RAWKstars of the Month, RWR Edition: Nicole Butz & Doug Knudsen

As we're revving up for the second year of RAWK Writers' Room at Maple Street Middle School we want to shine a spotlight on two volunteers who really make it all happen. Thank you to these two bright and caring people for sharing your time with our students. Without further ado, here are Nicole and Doug!

Name: Nicole Butz
Job/Current Status: bookseller/bookstore co-owner
Hobbies: reading, cooking, snowboarding and, newly, climbing
How'd you hear about RAWK?: Originally? Not sure … but I hear about it a lot from one of RAWK's biggest fans — my daughter.
In what capacity have you volunteered with RAWK?: RWR (RAWK Writers' Room)
What future RAWK events do you look forward to getting involved with?: So excited for RWR Year II!
Why do you volunteer with RAWK?: Because I'm so very convinced of the excellent work it has done (and continues to do) to foster a community of literacy and because of its proven passion for and dedication to writing, books, kids and Kalamazoo.
If you could be a genre of writing, what would you be?: Narrative historical nonfiction
Favorite book and/or author?:
My answer to this seems to change depending on my age, location, circumstance and mood.  But always at the top of the list: Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth, Octavia Butler's Kindred and Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita.
Any humorous/touching/inspiring RAWK moments you'd like to share?: So many standout RAWK moments — had as both a volunteer and as the parent of a frequent RAWK participant — from which to choose! Most recently, I had the privilege of watching two groups of composed, mature middle school students rock (RAWK?) their original poetry at a meeting of KPS administrators.  The realization of how far they had come — thanks to the collaboration between RAWK and a phenomenal language arts teacher — made me cry (in that rather embarrassing mom kind of way).


Name: Doug Knudsen

Job/Current Status: I am a stay at home parent of two great kids. A soon to be seventh grader at Maple Middle School and a 16 year old newly minted driver who is heading into his junior year at Loy Norrix.

Hobbies: My hobbies include spending time riding my bicycle with the Kalamazoo Bike Club, playing soccer with my daughter, and reading and writing poetry.

In what capacity have you volunteered with RAWK?: I volunteered with RAWK at the RAWK Writers' Room at Maple Middle School.

Why do you volunteer with RAWK?: I volunteer with RAWK because it is a wonderful program and it is a chance to work with the young people of the Kalamazoo community. It is a great feeling watching younger people become as excited as I am about reading and the creative process of writing.

If you could be a genre of writing, what would you be?: I think I would be poetry. I love the imagery and musicality of the words that a great poem can create.

Favorite book and/or author?: That's a tough question. I don't think I can narrow it down to just one. Some of my favorites are Mary Oliver, Rick Bass, Hayden Carruth and Dan Gerber.

Any humorous/touching/inspiring RAWK moments you'd like to share?: The best moments were when a student who was struggling with reading and writing found the inspiration and courage to share something they had written. The joy they had from something they made was contagious and made me want to spend more time with my own kids making sure they felt that too.