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Alumnus unites community through poetry

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September 18, 2012

Georgia College alumnus Paul Grigsby steps up to the mic.

He takes a deep breath then proceeds to engage his audience with visuals of current issues and social situations:


This is Melanin in the Sun,Paul Grigsby, Georgia College alumnus and executive director of Art as an Agent for Change, uses poetry to connect with students and the community.Paul Grigsby, Georgia College alumnus and executive director of Art as an Agent for Change, uses poetry to connect with students and the community.

A letter in the Margin

 Cell blocks that hold

The innocent. Choose

Bread over bombs

This is the inner-city

Going off. Beat Boxes

And public housing,

Gentrification in

turning tables.

“Injustice anywhere is

threat to justice


 We are King’s

Dream remixed in skin


“My poetry is personal and makes human connections,” said Grigsby, ’08, ’10. “I also like to write about people in urban spaces since I grew up in Atlanta.”

Grigsby and student artists, poets and musicians collaborate in cultural performances throughout the academic year.

As executive director of nonprofit organization Art as an Agent for Change Inc. (A.A.C.), Grigsby connects his love for the arts with his alma mater and local community.

“I always loved poetry, but how do you use it to make an impact and reshape the world?” asked Grigsby. “Art as an Agent for Change provides a venue for poems, plays, music, films and arts and crafts to come to life and socially uplift our communities.”

The poet and educator wanted to cultivate his childhood knack for writing poetry, so he decided to attend Georgia College.

Today, he works as a language arts instructor at Baldwin High School in Milledgeville teaching 9th- through 12th-grade students English.

“I knew Georgia College had one of the best writing programs and the best faculty mentors,” Grigsby said. “They want you to become a great writer.”

During his undergraduate studies, Grigsby also founded student organization A.A.C. The organization supports artistic collaboration, community engagement, arts activism and education improvement through the arts.

Thomas Hughey, junior computer science major, serves as A.A.C.’s current president, working with Grigsby to plan and host monthly events.

“The organization has certainly taught me how to lead, manage and work within a team,” said Hughey. “We’re able to uplift and provide youth in the area opportunities to engage in the arts meaningfully. A main benefit of being part of this organization is knowing we’re giving back to the community.”

Grigsby’s and student’s dedication to A.A.C. elevated the program from student organization status to a nationally recognized, award-winning organization, winning Georgia College’s 2009 Bobcat Award for “Best New Program” and 2011 Flagg Social Justice Award.

“A.A.C. is now a 501(c)3 tax-exempted organization,” said Grigsby. “As a nonprofit, charitable group, we can enter contracts and earn grants. A.A.C. proves that Georgia College students and the community have a shared passion for the arts.”

After earning his undergraduate degree, Grigsby wanted to become a creative writing educator. He advanced his degree through Georgia College’s Master of Arts in Teaching program.

“Because Georgia College helped me fine tune my writing skills, I’m better equipped to help my students understand the written word,” Grigsby said.

His passion for poetry has created a strong interest among his high school students.

This year A.A.C. implemented a new program called A.A.C. Youth Poetry Collectives. The program creates performance poetry workshops for middle and high school students to enhance creative writing, critical thinking and public speaking skills.

Thus far, participating schools include Baldwin High School, Georgia College Early College and Greene County High School in Greensboro. A.A.C. also collaborates with artistic organization B.L.A.C.K. Poets in Macon for youth poetry projects.

Youth Poetry Collectives also features A.A.C.’s Middle Georgia Youth Poetry Slam where students compete in a slam poetry contest to showcase their writing and public speaking talents.

“My students are learning how to write great poems,” said Grigsby. “Whether funny, tragic or informational, a great poem should include part of you, your life experiences and draw inspiration from your passion. Poetry gives me a deeper sense of self, and Georgia College helped me develop my passion.”

Upcoming Events:

  • 8:30 p.m. tomorrow Poetry Jamz at Blackbird Coffee downtown;
  • 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 Artz Jamz at Wray Homes in Milledgeville; and
  • 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17 Poetry Jamz at Blackbird Coffee downtown.

Visit to learn more about A.A.C.

ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

Founded in 1889, Georgia College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation with Corinthian columns fronting red brick buildings and wide open green spaces. Georgia College also offers graduate education at the historic Jefferson building in downtown Macon, at Robins Air Force Base and online.

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For more information, contact University Communications at (478) 445-4477.