What a weekend! This was by far one of the best Memorial Day weekends I experienced in a long time. I had a very rejuvenating and tranquil three days spending quality time with my loved ones celebrating their achievements, anniversaries, and birthdays. This weekend was also a productive one for me as I facilitated my creative writing workshop, Write Here! Write Now!, at the 31st Annual Celebration of Black Writing on Saturday, May 23, 2015 at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA from 2:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. That moment was the highlight of my three day weekend, and I’m still on cloud nine thinking about the entire experience.
I arrived at Temple around 1:00 p.m. feeling excited and anxious about conducting my workshop. I barely slept the night before waking up around midnight, having difficulty going back to sleep. I didn’t eat anything for breakfast when I should have done so and didn’t bother eating beforehand. I was too focused and ready to do my thing, which I hadn’t done so in almost two and a half years. I facilitated a poetry workshop back in February as part of the 2015 Louder than a Bomb held at Gloucester City High School using one of my workshop exercises to encourage the students to write poetry. That event gave me an idea how I wanted to facilitate my workshop for the Celebration of Black Writing since I would have only 45 minutes to give a brief overview of a 12-week course.
At 2:00 p.m., there were five attendees in the classroom, including one of my former students Christina Atkinson. Five was better than none and I began with a brief introduction of myself, the workshop, and my passion for writing. However, more attendees came through the door and I had a total of 12 participants. I read an essay entitled “Find Your Voice” written by Eugene Lovick to the group for my first exercise, asking the participants to share their thoughts. Afterwards, I dove into their afternoon writing assignment asking the group to record all the reasons someone told them or they may have told themselves why they couldn’t write. I inquired if anybody wanted to share his or her thoughts with the group. Several volunteers gave their unique reasons and I challenged their thoughts with positive responses that made them ponder their explanations with smiles and nodding their heads in approval. The workshop was concluded with myself and the participants exchanging resources to connect with other like-minded writers, artists, poets, etc. within the Philadelphia community, and references to assist them with their creative endeavors like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way, and Stepher King’s On Writing. I engaged in brief conversations and/or answering any questions with some of the attendees at the end, including Christina who I posed with for a picture after she shared with me one of her recent accomplishments.
I mentioned in my last blog that last weekend’s Write Here! Write Now! workshop would be the launching pad for my next journey as a creative writing instructor, and that was definitely the way I felt when I left Temple University last Saturday. I announced at the workshop that I would be bringing my course back in 2015. New ideas have been entering my mind for how I want to attempt this feat. I know that it wouldn’t be in another classroom setting again despite that I enjoyed personal interaction with my students. No, I want to be able to reach interested participants living outside of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. I may not know or have all the answers yet, but they will come as long as I take consistent action towards accomplishing this goal.
I have to give thanks to Valerie Gay, Executive Director of the Art Sanctuary, and her staff for selecting Write Here! Write Now! as part of the 31st Annual Celebration of Black Writing. Participating in this literary event as a facilitator was a full circle moment for me; I was an attendee back in February 1998 when I first started reciting poetry at open mics around Philly. If someone would’ve told me seventeen years ago that I would’ve facilitated a creative writing workshop at the same event years later, I wouldn’t have believed them. Writing is a special gift that enables some individuals to express their creativity through words to touch the lives of others in a positive way, if the writer chooses to do so. I’m so grateful that my Creator blessed me with this creative talent to honor Him and myself by sharing and encouraging others to pursue their passion.
Take care and be blessed!