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.
Red Bank Middle School
We were so excited to see our 7th and 8th graders in the AVID program at Red Bank Middle School for our weekly Wednesday writing time. We began the year reflecting on what we want to leave behind in 2020, what we want to carry with us into 2021, and what we want to embrace. Inspired by inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, we read her poem, “The Miracle of Morning,” and then wrote about where we see hope and where we are reminded of hope. We ended the month writing about the not-so-nice “voice” that we hear in our heads and came up with clever comebacks to silence it. We love that these students choose to write with us each week!
21st Century Community Learning Center (Long Branch)
We are back with a new group of third graders in the after-school program in Long Branch. With notebooks and pens in hand, the children eagerly respond to prompts and “try-its” that help them find meaningful life stories to write about in their booklets. We are focusing on strategies that help us tell a story in the moment instead of summarizing the story. The children are eager to share on screen and are truly engaged, so we can’t ask for more!
Spoken Word Project at Asbury Park High School
On January 13, we had our last session with the public speaking class at Asbury Park High School. Each student performed their final piece and blew us away with their evocative words and powerful delivery! We are now compiling their pieces into an anthology so each student can have a memento from this project. We are excited to bring this program back in February with the creative writing class. A HUGE thanks to our spoken word teaching artists–Mychal Mills of KYDS, Phil “Midnight” Curtis, and Christian Elijah–for inspiring and guiding these students, and to Christine Demarsico for inviting us into her class!
Shore House (Long Branch)
We spent a lot of time working on appreciating ourselves with the Shore House writers this month! We began by focusing on the hard work we do each day and taking a moment to pat ourselves on the back for it–showing ourselves gratitude and love for all of our efforts, big and small. Then we zoomed in on things we can continue to look forward to–many wrote about their morning cups of coffee. We read “The Miracle of Morning,” by Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, and used it to inspire our own hope poems–what hope looks like to us and where we find it. You can read Sam’s piece here. And we concluded the month by making comebacks to the negative thoughts in our heads, such as “I am strong. I can overcome any obstacle as I have so many times before.” In seeking new ways to spark our creative flow, we are looking forward to a special process paint pouring workshop with these writers in February!
Red Bank Public Library
With The Red Bank Public Library writers this month, we wrote about where we find inspiration. We talked about goals for the group and the pleasure of coming together to write and discuss what’s on our minds in a safe, confidential space. We looked toward the new year in our writing, addressing ways we can be kinder and gentler to ourselves. We then went deeper with the prompt–what gets in the way of a kinder, gentler you? We also celebrated Virginia Woolf’s birthday by dreaming up the perfect room with a view on the page. We shared our ideas of what kind of space we need to be in to let our creativity flow, and we shared lists of what brings us comfort during these difficult days when we don’t have access to our dream rooms.
“Womyn’s Worth” at Lunch Break
This month, the Womyn’s Worth mentoring group at Lunch Break engaged in a lively discussion about the latest events at the Capitol, as well as the ongoing threat of the virus and its impact on the world. As always, we were diving deep and getting real. We closed the group feeling hopeful and open to dialogues with those on the other side of the divide.
Teacher Writing Collaborative
We kicked off a new session of our Teacher Writing Collaborative this month. We meet every other Thursday and spend time checking in, writing, and sharing resources and strategies. This past week, two teachers shared that they had good days with students more engaged than ever in their lessons, which made us all smile. It’s always so good to connect and remind one another that we are in this together. Our next TWC session is Thursday, February 11 (4:30 to 5:30 p.m.). All are welcome to attend. Register here.
Zoom Open Mic
We had our first open mic of 2021 on January 22 and we couldn’t believe the turnout. TWENTY people came to read, sing, or listen as writers shared their talents on screen. Pieces ranged from heart wrenching to heart warming, from poetry to memoir to flash fiction to music. You don’t want to miss this event! Join us for our next one on February 26 by registering here.
Teen Writing Group
Our teen writers are off to a great start this session with a total of fifteen students in attendance! A few of our new students found us through the Spoken Word Project we provided at Asbury Park High School. We are thrilled to bring the teens together in this space! Already, one new student commented at the end of the second class: “I really felt safe here and it was a lot of fun. I’m definitely coming back again next week!” If you’d like to learn more or sign you or your teen up for Teen Writing Group, click here.
PWN Teen Instagram
Are you seeking writing prompts, book recommendations, and resources to deepen your writing life? Then join our teens on our PWN Teen Instagram here! Although this is a teen account, teens and adults alike can benefit from our content. We post everything you need to keep you inspired and motivated to write. We also host Teen Takeovers on our Story, where teens have been showcasing what they’re reading, writing, and what their individual writing processes look like. 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.)
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 “rings,” “color,” “success,” and “reflection.” We always enjoy hearing one another’s pieces and have formed an incredible, supportive community of writers online. Join us for our next Lunchtime Write-In to discover what our upcoming themes will be, and if you want even more generative writing time, join us for our Lunchtime Write-In: Second Helpings three-hour special on February 26! *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 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.