Dear Friends of Project Write Now:
We were thrilled to be back IN PERSON for Writing on the River: A Spring Retreat for Educators, which was held at the beautiful Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank.
Teachers from all over the state came together to write, reflect, connect, and celebrate themselves!
We began the day standing in a circle and reading “Why I Write,” by Terry Tempest Williams. The day “came full circle” when we ended the event each reading our own “Why I Write” line. We then turned it into this collaborative poem. We then found out that one of our instructors at Asbury Park High School recreated this experience with the students in the creative writing class, too! Here is their “Why We Write.”
We love how this event inspires beyond the day—not only for ourselves but also for our students.
We are so grateful to our presenters, Shatiera Porte’e, Mannikka Rosa, and Meredith Avakian, for inspiring and invigorating us. Most of all, we are grateful to all of the teachers who shared their authentic selves with us.
Since our inception, Project Write Now has been committed to supporting teachers and nurturing their artistic selves through Writing on the River, our Teacher Writing Collaborative, and a six-week summer writing class just for teachers.
Now we are excited to announce The ART of Social Justice, a dynamic educator-focused collaboration with the Two River Theater and T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center. We kick off this yearlong program with a four-day Summer Studio, which will be held July 31 through August 3 at the Two River Theater and T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center.
Spots are limited and applications are accepted on a first come, first served basis. Deadline to submit is May 15, 2023.
We could not do any of this without YOU! Whether you’ve taken a class, signed your child up for a class, participated in one of our events, or given a generous gift, YOU help us provide meaningful writing experiences that foster authenticity, connection, and empathy.
With love & gratitude,
The Project Write Now Team
Garden State Film Festival
We were honored to host the winning screenplay table read at this year’s Garden State Film Festival. It was our third year hosting but our first year in person. Congratulations to writer Kelly A. Byrne on her script Curly’s Camp for Girls (And Boys). And thank you to the GSFF for including us in this incredible event!
Lunch Break’s Alliance for Success
This month, we kicked off our first meeting of the year with Lunch Break’s Alliance for Success program with 11th graders at Red Bank Regional High School by writing about different ways we come together at the table. We read Joy Harjo’s “Perhaps the World Ends Here” and wrote off various prompts from the serious (list instructions on what it means to be human) to the silly (write about a food you like that other people find gross). We had fun sharing our responses and discussing what really makes meals memorable. (Spoiler: it’s the company!)
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—“Rain,” “March,” “Upside Down,” and “End.” 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!
NJ Court System
Our executive director, Jennifer Chauhan, was invited by the Monmouth Vicinage to give a presentation on female writers in honor of Women’s History Month. She read poetry from Naomi Shihab Nye, Joy Harjo, and Maya Angelou and then had the attendees write in response to the poems. We are so grateful that Jennifer was asked to represent Project Write Now and celebrate “women who are telling our stories.”
We love the groups of women we write with in India. During our March 17 adult journaling session, we celebrated Irish writers by reading “Hands,” by Moya Cannon. Then we used the word “hands” to generate our writing. We are also meeting with a group of teachers of young children. We are so grateful that through Zoom we are able to offer these inspiring sessions.
PWN Teen Lit Fest
PWN Teen is proud to announce our THIRD annual PWN Teen Lit Fest! Join us for a fun, engaging day of interactive workshops, informative panels, and opportunities to share your work. PWN Teen Lit Fest takes place on Zoom on Sunday, April 30, from 11:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, with a dinner break 5 to 7 p.m. ET. You get to choose how you want to spend the day with us—drop into one workshop or all! Workshops include: What’s Your Vision? with Pamela Major, Spoken Word with Mannikka Rosa, In a Flash with Alyson Mosquera Dutemple, Storyboard Workshop with Sebrina Gao, Teen Panel: Art Will Save Us, and an Open Mic! Writers and artists of all experience levels are welcome. And we invite teachers to attend with their students and participate in the workshops, as well. Grab your ticket today!
Red Bank Middle School
– 7th & 8th Grade AVID
We began working on revision this month with the RBMS 7th & 8th grade AVID students. We read “Death as a Way of Life [We wonder at our shifting capacities, keep]” by Anna Moschovakis. Then we wrote some “simple” sentences on the board and asked the class to help us make them stronger. After some practice together, we all took one sentence to revise on our own, to see how differently we can express the same idea. We loved how unique each approach was when we shared our new revised sentences. We look forward to continuing this practice as we get ready to dive into the writing we’ve been doing through the school year, picking and revising the pieces that will be ultimately published in our end-of-year anthology.
