Author: nicoled

Introducing NYWC Winter Write-Ins

Join NY Writers Coalition as we kick off our 20th Anniversary Year with a limited run of free, virtual “write-ins” with Founder and Executive Director Aaron Zimmerman!

Participants will gather to write together in response to optional prompts, and will then be invited–but not required–to share their newly written work with the group. There is no writing experience necessary, and all are welcome. There will be no limit on the amount of people able to attend, and you may attend as many as you like. Advance registration is required. (Note: As attendance in these write-ins may be high, there might only be time for sharing writing and not for receiving feedback, as is customary in traditional NYWC writing workshops.)

The schedule and links to register are listed below. All sessions are free, and are listed in Eastern Time. Please click the dates below to access their registration.

 

Thursday, February 10, from 7 to 9 PM

Monday, February 14, from 2 to 4 PM

Tuesday, February 22, from 4:30 to 6:30 PM

 

This is a great opportunity to generate some new material and to connect with our writing community, and we hope you’ll join us! If you have any further questions or requests about these virtual write-ins, please reach out to us at info@nywriterscoalition.org.

NY Writers Coalition

Spring 2022 Writing Workshops

Our next workshop cycle is returning Monday, May 16!

We are continuing to run our writing workshops in our 6-week segment format, with the same participants joining at the same time each week, for all six weeks. This format thus requires a weekly commitment from each participant, and will allow each respective workshop to grow and flourish with its repeating members—as such, space in each workshop will be limited. Stay in the loop about workshop updates by signing up for our newsletter or by visiting our Eventbrite page here.

To learn more about this workshop method, please click here.

 

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Mondays (5/16 – 6/20) at 10 a.m. with Marae
Wednesdays (5/18 – 6/22) at 7 p.m. with Brenda
Thursdays (5/19 – 6/22) at 1 p.m. with Tasha
Fridays (5/20 – 6/23) at 9 a.m. with Dayana (Spanish speakers or learners only)
Saturdays (5/21 – 6/25) at 10 a.m. with Michael and 2 p.m. with James & Marae
Sundays (5/22 – 6/26) at 10 a.m. with Anthony

We will also be offering two specialty writing workshops this go-around: Essential Workers on Saturdays (5/21 – 6/25) with Cory and Pushing Through on Sundays (5/22 – 6/26) with Michele.

Workshops are two hours long and all times are in Eastern Time unless otherwise stated.
All workshops will operate once a week at the same time for six weeks and require a 6-week commitment from all participants.

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Registration is now closed. If you would like to be added to this cycle’s waitlist, please reach out to us at info@nywriterscoalition.org.

Sign up to our newsletter to get informed on when registration goes live in your inbox.

On the 6-Week Cycle

November 3, 2021

A note on how we’re doing things, and why.

 

Dear NYWC Community,

Before registration opens for our second cycle of 6-week writing workshops, we’d like to acknowledge and address some of the feedback we’ve received from participants and leaders about this new format, following our first workshop cycle. We know that this has been a dramatic shift in our typical programming, and we understand how essential it is to provide more insight into these changes. While we do intend to commit to the 6-week cycle at this present moment, we hope that the following information provides more clarity about that choice and the ways it has been necessary for the NY Writers Coalition (NYWC) team behind the scenes.

❘༻༺❘

The Impact on NYWC’s Infrastructure & Staff

When the pandemic began, we wanted our workshops to serve as a resource for people seeking community even while sheltering in place, as well as an ongoing outlet for expression. To that end, we decided against retrenching and significantly increased our workshop offerings. While the new community we’ve fostered online has proved just as inspiring (and is, rest assured, a community we intend to maintain in some form moving forward), the impact on our organization has been stark.

