Dear Friends of Project Write Now:
April is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than with our teen writers!
We are so grateful to all the teens who joined us for our second annual PWN Teen Lit Fest. In addition to providing workshops on vision boards, haiku writing, poetry writing, and freewriting, we also hosted a teen panel on innovative ways to publish your work. Thank you to all the guest speakers (Pamela Major, Philip J. Curtis, Laura Cyphers, and Nathalia Garcia) and to Vivian DeRosa, who facilitated the engaging panel discussion, and panelists Khushreet Kaur Bhatia, Isabel Cruz, and Maggie Olszewski.
The event culminated with an Open Mic celebration featuring the winners of our second annual Voice & Verse contest who represented teens from all over—including Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ontario, Canada, and Tel Aviv, Israel.
We invite you to read their pieces here.
We are always inspired by our teen writers and hope you will be too!
Whether you’ve taken a class, signed your child up for a class, or given a generous gift, you help us do this work, which is needed now more than ever.
From all of us at PWN, THANK YOU!
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 email@example.com.
Food for Thought at Lunch Break
We were thrilled to provide a writing workshop in support of author Pamela Major and her new cookbook The Comfort. After Pamela shared the inspiration and some of the stories behind this collection of her favorite soup recipes, we wrote stories about our favorite foods and meals. A common thread was how food connects us with our loved ones! Thank you to Pamela and to Lunch Break for hosting us!
Every Friday, we meet on Zoom for one hour to write in response to prompts on a designated theme. This month, we explored the themes: “April Fools,” “Match,” “Eggs,” “Numbers,” and “Poem in Your Pocket Day.” Though writers never have to share, we always enjoy hearing one another’s pieces and have formed an incredible, supportive community. Join us for our next Lunchtime Write-In to see what our upcoming themes will be!
We kicked off our Spring Writing Club with 5th and 6th graders in India. This session we are focusing on fiction writing and taking a thread of a true personal story and spinning it into something new. We’ve written lists of potential characters and will move to creating storylines. The children are loving tapping into their imaginations, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with!
Red Bank Middle School
- In-School: 8th Grade
Every year, we create an anthology for our 8th grade AVID students to showcase the work they’ve written with us. This year, we added a little extra something and gave them the opportunity to storytell through video. We are so proud of this group for embracing this new project and coming up with imaginative ideas that we can’t wait to see come to life this week on the “big screen!” We are excited for our anthology reading and video showing in early June for our end-of-year celebration.
- In-School: 7th Grade
With the 7th grade AVID students this month, we wrote and began revising our own “Where I’m From” poems, using George Ella Lyon’s poem, “Where I’m From,” and a previous RBMS 7th grade poem as examples. (“I Am From” by 7th Grade RBMS AVID Students [2019/20] can be found on Bridge Ink!) We also practiced the objective correlative—that is, we used ordinary objects to inspire original stories.
- In-School: 6th Grade
With the 6th grade AVID students this month, we read “My Animal Understudy Replaced Me in the School Production of The Tempest” by Luigi Coppola and then looked at the image that inspired the poem (“Diaphona” by Sarah-Jane Crowson) and used it to inspire our own works. Then we invited students to bring in their own artwork to use as inspiration the following week. We all had a blast learning about (and saying the word) EKPHRASIS.
Red Bank Public Library
This month with the Red Bank Public Library writers, we read from Abigail Thomas’ “Thinking About Memoir” and Karl Cosgrove’s “Rubber Boots.” We then wrote about something unusual we noticed in our day, something awful we found in the cellar, and our fathers’ shoes.
Shore House (Long Branch)
At Shore House this month, we read “More Than Enough” by Marge Piercy. Then we made lists of spring sensory details, our favorite spring memories, and what we could say goodbye to when spring cleaning. We used our lists to inspire our works and members shared incredible poems about the sights and smells of spring, about resilience, and about starting over. We also celebrated Poem in Your Pocket Day by reading “Keep A Poem In Your Pocket” by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers. Then we passed out “pocket poems” so everyone received a different poem. We used our “pocket poems” as launching points for our own original works. One writer shared a story about hardship and triumph, another shared a poem about what it means to not give up, and another wrote about the beauty in imperfection. We always love writing at Shore House!
Story Tellers: Words & Poetry
We are so grateful to the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center for hosting our April poetry writing workshop. After reading Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Valentine for Ernest Mann” for inspiration, we did collage poetry, selecting strips of individual lines cut from four different poems to create our own. We look forward to our next Story Tellers session on Saturday, May 7, when we will write on the theme of “Nurturing.” Register here.
Teacher Writing Collaborative
With our Teacher Writing Collaborative, we wrote in response to poetry, specifically “A Body’s Universe of Big Bangs,” by Leslie Contreras Schwartz. It’s so incredible to take this hour every other week and de-stress by writing and sharing our work. Teachers are welcome to join anytime. Our remaining dates for this year are May 5, May 19, and June 2. Stay tuned for information on our summer writing class just for teachers!
Teen Writing Group
We ended Spring Session I by writing about numbers. We were blown away by what our teen writers shared. “Three is odd but even when you cut it in half,” one student read. “Eight is my favorite because it’s infinity on its side,” shared another. We never thought of numbers in such unique ways before! We are so glad to be back for Spring Session II with some new and returning faces. We can’t wait to see what they come up with this time. Join us for Teen Writing Group this summer and be a part of our inspiring global teen writing community!
Zoom Open Mic
We kicked off April with our Zoom Open Mic, with readers sharing poetry, flash fiction, and excerpts from novels. Reading your writing out loud has so many benefits, and we invite you to join this supportive community on Friday, May 13 (5 to 6 p.m. ET), for our next Zoom Open Mic!
Through our mission as a nonprofit organization, we remove 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 2021, we provided 63 adult and 21 youth/teen seats totaling nearly $14,000. So far this year, we’ve awarded 30 seats totaling $8,555! For information about our scholarship program or to become a valuable donor providing these seats, please email Jennifer Chauhan at firstname.lastname@example.org.