Dear Friends of Project Write Now:
This month has been all about … you guessed it … LOVE!
In all of our programs, we brought in poetry and prompts based on the many ideas of love—love of people, love of pets, love of food, love of places, and most important, love of SELF!
Whether we were writing love notes to ourselves with the 7th and 8th graders at Red Bank Middle School or using heart candy-shaped cutouts as prompts with teachers in our Teacher Writing Collaborative, stories emerged that celebrated the joy of being ourselves and being in community with others.
Even the word COURAGE is a heart word. The root is “cor,” the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”
And that is what happened in all of our programs this month.
Speaking of COURAGE, we’d like to share a collaborative poem created from the writing of children ages 10 to 12 in our PWN India program.
We hope you enjoy!
COURAGE IS …
Courage is starting over
Courage is giving a speech on stage
Courage is telling parents about a bad test grade
Courage is being kind to strangers
Courage is saying no when you really want to say yes
Courage is sleeping alone for the first time
Courage is saying you are sorry
Courage is being responsible for younger siblings
Courage is swimming without parents
Courage is accepting your mistakes
Courage is raising your hand in class
Courage is crossing the street by yourself
Courage is being in the dark
Courage is riding a bike without training wheels
Courage is meeting new people
Courage is getting a shot at the doctor’s
Courage is turning your camera on while on Zoom
Courage is sharing your secrets
Courage is saying I love you
The Project Write Now Team
We’ve begun monthly writing workshops at the Big Bang Café in Bell Works in Holmdel. Last month, we began by writing in response to the prompt “What kills me with delight” after reading the Mary Oliver poem “Mindful.” After sharing, we opened up the reading portion to outside pieces. You can still join us tonight beginning at 5 p.m. Register here. Thank you to Bell Works for this wonderful new collaboration!
Big Brothers Big Sisters
We are so excited for our new partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters! This month, we kicked off our first workshop with middle and high school students in Keansburg. After warming up with some “Word Play” improv, we had students select a topic for storytelling, such as First, Disguises, and Caution. The “Bigs” worked with their “Littles” to come up with ideas and then each student wrote quietly for several minutes. The students shared how much they enjoyed the activities, and we are looking forward to working with more groups from other schools this spring.
Bridge Ink 7.1
We are so excited to release our first issue of Bridge Ink of 2023—Volume SEVEN, Issue One! This issue features a collaborative poem by the 8th grade AVID class of RBMS as well as brilliant teen writing from Wisconsin, Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and CANADA! Check it out today and congratulations to these newly published writers!
On Fridays, we host a one-hour writing workshop on Zoom during which we write in response to themed writing prompts. This month, we explored the themes—“Shoes,” “Pin,” and “Off.” 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!
This week with Parker House seniors we wrote to the prompts: “What period of your life do you look back at most fondly?” and “Describe a time when someone was unexpectedly kind to you.” We also read the chapter “In Orbit” from Brenda Miller’s memoir, An Earlier Life, and an excerpt from Beth Ann Fennelly’s memoir, Heating and Cooling.
PWN India (adults)
This month with our PWN India adult journaling group, we focused on birthdays and all the ways we celebrate. What is a favorite birthday memory? What is the ideal way we’d like to celebrate? We were blown away when one writer shared that her family surprised her with 18 cakes for her 18th birthday! We also wrote about love using our favorite lines from Mahogany L. Browne’s poem “Country of Water.” We were moved when so many writers chose to write about the unconditional love of their mothers. It was such a special month of writing!
PWN India (children)
It was an exciting six weeks for PWN India! We worked with 3rd graders via Zoom and had fun getting stories from our very own life down on paper. We discovered that one of the best ways to find these stories was to think about emotions. We read a book called Courage, by Bernard Waber and that brought on an incredible discussion about times when we have all been nervous, scared, or afraid to do something but did it anyway. We talked about times we have been courageous in our lives and after sharing into the circle (or screen on Zoom), we put our “Courage Is” poem together. Thank you to the children who worked hard and were courageous to share their thoughts.
PWN Teen Voice & Verse Writing Contest
Calling all young writers! Please submit your work to our third annual PWN Teen Voice & Verse Writing Contest for a chance to be published in our teen literary journal, Bridge Ink, and featured in our upcoming PWN Teen Lit Fest! Categories include both poetry and prose, ages 12-14 and ages 15-18. DEADLINE: MARCH 15. For full guidelines and how to submit, click here. Please note: We accept writing from anyone ages 12-18, globally!
PWN Teen Lit Fest
Please save the date for our third annual PWN Teen Lit Fest on April 30. More information coming soon!
Red Bank Middle School
– 6th Grade AVID
We did ekphrastic writing (writing inspired by art) with the 6th grade RBMS AVID students this month. First we read “Resolution of Memory” by Sara Dallmayr. Then we looked at the art that inspired the poem “Unsatisfied Externals” by J. Stormer. We made our own inspiration board from the art, jotting down images, shapes, colors, and feelings evoked. Then we used our inspiration board to come up with our own original works. The next session, we brought in our own art to use as inspiration. We read “Starry Night” by Tupac Shakur and then we made idea boards and wrote stories off of the art we brought in. We always love seeing how the art brings creativity into new directions and how differently each of us approaches this assignment!