– 4th & 5th Grade AVID
We had another round of 4th and 5th grade AVID students this month, so we continued writing mini “I Remember” books, inspired by the technique of “automatic writing” and author Joe Brainard’s memoir I Remember. We brainstormed memories, shared ideas in a group, then we tried an “automatic writing” exercise on our own. The students were encouraged to allow their minds to explore all of the years of their lives in no particular order. We loved how different each story was!
– PWN Writing Club: 4th & 5th
To start off the new session with 4th & 5th graders in our after-school writing club, we all picked one or two people we admired and described why we admired them. It is always wonderful to hear the reasons that the students admire certain people. One of the students chose his mom and one of the reasons was because she makes such good food. The students also created writing goals for the six weeks ahead so that we can cater writing prompts to their interests. In upcoming sessions, we’ll describe favorite meals by using all the senses. We’re looking forward to lots of writing and lots of fun!
Red Bank Public Library
This month with the Red Bank Public Library writers, we read from Beth Ann Fennelly’s memoir, Heating and Cooling. We wrote about a time in our lives when someone was unexpectedly kind to us. One woman was carried over a giant puddle during a blustery rain storm by a perfect stranger so as not to ruin her high heels. One was rescued after being struck from a car, taken into the candy store to await the ambulance. One remembered the kindest of friends taken by cancer and their last lunch together of their favorite fruits and cheeses. And one remembered a special gift of almonds, her favorite. We also read excerpts from Abigail Thomas’ new memoir, Still Life at Eighty, the Next Interesting Thing. And we wrote to the prompt: How do you talk to yourself regarding getting old? We asked the writers to have a conversation on the page beginning with: “I don’t mind old and this is what I’ll make of it.” We challenged them to face the questions: What will you get away with or use to your advantage? What will you not care about anymore?
This month with the writers from Senior Space in Red Bank, we jumped into reading Abigail Thomas’ new memoir, Still Life at Eighty, The Next Interesting Thing. Stephen King says this of her: “Abigail Thomas is the Emily Dickinson of memoir.” We had fun writing about our relationship with makeup through the ages. We also wrote about how to live our best lives with the time we have left.
Shore House (Long Branch)
We have a lot to celebrate with Shore House this month! PWN goes to Shore House every other week throughout the year to facilitate important expressive and introspective writing workshops. This month, we were honored to be part of their “Art of Recovery” event at the Bungalow Hotel, featuring art from talented members and guest artists. During the event, two brave members came up and read the ekphrastic pieces we’ve been working on together in class. It filled our hearts to see them proudly sharing their words. Also, recently, one member, Tina, asked if she could meet with us more frequently to begin a mentoring relationship. After a few conversations, we realized how much she wanted to teach. So this month, we sat down together and created a lesson plan and then Tina facilitated our writing workshop herself for over 15 members! We’re so proud of Tina and all of the members for sharing their stories and themselves with us.
Teacher Writing Collaborative
During our Teacher Writing Collaborative, we read the flash piece “Bathroom Pass,” by Mazer D’Orazio, which we all loved because of how well we could relate to it! We then selected from the following prompts: blessed randomness, something you will never show ______, or orange traffic cone. We loved the many different directions our own stories took us. We are so grateful for this inspiring group!
We were honored to participate as adjudicators for our sixth Teen Arts Festival, sponsored by Monmouth Arts. We read and gave thoughtful feedback on nearly 100 pieces of writing from students in Monmouth Regional, Neptune, Henry Hudson Regional, Rumson-Fair Haven, Communications, Matawan Regional, Biotechnology, and Ocean Township. We were blown away by their authenticity, creativity, and imaginations! We spent two days at the festival giving workshops that helped the young writers dig deeper into their pieces, and we also held one workshop open to anyone so those who didn’t submit for adjudication could still participate. We are so grateful to Monmouth Arts for giving us this opportunity!
Teens Take the Lead
We were back with Teens Take the Lead, a service learning project of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County. For this month’s session, we talked about messaging and modeled how to write an effective email. We love being able to work with these exceptional teens and we are excited to see their project develop.
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 24 seats totaling $10,100. For information about our scholarship program or to become a valuable donor providing these seats, please email Jennifer Chauhan at firstname.lastname@example.org.