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Writing Aloud is Back!

Created by NY Writers Coalition in 2003, our Writing Aloud Reading Series is a free event that unites NYWC’s community of writers and activists with prominent literary figures to share prose, poetry, and other writings in safe and inspiring places.

NYWC’s Favorite Reads of 2019

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to a time far, far ago aka last year. We asked our wonderful NYWC staff, board members and workshop leaders to share their favorite thing(s) they’ve read this year.

A Year-End Message from NYWC


Our youth workshop members who read at our 15th Annual Ft. Greene Summer Literary Festival

Dear Friend of NYWC,
If you share our belief that creativity, compassion, and community are essential parts of the human experience, please consider making a tax-deductible year-end donation to NY Writers Coalition.

As we head toward our 20th anniversary year in 2022, we’re thrilled to see members of our community find new audiences for their talent. Countless NYWC writers have returned to school; had stories, essays, poems, and other work published and performed; received scholarships; read their work publicly at readings and much more. 

 For example, this year, the writers in NYWC’s workshop at the Montefiore Wellness Center at Port Morris in the South Bronx collaborated on a play called “A Story of Ourselves” highlighting the experiences of people navigating substance abuse and addiction. The play will debut this December at Port Morris. Last year, workshop members also created a newsletter of their poetry, short stories, and essays. The publication was so well-received that thousands of copies were subsequently distributed internationally to healthcare agencies, colleges, and hospitals.

 At the 14th Street Y, our longest-running workshop (which launched in 2003), many of our participants have shared their stories with the world at large. Antoinette Carone “didn’t know what to do” with her newfound time after retiring in 2009. She joined the 14th Street Y workshop for seniors and has been writing with the group ever since. Her new book, Siren Shore: The Enchantment of Naples, is a collection of short stories inspired by her experiences living in Italy. Nearly all of the stories in the book were generated from NYWC prompts. 

“The prompts stimulate your imagination or your memory or both,” Antoinette says. “You can give people the same prompt and they write totally different pieces. It offers a safe place to write and the group as a whole is very supportive of everybody else.”

Workshop members at a reading that marked the end of our workshop at the NY Transit Museum

Allan Yashin, another 14th Street Y workshop member, has written several plays and musicals (some of which have been staged live or broadcast on WPKN Radio). Many of his plays center on the characters Cynthia and Morris—who were created in an NYWC workshop. 

“I’ve taken some of the things that I’ve written to prompts at the Coalition and turned that almost verbatim into plays that have been performed,” Allan says. “There’s something sort of magical about that process of sitting there with other people. You form a great community and it’s a venue where we don’t have to worry if anything is ‘good enough’ because we only see the best in each other’s work.”

We all thrive when everyone—not just the privileged and the powerful—have their voices heard. Your support will make this possible. Please donate online here.

Aaron Zimmerman 
Executive Director, NY Writers Coalition 

P.S. If you currently attend our workshops and have writing accomplishments you’d like to share, please let us know! Email me at and we’ll highlight your work throughout the coming year.

NYWC Workshop Leader Winter 2019 Cohort


We’re excited to welcome our Winter 2019 cohort to the NYWC Workshop Leader Community: Alisha Acquaye, Alon Andrews, Michael Cooney, Marae Hart, Sharon Her, Takiyah Jackson.

After an extensive interview process, these talented individuals were chosen for NYWC’s Winter training and will be getting ready to facilitate our signature creative writing workshops in New York City soon. Meet NYWC’s Winter 2019 Workshop Leader Cohort:

Alisha Acquaye

ALISHA ACQUAYE is a writer, artist and event organizer with a passion for mutual empowerment across POC communities, and self-imagination as an instrument for resistance. Her work – ranging from journalism, creative nonfiction and multi-media collaboration  – explores the relationships between art, identity, culture and intersectionality. Alisha is particularly inspired by the creative and afrofuturistic methods Black people use to reclaim their narratives, and self-care and community building as formative weapons against oppression. In addition to documenting and storytelling, Alisha co-founded Sister Circle Brunch, a womxn of color event for sharing food and discussing self-care, and Unblended, a photo and interview series that celebrates the importance of Afro Asian friendships. You can find Alisha at and read her essays in Teen Vogue, GQ, Allure, OkayAfrica, ELLE, The Establishment, Catapult, and more.


Michael Cooney

After forty years as a teacher and administrator in the New York City public schools, MICHAEL COONEY published a series of novels inspired by the history of his native Mohawk Valley. He recently returned to the City and has been volunteering in a high school for students learning English as a new language.


