Dear Friends of Project Write Now:
We love June because we get to celebrate our young writers and all of the creativity, imagination, and brilliance they’ve shared throughout the year with their words.
We held several end-of-year celebrations in Red Bank and Asbury Park during which students received anthologies of their collective work and then read their pieces aloud. Their voices lifted us up, reminded us of where we’ve been, and took us to new places we didn’t know existed. Their pieces echo sentiments of reflection as well as projection—where we’re from and where we’re going. And all the in-between.
We hope each one of our students leaves knowing they are writers—that all it takes to be a writer is to write.
We hope they see the power in their voices—the insight, strength, resilience, and gratitude that moves us to a deeper understanding of ourselves, others, and the world around us.
Asbury Book Cooperative
We had such a great time hosting the New Jersey Fan Club Book Launch at the Asbury Book Cooperative this month! New Jersey Fan Club was edited by PWN friend and instructor Kerri Sullivan. Thank you to Kerri and the inspiring contributors who shared their work with us and to the incredible supporters who came to listen. Be sure to pick up your copy of New Jersey Fan Club wherever you buy books, today!
Every Friday, we host a one-hour writing workshop on Zoom during which we write in response to prompts on a designated theme. This month, we explored the themes “Rainbow,” “Heal/Heel,” Nature/Nurture,” and “Love is Love.” 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 month, we ended our 10-week PWN India Writing Group with a Writers Celebration! Each student enthusiastically shared their fictional stories and “author bios.” They also shared what they love about writing with PWN. We are so grateful to our intern Khushreet for making this program possible!
Red Bank Middle School
– 7th & 8th Grade
It has been an honor to work alongside the 7th & 8th grade AVID students at RBMS this year. They blossomed from “I don’t know what to write about” at the start of the year to the eager “Can you read this?” by the end. It was a privilege to see them light up when they finally wrote something they were proud of, to see them begin to raise their hands to volunteer to share their stories first. We are so proud of the work they wrote with us and published in their anthologies.
– 6th Grade
We wrapped up our last cycle of 6th grade AVID students at RBMS this month by doing ekphrastic writing! First we read “Broken Places by Daylight,” by Sandra Kasturi, and then we looked at the art that inspired the poem (“Truck Stop Shell,” by Greg Clary). We made lists of what we saw in the art to create our own original works. After practicing with Clary’s image, we brought in our own art to write off of. We were blown away by the creativity that flowed from their pens!
Red Bank Public Library
This month with the writers from the Red Bank Public Library, we read the beginning pages of James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son and responded in writing with memories of our fathers. We also read an excerpt from All the Lives We Ever Lived, by Katharine Smyth, and a brief essay on fathers’ shelter and love from Margaret Renkl’s memoir in essays, Late Migrations. We came back for the next session to read two poems by Andrea Potos featured in the latest June edition of The Sun—“Sleep Skills” and “Creating.” We then wrote to the prompts: What do you remember? What do you remember being made? What do you want loved ones to remember about you? We read Charlie Smith’s poem “In Praise of Regret” and discussed the idea that living without regrets may help you experience a happier and more peaceful life. And we wrote to the prompts: What, if any, regrets do you have? Which ones can you rectify in the here and now? We are taking a summer break but will be back with our Guided Journaling class in September.
Shore House (Long Branch)
We celebrated PRIDE month at Shore House by gifting our writers with special PWN PRIDE pins! We also read and responded to Chen Chen’s poem “Summer.” We took starting lines from the poem and then added our own words to make powerful self-affirming pieces. Here’s just one of the incredible poems written by Shore House writer Lexi:
What You Are
You are trying
You are flying
You are funny
You are as sweet as honey
You are motion
You are chosen
You are kind
You are undefined
You are not assigned
You are not confined
You are not undermined
You are not described
You are not so easily bribed
You are not a cocoon
You are a butterfly
We continued celebrating by reading Jill McDonough’s poem “Three a.m.” We then wrote about our first experiences of love, our most current experiences of love, times our love has been challenged, and how we define love from our own experiences. There was an exceptionally powerful moment when a brand-new member spoke up about feeling unloved. The other members all applauded her vulnerability, and then many of them asked if they could hug her (to which she enthusiastically agreed). We welcomed her to the Shore House & Project Write Now family, assuring her that we have plenty of love to give. We are so proud of our Shore House writers!
SKY at Lunch Break
This month, the women from SKY at Lunch Break shared in the moment feelings centered in their bodies and then wrote to those feelings. We wrote about times when our expectations were upended—positively or negatively. We read the incredible essay by Harmony Hazard titled “Full.” And we had a lively discussion about the overturning of Roe V. Wade and the importance of women supporting one another and shining bright as we move forward.
Teacher Writing Collaborative
Inspired by a social media post by one of our instructors, Eileen Whitener, for the last day of TWC, we wrote a list of five mundane or quirky facts about ourselves (stuff most people don’t know). Then we picked one and wrote off of it. It was so much fun to get to know everyone in a different way! This summer we are offering a six-week evening creative writing class, The Write Time, just for educators! We only have two spots left, so register today here.
Teen Writing Group
We wrapped up our spring session of Teen Writing Group this month, writing and sharing works of deep introspection and wild imagination. We are so proud of our teen writers for coming up with such inspiring prompts and supporting one another as they share their words. Be sure to join us this summer for our next session of Teen Writing Group!
Zoom Open Mic
Thank you to all of the writers who attended our Zoom Open Mic this month! We were a small but powerful, intimate group, sharing deeply personal stories, touching introspective poems, and light-hearted narratives that were so funny they brought us to tears. We love the range of pieces our writers bring to our open mics. Be sure to join us for the next Zoom Open Mic on July 22 to experience the magic yourself!
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.