Looking back on this year’s CHAPTERS readings, we’re in awe of the talent and strength we’ve witnessed, both on stage and on the page. From our incredible guest authors to our eloquent emcees to our ever-powerful mentee and mentor readers, each month brought in a fresh and exciting collection of advice, essays, poetry, and prose. In March, Amy Fusselman blew us away with her moving speech on the importance of believing in your voice and your writing; in April Farai Chideya reminded us that writing is “soul work” and has the power to take us anywhere; in May Ana Castillo attested to the power of storytelling, and in June Christina Baker Kline encouraged us to “do the scary thing” and “seize the story.” And each month, again and again, our young women writers showed us the power writing has in their own lives, commanding the audience with every word.
Check out some of the highlights from each program below.
MARCH 21, 2014 with Amy Fusselman (The Pharmacist’s Mate; 8)
“If I could – and I will – say anything to you powerful girls, it is this: Your voice matters. Your consciousness, your perception, your feelings, your thoughts matter. Your writing which is yours and yours alone is sacred and worth devoting yourself wholly to.” –Amy Fusselman, CHAPTERS March 2014
Amy’s speech at March 2014 CHAPTERS
Girls Write Now Readers:
Teamaré Gaston, Give Me a Title; Shanille Martin, Bubbly; Leilah Fagan, They Never Notice; Elshaima Omran and Stacie Evans, You and Me & Slipping Through Both Hands; Dahnay Bazunu, Purpose; Arnell Calderon, Hermana; Karina Martinez, The Question; Kirstie Plasencia, The Blue Universe; Misbah Awan, 7 National Anthems; Bushra Miah and Gillian Reagan, Dennis & Matin; Brenda Bota, Emmy; Martia Johnson, Thoughts; Najaya Royal, Mistake
“By six pm, all of the women appeared, bruised by mini arguments and long days of cooking and cleaning. You were the exception. Your sweaty black chair was treated like a throne. Loss brought you an incredible amount of money. Monday through Friday, nine to five, were the days of repairing the hearts of those grieving with money. “What was the name of your wife?” you said. “What type of insurance did you used to have?” you asked. Some days, “to ask” and “to say” would exhaust you. So you sighed easily and slowly, digesting the grand central scenery outside of your window.”
–Arnell Calderon, “Hermana”
Tema Regist attends Midwood High School and is 18 years old. As a poetry ambassador for Girls Write Now for the past two years, she has recited many poems at various venues including Lincoln Center (Poet-Linc). The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards awarded Tema a Silver Key for her collection of poetry. She was honored with the opportunity to interview author Angel Nafis on the NY Writers Coalition podcast. Tema has performed a dance piece for a prominent community leader in front of thousands of people during the celebration of Old Timer’s Day at Brownsville Recreation Center. Additionally, she has choreographed a dance for the Brooklyn Youth Company.
JoAnn Delunna is a bilingual journalist and poet from Texas, a self-described Texican. Her journalistic work has been published throughout the US, UK, Netherlands, and India, while her poetry has been published in anthologies in New York and Texas. Her journalistic work spans topics in travel, finance, digital media, crime, education, health, arts, and travel. JoAnn moved to New York at the end of 2010 after studying and working in Europe for four years. In 2008 she received her joint journalism master’s degree from City University London, University of Amsterdam, and The University of Aarhus, Denmark. She holds an English/Communication Arts BA from St. Mary’s University in Texas.
Amy Fusselman is the author of three nonfiction books: The Pharmacist’s Mate, 8, and the forthcoming (Jan 2015) Savage Park. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, ARTnews, Ms. magazine, The Hairpin, and elsewhere. As “Dr.” Fusselman, she writes a column for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency called “Family Practice.” She is the editor of the online art and literary journal Ohio Edit. She lives in NYC.
APRIL 25, 2014 with Farai Chideya (The Color of Our Future)
“When I think about Girls Write Now. . . .What you are doing is this soul work that allows you to teleport through space and time; it allows you to have presence in the world; it allows you to share things you might not be able to share face to face.” –Farai Chideya, CHAPTERS April 2014
Girls Write Now Readers:
Roberta Nin Feliz, Chercher; Shirleyka Hector, All Over Again; Giselle Vargas, Untitled; Rachel Zhao, The Liberation of Persephone; Lauren Melendez, Back Story & Special Ed; Sabrina Cevallos, The Birth-Giving Stranger; Angel Pizarro and Annie Reuter, Finding Our Voice; Calayah Heron, Cornerstorecandy; Ashley Christie, Power, Strength, and Water; Mya Watkins, Michael; Kirby-Estar Laguerre, Bus Ride in the Rain & Multicolored; Karla Kim, I’m Laughing, Just Not Externally; Samori Covington, Earth, Wind and Fried Meatballs; Adhelia Peña, The Lost Girl; Katherine Martinez, fake diary hymns; Xiao Shan Liu and Alyssa Vine, The Women in Our Lives
“He said that I had no color,
I was just a glass of icy water,
Clear and tasteless.