NYWC did not provide any workshops online prior to the pandemic, which has meant that we rapidly had to adopt, change, and scale the systems available to us in order to provide virtual programming. Our website is not customized to host workshops and facilitate sign-ups; we retrofit three or more disparate systems at any given time to make online workshops possible. As most, if not all, of you have seen, there are frustrating gaps in those systems’ capabilities, which, in time, led to one or more NYWC staff members having to constantly monitor our efforts—from sign-ups, to sending out emails, to ticketing, managing the waitlist, addressing glitches, and more. While we wish it were possible to maintain that level of attention indefinitely, it simply is not sustainable.

Our aim as we continue to test new software is to find the ideal mix of an affordable, largely-independent virtual sign-up system on a reliable platform for leaders and participants alike. For now, we have decided to scale back on our workshop offerings to ensure a better experience overall.

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The Impact on Workshop Leaders

Scaling up our programming during the pandemic also meant that we markedly increased workshop leaders’ hours. Donation sources such as the Emergency Workshop Leader Fund remain invaluable to us, as we want to continue compensating our leaders for their time even while keeping costs free and low-cost to participants. Nonetheless, our leaders are people with needs and obligations that go beyond NYWC—especially now.

Workshop cycles without end dates absolutely can (and do!) help foster a source of community for people who prefer knowing that a certain NYWC workshop or a specific leader will always be available—but that isn’t feasible long-term. Our leaders experience burnout and fatigue just like anyone else, even as they strive to make every single workshop session a meaningful one, sometimes multiple times per week.

Our new cycle system has the dual benefit of helping our leaders recharge their energy, creativity, and accommodate their personal scheduling needs—but also helps us maintain a more dependable schedule for participants due to fewer unexpected cancellations when people simply need to take a break. We don’t intend to completely do away with the longer-term workshop cycle of the past and may return to some form of it in the future—but whatever form we implement must take our leaders’ needs into consideration, too.

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Training & Program Expansion

An unfortunate impact of the pandemic has been the freezing of our in-person workshop leader training cycles. NYWC has historically held two training sessions per year, an essential—and intensive—undertaking that helps us retain and replenish our leader cohorts. We would like to offer more programming to participants who enjoy taking more than one workshop per week, and expanding the number of workshop leaders we work with will help make that possible.

NYWC’s Executive Director Aaron Zimmerman and our Programs Director Timothy DuWhite are working on redeveloping our workshop training with our new virtual programming in mind. We hope to relaunch our training cycles soon to see how doing so enables us to expand and/or deepen our offerings.

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We are deeply, sincerely grateful to every single person who has donated, hosted a virtual fundraiser, and encouraged others to donate to NY Writers Coalition! That support has bolstered our ability to provide stipends to workshop leaders and even launch new programming and events such as the Black Writers Program and Mic Check. Our gratitude also includes participants who may have not donated monetarily but instead with their time, encouragement, and enthusiasm; without your support in the form of attending workshops, filling out surveys, attending virtual events, and spreading the word about the work we do, we wouldn’t exist. All the same, financial support is only one element of strengthening our organization moving forward.

Our mission has always been and remains to be centered in providing high-quality, affordable creative writing workshops and community to the public, with a particular emphasis on reaching historically underserved and marginalized groups. Determining what NYWC will look like post-pandemic—while we are still in the midst of a pandemic—will take time, as we determine how to integrate our new virtual community with the in-person network that has been our base for nearly 20 years. Please know that although some of these changes may be frustrating, we massively appreciate your patience as we shift, experiment, and coalesce into a system that suits as many of our collective needs as possible.

Your feedback really is essential to us! If you ever have questions or comments, please let us know by emailing us at info@nywriterscoalition.org.

With appreciation always,
The NYWC Staff

Two Women Waiting

by Melva C. Lewis

Jean, I’m so tired of standing here pushing these strollers waiting for this bus, my feet hurt something awful. I’m tired of getting up so early that I can’t even make my kids breakfast in the morning. I have to go and take care of somebody else’s children and get them ready for school. You and me are out here walking and pushing these babies in strollers no matter how tired we are. These women don’t even work, they home all day. They’re young and they’re healthy. So why we gotta do it?

