Last year, when the pandemic began, we reached out to our teen writers to see how we could better support them. The message was clear: they needed and wanted more opportunities to express their thoughts and feelings.
In response, we created a Teen Ambassador Program, and with the teens’ guidance, and the help of our college interns, we rebranded our teen programming to PWN Teen. Today we are thrilled to reveal our new PWN Teen website, reflective of their vision, creativity, energy, and hard work. The new website offers everything a teen writer needs—resources of book recommendations, writing prompts, and writing tips; lists of publication opportunities; informative articles by teen writers; as well as creative writing classes and workshops for teens.
This month, too, PWN Teen hosted our first writing contest, Voice & Verse, drawing in submissions from all over the world! That’s right—from all over the world! Our contest winners are announced here and you can read their incredible pieces in our latest issue of Bridge Ink.
We also celebrated our first PWN Teen Lit Fest, held last Sunday, April 25. More than 75 teens and adults participated in a day of fun events that culminated in our Open Mic, which featured the winners of our contest.
With our new website and programming, we are more committed than ever to building a global community of teen writers.
Our PWN Teen Ambassador program is open to teens ages 13 to 18. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you are a college student seeking a summer internship, please also email email@example.com.
Here’s what else we’ve been up to this month. If you are interested in bringing a program to your school or organization, email executive director Jennifer Chauhan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
21st Century Community Learning Center (Long Branch)
We continued our work with 3rd graders in Long Branch during the month of April. With notebooks and pens in hand, the children eagerly responded to prompts and “try-its” that helped them find meaningful life stories to write about in their booklets. We used mentor texts—such as Peter’s Chair, by Ezra Jack Keates, Short Cut, by Donald Crews, Trevor’s Wiggly-Wobbly Tooth, by Lester L. Laminack, and Courage, by Benard Waber—to foster in-depth discussions about feelings. We then brainstormed moments in our own lives when we’ve had strong feelings, just as the characters in the books did. These moments made for the beginning of some amazing narratives that we shared on Zoom. The children are eager to share on screen and are truly engaged, so we can’t ask for more!
Asbury Park High School
Our Spoken Word Project with the creative writing class at Asbury Park High School wrapped up this month with a day of students sharing their pieces and a day of reflection on the impact the project has made on them. One student wrote: “I discovered that I can write poetry and I’ve learned that anything is possible and anyone’s potential is limitless.” Another shared: “What I loved about this short journey is that I was able to write and express myself and I honestly felt better so thank you for letting us participate.” We are in the process of taking the students’ writing and putting it together in an anthology for our Writers Celebration on May 14. We will also be featuring some of the writing in an upcoming issue of Bridge Ink, so stay tuned!
Bridge Ink 5.2
It’s official! Our latest issue of Bridge Ink is out, featuring all of the winners from our Voice & Verse writing contest. Submissions were sent to us from New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, California … and India! These works range from “melancholy dances through lovely images and enticing word choices,” as one of our judges noted, to “haunting, empathetic observations.” Both the poetry and prose submissions feature fantastical imaginative fiction as well as deeply personal memoir. We are so proud of our winning writers and so happy to be able to share their work with you!
This month, we provided a professional development workshop for the staff of embrella. Each staff member took the VIA Character Quiz and then we used the results for reflective writing. We looked at a time in our lives when we faced a challenge and then explored how our strengths showed up for us. We love spending quality time writing and reflecting with teams, noting how we can learn more about one another through writing and sharing our stories. If you’d like to bring a PD writing workshop to your company or organization, email Jennifer Chauhan at email@example.com.
Friday Lunchtime Write-In
Every Friday, we meet on Zoom from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. to write in response to prompts on a designated theme. This month we’ve explored themes on “eggs,” “vessels,” “shower,” “language,” and “left.” Some writers join to write poetry, others write longer narrative prose, and some just come to journal. Some just come to see what the theme will be! Nothing is off-limits! A few of our writers have begun submitting works they’ve started in Lunchtime Write-In and are now getting them published! No matter what you plan to do with the writing you generate with us, we always enjoy hearing one another’s pieces and have formed an incredible, supportive community of writers. Join us for our next Lunchtime Write-In to discover what our upcoming themes will be!