MARAE HART is the Associate Non-Fiction Editor at SLICE Magazine and has been a volunteer with NYWC for two years. She is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn and is currently working on a novel. 


Sharon Her

SHARON HER is a Brooklyn based writer and filmmaker who comes from a non-profit and film production background.  A 2001 Jerome Travel and Study Grant recipient and former instructor for the Loft Literary Center and SASE: the write place, Sharon brings a passion for multi-cultural and social equality programming and storytelling.  Sharon’s writing has been published in Asian Week, City Pages, New York Press, and the Hmong creative writing anthology, “Bamboo Among the Oaks” (Minnesota Historical Society Press).


Takiyah Jackson

TAKIYAH JACKSON is an educator, mother, and believer in the power of words. She recently returned to her Brooklyn native in what she calls a journey toward self-rediscovery as she walks her mother’s sidewalks.  When not writing, reading, teaching, or helicopter parenting, she enjoys cuddling on the sofa with her dog Rico and binge watching past episodes of Greenleaf and This is Us.


Attend Our Public Workshops this Winter!

Winter is coming–although it already feels like it’s here! No matter the season it’s always a good time to join us at our free drop-in public workshops throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan & Queens. These workshops are open to writers of all genres and background levels. Included are workshops for kids and teens. Notebooks and pens will be provided, all you have to do is bring yourself and your imagination.

No advance sign-up or fee is required unless otherwise stated. Several of these workshop are on a winter hiatus, so please make sure to call the library to see when the workshop of your choice will meet.


Join Us at NYWC’s 14th Annual Write-A-Thon!



NY Writers Coalition’s annual Write-A-Thon is a daylong creative writing event at The Writers Room in Greenwich Village. Participants can work on existing pieces, write new ones, continue research, or join writing workshops to brainstorm ideas.

To sign up for the Write-A-Thon, interested writers must raise at least $200. Only 50 spots Write-A-Thon spots are available, so start thinking about whom or how to ask! Top fundraisers who exceed the $200 minimum can also win incredible prizes; see the list below!

Proceeds from the Write-A-Thon support NYWC’s ongoing work to provide free and low-cost writing workshops for underserved groups across New York City.

Visit Firstgiving to register and create your Write-A-Thon page today!


Saturday, October 26th, 2019


The Writers Room

(740 Broadway at Astor Place, 12th floor. New York, NY 10003)

Guest Speaker

We’re thrilled to have critically-acclaimed author Lisa Brennan-Jobs give the keynote talk at this year’s Write-A-Thon!

Lisa Brennan-Jobs‘ first book, a memoir called Small Fry, was a New York Times and National Bestseller and was selected as a Top Ten Book of 2018 by The New York Times, The New Yorker, People, and The San Francisco Chronicle. It was also named a Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times, NPR, The Week, GQ, Publishers Weekly, and British Vogue. Her articles and essays have appeared in Vogue, O Magazine, The Southwest Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Harvard Advocate, and The Los Angeles Times. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.



Top fundraisers can win a number of prizes from noted individuals and institutions across the city, including:

  • A six-month membership to The Writers Room (value $1,099)
  • A gift certificate for an 8-week Sackett Street Writers class in NYC or online ($595 value)
  • Two tickets to see The Brooklyn Nutcracker at Kings Theatre (via The Brooklyn Ballet)
  • A 5-class card gift certificate and canvas tote bag ($90 value) from Mark Morris Dance Group (via MMDG)
  • A tote bag and goodies — including a one-year subscription and back issues to BOMB magazine
  • One complimentary Family/Partner Membership to the Brooklyn Historical Society
  • An astrology reading from Emily Trinkaus
  • Book bundles from Penguin RandomHouse & Akashic 
  • A dual annual Membership to The Center for Fiction in Brooklyn
  • A six-week workshop at Catapult
  • Two tickets to the upcoming production of “Fefu and Her Friends” at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center (via Theatre for A New Audience)
  • A pair of tickets to a select Tuesday through Thursday performance during the
    2019 Next Wave Festival (via BAM)


Writing Aloud X BREAK OUT: A Movement

Join us as we come together and Write Aloud

Created by NY Writers Coalition in 2003, our Writing Aloud Reading Series is a free event that unites NYWC’s community of writers and activists with prominent literary figures to share prose, poetry, and other writings in safe and inspiring places.