– 7th & 8th Grade AVID
This month with the RBMS 7th & 8th grade AVID students, we read “Paul Robeson” by Gwendolyn Brooks and wrote our own ode poems. We thought about people who have influenced our lives (some choosing parents, others celebrities, and a few even choosing themselves!) and then we wrote about why those people matter so much to us, including things they said or did that changed or shaped us in some way. We also celebrated Valentine’s Day by reading an excerpt from “What Love Looks Like” by Rupi Kaur. Then we made a list of things love looks like to us. From there, we moved to our journals to write our own love stories. We were so proud that both classes named THEMSELVES as their most loved things! And we read “Country of Water” by Mahogany L. Browne. Then we took starting lines from the poem to inspire our own works: “I know who I am because … Have you witnessed … Today… I know …” We loved how the writing flowed together when the students shared their works, some of them writing about their namesake legacy, some of them focusing more on who they are today.
– 4th & 5th Grade AVID
The 4th and 5th grade AVID students have been writing mini “I Remember” books this past month, which was inspired by the technique of “automatic writing” and author Joe Brainard’s memoir I Remember. The entire book is a list of the author’s memories, each one beginning with the phrase “I remember.” We began by brainstorming memories from holidays, trips, birthdays, first times, special people and places, school, hobbies, and sports. Once we brainstormed and shared some ideas in a group, the students were free to do this “automatic writing” exercise on their own. The only “rule” was they had to start writing down their own memories, beginning each one with “I remember …” The students were encouraged to allow their mind to explore all of the years of their life in no particular order. The results were amazing!
– PWN Writing Club: 4th & 5th Grade
In our PWN Writing Club, we have worked on onomatopoeia and using your senses to help the reader feel like they are experiencing the story with you. In the latest class, we learned to stretch a moment and here the kids really shined. They used their previous experience of including onomatopoeia and using your senses to truly give their readers all the feelings of taking part in the story journey with them. It was incredible to see the writers so engulfed in their writing
– PWN Quest Club: 6th-8th
In our winter PWN Quest Club, we got meta with the students about Quest Club. We discussed what a quest is and the different kinds of quests the students have encountered or experienced themselves. We used prompts to write our own fictional or real stories about quests for things, such as answers to real world or personal questions. And, of course, because it’s Quest Club, every session involved answering questions that the students had written down to keep in our Quest Club box. We also spent a couple of sessions doing speed writing, during which the students answer questions from the box in 2 to 3 minutes, aiming to answer about 5 or 6 questions in a 15-minute span. The students loved the fast-paced activity and even raced to get to the questions at the center of the room. At the end, we all shared (and tried to catch our breaths).
Red Bank Public Library
This month with the Red Bank Public Library writers, we focused on love in all its forms—simple, complex, strange. We read an excerpt from Toast, a memoir by the famous food critic Nigel Slater. We also read Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and a short essay by Jody Keisner, “Gestures.” Then we wrote to the prompts: 1. It is impossible not to love someone who … 2. What are some of the ways you show love? 3. Write about a complex relationship, holding nothing back. We ended with a poem by Carol Ann Duffy called “Valentine.”
Shore House (Long Branch)
We celebrated love at Shore House this month! We read an excerpt from “What Love Looks Like” by Rupi Kaur and then wrote to these prompts: What does love look like? What does love feel like? What does love sound like? What does love smell like? What does love taste like? Where do you find love? How do you recognize love when you find it? And how do you foster the love in you? When sharing our works, a very meaningful conversation erupted around self-love and community. We really appreciated how everyone at Shore House was so supportive of one another, it’s what makes the writing so strong!
Teacher Writing Collaborative
We did ekphrastic writing this month, using the image “Take Heart” by Bonnie Riedinger. We looked at the image and jotted down what it looked like, tasted like, smelled like, sounded like, and felt like. Then we picked our favorite image and wrote from there. Only after did we read the poem “Fibers” by Ashley Caspermeyer that was written in response to the painting and published in Rattle. For our next session, we used heart shaped candy cutouts with prompts to pick topics on love(Love Hides, Sound of Love, Texture of Love, etc.). Our next TWC is Thursday, March 2, from 5 to 6 p.m. on Zoom. All teachers are welcome and you can register here. We are also thrilled to bring back our annual Writing on the River retreat on Sunday, March 19! Spots are limited so register today!
Teen Writing Group
Our Teen Writing Group has just concluded this month, with five dedicated teen writers who have been meeting weekly to write, share, and support each other’s work and processes. Each week they’ve been writing to thoughtful prompts given by the teen leaders and sharing their first drafts as well as more polished pieces that they are looking for deeper feedback on. Join us for the next session of Teen Writing Group starting March 2!
Throws & Prose
We had a BALL this month in our Throws & Prose writing workshop in partnership with Monmouth University. Moving from pins to pens, we used our game of bowling to inspire our creative works. Just a few of the stories written and shared included: the perspective of a bowling pin during an active game, a scene of a girl trying to fit in on a boy’s hockey team, and a poem about tarot cards and connection. We are so grateful for our partnership with Monmouth University and look forward to doing more events together soon!
Write Out Loud
We LOVED our special Valentine’s Day Write Out Loud event this month at the Asbury Book Cooperative! We used heart candy cutouts (and real candies too) as prompts and then we went around sharing both what we just wrote and any outside works we brought in for the open mic. We are so grateful to those who came and shared their hearts with us! Join us at the next WOL on Tuesday, March 14!
Zoom Open Mic
This month we gathered together to share our original work on Zoom. We read poems, short nonfiction pieces, and even a chapter from a sci-fi novel-in-progress! We also spent some time just connecting as writers, sharing some recent rejection news as well as inspiration to keep going! Join us for our next Zoom Open Mic on March 24!
Through our mission as a nonprofit organization, we remove barriers to participating in our fee-based 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. For 2022, we awarded 72 seats totaling $15,150! For 2023, we’ve already awarded 17 seats totaling $8,725. For information about our scholarship program or to become a valuable donor providing these seats, please email Jennifer Chauhan at firstname.lastname@example.org.