What Stephen Haff is doing at Still Waters is giving inner-city kids a chance to meet with well known, artistically serious writers: Peter Carey, Richard Price, Colum McCann, Patrick McGrath, among others. That’s an amazing line-up. But equally amazing is the atmosphere that Stephen has created in this alternative learning sanctuary. I’ve worked with lots of different literacy outreach programs, but Still Waters is unique: the love of language Stephen has instilled in his cohort of kids is wonderfully inspiring. And as a result, as a writer and a person, you meet the kids on common ground—the blank page—but nothing is common in this exchange. The enthusiasm and invention and concentration of the kids on what they write gives you the sense that the English language, in all its permutations, is in an interesting and invigorating state of repair.

Tom Sleigh
Senior Poet
Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing
Hunter College, City University of New York