This blog post was written by Program Intern, Jessica Risolo. Join us for the 2016 CHAPTERS Reading Series with keynote speakers, Tanwi Nandini Islam, Mia Alvar, Angela Flournoy, and Naomi Jackson.
Mia Alvar, a Girls Write Now mentor alum, spoke about her experience as a writer and mentor and read from her short story collection In the Country at the April CHAPTERS Reading. Prior to her reading, Alvar discussed feeling lost and unsure during her time in Columbia University’s Creative Writing Program, two feelings that many young writers have experienced themselves. As a graduate student struggling with inspiration, Mia applied to be a Girls Write Now mentor in the hopes of helping a young woman writer. What she found was a relationship that benefited her and her writing as well.
She also read an excerpt from In the Country about falling in love with writing. Her heroine struggles with the practicality of studying creative writing as she becomes more and more enamored with fiction. Her beautiful writing style and words of advice for writers young and old had the entire audience listening carefully and nodding in agreement at the all too familiar realization that writing is a transformative act.
Sixteen current mentees performed the writing they have been working on in the hopes of transforming themselves and their audience. Girls Write Now mentees Shanille Martin and Bre’Ann Newsome emceed the night and read their own poetry that dealt with an array of issues such as race, gender and society. We watched mentees and mentors perform as the voices of revolutionary women, disgruntled New Yorkers, and concerned feminists We heard personal narratives about natural beauty and self love, difficult family losses, depression, isolation, and budding high school romances.
This was my first CHAPTERS reading as a Programs Intern and it has only made me more excited to see more mentees perform in May and June. It was amazing to be a part of an event where all of the mentees and mentors who performed commanded the attention of the entire audience who all have one thing in common: a commitment to the next generation of women writers.