Here’s what we’ve been up to this past month via Zoom! If you are interested in bringing a program to your school or organization, email Jennifer Chauhan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bridge Ink, 4.6
We are thrilled to announce our feature issue of Bridge Ink, our online young adult literary magazine! We have put together this special issue just in time for the holidays, featuring interview stories written by the teens who participated in PWN’s “The Interview Project” this summer. You may even recognize some of the interviewees! You don’t want to miss this issue. Read it here.
Red Bank Middle School
We’ve been meeting weekly with the 7th and 8th graders in the AVID program at Red Bank Middle School. This month, we did generative writing to what we call “hashtag prompts”: “itsokto,” “whatif,” “mywish,” “mywishfortheworld,” etc. Then we took one of our favorite lines and either expanded on it or used it as inspiration for art journaling. What’s become a favorite activity to close each class is to have each student drop their favorite line in the chat box. We’ve then taken these lines to write collaborative poems, which you can find on our Instagram page. We are looking forward to starting back up again in January.
21st Century Community Learning Center (Long Branch)
The 3rd graders in the after-school program in Long Branch have been joyfully (virtually) writing during the month of December. With notebooks and pens in hand, the children eagerly responded to winter prompts, such as “What is your favorite holiday tradition?” “What foods, games, movies, books remind you of the holiday season?” It was super exciting to have snow falling on a Wednesday we were together this month. Although the kids experienced a “virtual snow day,” we still enjoyed reading Lester Laminack’s book The Snow Day and talking, sharing, and writing about our very own favorites snow-day adventures! Each week, we focus on strategies that help us tell a story in the moment instead of summarizing. The children are excited to share on screen and are truly engaged, so we can’t ask for more! We are looking forward to session two with a new group of students in January.
Spoken Word Project at Asbury Park High School
We moved into the revision stages of our Spoken Word project this month, with spoken-word artist Philip J. Curtis giving a powerful performance before sharing his “Four Ps of Poetry: Pace, Pitch, Pause, and Power.” Students then revised their pieces using Philip’s strategies. On our last class before the break, we broke into smaller groups so we could spend time listening to each student’s piece, which were authentic and inspiring! We are excited for their final performances in January.
On two Saturday evenings in December, we provided fun, creative writing sessions as part of embrella‘s virtual holiday parties. On the first Saturday, we combined writing and art, creating heart maps filled with all of the people, places, and things we love. On the following Saturday, we played around with flash poetry, focusing on writing winter-themed haiku poems. We loved how participants shared their pieces in the chat box. The goal was to create writing projects that we could share with loved ones as gifts. We look forward to more collaborations with embrella in 2021!
The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County
One of our longest partnerships is with The YMCA of Greater Monmouth County and one of our favorite workshops is helping students write essays for the MLK Essay Contest, which is part of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration, held virtually in January. This year’s winner will receive a $1,500 scholarship! We spent our session helping students find their ideas through freewriting and then showed them how to develop their ideas with specific examples. We look forward to finding out who the winner is!
PWN Teen Instagram
Get a meaningful glimpse into the life of a teen writer on our PWN Teen Instagram here! Week after week, the teens have been taking over our highlight reel to showcase what they’re reading, writing, what their writing processes look like, the things that inspire them, and so much more. We also post writing resources, inspiring prompts, reading recommendations, and more. Though this is a teen account, teens and adults alike can benefit from the abundance of resources the teens are sharing. We are so proud of their hard work! (If you are interested in becoming the next Teen Takeover on our IG, please email program coordinator Lisa Hartsgrove at email@example.com.)
Shore House (Long Branch)
We tried some new things with the Shore House writers this month, including guided meditation, positive affirmations, and verbal storytelling for the visually impaired. Two members graciously gave permission to share their positive affirmations to spread positivity within our writing community. Ann shared: “It’s okay to take naps and be kind to yourself. My wish for the world is for the vaccines to work. Hold on to drawing and watercolors and being positive. I am at a good place in my life.” And Kerri shared: “It’s OK to cry. What if I’m good at things? My wish is to go back to work someday. My wish for the world is for people to understand each other. Let go of anger. Let go of fear. Hold on to hope. I am smart; I am kind. I will be brave; I will be strong.” We are carrying their words with us into 2021!
Red Bank Public Library
With The Red Bank Public Library writers this month, we explored family, zooming out–way out. We made columns: Ancestors, Traditions, Religion, Philosophies. We brainstormed lists under each column. No censoring, just let it flow. From the lists we created sentences. From sentences, poems began. Writers were left with these questions to ponder as we enter 2021: “What and who is important to you? How can you nurture your relationship with yourself so you can do the same within your relationships with others?”
“Womyn’s Worth” at Lunch Break
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” –Albert Einstein. What kind of opportunities have you found through difficult times? What have you learned about yourself? What would you say in the future about how you overcame this difficult time? With the Womyn’s Worth mentoring group at Lunch Break, we talked about stifling anxiety, we talked about grief, we talked about inner doubt and failure. We talked about how to rise above difficult situations through connection with others and naming our vulnerabilities. We talked about drawing strength from the human condition of fear–and how, when shared, its hold on us lessens and we begin to find opportunity for growth and acceptance.
Teen Writing Group
Our teen writers ended the year with inspiring theme-based prompts such as “personify snow” and “change the lyrics to a popular holiday song.” We had one writer who was new to the group this session, and we were thrilled when she shared a piece she’s been working on with the group on the last day. We are so grateful and proud of our teen leaders for providing this safe, creative space for our teen writers to express their most authentic selves. We can’t wait to see what our teen writers will do in 2021! If you’d like to learn more or sign up for our next session of Teen Writing Group, click here.
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 “December” and “snow,” and we also held a special Second Helpings extended workshop during which we wrote to three different themes in three hours: “youth years,” “coming of age,” and “adulthood.” 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 in January to discover what our upcoming themes will be! *All proceeds support our community outreach programs.
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 have provided 48 adult and 28 youth/teen seats totaling nearly $15,000 in scholarships. The students who wanted to continue or who wanted to start taking classes have expressed how incredibly grateful they are for this support. For information about our scholarship program or to become a valuable donor providing these seats, please email Jennifer Chauhan at firstname.lastname@example.org.