Starting on Monday of last week, Parker welcomed Julian Randall ’11 to campus for a week and a half of poetry, writing, mentorship and more, culminating in the 9th Annual Jeanne Harris Hansell Endowed Fund for Poetry presentation on Wednesday.
Randall is the recipient of multiple fellowships and the winner of a Pushcart Prize. He holds an MFA in poetry from University of Mississippi. His writing has appeared in New York Times Magazine, POETRY and The Atlantic. He is the author of Refuse (Pitt, 2018), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award; The Pilar Ramirez Duet (Holt Books for Young Readers, YEAR); and The Dead Don’t Need Reminding: Essays (Bold Type Books, 2024).
Randall kicked off his time as Parker’s Writer-in-Residence on Monday, April 18. During the course of this residency, Randall met with more than 25 classes covering Lower, Intermediate, Middle and Upper Schools. He was a Mystery Reader in SK; ran an “Asking Big Questions” writing workshop in 1st grade; talked poetry with 3rd graders; discussed story starters, strategies he uses/suggests to build suspense and develop mood/characters and having patience with the process of creation with the 5th grade; read the first chapter of his book Pilar Ramirez and the Escape from Zafa and talked about his story’s formation with the 6th grade; led poetry writing workshops with 8th graders; and met with a range of Upper School classes to discuss writing and poetry, including American Literature, Black Voices, Creative Nonfiction, Genres, Slam Poetry Club and Writer’s Studio, to name a few. Each class asked questions, from those related to poetry to his favorite sports team to his writing process or even his favorite music. Randall provided these young budding minds with an insight into the mind of a published poet/writer.
Randall spoke at Morning Ex, reading selections from all types of his works, including poetry and excerpts from his nonfiction and essays, and talking about his experience as a writer and poet. Some examples include his poem “Flex,” his story from Black Boy Joy “But Also, Jazz” and his excerpt from his essay about Miles Morales and the “original Spiderman” Anansi. Parker students were even fortunate enough to hear Randall perform the world premiere of a poem!
Randall ended his time with his former school at the 9th Annual Jeanne Harris Hansell Endowed Fund for Poetry live reading. Principal Dan Frank welcomed the audience of English Department faculty members, current students, current parents/guardians, alumni and parents/guardians of alumni. English Department Co-Chair David Fuder introduced Randall before sophomore Gabriel Vilus got the audience in the poetry spirit by performing an original piece of slam poetry. With the audience warmed up, Randall then read excerpts from Refuse and more recent works before closing with a newer piece of prose. English Department Co-Chair Matt Laufer closed the event and thanked everyone for attending.
Parker is thankful to Randall for spending so much time with the community and to the Hansell family for making this event possible.
for photos of Randall’s time at Parker.
This event is made possible through a gift from the Hansell family. The Jeanne Harris Hansell Endowed Fund for Poetry, established in the name of Jeanne Harris Hansell ’45, will ensure continued success of the “Poetry at Parker” series, as well as allow the school to host renowned guest poets and speakers about poetry in years to come. Former Poet Laureate Billy Collins was Parker’s inaugural visiting poet in the 2012–13 academic year, followed by Nikky Finney, Louise Glück, Kevin Young, Joy Harjo, Naomi Shihab Nye, Natasha Trethewey and Elise Paschen ’77.