(originally posted on my Kickstarter page.)
Well, it’s been two whole months since the culmination of DAWP in Brooklyn. The program was held in the Flatbush Branch Public Library starting on Tuesday, July 20th and ending on Thursday, August 13th. We met on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for four weeks. Since we got such a late start in recruiting girls for the Brooklyn program (most of our resources went towards the project in Haiti), we conducted outreach in the surrounding Flatbush neighborhood.
It’s quite astounding as to the number of young girls who have nothing to do and are left to their own devices during the summer. There were groups of girls who hung outside the library, some as young as six were dropped off by a parent or guardian for several hours. So we had no problem filling up the empty seats in the large conference room on the second floor of the library on the first day. (The Flatbush Branch also houses the Caribbean Center devoted to engaging the surrounding large Caribbean population with literacy and arts programs.) Though it was a bit of a challenge at first to have them come in on time and keep them for the duration of the workshop.
The workshops were a mere two hours long. We would start with free writing and “highs and lows” or “sweets or sours”. This took up the first hour, and the last hour was devoted to writing in small groups, then coming together to share and critique our pieces. I noticed a pattern where a certain number of girls would peek in to see that we were writing, then leave and come back for the check-in and games. Writing in groups proved to be more successful if a girl did not want to write. They were free to converse with each other, and if they did not write anything, they had to at least say something about the topic at hand. What was most important was their consistent participation. Though, needless to say, there were quite of a few wonderful writers who were eager to share what they’ve written to their families and friends who attended the workshop on the last day.
Since then, I’ve been engrossed in completing a revision of a novel to submit to a potential literary agent. Regine Roumain and Haiti Cultural Exchange have been instrumental in helping with the anthology. The poems for Haiti were translated from French and Kreyol into English. And since August, HCX have been involved in a host of successful community events including a café conversation with notable Haitian poet, Franketienne. As part of their An’n Pale/Café Conversations series, I will be presenting the anthology, with 19 pieces from Haiti and 10 pieces from Brooklyn along with video clips and photos, on Thursday, October 29 at Shop Talk Art in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
The poems are inspiring, beautiful, and very insightful. Edwidge Danticat has written a heartfelt letter to all the participants and it will be published as part of the foreword. All those who have contributed to this project will be named in the first page of the anthology. Again, thank you all for making this possible. Each and every single one of the girls had a tremendous experience and they will be absolutely thrilled to see their name and words in print (and sharing space with the amazing Edwidge Danticat).
I will keep you posted on the upcoming event. I will also be contacting some folks about receiving a copy of the anthology, along with all other rewards. If you are in the New York City area, please feel free to come out and support.