This will be a very special Writing Aloud event, as we have partnered up with PEN America & The Poetry Project as part of their public reading series, BREAK OUT: A Movement. They have been working with other reading events across the northeast to feature the work of a currently incarcerated writer, shining a spotlight on the immense literary talent that exists within the nation’s prisons.

On that night, NYWC workshop leader John Maney, Jr. will read the work of Raahsan Thomas, an incarcerated writer. All in attendance will listen to the piece and then fill out a feedback form through their smartphone or on paper that will be sent to Raahsan. Comment on what you liked about his piece, what stood out, what you remembered.

Afterwards, we’ll be graced by the Slam Team (Alejandro Heredia & Jackie Torres) of Project X, whose performances center around social justice. They will perform and then give out a prompt for all to write from. Once the writing time is done, everyone will have a chance to hit the mic and share their work–or feel free to just sit back and listen, too!

It will be a night where we will share and uplift the voices of many, because everyone is a writer! Find out more and see what other venues/organizations are participating for BREAK OUT: A Movement, by clicking here.

Thursday, September 12 at 5:30 PM at NYPL City Island Library (320 City Island Ave, the Bronx)

This event is free and open to the public. All are welcome to write and share in this safe space. Click here to share the event on facebook & invite others.


Raahsan Thomas

Rahsaan “New York” Thomas is a writer from Brooklyn serving a life sentence in CA. He’s a contributing writer for the Marshall Project and the co-founder of Prison Renaissance, a non-profit dedicated to connecting incarcerated artists to the community. Additionally, Rahsaan works with Initiate Justice to Restore voting Rights to system impacted people. Rahsaan also became a co-host for the podcast Ear Hustle, for season 4. You can write to Rahsaan at: Rahsaan Thomas T-99595 CSP-SQ 5-N-92 San Quentin, CA 94974.


John Maney, Jr.

John Maney, Jr. is a poet, freelance writer, photographer, and social activist. He is a graduate of Macalester College and is currently a workshop leader for NY Writers Coalition. John is a past Advisory Board Member for the BxArts Factory. He also was a 2018 and 2019 member on the Planning Committee for the Bronx Book Fair. John is also publisher of the online “Finding Your Voice Newsletter.” John been featured in several readings throughout New York City and State, and is featured in the short film “Precious The Gift” by, Rene Sing. Currently John is the Poet In Residence at the Huntington Free Library, Bronx, New York, and conducts poetry workshops throughout New York City and State.


Alejandro Heredia

Alejandro Heredia is a Queer Afro Dominican writer from The Bronx. He is the 2019 Project X slam champion and a Dreamyard Rad(ical) Poetry Consortium Fellow. As a performer he has featured at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York Public Library, and Lehman College among others. Heredia teaches a workshop series in The Bronx for Queer and Trans Black Writers entitled Black Orbit.



Jackie Torres

Jackie Torres (she/her/hers) is an Afro Boricua poet, theater maker, writer, educator, and mal’criada whose work seeks to utilize storytelling as a method for personal healing and a demand for societal accountability, transparency, and reconstruction. Her poetry has been featured in sets at the ArtLovHer Artists Salon, the Living Gallery, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Bowery Poetry Club, and as part of TOO QUEER: A Bi Visibility Cabaret in Toronto. 




This event is FREE, wheelchair accessible and open to the public. All are welcome to write and share in this safe space. It will take place Thursday, September 12 from 5:30 – 6:45 PM at the City Island Branch of the New York Public Library (320 City Island Ave, the Bronx).


Our Latest Chapbook Release

Our latest chapbook has been released, Taboo: Poetry, Prose & Art from GUMBO at Benjamin Banneker Academy. The chapbook features poetry and prose from young high school students.

We want to take a moment to thank all the teens who are a part of the book: Bryanna Arnold, Lenny Leal, Frantzia Merceus, Jessica Monroe, Mia Montgomery, Amanda Morrison, & Gabriel M. Williams; your pieces were powerful, moving and made us think. Also, a big thank you to our workshop leaders Ashley August & Judith Ohikuare for being such dedicated workshop leaders and really highlighting the talent with words these teens have with such inspiring prompts.

If you would like to order a copy directly from us, contact us at . By ordering directly from us all proceeds will go towards our creative writing workshops, chapbooks and readings such as this one. You can also order a copy from Amazon.

The 15th Annual Fort Greene Summer Literary Festival!

15th Annual Fort Greene Summer Literary Festival

Sunday, August 25 @ 3 PM at Roulette (509 Atlantic Ave.)

