plymouth State University majoring in English with minors in Marketing and Professional Communications. He is passionate about writing creatively and inspiring others to do so. His goal is to provide the students of the festival with the tools to continue their creative writing practices and speak up about the world around them.


Miranda Hughes | Workshop Leader, Salem State University (graduate student): Miranda Hughes is a storyteller, writer, and gamer who enjoys casual behavior analysis and deconstructing fantasy. She earned her BA in English at the University of Utah and is a graduate student at Salem State University, studying for her MA in English-Writing and the Digital Studies Certificate program. Her publications include her the short fiction pieces “The Color of Sinew,” “The Safe Space,” the interactive text adventure game Thief in the Night, with sidequests for the upcoming Beyond Skyrim: Atmora mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Hanna Seibert | Workshop Leader White Mountains Community College (student): Hanna Seibert is a student at White Mountain Community College with a major in Liberal Arts. She will be pursuing a degree in Linguistics this fall at the University of New Hampshire. She is currently President of the White Mountain Community College Student Senate and is engaged in planning activities and contests for her fellow students and for faculty members. After college, her goals include joining the Army Reserves and earning a master’s degree in Linguistics.


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