Hope Sheds Light
We’ve been so impressed with the poetry coming from the teens of Hope Sheds Light. This month we read some Mary Oliver, Sonja Livingston, J. Ruth Gendler, and the classic Hemingway. We were amazed with the writing that came out of the challenge from Hemingway’s one-true-sentence prompt: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” We look forward to seeing what they write next month!
Red Bank Regional High School
Writers in the Creative Writing Academy are working on finishing book-length works. Their teacher tasked them with writing a short memoir piece as an introduction. PWN gave examples of a variety of “Author’s Notes” to show what a short personal section can accomplish. The writers later submitted their drafts and were workshopped. Their pieces were daring, vulnerable, and surprising, and added a new layer to the creative work to follow. You’ll be able to purchase their books on Amazon at the end of spring.
Red Bank Public Library
This month at the Red Bank Public Library, we wrote about childhood experiences, specifically how we learned about friendship at a young age. We read some poems by the late Joan Anglund Walsh in which simple prose highlights the beauty of connecting and belonging: “Morning is a Little Child” and “A Friend is Someone Who Loves You.” We are honored that these writers come back for more!
Shore House (Long Branch)
We’ve been celebrating National Poetry Month every week with Shore House writers through the month of April. We’ve written our own definitions of poetry, toyed with haiku, and concluded by celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day in person on April 29. We passed out excerpts of poems written by teens published in our online literary magazine, Bridge Ink, and then we wrote off of those excerpts. We shared our writing aloud, then we each took one of our favorite lines from our works and strung them together into a gorgeous collaborative poem. We’re so grateful to the Shore House writers for writing & celebrating poetry with us!
Teacher Writing Collaborative
In our Teacher Writing Collaborative sessions, we focused on poetry in honor of National Poetry Month. We reflected on what poetry means to us and its importance in our lives. We also shared some of our favorite writing lessons we’ve used in our classrooms this month. The next session is Thursday, May 6, from 4:30 to 5:40 p.m. during which we will be brainstorming what we’d like to do together as a group this summer. All teachers are welcome to join! Register here.
Teen Arts Festival
For the past couple of years, we have been invited by Monmouth Arts to adjudicate the creative writing portion of the Teen Arts Festival. Each year, we are blown away by the talent emerging from these teen writers. Not only do we get to read their pieces and give feedback, but we also get to spend time talking to the writers about craft and process. Thank you, Monmouth Arts, for including us again this year!
Teen Writing Group
Our Spring Session I Teen Writing Group has come to a close this month, but we will be back on May 6 for another session! Some of our favorite prompts from our teens this session include: “Pick a color that most describes you and write about why you associate that color with yourself,” “Many people are familiar with the phrase: march to the beat of your own drum, but what instrument would best illustrate your sound?” and our personal favorite: “Quickly read ‘Tattoo’ by Nick Flynn, and use this piece as inspiration for your own work.” We love seeing our teen writers reading and writing from the published pieces they find that move them. Join us for our next session of Teen Writing Group to experience the inspiration, motivation, encouragement, and community you need to deepen your writing life!
“Womyn’s Worth” at Lunch Break
At Lunch Break with the “Womyn’s Worth” group, we wrote to the prompt: If I were to truly connect with the inner core of me—the me that wants the best, the me that embraces change and transition—what would the results be six months from now? These powerful women are moving and changing faster than the speed of light—engaging in deep self-care, speaking from a place of inner healing and connection. We are so proud of all the Women of Womyn’s Worth! Keep writing and keep becoming!
Zoom Open Mic
We had such an inspiring group of writers join us this month for our Zoom Open Mic! We noticed some gorgeous synchronicities among the pieces shared, even between writers who had never met one another before or taken the same class. This showcased to us the power of our writing community—how we writers seem to share a vibration that transcends communication. Don’t believe us? Experience the magic yourself in our next Zoom Open Mic on Friday, June 4, at 5 p.m. ET!
Through our mission as a nonprofit organization, we assist in removing barriers to participating in our studio classes by providing full and partial scholarship seats as well as payment plans. Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the need for financial assistance and therefore have met that need by offering more scholarship seats. In 2020, we provided 48 adult and 28 youth/teen seats totaling nearly $15,000 in scholarships. Since January 2021, we have provided 28 adult and 11 youth/teen seats totaling $6,010. For information about our scholarship program or to become a valuable donor providing these seats, please email Jennifer Chauhan at firstname.lastname@example.org.