Help Us Send Journals to Youth in Jail

April 8th, 2014 by Admin

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We’re raising funds to send creative writing journals to youth in jails across America. Won’t you join us?

Last spring, we created a journal for our students in juvenile hall called Words Within the Walls. The idea for the journal came about when students asked us for paper to write on during their free time. But as any writer know, it can be hard to get started with a blank page. The journal is full of writing prompts, poems by students, and lined pages and offers ways to spark ideas and encourage creative self-expression. Our first print run was a hit and praised by students and educators alike.

Now we’re raising funds to reprint the journal and make it available to youth in lock-up facilities everywhere. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to print 5,000 journals to send them to 35 organizations and juvenile hall schools. Click here to learn more about the journal and to make a pledge.

Illustration based on a photo by Katharine Gin

Live at The CJM 2014 Recap

February 27th, 2014 by Admin

Last Thursday, February 20, 2014, we joined forces with The Contemporary Jewish Museum for the fourth year to present WritersCorps Live at The CJM, an intergenerational reading. This year the featured author was performance poet Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene. She performed along with WritersCorps teaching artists Roseli Ilano and harold terezón, and 11 students from 7 different WritersCorps sites in San Francisco.

Before the reading, interns from The CJM’s Teen Art Connect program treated about 80 WritersCorps students to a private tour of Jason Lazarus’ exhibit “Live Archive.” A portion of the exhibit focused on the Occupy Movement posters.

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After the tour, the TAC interns led our youth through a creative arts workshop where they got to speak their minds and create their our own protest signs.

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The students enjoyed some pizza while Yvonne fielded their questions about being a professional writer. A Sanchez Elementary student bravely raised her hand first and asked a question about performing, “What do you do when you mess up?”

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Helen Jimenez from the San Francisco Public Library kicked off the reading, followed by Susana Robles from the Hilltop School. Next, third-year WritersCorps Teaching Artist harold terezón read poems about home and family.

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The harold introduced his students: Wilson Chen and Cecilia Vigil from Aptos Middle School, followed by our youngest reader of the night, fourth grader Ifat Maru from Sanchez Elementary.

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Wilson Chen

International Studies Academy student, Rowan Ellis, read a deeply personal piece to a rapt audience.

Rowan Ellis with her WritersCorps Teaching Artist Sandra Garcia Rivera

Rowan Ellis with ISA WritersCorps Teaching Artist Sandra Garcia Rivera

Next, Roseli Ilano, a third-year teaching artist, dropped us right into an intense airport security moment when she read from her short story.

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Roseli introduced her Mission High School students Micah Delarosa, Celia Valle, and Rama Miro, who was also representing Oasis for Girls.

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Rama Miro

The voices of our incarcerated students at the Woodside Learning Center inside the Juvenile Justice Center were also heard when the recorded poems of young writers T.K. and K.M. filled the auditorium. (Listen to the poems here.)

Warmed up and ready to keep clapping, the audience received our featured reader, the talented Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene. She treated us to an engaging performance of poetry that had the audience laughing, sighing, and calling out her name. Her poems talked about home, writing, being and not being American, and loving oneself.

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After the reading, Yvonne was swarmed by students asking for her signature on her chapbook.

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Thank you to everyone who attended the event and supported the work of our students and teaching artists! It was a packed house and we were thrilled to see all of you. Check out more photos from the event here on our Flickr page. Thank you to photographer Andria Lo!

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WordStorm – May 14

February 26th, 2014 by Admin

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The school year is going to be over before we know it, which means it’s almost time for WordStorm! Part open mic, part literary fair, WordStorm is our huge end-of-the-year event where our students from all of our sites come together to create, share and inspire each other.
WHAT: WritersCorps WordStorm: A Celebration of New Writing

WHERE: San Francisco Main Public Library, Latino/Hispanic Meeting Room (lower level),
100 Larkin Street (@ Grove)

WHEN:
May 14, 3:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Literary Carnival (with workshops and activities): 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Student Reading: 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

COST: FREE

PUBLIC TRANSIT: Muni Lines 5, 19, 21, 43, 49; Civic Center BART and Muni Metro

WritersCorps Live at The CJM – Feb 20

February 19th, 2014 by Admin

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Join us for a free reading at The Contemporary Jewish Museum on February 20. Click here for details.

Meet WritersCorps: Annie Rozvar

February 14th, 2014 by Admin

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Meet WritersCorps teaching artist Annie Rozvar, who teaches at Sanchez Elementary School and Hilltop School, Pregnant Minors Program

How do you manage teaching at two very different sites?

I actually find it really invigorating teaching at two different sites. Working with elementary school kids is reinvigorating. They are constantly willing to play with language and their imaginations, and they’re in touch with the world in a really poetic way. Creative writing can be a tougher sell to high school students, but is particularly rewarding working with this age group to see how much writing matters to them, how much they are figuring out their identities through writing. For my own creative process, I find that working at two sites makes for a nice balance, each nourishing my teaching and writing in different ways.

Is there a piece of writing that got you into writing or teaching writing?

I’ve always loved reading and writing, but Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim At Tinker Creek was a book that made me want to commit my life to writing. Both in the style of her prose and her philosophical outlook, Dillard elevates writing to more than just a pleasurable activity. Writing becomes a way of seeing and being in the world. After reading this book, I wanted to pay attention more to the small moments of beauty and grace, and I wanted to make that my life’s work. Writing is one way of doing that. So is teaching.

What kind of writing do you like to do on your own? 

I mostly write poetry. I particularly enjoy making collage poems from science articles.

Are there any messages about writing that you try to get across when you teach?

I try to encourage my students to write what really matters to them, and to go for the jugular in their writing. I am always reminding them that writing is a brave thing to do, and that no one writes alone. I try to reinforce the idea that we write in community, and that by writing what really matters to us, the joys and struggles, we invite others to feel inspiration, hope and consolation.

What’s something your students have taught you?

My students remind me that true art comes from a place of love. Whether writing about a bad break up, or how amazing it is to have a child, or (with my elementary school kids) how much they love going on adventures, my students constantly show me how a truly creative imagination is sparked by a love of the world and the people in it.