PSR Announces Pat & Peter Schneider Scholarship Fund

May 1, 2013

On April 27, PSR hosted How the Light Gets In in honor of Pat and Peter Schneider (pictured below), celebrating the newly established Pat & Peter Scholarship Fund.

Pat Schneider, PSR distinguished alumna recipient of 2000, developed a unique writing workshop method first employed in 1980 to support people in finding their voices through writing.  Ms. Schneider focused her efforts toward disenfranchised populations, yielding remarkable results.  The method was widely distributed through her Oxford University Press book, Writing Alone and with Others.  Later Ms. Schneider founded Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) to train others to lead workshops in this way, and thousands of people from graduate school classrooms and elementary schoolrooms to jails and shelters, from Massachusetts to Malawi, benefited from the method.  The Pat & Peter Schneider Fund will support writing at Pacific School of Religion though AWA method classes, scholarships, and events, with a special emphasis on writing to empower those who have been denied voice. 

On how Pat was inspired to start AWA , Pat stated “its spiritual beginning was when my brother, who never escaped poverty as I did, came to visit.  He was a "drifter" -- we would now say "homeless."  I loved him passionately; we were to each other the family we did not otherwise have.  We had an absent father and a mentally ill mother; we had been in an orphanage together.  He took out of his wallet a small, crumpled piece of paper, and said "Here's something I wrote."  It was about "Rebel," who was being chased by "motorcyclists from hell."  I knew that he was talking about alcoholism.  I also knew that it was a brilliant metaphor, and I thought, He is as much an artist as I am, but no one will ever know it.”

Pat Schneider is poet and author of ten books including five volumes of poems, How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice and Writing Alone & With Others, both from Oxford University Press, and Wake Up Laughing: A Spiritual Autobiography. Her libretti have been performed and recorded at Tanglewood and in Carnegie Hall by Robert Shaw & the Atlanta Symphony. Her work has been featured on NPR, on National Public Television, and fourteen times on Garrison Keillor’s “Writers Almanac.” She has taught at GTU and Pacific School of Religion for thirty years.

Peter Schneider met Pat in class at Pacific School of Religion.  They married in PSR’s Chapel of the Great Commission in 1957, the year that Peter graduated.  Peter pursued doctoral studies in theology at Boston University, and served Methodist churches as a pastor for 25 years.  In 1980 he left the ministry and joined Pat in the management of Amherst Writers & Artists.  Peter is a poet and a clarinetist whose published book of poems is titled Line Fence.

In her hopes for how the fund will be used by PSR, Pat stated in an email “I have wanted this collaboration for many years…[m]y hope is that PSR and AWA will continue to be members of one family [, and] that the fund may increase the possibility of AWA method workshops bringing voice to those who have been denied voice, and greater freedom and craft to those who use voice in the service of peace and justice.”

See photos of the event on Facebook »

Pat Schneider’s Books at »