Hello out there! My name is Kevin Ritter and I am a senior at Lakewood High school. The past two summers, I have had the wonderful opportunity to participate in Young Audiences’ ArtWorks program.
The first time around, I studied magic and showmanship with Jack Palur. Not only did I get to learn how to fool my friends with various illusions, I also learned some very valuable lessons. What I really gleaned from that summer was how to function independently and various learning techniques. The experience really taught me how to pick up ideas quickly. In school, I became noticeably more confident. I was way more active in class discussions. I took more joy in learning than ever before.
This past summer, I studied acting with Jimmie Woody. He not only taught
me about the art form, but enlightened me as to what it means to collaborate. I find myself to be much better at group work this year at school.
I’m really grateful that Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio has afforded me such a wonderful opportunity in participation in the ArtWorks program. I’m also grateful to the continued opportunities they provide for me. Last year, they asked me to co-emcee their Mad Hot Ballroom Gala with my fellow apprentice Michelle Jennings. The experience was a fun filled night. This year, I was asked to perform at the 75th annual Anisfield Wolf Book Awards at Severance Hall.
The Anisfield-Wolf Book Award is a juried prize. It was founded by Edith Anisfield-Wolf, a poet and Clevelander. She created the award to highlight books that focus on social justice. After her death, she left the award for The Cleveland Foundation to take care of. Over the following years, the prize has grown and grown. The past three years, the awards ceremony has featured a young artist at the beginning of the evening. The Cleveland Foundation contacted Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio this year and asked for a suggestion for a possible presenter. Young Audiences was so kind as to suggest me.
The awards ceremony was absolutely a blast (you can read more about my
experience that night here). I wrote a poem specifically for the occasion, titled “11:9.” It deals with the idea of cross-cultural dialogue and understanding. It was absolutely thrilling to meet great writers such as Elizabeth Alexander, Kamila Shamsie, and William Julius Wilson (this year’s honorees), as well as panelists such as Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Rita Dove. I felt inspired to keep writing, not only poetry, but just to put pen to paper. There is nothing more lasting than literature. It can be reproduced and redistributed and consumed at any time. Literature is the most human art form.
I would really like to thank Young Audiences of Northeast of Ohio for all of its continued support.