Dear Friends of Project Write Now:
This month, our hearts are with the families and communities who’ve experienced the tragedies in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, and with all who are impacted by ongoing violence.
We would like to share a poem written by one of our students in Asbury Park whose words have resonated with us. This piece was published in our end-of-year anthology, which the students titled Dark City Poetry: Poems of Light.
by C. W.
In dark there is light.
You have to be the brightness.
Just to make a life.
In dark there is light.
To banish the evil near.
Keep focus on the fight.
In dark there is light.
Stay strong, stay calm, keep breathing.
For the rainy nights.
Through their words, our students share their struggles, their hopes, their dreams. We are committed to giving them supportive spaces so they can continue to share their voices—to write about, process, and reflect on their thoughts and feelings.
Whether you’ve taken a class, signed your child up for a class, or given a generous gift, you help us do this work, which is needed now more than ever.
From all of us at PWN, THANK YOU!
Asbury Park High School
We wrapped up our Spoken Word Project at Asbury Park High School with a Poetry Slam and Writers Celebration on Friday, May 20. We gave each student from the creative writing and public speaking classes an anthology of their work, which the students titled Dark City Poetry: Poems of Light. Several students shared the pieces that were published. PWN also had the honor of judging the school’s first poetry contest, and those winners read their winning pieces aloud, as well. It was a wonderful afternoon and we were so moved and inspired by these young writers. A HUGE thank you to Christine DeMarsico for inviting us into her classroom. We’d also like to thank Krysta Elora, Mychal Mills, and Jean Enelus for guiding these students to write and share their stories. We can’t wait for next year!
Every Friday, we meet on Zoom for one hour to write in response to prompts on a designated theme. This month, we explored the themes: “Finding,” “Friday the 13th,” and “Close.” 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!
PWN at Catsbury Park
We had a blast writing at Catsbury Park! Participants joined us from as far as New York just to write in the presence of cats. We used the many cats in the room as inspiration and we also read “Another Insane Devotion” by Gerald Stern and then used lines from the poem as launching points for our own writing. We ended by writing heartfelt letters to the cats! Thank you so much to all who came and to Catsbury Park for welcoming us into their space. We can’t wait to come back again!
Our students in India have been enjoying the program so much that we extended it by four sessions. We have been taking our made-up characters and their problems and solutions and spinning them into fictional stories. We are learning that multiple attempts at solving problems builds tension in our stories and that is what we want—to write sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat stories! We are grateful to our intern Khushreet Bhatia for helping us deliver this very special program.
Red Bank Middle School
– In-School: 8th Grade
We’ve been working hard with the 8th grade AVID class this month putting the final touches on our video projects as well as our end-of-year anthology pieces. These projects are so creative and inspiring and we are so proud of our students for their dedication and imagination. This was the first group to ever do video projects with us, and we can already tell what a success it’s been. We can’t wait to celebrate their stories in our Writers Celebration in early June!
– In-School: 7th Grade
The 7th grade AVID class has been spending this month putting the finishing touches on their end-of-year anthology pieces. Each piece from the 7th grade class came from the prompt, “Where I’m From,” yet each piece is unique and original to its writer. We love seeing how differently each student responds to the same prompt. We can’t wait to share their stories during our Writers Celebration in early June!
– In-School: 4th & 5th Grades
The students in the 4th and 5th AVID class have been having a lot of fun reading Peter Reynolds’ book BE YOU. This inspirational book is a joyful reminder of the many ways that every child (and adult alike) is unique and special. Reynolds shares positive and uplifting ways for us to be ourselves and be proud of who we are. He tells us to be curious, be adventurous, be brave, be YOU! In class, we read the story, brainstormed, and shared in small groups the many ways we exhibit these characteristics. Then we wrote about them. The students enjoyed sharing moments from their own life that are examples of what Peter Reynolds proclaims in his New York Times Best Seller.
Red Bank Public Library
This month with the writers from Red Bank Public Library, we read the beginning of Gabriel Byrne’s memoir, Walking with Ghosts. Then we wrote the beginning to our own memoirs using the questions: Where do you start? What age are you? What is the place? What is the question you want to answer? We also read two stories from Brenda Miller’s book of essays, An Earlier Life, and wrote in response to those stories about the times in our own young lives when the possibilities were endless.
Shore House (Long Branch)
We wrote about magic this month at Shore House. First we read “Magnifies an Object Ten Times” by Taylor Mali. Then we made lists of where we see magic in our own lives and where we find it. A lot of themes came up as writers shared their lists—the ocean, cats, a higher power, and ultimately feeling seen and connected. We always feel the magic at Shore House!
SKY at Lunch Break
This month with the women from SKY at Lunch Break, we personified feelings in our journals. We wrote about how hard it is to stay in the present moment and how forgiveness is a process much like grief. We also read an excerpt from Oprah Winfrey’s book written with Dr. Bruce Perry, What Happened To You? And we read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Kindness,” and wrote to the prompts: Write of a sorrow you have known. Write of a kindness you have known. How do you model kindness in your world?
Teacher Writing Collaborative
Our Teacher Writing Collaborative is wrapping up the school year with our final class on June 2. This past month, we wrote in response to the poem “Wrap“ by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. We are so grateful to all of the teachers who joined us every other week to write and share our experiences. The community we’ve built has been incredible and we echo what one of our teachers recently said: “The Teacher Writing Collaborative is honestly one of the best gifts.” We are excited to offer a class just for teachers this summer: The Write Time. All teachers are welcome! Register here.
Teen Writing Group
Our teen writers always inspire us as they continue to meet each week to write together. They come up with their own prompts, set their own deadlines, and encourage and support each other as they share their work to help strengthen their writing. Join us this summer for our next session of Teen Writing Group!
Write Out Loud: Asbury Book Cooperative
Thank you so much to the Asbury Book Cooperative for hosting our first Write Out Loud open mic & writing workshop! We are so grateful to everyone who came out, wrote with us, and shared their pieces. We can’t wait for the next one! Stay tuned.
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 email@example.com.