Girl, if I only had half of the money that these women have the truth is I would take care of my own children. I’d get them ready for school, fix some food, clean my house, wash my clothes, and still have time to relax. When Grady came home I would be all dolled up with my red rose lipstick, my hair all done and after three hours of resting at home, I would be ready for him. Oh yeah, I would be ready for him!

Jean, I don’t understand these skinny rich women. What do they have to be tired about? Why can’t they take care of their children? I’m glad for the money and all because we need it. I mean, we gotta pay the rent, we got to buy food, put clothes on our back, but really if I had 1/3 of their money girl, I could do so much. I wouldn’t hire anybody to take care of my children. I’d take care of them myself.

Don’t shake your head, Jean, you know you feel the same way. I’m sorry your man lost his job and keeps losing his temper. It’s not your fault the union can’t find him a job, and it’s not your fault that he has to do backbreaking work. Believe me, it’s not your fault.

Men sometimes, well a lot of times, act like it’s our fault. They come home all in a funk, looking for any excuse to shout and complain. Thank God Grady doesn’t put his hand on me. Boy, if he ever puts his hand on me he will lose that hand. Jean, I know you’re glad your George doesn’t hit you either.

Humm, all I say is let them carry on if it makes them feel better. You know they feel kind of lost not going to work every day. They need some way to feel strong and have some control. If shouting and stomping helps my Grady feel better, let him shout and stomp all he wants. I know he tries. He hugs the kids at bedtime and tells them stories about going fishing with his granddaddy when he was young. He told them life was hard down south, but the air was clean and smelled of peaches. He used to grow tomatoes right next to his momma’s green beans. He helped his brothers dig out potatoes in a small field right in the back of their old house. Life was good then. Yep, those were different times. But we got to have faith.

Faith and prayer Jean, faith and prayer. I know I complain about these women not taking care of their own kids, but Lord knows I’m grateful to have a way to earn some extra money. Especially with Grady hurt and unable to work after falling off the ladder.

But Lord if I ever got a hold of just a little bit of the money these rich women have, I would stay home taking care of my own children. Yep, cook Grady’s favorite food and bake him a delicious peach cobbler. When he got home all tired, a delicious meal and me, would be waiting for him.

Playing Catch Up (A Poetic Letter To My Deceased Father)

by Steven Fox

Mom often said that I looked like you.
That my fingernails were like yours.
And my anger.

She never really started saying things like this to me until after your death. I have asked her why.

I suppose that I never really cared or was taught to care about you like so many other black boys care about their fathers.

Maybe that’s why I call you pop.

Because, every now and again, you would pop up on my caller ID as some mysterious California phone number.

I like talking on the phone so I always answer random numbers.

Mom often said that I sounded like you.

Funny thing is, she’s only heard my true voice twice. One time at the National Civil Rights Museum and the other at the Historic Clayborn Temple on my birthday in 2017.

And as I sit here engaging in this 2nd person non-fiction writing prompt with tears in my eyes, I am kind of sad about that. But not too much.

I guess she showed up at just the right time like mothers usually do.

Mom says that she always knew that I would be ok.

That her sons would always come back to her.

Maybe because of the love you gave her and the love he learned to give herself.

I suppose that I am just writing to tell you all the crazy stories that I never got to share with you before you died. First off, I’ve only seen one picture of you and the house that you and mom lived in smack dab in the middle of Orange Mound. I have no clue where that picture is but I know exactly where the house is.

I only heard good stories about you pop.
How you were a good provider, a loving man and the photographer all of the ladies gravitated towards.

Of course mom used the word ‘womanizer’. She is a trip, you know?
A big ol’ Leo of a woman trip.

These stories about you kind of helped save my life; that and her leaving me in the Lauderdale Courts Housing Projects with two of her lesbian friends due to crack-cocaine trapping her mind.

