The WITS Alliance

because writing is revolutionary

WritersCorps Live in the City by the Bay

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On March 7, 2013, WritersCorps and the Contemporary Jewish Museum joined forces for the third year to present WritersCorps Live at the CJM, featuring award-winning author Tamim Ansary, along with WritersCorps teaching artist Minna Dubin, and 8 students from 8 different WritersCorps sites in San Francisco.

As an organization employing professional writers and teaching creative writing to underserved youth, it is important to us at WritersCorps to have a connection to the city’s literary scene, which is exactly why we participate in public events. A bit about us: we are a joint project of the San Francisco Public Library and the San Francisco Arts Commission and have helped nearly 18,000 youth from neighborhoods throughout San Francisco improve their literacy and increase their desire to learn. We publish award-winning publications, produce local and national events, and are part of a national alliance with sites in the Bronx and Washington, D.C. In 2010, we were honored with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House, presented to us by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Before the reading began, about 80 WritersCorps students were treated to a private tour of Kehinde Wiley’s exhibit “World Stage: Israel,” by interns from CJM’s Teen Art Connect program. Our students thoroughly enjoyed the thought-provoking art and group discussion.

After the tour, students enjoyed some pizza while Tamim Ansary fielded their questions about being a professional writer, and signed their copies of West of Kabul, East of New York. (Thank you to Picador for their generous donation of copies of the book for our students!)

Savannah from Downtown High School started the reading off with a poem called “How to Dance with Wolves.” She was followed by DeAsia, from the WritersCorps Apprentices program, who read a poem that she shared on KALW’s Crosscurrents a few days earlier (check it out here).

Another highlight included Karla, from Hilltop High School, sharing a brave and moving piece on motherhood. Two of our students at the Woodside Learning Center inside the Juvenile Justice Center were represented by two short films of their poems which were screened.

Finally, our featured reader, the award-winning writer Tamim Ansary, treated us to an excerpt from West of Kabul, East of New York, his memoir about his family’s immigration from Afghanistan to San Francisco.

We are always happy to offer a space for our students to share their work and to let the community in on what we are doing.

The next WritersCorps event is Poetry Projection Project — a short film fest based on youth writing — on Saturday, April 13, 2 pm, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. More info on that here.

Alexandra Wilder

Program Associate, WritersCorps

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