“Never underestimate the power of a girl and her pen.” ~www.WriteGirl.org
I don’t remember how I came to know out about WriteGirl. Most likely, I received some kind of email about it or saw something about it on Facebook. What ever way it came to me, I’m just happy it did. I’d been on a constant search for an organization involved in helping girls with reading and writing. I’ve also been looking for networking opportunities with other writers. Well, my search was over when I read the about page on WriteGirl’s website:
WriteGirl — a creative writing organization founded in 2001 in Los Angeles — teams together girls ages 14 – 18 with professional women writers through workshops, readings, publications and mentoring relationships to help the girls gain communication skills and build confidence. WriteGirl gives young ladies the freedom to express themselves through writing poetry, essays, song lyrics, short stories, and screenplays. WriteGirl was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award and was named the 2010 – 2011 California Nonprofit of the Year.
After reading that, I was sold. I decided at that moment that I wanted to become a volunteer and mentor. I quickly downloaded the application and completed it. I also signed up for their newsletter which led me to an email about their Book Launch Party held on Saturday, June 27th at the Writers Guild of America Theatre (WGA) in Beverly Hills. The event was hosted by Keren Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of WriteGirl; and Clare Sera, a screenwriter and actress. Special guests included actors, Doniella Artese, the first major black character on Mad Men (AMC); Melora Hardin, Transparent (Amazon Prime); Mo Collins, Parks and Recreation (NBC); and the only dude to grace the stage, Shawn Carter Peterson, Pitch Perfect 2 (Universal Pictures).
City of Angels
The party was in celebration of WriteGirl’s 14th anthology, Emotional Map of Los Angeles. Almost 200 women and girls contributed poems and essays on topics such as the death of a loved one, dreams, bullying, police brutality, and experiences of being residents of Los Angeles. The event kicked off with the girls taking to the stage five at a time where they each recited a short poem or essay excerpt. Some girls shared their writing processes and tips on how to be a better writer. The best tip was, “Write down your dreams. They might become a best seller one day.” One 14 year old girl shared how she writes while lying on the floor at 2:00am when “all distractions are asleep.” I found myself wondering how she manages to get up for school in the morning. But, I get it. When the urge to write calls, you must answer.
We, the audience, got the chance to express our feelings too. We were handed a stack of index cards and was encouraged to write down any feelings the readings evoked. The index cards were collected, read aloud, and taped on the walls and stage. The multi-colored cards created a confetti-like appearance in the room, which I’m sure made the girls feel appreciated. People wrote down words such as inspired, angry, and motivated. I scribbled the word “powerful” in response to a girl’s gripping poem about police brutality and social injustice surrounding the Ferguson unrest, and the Freddie Gray and Eric Garner cases.
During intermission, we were treated with healthy dishes from Sharkey’s. We munched on salad, chicken and tofu burritos, chips and salsa; and sipped on Hubert’s Lemonade, the best lemonade I’ve ever tasted in my life.
After lunch we returned to the theatre for the second round of readings. Maybe they should have saved the food for last because my belly was full and I was ready for a nap. The theatre seats didn’t help either. Usually, most venues have stiff seats jammed together, which makes for an uncomfortable experience for a tall girl like myself. Well, I had no sardine issues at the WGA theatre. The seats are plush and built for comfort. I had plenty of room to stretch my long limbs.
WriteGirl alums who were on summer break from their perspective colleges also participated in the show. Each one shared words of advice with the younger girls about what to expect from college life. “Stay focused even though lots of things will be coming at you,” one student advised.
The affair ended on a sweet note with a dessert reception with delicious frozen yogurt from Yogurtland and an array of cookies. My kind of way to end an evening!
Tell me, what did you do this past weekend? Did you paint the town red?