It is time for another installment of NYWC hART beat, a spotlight on one of the talented poets and writers in the NYWC community. May is almost over and I’m going to miss it. Not only because it is the last full month of Spring but, historically, the writing world got a big burst of energy in May, especially for feminism. Fun fact: did you know that this month in American history, was the birthday of journalist Margaret Fuller? Born May 23, 1810 in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, Fuller became not only the first woman to serve as a foreign correspondent, but her book Women in the Nineteenth Century, published in 1845, is considered the first feminist work by an American writer. But times have changed and now here at the NY Writers Coalition, we are lucky to have had in our midst a writer and poet, now residing in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose work has been called “fiercely feminist yet tenderly personal” (bough breaks). Please say hello to poet and former NYWC workshop leader Tamiko Beyer.
Tamiko Beyer’s newest collection of poetry, We Come Elemental, was released this month from Alice James Books. You can also check out her chapbook, bough breaks, from Meritage Press, and her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Volta, Octopus, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. She is the Senior Writer at Corporate Accountability International and lives in Cambridge, MA. Find her online at tamikobeyer.com. (more…)
The other night I went to see “Stories We Tell,” a much-praised autobiographical documentary by Canadian actor and filmmaker Sarah Polley. (Stop here if you plan to see it and haven’t already.)
While I believe we should all be able to worship whatever and however we like, I don’t exercise that right in any traditional sense. When I left my parents’ home and went off to college, I stopped going to church, and haven’t really looked back. I don’t feel a void where once was the incessant standing-up-and-sitting-down that is synonymous with an Episcopalian service; I don’t miss the hour spent in church once a week listening to a robed man proselytizing before his congregation. When asked whether or not I consider myself to be a spiritual person, my reflexive answer is usually “I haven’t really made time for spirituality.” In some silly way, I think of cultivating my own spirituality as an item on some distant to-do list. But Pat Schneider’s new book, How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice, suggests I may have been cultivating my spiritual side without even realizing it – by writing.
For Schneider, writing is an inherently spiritual act; a kind of prayer:
“Both prayer and writing invite us to explore the full range of human awareness, out to the edges of what we have experienced and beyond, out to the edges of what we can intuit, and beyond. Both invite us to imagine, to be brave in what we imagine, and to keep the doors of our imaginings open.”
As a reluctantly spiritual person, this comparison made by Schneider initially made me uncomfortable. I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to prayer, to thinking about a higher power, or to worshipping some larger, unknown force. Perhaps this is because on my own bumpy path through our often crazy world, I have come to take comfort in the fact that at the end of the day, I must rely on myself. When things feel impossible I tend to turn inward to the reservoir of strength I’ve come to realize I possess, rather than reaching outward to a mystical presence. But this, in some sense, is Schneider’s point. (more…)
Each year 40 young people participate in NY Writers Coalition’s six-week series of free outdoor creative writing workshops and in an end-of-summer reading, the Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival. Lit Fest presents well-known, established writers reading alongside the young writers from the workshops.
NYWC’s summer writing program for youth honors the power of the written word to build inclusiveness and give voice to the thoughts and experiences of everyone, not just the privileged and powerful. Past Lit Fest readers include Amiri Baraka, Jennifer Egan, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rick Moody, Gloria Naylor, Sapphire, Sonia Sanchez, Colson Whitehead and many others.
Due to funding cuts by the National Endowment for the Arts, NYWC must raise $6,000 before the summer. It costs NYWC $25 per young writer (per week) to provide the Fort Greene Park Summer Youth Workshops free of charge to the public, totaling $150 per writer for the summer.
Please consider making a contribution here so that we may continue to provide this program to the dedicated and talented writers of tomorrow — and remember to join us for this year’s Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival on August 24!
NY Writers Coalition has helped unheard voices be heard for over ten years now by way of our city-wide workshops, reading events, and NY Writers Coalition Press publications. This year, we’re happy to dip our toes into another golden pond with our first film, Voices of NY Writers Coalition.
Here, a few of NYWC’s dedicated workshop leaders and participants discuss the work, share their writing, and remind us of the importance of bringing voice to the voiceless in New York City.
Special thanks to Louise Crawford, Erick Fix, and Marian Fontana for their hard work in making this video happen, as well as to all the writers and workshop leaders who appeared in the film. Enjoy!