Celebration of Writing -- Nov. 11, 2017

Young Writers Project, in collaboration with the Vermont College of Fine Arts, is excited to offer this year's Celebration of Writing which includes deep-dive workshops in poetry, short story writing and performance writing, along with MadCap Writing and an Open Mic at the end. Prizes, food and snacks, too! And look at the lineup of artists guiding the sessions! Wow!

WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017
WHAT TIME: 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (registration at 9:30)
WHERE: Vermont College of Fine Arts, College Hall (main building), Montpelier, VT
COST: $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Scholarships are available, click here and send an email to Susan Reid.

  • LUNCH (make your own sandwiches) will be served, but bring your own food if you'd like.
  • SNACKS (Nutty Steph's chocolate clusters, fruit)
  • PRIZES (YWP raffle but you must stay for the Open Mic)
  • And did we say OPEN MIC? An amazing performance at the end of the day (2:35 p.m. sharp) featuring YOU and some of our artists.
AND OH YES, and we have a special workshop in the morning for parents 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. ($10). Please ask them to sign up if they want to participate (or you can can sign them in on the signup form!) 

UPDATE: We are sad to say (11/2/17) that the short story writer and novelist Robin MacArthur had to withdraw as a workshop leader for health reasons. 


GEOFFREY GEVALT, MadCap writing, general troublemaking

MadCap Writing: (10 - 10:45 a.m.) Write fast and don't think about it. A whirlwind start to the day to get your juices going. 
Audio Stories: (lunchtime) YWP will be set up in two rooms during lunch to have you come and give a dramatic narration of your favorite piece (or one of your new ones) for posting on youngwritersproject.org and for publication.

Geoffrey Gevalt founded YWP in 2006 to help kids express themselves better. Since then, YWP has connected with 100,000+ youths, published 18,000 youths' best work with media partners and in The Voice, a monthly digital magazine, For 33 years, Geoffrey was a journalist -- mostly with newspapers -- in Maine, Boston, Baltimore, New York City, Ohio and Vermont. He won numerous awards as a reporter and editor, including The George Polk Award for investigative journalism. He was, for two years, a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes. 

Time Remembered: (10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.) THIS WORKSHOP IS FULL (we have other great options!) We will utilize short jazz and/or jazz-based compositions as vehicles for written reflection. None of these pieces will have lyrics... That is where you, the writer- and your imagination come in...
Reuben Jackson hosts Friday Night Jazz on Vermont Public Radio. He was curator of the Duke Ellington Collection at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. for more than 20 years. His music reviews have been published in The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, All About Jazz, Jazz Times, Jazziz, and on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Reuben is also a poet, a mentor with The Young Writers Project and educator.

TAMARA ELLIS SMITH, prose and adult workshop leader

Mapping Your Memories: Turning the Landmarks of Your Life into Details for Your Story: (10: 45 - 12:15 p.m.) Maps tell us where we are going but they also tell us where we’ve been. And where we’ve been—locationally, emotionally, experientially—is filled with extraordinary seeds for creative writing. In this workshop, Tamara will engage participants in a series of writing exercises aimed at creatively mapping people's lives (focusing on landscape and landmarks that are meaningful to them), and then finding experiential landmarks—memories and details from which to build stories. Part of the workshop will be collaborative and part will be individual. All of the workshop is meant to celebrate who we all are, both as people in general and as writers who have something important to say.  

Tamara Ellis Smith is an author for young readers, and her debut middle grade novel, Another Kind of Hurricane, was published by Schwartz & Wade/Random House in 2015. Tamara works with the Vermont College of Fine Arts Young Writers Network as both a liaison for their Northern New England region and a teaching artist.

The Landscape of Our Lives: (10 - 10:45 a.m.) Parents are invited to join Tamara for this fun, hands-on workshop of writing exercises aimed at creatively mapping people's lives. Tamara notes that sometimes adults' good work—taking care of other people, listening to their needs and their stories—leaves them feeling either depleted and almost distant from themselves, or protective of their own lives. This workshop focuses on meaningful landscape and defining moments to tell the stories of your life.

Creating the piece: (10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.) Creating the piece: The session will be focused on helping you create a performance piece, giving you time to try and discard until you find an idea and poem you like. 

Polishing the words and performance: (1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.) The session will be focused on honing your words and polishing your performance. You do not have to attend the morning session to attend this one -- bring in a performance piece you've been working on if you'd like.

Rajnii Eddins is YWP's artistic director and a leader of the Youth Voices for Change initiative. Rajnii is an arts educator, National Poetry Slam champion, singer and songwriter originally from Seattle, Washington. He is also a core member of Bless the Child, Set Up City and the Jenke collective. Rajnii leads YWP'sOpen Mic at Burlington City Arts on the second Thursday of the month.

MGMC formed as a Slam team in March 2015 when it was selected to represent Vermont in the Brave New Voices Slam competition. Sponsored by YWP and coached by Rajnii and Denise Casey, MGMC has since that time made nearly 100 public performances, lead discussions on Muslim culture and race and was identified by Huffington Post as four of the 17 most influential Muslim women in America. All four are seniors at their respective high schools -- Burlington High School and South Burlington High School. 


Unexpected Wisdom and Accidental Beauty: (1 - 2:30 p.m.) In this workshop we will explore some of the writing games and techniques used by Surrealists and other poetic adventurers to discover surprising possibilities for our writing and new ways of thinking about ourselves and the world.

Karin Gottshall's most recent book is The River Won't Hold You (Ohio State University Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, FIELD, The Gettysburg Review, and many other literary journals. She teaches poetry writing at Middlebury College and directs the New England Young Writers' Conference at Bread Loaf.

Sources of Fiction: (1 - 2:30 p.m.) This workshop explores where our story ideas come from and how as writers we can develop our experiences and ideas into artful narrative writing. We'll be doing a lot of writing in class. 

Jensen Beach is the author of two collections of short fiction, most recently Swallowed by the Cold, which won the Vermont Book Award this year. His stories have appeared in A Public Space, the Paris Review, and The New Yorker. He teaches at Johnson State College, where he is fiction editor at Green Mountains Review.
OPEN MIC (2:35 - 3:30 pm)

The culmination of the day, participants who wish to share their work from the day are free to share to an appreciative audience in the Chapel of Vermont College of Fine Arts. We ask that conference participants stay until the end -- even if they don't wish to present -- so that everyone gets good audience. Parents, friends, family are encouraged to come to watch and appreciate the fine work that everyone has done.

Further incentive: Raffle prizes will be handed out at the end of the day!