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.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County
This July, we began an eight-week writing program with middle schoolers from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County at both the Red Bank and Asbury Park branches.
In Red Bank, each class begins with a word game to get us warmed up. We have done a variety of different narrative writing tasks. We have spun stories we already know and put our own twists on them. We completed a fun digital interactive pick-a-prompt, where everyone wrote based off of a different prompt. In another class, we all responded to the same prompt and, during our share, delighted in the different directions each story went. This week, we created a character from our imaginations and built a personality and backstory for each. We have been able to work on important writing skills such as generating story ideas, organizing stories, elaborating by “showing and not telling,” and developing characters.
In Asbury Park, students have been keeping a writers notebook and learning what living like a writer is all about. They are stopping and paying attention to things around them and writing about these small but meaningful moments in their notebooks. Each week they are presented with new writing prompts that help them dig deep into their own lives and write about what really matters to them.
As you can see, virtual instruction has not stopped our being able to deliver programming that makes writing joyful!
Teacher Writing Collaborative
A huge part of PWN’s mission is supporting teachers! Every Monday afternoon, a group of nine teachers from different schools and districts come together to write, share, and reflect on their experiences. We’ve even had a teacher join us from Boston! Each week, we rotate who leads the writing activity. After sharing, we spend time supporting one another as we process information on how we are returning to school in the fall. We share resources, tips, and strategies. “This has been one of the most authentic teaching networks that I have been involved with,” one teacher said recently. Teachers of all grades and experience levels are welcome. Register here.
Bridge Ink Instagram & Teen “WordShare” Zoom Open Mic
Today, we are concluding our Teen “WordShare” Zoom Open Mic, which we’ve held every Friday afternoon thanks to feedback from our Teen Ambassadors, who wanted more ways to write and connect with one another during the pandemic. Each week, they come up with a theme (for example, this week’s theme is FIRE) and prompts based on that theme, which we share on our Bridge Ink Instagram account. Then during the Teen “WordShare,” teens share what they’ve written all week. The pieces have been so inspiring–ranging from personal narratives to thought-provoking reflections to fun fictional stories. We will continue our Bridge Ink prompts and are redesigning our Open Mic to become a Teen Write-In & Share for the fall. Stay tuned for more info!
Adult Zoom Open Mic
Not to be outdone by the teens, we held our third Zoom Open Mic for adults on Friday, July 24. Sixteen people shared their inspiring works–ranging from children’s stories to poetry to short fiction to musical numbers! While most of our guests called in from New Jersey, we also had participants from Colorado, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Virginia! We love the community that is being built through these events, so we’ve promised to keep them going. Register here for our next Zoom Open Mic on Friday, August 21, at 5 p.m.!
Shore House (Long Branch)
At Shore House this month, we invited members to write in response to photos (ekphrastic writing) and we wrote about our names and what names mean to us. We also had a special class on grief under the guidance of our resident therapist, Jennifer Shields, at the request of Shore House members. In this workshop, we talked about how grief manifests in each of us and used writing as a means of helping us cope. We are always so inspired by these writers! We are working hard at putting together our Shore House anthology now, to be released in early fall.
Red Bank Public Library
PWN’s first journaling class with the Red Bank Public Library on Zoom was fantastic. Participants were revved up and excited about making time to write, to follow their intrinsic thoughts to wherever they meandered–into a release, a formation of story, a list of gratitude, or an unearthing of ancestors long past. We are so grateful to Linda Hewitt for bringing PWN on board for this community outreach program!
With the Womyn’s Worth group at Lunch Break this month, we tackled the subject of grief with grace and wisdom. We started with a warm-up prompt: “I am here and I am…” And we came up with some great mantras for ourselves: “I am here and I am grateful.” “I am here and I am filled with the essence of powerful women.” “I am here and I am!” We read an excerpt from “A Grief Observed,” by C. S. Lewis, and the essay “Holy, Holy, Holy,” by Margaret Renkl, from her book Late Migrations. We discussed the need to share in our grief and not feel burdened by it–the universal truth that all grieve, but all who grieve together find solace.
Teen Writing Group
We’ve just begun our Summer II session of Teen Writing Group and we’re already off to a great start! The teens meet every Thursday for six weeks from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on both Zoom and an online forum for writing to write together in response to prompts, give constructive feedback, and feel a sense of community while they work. We’ve always loved Teen Writing Group, and we are so proud of our teen leaders for keeping this group together, inspired, and motivated!
Friday Lunchtime Write-In
The writing and sharing that has happened during our Friday Lunchtime Write-In is nothing short of magical. Every Friday, we write to prompts on a designated theme–this month we’ve explored themes on journey, smoke, and weather–and then we spend time at the end sharing. The community that has formed has been transformative for all. “Your gift to us is letting us get comfortable enough to open ourselves up,” said one writer. “Where else can we open ourselves up in words? Nowhere.” Join us for our next Lunchtime Write-In to discover what our upcoming theme will be!