p h i l a d e l p h i a

W O M E N ’S W R IT IN G W O R K SH O PS

ABOUT We bring free, community-based creative writing workshops to youth and adult women throughout Philadelphia. Women grow in craft and creativity while forming relationships across social boundaries.
Small groups meet weekly in shelters, clinics, transitional homes, and prisons; schools, churches, parks, and cafes; living rooms, backyards and kitchens. Each 4 to 10 week workshop is tailored to its participants—their lives, locations, and interests—and culminates in a community reading. Each workshop is also part of a community cycle. This means that multiple workshops take place within the same neighborhood, exploring a common theme amongst a diversity of residents. Workshop participants ultimately come together to share their writing in the form of a reading, performance, published anthology, or integrated, one-day writers retreat. The majority of workshops are offered in partnership with social service agencies, at their facilities, for the populations they serve. With the support of partnering organizations and individual donations, we provide journals, pens, childcare, bus fare and all workshop materials to participants free of charge. We recognize women’s lived experiences of poverty and exclusion, and seek to expose the realities of social and economic oppression. Through community readings, print and web-based anthologies, letter writing campaigns, and more, we strive to be a platform for marginalized voices in our city.

WE BELIEVE Strong communities don’t just happen; they’re an outgrowth of shared time, space, stories, and experiences. When we meet face-to-face to share ourselves, we make it possible to share resources and capital, stakes and interests, ideas and vision. Everyone can be writer; A community of writers can shape our city. MISSION PW3 exists to help women grow in craft and creativity; break down social isolation and strengthen community within neighborhoods; and create inroads for women’s voices in the political and economic development of Philadelphia.

METHODS and PRACTICE
Principles: • Each writer’s original voice is valued. Listening to diverse voices makes us all better writers. • Each writer is free to write as she chooses, taking instructions only if they are helpful. • Confidence is essential to creativity. We build on strengths, offerin positive, inquisitive feedback. • Privacy and confidentiality are respected in all workshops. Structure: 1. We write in class, together: We start with prompts and exercises to stimulate and expand writing. A prompt may be a picture, poem, object, or song that launches us into free writing. An exercise uses specific constraints to help us understand techniques and develop new writing “tools.” 2. We read what we wrote aloud: Each person, including the facilitator, reads aloud. Sharing is always optional. 3. We respond: Participants give each other non-prescriptive feedback by 1) calling out the words and images we remember, 2) saying what we liked, and 3) asking constructive questions. 4. We keep writing: We’ll revisit the tools and techniques we’re learning. Some workshops will build on and revise one piece of writing, working toward a finished draft. Others will start fresh each week, testing new avenues and leaving with a portfolio of ideas. 5. We share: When appropriate, the participants’ work will be shared with a wider audience. We’ll hold readings; actors will be invited to perform monologues and short scenes; stories and essays will be bound and distributed; and, with permission, we’ll add to an online archive, searchable by neighborhood and accompanied by the author’s photo and bio. Workshop Topics: Workshops are organized around a genre (poetry, fiction, playwriting, essay, etc), theme (home, memory, neighborhood mapping, etc.), or both. Organizations may request a specific type of workshop based on the group’s personal interests and make-up. Examples of possible offerings include: • Voices Next-door: Monologues inspired by personal interviews with neighbors. • Mapping my Neighborhood: A series of site-specific writing exercises to “map” our relationship to place. • Excavation: Together we’ll dig up untold histories of individuals, buildings, streets, shops, and landscapes in our communities. Each participant will then record a history in the creative format of her choice. • Odes and Epics: Where emotion meets imagination in poetry. • Recollected: Turning personal memories into rich and surprising short stories.

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