Pop, the ladies she left me with were great but they didn’t have any sheets on the damn bed. T
hat sh** still triggers me to this day. I
hate a plain a** mattress without sheets on it.

You know us though.

It wasn’t long before I got up and left. I

went across the courtyard and asked the neighbor for some shoes and walked those oversized Ellesses 3.5 miles and somehow located mom.
I even had some change to get a pack of cherry Kool-Aid to tide me over.

To my surprise, I didn’t know that it was bitter. Anyways.

I found mom.

She told me to call grandma and chose to go back into the darkness of her substance. As I turned into the night air, I realized that I didn’t have on any underwear. I noticed some superman briefs on a nearby clothing line and put them on. Of course they were too tight.

It was crazy, Pop.

I was just 8 years old. I’m not sure if I want to tell you what happened after this or before it but at least now I can start catching you up.

Just Pedal

by Pazamour

A ’90s summer day.
Cool breeze. Summer sun.
Just left the warehouse
Aka the 9-5
Arriving just in time
To
Fulfill your favorite role / responsibilities
Dad
Preparing your youngest daughter for a two-wheeler lifestyle

___________________________________You said,
___________________________________“Okay I’m going to hold the handlebars. Put your feet on the pedals and pedal forward.
___________________________________I’m going to help you keep balance.
___________________________________Just pedal.
___________________________________Just keep going.
___________________________________You won’t fall. I got you.”

Remember the real me

by Queen María

She wants to be remembered just as she really was,
quite simple, but so complicated for many to grasp,
just as Mathematics are for many.
Above average in body, soul, and mind
Intense emotions, and
more controversial than most.

Not scared of speaking her truth.
A proud Afro Caribbean Queen,
Not willing to compromise her values ever.
A thick accent she refused to lose,
for it meant losing part of who she was

Some found her sexy,
others simply detested the amount of space she took in the world.
Someone who dressed well, with a great eye for color, and
loved to learn and to experience new things
Somehow flexible in her analysis, logical but too often set in her ways
A kick-ass woman who stood her ground,
refusing to settle, while quietly crying at home wishing for a connection

A brave resilient exterior, with a sweeter than chocolate soul, easily hurt
A fighter in nature, for she is a warrior in disguise
Detesting injustices and abuses
Questioning her own strength too often
A kid at heart in an amazon body.

She does not want to be remembered for what she did,
but instead by the hearts she touched
with that gentleness only a giant body and an even bigger mind can give.
She, one of her dad’s daughter, defying stereotypes everywhere she went
Someone who bowed to no one, not even herself.

Do not remember her struggles with an Eating Disorder that almost took her life
Not her fight with depression either
Do not remember her matches with her own body
when it was about to give up on her.

Remember how she kept fighting, day after day,
even if that meant doing nothing sometimes
Just remember she was a wonderful human, just like you, just like any of us.
She was larger than life and loved to bring happiness to others
She is not hiding anymore from anyone not even from herself
Don’t you dare to hide who she really was when she is gone

 

I AM FROM WHERE,

The sun shines bright most of the year, while enjoying kissing your skin every chance it gets
Seeing the snow is a dream most will never realize
Being freezing cold means temperatures of 15 degrees
Beaches go forever with transparent aqua water making love to you as if it was the last day
White delicate warm sand burns your feet touching every curve in your body

Music plays loudly and proudly everywhere one goes.
Kids learn to dance even before they can walk.
Women walk sensually, while wearing bright tight clothes accentuating each curve.
Music is almost God.
Dancing is a given.
Most are proud, educated, poor, but happy

Having many friends matters more than having money.
Strangers talk to each other easily.
A friend is a brother or a sister
Family’s friends are uncles or aunts.
Neighbours are part of the family.

