Renard Boissiere is an English educator and writer from New Orleans. In May 2022, Lucky Bean Poetry (New Orleans) published some of his poems as a chapbook, Life in the Belly.
After graduating from Southern Vermont College in 1991 (BA English, Writing concentration), Renard began teaching in his hometown, adapting workshop strategies to fit his project-based learning classes. The collaborative nature of peer-editing, fact-checking, and conducting research learned in fiction and poetry writing workshops proved invaluable as methods to enhance student engagement. More recently, as part of his MAT studies at the University of New Orleans (UNO), Renard participated in the 2018 Greater New Orleans Writing Project (GNOWP). A regional site for the National Writing Project (NWP) for 40 years, GNOWP encourages educators to incorporate writing as a discipline more consistently and explicitly in their curriculum.
Volunteering to lead the group’s initial exercise, Renard disseminated a document with two short poems that addressed the topic of history from different perspectives - one in an explicit manner, the other much less so. Both poems used accessible, concrete imagery and addressed higher-order concepts. The group’s ensuing discussion varied from how each poet approached or “attacked” the poem, how language was used effectively and efficiently to suggest even more thought-provoking ideas, and how poets make choices to create the puzzle and solve the riddle (or not). The group was then given a set of images from which they could choose and then write a poem. They were encouraged to use any form, including narrative or experimental ones, and after completing, each writer read their piece aloud. They were able to explain what attracted them to an image, address the form they chose, and offer a self-critique. Group members could follow with constructive criticism, including support and suggestions.
The workshop process was a real revelation for most of the teachers, since most educators never participate in a writing workshop. They marveled at how easily dialog arose from the collaborative enterprise and supported active learning, and the courage to try new approaches.
In addition to teaching English and writing, Renard is a musician and composer. After Hurricane Katrina, he lived in Fairfield County from August 2005 until August 2011. This past spring, he resumed work on a book originally planned as part verse novel. The original draft, notes, and well-traveled box were lost in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.