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Ray McNiece

Theatre, Performance Poetry & Storytelling
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Ray McNiece is the author of eight books of poems and monologues, most recently Breath Burns Away, New Haiku. He has created two solo theatre works: Dis – Voices From a Shelter and Us? Talking Across America; two music/poetry collaborations: “Mouth Music” and “A Rust bowl Hootenanny;” and an autobiography on stage: The Lives of A Poet. The Orlando Sentinel reporting on Ray’s solo show at the Fringe Festival called him “a modern day descendant of Woody Guthrie. He has a way with words and a wry sense of humor.” In a review of Us? Talking Across America, the Star-Phoenix said, “His thoughtful writing combines with perfectly timed delivery to create a powerful wordscape that owes as much to jazz as drama.”

He has worked for both the Ohio Arts Council Arts in Education programs as well as doing presentations and workshops for The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning. He was consultant and curriculum development artist for WordForward in Singapore and for the nationally touring Poetry Alive. He is an adjunct professor at John Carroll University. Ray was recently certified on the Young Audiences National Teaching Artist Roster. Highlights of past tours include a keynote shared with Robert Bly at the First Coast Writer’s Conference and a featured reading at the opening of City Light’s Italia in Florence with Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Ray toured Russia with Yevgeny Yevtushenko where he appeared on Good Morning, Russia and performed at the Moscow Polytech, the Russian Poets’ Hall of Fame.

He has received numerous awards for his writing and performance, most recently a $20,000 Creative Workforce Fellowship from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and a residency from Cuyahoga Partnership for Arts and Culture/Arts Collinwood to facilitate an oral history of Collinwood, his ancestral neighborhood where he currently resides.

Grade Levels/Age Groups

  • PreK
  • Grades 1-3
  • Grades 4-5
  • Grades 6-8
  • Grades 9-12
  • Young Adult
  • Adult
  • Senior

Facilities and Resources Required

  • Audio system
  • Electrical outlets
  • Tables
  • Performance space
  • Chairs
  • Backstage area/dressing room


Upon request






Video courtesy of the teaching artist from Arts Cleveland on Vimeo.