Most live in the now and mañana ya veremos que pasa [ We will see tomorrow what happens].
One works just enough, to enjoy life and party later.
Joy is not a luxury, but a necessity.
People enjoy life the fullest, feeling proud of having eaten a lot.
There is not much to be happy about, but most smile from the heart
One jokes often to forget the poverty one lives surrounded by.
Everyone is welcomed and greeted with a smile, a kiss on the cheek, or a warm hug.

People are emotional, speak loudly, with their hands claiming to be the best lovers in the world
Men sit on corners playing dominoes and piropeando [Complimenting] every female that passes by.
Most do not plan to visit or call ahead,
Just showing up is widely accepted.
Time is not taken seriously
Five minutes can mean an hour or more.
One brings anyone along to a party without needing to ask for permission.

A white man and a black man call each other brothers, until the black man’s son fells in love with the white man’s daughter.
Racism still exists everywhere, but most will negate it.
Everyone has a bit of Congo or Carabalí [Two main African tribes from where slaves were brought to Cuba], even if they do not acknowledge it.
Many follow both the Catholic and the Yoruba religions, just because it is better to have more protection.
Democracy has been a luxury for generations.
Foreigners are treated like royalty and welcomed with open arms.

My physical body may be far away from this magical island, but my heart is always there,
in Cuba, with my happy beautiful people,
the bright sun and the sensual music that warms my heart and erases all my pain.
I am a proud Cuban Queen and I have never ever wanted to be from anywhere else.

 

To the many who never made it

Leaving at any cost that island where he grew up became his obsession.
So many before him has made it.
They all came back, with so much to show for, after years abroad
In the cold North.

He wanted to make his momma happy.
She deserved to live well and not worry about where their next meal was coming from.
He was determined to make it.
Having his mothers blessing was vital.

Yemayá, the Afro Cuban Yoruba goddess of the ocean, watching over him as she has done since his birth
Him, young, strong, black and valiente as no one else.
Embarked in this dangerous journey across el estrecho de la Florida
Determined to make it, with his three other friends, all together as one
Different shades of black, all descendants of former slaves looking for their freedom in another land.

All of them grew up in the forgotten parts of the Havana city,
The ones who do not appear in any tourist books.
Mostly inhabited by the ones like him,
with too much melanin in their body to be considered or listened to.

He had no future in this island.
He wanted a different life for his family.
He was the chosen one, his Madrina said often.
“Your future is not here mijo, but in far away lands. You do not belong in this filfth.
You will bring prosperidad to your own.”

They made a little rustic raft, too scary, and weak to even look at.
What were they thinking?
How were they going to make it, 90 miles in that excuse of a raft?
He did not know how, but his Santos were making sure he will make it.
Orula, Changó, Oyá, Oshún, and Yemayá never lie.

They lost track of time,
________________their food finished, their fresh water was almost gone.
By their calculations,
________________they should have been in América already
Their so called boat,
________________took on too much water
They had no other choice.
________________Swimming was the only way out, while hoping they will make it.

Their spirits were high
They shared equally the small amount of water they have left.
Everything now depended on their strength and luck.
They saw a bright light far away,
While battling the rough sea which was trying to end their dream

They, the chosen ones,
determined to make it to dry land at any cost.
saw him flying high as if taken by a divine line.
the dolphins around them, guiding their future.
never seen them up so close.
hold on tight.

The dolphins did the rest
leading them to safety and freedom.

After all, they are some of the balseros,
The lucky ones who started a new life in a foreign land,
after being willing to lose everything they had
So many others did not were so lucky
They never made it
Mothers, fathers, sisters, wifes, cousing, madrinas, padrinos, all praying for them
So many young lives lost at sea forever.