Presented by NY Writers Coalition, Akashic Books, and Greenlight Bookstore

Prospect Park, farmers markets, the Brooklyn Flea, and open-air dining at Habana Outpost are just a few perks of being in Brooklyn during the summertime. When it comes to a community tradition in this ever-changing neighborhood that readers and writers from all generations flock to, however, there’s not much else that matches the allure of NY Writers Coalition’s Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival — and this year we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary!

We are excited to partner with Greenlight Bookstore and Akashic Books to present the 15th Annual Fort Greene Summer Literary Festival! This year, we unite in one of the neighborhood’s premier artistic spaces Roulette (509 Atlantic Avenue) to celebrate a summer of storytelling. We’re thrilled to announce our featured readers, Tina Chang, Shira Erlichman, and Nicole Sealey. All in attendance will also be dazzled by a performance from the Brooklyn Ballet Youth Ensemble. Last but not least, we welcome the young writers in our summer youth program (ages 6-18 years) who will also read for an inspiring afternoon of literature, good times, and support.

This year’s lineup features three highly acclaimed poets & novelists: Tina Chang, author of Hybrida: Poems,  Shira Erlichman, author of Be/Hold: A Friendship Book, and Nicole Sealey, author of Ordinary Beast: Poems. Writer & Poet Angel Nafis, author of BlackGirl Mansion,  joins us as the Master of Ceremonies for this exciting event, bringing generations of writers together to build on the rich literary traditions of Fort Greene. 

There will also be an afterparty at Greenlight Bookstore, Fort Greene (686 Fulton St) at 5:15 PM…Don’t miss it! Get your tickets below. We also encourage you to make a suggested donation if you can. Each donation we receive will go towards keeping our creative writing workshops, readings, and events running–such as this one.



Tina Chang

Tina Chang, Brooklyn Poet Laureate, is the author of Half-Lit Houses (2004), Of Gods & Strangers (2011), and most recently Hybrida (2019) which was named A Most Anticipated Book of 2019 by NPR, Lit Hub, The Millions, Oprah magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and was named a New York Times Book Review New & Noteworthy collection. She is also the co-editor of the W.W. Norton anthology Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond (2008). Chang teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

Shira Erlichman

Shira Erlichman is a poet, musician, and visual artist. She was born in Israel and immigrated to the US when she was six. Her poems explore recovery –– of language, of home, of mind –– and value the “scattered wholeness” of healing. She earned her BA at Hampshire College and has been awarded the James Merrill Fellowship by the Vermont Studio Center, the Visions of Wellbeing Focus Fellowship at AIR Serenbe, as well as a residency by the Millay Colony. Her debut poetry book, Odes to Lithium, is out in September 2019. She is also the author and illustrator of the picture book Be/Hold. When not on tour, she lives in Brooklyn where she teaches writing and creates. 

Nicole Sealey

Born in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Apopka, Florida, Nicole Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast, finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her other honors include a 2019 Rome Prize, the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from The American Poetry Review, the Poetry International Prize and a Daniel Varoujan Award, grants from the Elizabeth George and Jerome Foundations, as well as fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CantoMundo, Cave Canem, MacDowell Colony and the Poetry Project. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere. Nicole holds an MLA in Africana studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University. Formerly the executive director at Cave Canem Foundation, she is a 2019-2020 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.

Angel Nafis, Master of Ceremonies

Angel Nafis is the author of BlackGirl Mansion (Red Beard Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The BreakBeat Poets Anthology, Buzzfeed Reader, The Rumpus, Poetry Magazine and more. She represented the NYC at the National Poetry Slam and the Women of the World Poetry Slam. She is the founder, curator, and host of the Greenlight Poetry Salon. She is a Cave Canem graduate fellow and the recipient of the 2016 Ruth Lily Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship and the 2017 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship. Nafis earned her  BA in English and Creative Writing from Hunter College and her MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College. With poet Morgan Parker she is The Other Black Girl Collective.



The 15th Annual Fort Greene Summer Literary Festival is presented by NY Writers Coalition, Akashic Books, and Greenlight Bookstore, with additional support from Con Edison and the office of City Council Member Laurie Cumbo.

NYWC’s Fort Greene Summer Youth Program & Literary Festival is generously supported by Con Edison, Cowan Slavin Foundation, City Council Member Laurie Cumbo, Emmanuel Baptist Church, the Meringoff Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and Tiger Baron Foundation. Lit Fest is funded in part by Poets & Writers through public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

For more information, please contact

NY Writers Coalition
(718) 398-2883