Writers in the Community

BY KATIE CONNOR, Managing Editor

At AWP last week, I had the pleasure of sharing a panel with Susan Richards Shreve, accomplished author and board member ofthe PEN/Faulkner Foundation, which runs Writers in Schools, and Mara O’Brien, Executive Director of 826 Chicago. A humbling experience, it was nevertheless great to see writers share their talents with local communities. Writers in Schools brings authors such as Junot Diaz and T.C. Boyle into the classroom for readings and discussion, while 826 Chicago hosts workshops for children in poetry, fiction, song and jingle writing, screenplay and comic book production, among others.  As Sycamore Review’s very own Looseleaf Writing Program looks to expand its community outreach efforts, these panelists were incredibly inspiring in their impact.

The panelists discussed the virtues of children perceiving themselves as authors, which couldn’t be better captured than in 826 National’s recent book, “Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country,” a collection of letters from students around the country to President Obama.

After the panel, I spoke with Iris Law from the University of Notre Dame, who detailed their MFA program’s exciting work with the juvenile unit of the local prison, South Bend Center for the Homeless, and readings in local high schools.

If you are interested in learning more about writers in the community or Looseleaf Writing Workshops here in Greater Lafayette, please visit these websites or contact me at kconnor@purdue.edu.