I am from a black and white film,
Classic and mysterious
In the ways of my deep, old soul.”
–Kirby-Estar Laguerre, “Multicolored”
Watch Calayah Heron read her piece, “Cornerstorecandy”
“Write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.” Karilis Cruz is not the kind to sit around and wait for something awesome to find her. She seeks it out and explores what dares to be explored. Her mornings consist of a cup of coffee, playing with her dog ‘Terrie,’ and wishing it were the weekend already. Believe her when she says her life is more interesting in her head. Karilis soaks in moments, then she spills poetry.
Lyndsay Faye is the international bestselling author of the Timothy Wilde series, which has been honored by the American Library Association and nominated for an Edgar Award. She also appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2010, the Strand Magazine, many publications relating to the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and writes comics and graphic novels whenever possible.
Farai Chideya brings the human experience alive in media. A fiction and nonfiction author, reporter, and broadcaster, she has interviewed billionaires and politicians; white supremacists and murderers. She believes that embracing our shared humanity is crucial to journalism. A former on air reporter and host for ABC News, CNN, and NPR, she is developing new projects for public radio and writing two books on the future of work. Farai is also a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.
MAY 30, 2014 with Ana Castillo (Give It To Me)
“If I had had an organization like Girls Write Now when I was a young woman, I can’t begin to imagine what my life would have been like.” –Ana Castillo, CHAPTERS May 2014
Girls Write Now Readers:
Jennifer Lee, American; Brianna Marini and Kristen Demaline, 16 Songs & Shorthand; Rumer Legendre, Mama and Me; Maxine Armstrong, The Faded Movie Star; Kayla Corbin, Your Joy; Julia Mercado, The Image I See; Tuhfa Begum, Crash; Luljeta Kulla Zenka, A Second Enyo; Corrine Civil, Dirty Feet; Rayhana Maarouf, What My Muslim Heritage Means to Me; Sara Reka, Somalia & Thirteen Turning Thirty; Tiffani Ren, Forgiving 14 Year-Old Me; Kiara Joseph, Rush; Brenda Bota, Emmy; Nyasiah Colon, To a Mother, To a Daughter; Paldon Dolma, Identity; Kaytlin Carlo, Letter to My 14 Year-Old Self; Bre’Ann Newsome, We Are Not Lord
“Because she is… Flawful
The sun shines brighter into her window
Because she is taller
Her fingers are closer to grazing the clouds that she reaches for
Because she is… more crooked than any row of teeth can be…
–Bre’Ann Newsome, “We Are Not Lord”
Watch Paldon Dolma read her piece, “Identity”
Eda Tse is a junior at Stuyvesant High School and in the process of becoming, whatever becoming is exactly. This is her first year as a mentee in Girls Write Now’s Digital Media Mentoring Program, and she loves Thai food, feminist prose, angry girl music of the indie rock persuasion, and quoting movies. If she had to marry a movie style, she’d have a hard time choosing between Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick. She writes.
Aparna Wilder is the Student Programs and Outreach Manager at the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI) at the University of Pennsylvania. She also runs a small production house, global rickshaw, which makes short films and videos in collaboration with non-profit organizations. Born in Baltimore, MD, Aparna has spent most of her adult years in Philadelphia, New York, and Mumbai. On the weekends Aparna can be found playing field hockey, exploring Brooklyn, and entertaining her baby niece. Aparna is a first year Digital Media Mentor with Girls Write Now.
Ana Castillo is a celebrated poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar. She has contributed to periodicals and national magazines, including Salon and the Sunday New York Times. Her best-selling works include So Far From God and Sapogonia, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her forthcoming novel, Give It To Me, was released this month with The Feminist Press.