A Moment of Softness

by Alysha Wedderburn

A moment of softness
Tender ecstasy and happy tears
Happy tears because we’re together
We’re all together now
No space between the present and the past
The past is the future
The present is a bay where we washed ashore
No more yearning or seeking
Every gourd is filled
We had a feast with no harvest
A love without flesh

 

But we Shared a Home

I walk forward, just on the edge of her dream
My heart hollow, my body empty, my spirit full
I see the other side. The sisters, the family I never met
We never shared memories. A bond of flesh and blood
But we shared a home
The place where two hearts beat as one
They are so alive, and me, a distant memory
A birth gone wrong, but my mother held me still
I was born silent, without a veil of protection
There are three of us, and I was the last
The last to be born drowning in the blood of the lamb
A wombmate that never was, a ghost and a memory
A cell then a seed
A seed that exploded and returned to earth
I was buried as a seed
Then I grew into the mountains, and the sea
I was everywhere and anywhere
Dreaming with the ancestors they couldn’t see..

 

A Fisherman’s Tale

He arrived home smelling raw each night
Stinky and sweaty, smelling of the sea
A fisherman who wouldn’t eat catfish
Wouldn’t eat anything lurking at the bottom of the sea
No shrimps or tilapia
It had to be fresh caught
Eyes bright and glistening
Bright red scales that sometimes turn to blue
Red Snapper for dinner please
Escovich too…

Microphone

by Raquel Vazquez

I created a microphone with my hands.
It wasn’t the kind of microphone
made of curved metal mesh
that you plug into the wall
and connect to a stereo system.

It was made of paper and string.

I was once told to make something
with my hands

Something that would be
pivotal to me as I moved through life
and leaned on this thing
that would anchor me.

It was a microphone.

Hearing my voice amplified
allowed me to carefully learn
the texture of my voice,
the smoothness of it,
the strength and boldness of it,
the calm wisdom of it,

the sweet tenor sounds I bellow in song,
the vibrations of my hums,
the depths of heartbreak,
the pitches of elation,

the rough edges of it,
the New York in it,
the trill when I say my name in Spanish.

To speak my truth,
I use my voice
through this microphone,
as a vehicle
to my own
emancipation.

Doubts On Writing Poetry

by Melva C. Lewis

I had doubts
Never thought I could write poetry
2020 comes
I join a poetry workshop, on zoom
Turn old writings, essays
Into wanna-be poems
It’s difficult, unsatisfying.

One day
I make a clean break
Begin a poem as a poem
Create
From beginning to end
Fresh, clean, original
I like it
Feels right
My soul knows.

I keep writing
Workshop members, friends, family
Encourage and applaud
The biggest surprise
No more doubts
Like it or not
Published or not
Writing fuels me.

When I write
I discover
New treasures
New joys
New wonders.

I’m in love.

 

Escribiendo Poesía Y Dudas

Tenia dudas
No pensé que podria escribir poesía
Llega el 2020
En un taller de poesía, en zoom
Convierto viejos escritos, ensayos
En poemas
Es dificil, insatisfactorio.

Un día
Empiezo de limpio
Creo un poema
Del principio al final
Fresco, original
Me encanta
Se siente bien
Mi alma lo sabe.

Sigo escribiendo
Miembros del taller, amigos y familia
Me animan y aplauden
La mayor sorpresa
No tengo dudas
Guste o no
Publiquese o no
Escribir me trae alegría
Alimenta mi alma.

Cuando escribo
Descubro tesoros
Maravillas
Me enamoro.

 

Doubt

Doubt it’s insidious
It gets into you
Wraps around you
Keeps you from doing
What you want to do
What you have to do
That you need to do

Doubt is fear
Fear of not performing
Of not doing well
Of the unknown
Doubt about not knowing
Slows you down
Stops you
Kills your creativity
Sucks your strength

Doubt gets in your way
You must fight it
Overcome it
Lock it in a box
Crush it
Doubt can make you angry
Use the anger
To give you impetus
The get up and go
To do what you have to

Doubt, doubt, doubt
Everybody has doubt
Its always around
It’s how you handle doubt
That makes a difference
Say no to doubt
And yes to you.