JUNE 2014 with Christina Baker Kline (Orphan Train; Bird in Hand; The Way Life Should Be; Desire Lines; Sweet Water)
“Do the scary thing. Seize the story. . . . Being scrappy and tenacious and willing to reinvent yourself as you go is part of the secret, I believe, to having a long and fulfilling life where you do the things that you love.” –Christina Baker Kline, CHAPTERS June 2014
Christina Baker Kline at June 2014 Chapters
Girls Write Now Readers:
Mariah Dwyer, Ramapo Late Night Rambles & Let Them Know; Marquisele Mercedes, Things My Family Told Me; Kiara Kerina-Rendina, A+; Chenelle Agnew and Mary Pat Kane, Why We Write; Angelica Rozza, The Woman Upstairs; Julia Mercado, The Image I See; Nakissi Dosso, Lost; Katherine Ortiz and Yvette Joy Harris, Dear You & Dear Voice; Priscilla Guo and Traci Carpenter, Coming Up Taller & Karaoke Dreams; Iris Torres, Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me; Janae Lowe, The Connection That We Had; Lawrencia Terris, Blurred Lines and Family Ties; Karilis Cruz, If One Shall Say; Amanda Day McCullough, A Faith Apart; Mennen Gordon, The Inner Turmoil of Young Mail Men and Women in Training; Jade Rodriguez, A Sad Song?; Shannon Daniels, Fish; Nishat Anjum, The Constellations in My Life; Tema Regist, Arter Et Fouiller & Muted Bellows & Geunine Apology; Carmin Wong and Hadia Sheerazi, I Am Woman & Because I’m a Girl
Jules struggled up the steps to his school. He pulled his huge triangular bag up the stairs.
“In rain or shine my ass,” he muttered. He was taking a personal day the next time the sun hid behind the clouds.
“Jules!” his classmate Lillian called from the bottom of the stairs. “Help!”
Lillian was surrounded by her senior thesis; a chain of letters that myth-busted the myth, ‘Who delivers a mailman’s mail (in a world where the P.O. Box had never been invented)?” She spent weeks creating the proper formula for mail to be delivered to a mailman, but his mail could not be delivered by you, or by the person you delivered to, nor could your mail be delivered by a person who lives on your normal route. Lillian was an overachiever.
Jules let his bag tumble down the status as he ran down to help her collect and sort the mail.
“Yeah,” she sighed. One of the envelopes was in the middle of a dirty puddle. The reflection of the sky was clouded over with the smoky haze of street water. “I just really want an A.”
“Yeah, I know. Which is crazy, because we go to mail school, Lily. What do you need good grades for? We go to mail school. You gonna go to mail college? You want a doctorate in mail? You want to be Dr. Mail.”
“Shut up,” Lilian said, wringing out the envelope. “I want to be good at what I do.”
“But what you do is deliver mail. You didn’t need to start working on your senior thesis your junior year so you could be a mailman.”
“Mail-WOMAN,” she growled. “And it’s not about that.”
–Mennen Gordon, “The Inner Turmoil of Young Mail Men and Women in Training”
Watch Carmin Wong and Hadia Sheerazi read their pieces, “I Am Woman” and “Because I’m a Girl”
Taysha Clark is a Girls Write Now mentee alum, mentor, writer, and activist. She is part of the Girls Write Now Youth Board, President and Founder of the Barnard College Civil Liberties Club, and former United Nations Representative for Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund. Currently, she’s a rising junior at Barnard College majoring in Political Science and Human Rights with a minor in Sociology and Race and Ethnic Studies. Taysha is committed to service, learning, and is inspired by the words of Andrea Gibson, “I’ve never cared to be as much as I’ve cared to become.”
Tessa Lee-Thomas is a Girls Write Now alum who graduated in 2013 from both the program and the high school Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women. Tessa now attends Brooklyn College where she is currently studying Nutrition Sciences. Tessa’s experiences in life have led her down this path, and with her attendance at an all-girl school and being involved in all-girl programs, such as GWN and Girls Inc., Tessa has a soft spot for women’s empowerment! As Tessa continues her journey, she believes in staying active in all the organizations and programs that she has come through because they all have contributed to the person she has become. Tessa believes that GWN has allowed her to make connections and find the strength to be confident in all she writes. There is someone for everybody, and Tessa found that somebody in the writing world when she met her mentor Kathleen.
Christina Baker Kline:
Christina Baker Kline is the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Orphan Train and four other novels: Bird in Hand, The Way Life Should Be, Desire Lines and Sweet Water – and the author/editor of five nonfiction books. Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University from 2007-2011, Kline is a recent recipient of a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship and several research fellowships (to Ireland and Minnesota), and has been a Writer-in-Residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She lives with husband and three sons near New York City, and spends as much time as possible on the coast of Maine, where she grew up.
WITH THANKS TO:
The National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. CHAPTERS 2014 would not have been possible without our Readings Committee and Youth Board, Lauren Harms, Tom Hunt, and Dave Shuff. Thanks also to our deeply committed Board of Directors and Program Advisory Committee; our tireless staff, volunteer committees, and interns; and our countless individual donors.
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