Tag Archives: writing workshops

Art meets veterans

Abstract Rant. A Bird Knows No Barbed Wire. Dear Simon. We Are Not Your Heroes. Ghost Limb. Iraqi Kids 2003. Living Without Nikki. You Are Not My Enemy. Real Vet Fake Vet. A Trip to the Zoo. That Damn Truck. War Is Not a Video Game.

All are works of art created through Warrior Writers, a Philadelphia-based organization with members and activities in several states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachussetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. Warrior Writers is dedicated to creating “visibility for veteran artists and their work” while “telling the truths about veterans experiences.”

This collection features poetry, prose, photograpy and illustrations by Afghanistran and Iraq veterans and war resisters

The organization describes itself as “a community of military veterans, service members, artists, allies, civilians, and healers dedicated to creativity and wellness.” They embrace art making as a creative tool for understanding and transcending “experiences of trauma and emotional disruptions” — and consider art a language essential to bridging “the gap between veterans and civilians.”

Today I’m setting aside time to explore a collection of their works online, which includes about 100 pieces of poetry and creative writing, plus dozens of videos and poetry readings. Also several works of visual art and music. They’re working now to bring folks together for the creation of a wall mural in Philadephia, and folks in Chicago can see their works (and others) exhibited at the National Veterans Art Museum.

The most recent of three Warrior Writers books you can order online

The Warrior Writers website, an official honoree of the 2010 Webby Awards, is a great resource for veterans eager to learn more about self-expression through the arts. Opportunities currently listed include the 25th Annual Writing Workshop sponsored by the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences, and The Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans.

Warrior Writers shares creative works with the public through books, performances and exhibitions that provide “opportunities for the broader public to better understand veterans’ experiences.” Three Warrior Writers books featuring works by post 9/11 veterans are currently available online — “Move, Shoot and Communicate,” “Re-Making Sense” and “After Action Review: A Collection of Writing and Artwork by Veterans of the Global War on Terror.”

Click here to learn more about their work and ways you can get involved. Today and every day — remember, reflect and never take our many freedoms for granted. Vote, participate and pay heed to the voices of diverse veterans, military personnel and family members who’ve made sacrifices the rest of us can scarcely begin to imagine.

— Lynn

Coming up: Arizona honors young artists, Summer concert fare, Prescott art adventures


Writer, writer on the wall…

Want to be the fairest writer of them all? Read often. Write daily. And learn from the masters.

Amy Silverman and Deborah Sussman Susser just announced that registration is now open for the next “Mothers Who Write” workshop, a 10-week series that starts Feb. 23 at Scottsdale Center for the Arts. It meets Thursday evenings from 6-8pm and costs $200 (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts members pay just $175).

A teen writing workshop called “Fems with Pens,” for girls in grades 7-12, begins Jan. 23 at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The six-week series also include 5-6pm sessions on Jan. 30, Feb. 6, Feb. 13, Feb. 27 and March 5. Participants write fiction and non-fiction using various exercises, then discuss and edit their work in a “creative, supportive environment.” The series costs $60.

Phoenix Public Library and Changing Hands Bookstore present a “Young Adult Writing Conference” featuring writing classes and a writing panel on Sat, Jan. 28 at the Burton Barr Central Library. Presenters and panelists include authors Adam Rex, Bree Despain, James Owen, Anna Carey, Kiersten White, Aprilynne Pike, Amy Fellner Dominy, C J Hill (Janette Rallison), Robin Brande, Cecil Castellucci and Tom Leveen. The event runs 9am-3pm and costs $85 ($75 through Jan. 19).

A “Yallapalooza” event for teens and tweens takes place at the library that same day at 4pm. The 11 authors noted above will attend, and the event also features free pizza — plus games, prizes and book signing opportunities. Admission is free.

ASU’s Virgina G. Piper Center for Creative Writing holds its 2012 “Desert Nights, Rising Stars” conference Feb. 23-26 at the center, located on ASU’s Tempe Campus. Conference faculty include Sally Ball, Robert Boswell, Bernard Cooper, Denise Dumahel, Carolyn Forche, Pam Houston, Adam Johnson, Mat Johnson, A. Van Jordan, Antonya Nelson, Alix Ohlin, Jem Poster, Melissa Pritchard, Jeannine Savard, Eleanor Wilner and Xu Xi. Writers of all levels are welcome, and general registration is $375 (master class tuition is an additional $125).

The UA Poetry Center in Tucson is presenting several classes and workshops in coming months, including “Poetry in the 21st Century” with Joel Arthur. The eight week literature class, which begins Feb. 6, will explore trends including conceptual poetry, Gurlesque, flarf, virtual poetics, Vispo and more. Participants will read, discuss and listen to American poetry from 2000 to the present. The class costs $200 (plus a $10 materials fee).

The Poetry Center also offers “Possibilities of Short Plays” with Laura Owen, an eight-week writing workshop on writing short form theatrical pieces — monologues and ten-minute plays. Participants will explore voice and dialogue, as well as the intersection of poetry and other forms. Students can expect to complete several dialogues and at least one complete ten-minute play. The workshop, which starts Feb. 8, costs $200 (plus a $5 materials fee).

Scottsdale Public Library and the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers present a “Local Writers Workshop” at the Mustang Library at 1:15pm on Feb. 19. The free workshop covers writing, publishing, an online author toolkit and networking. It’s one of many free writing-related events offered by Scottsdale Public Libraries. (Check your local library for additional options.)

If your organization offers writing classes for youth or adults, feel free to comment below to let our readers know.

— Lynn

Note: An organization called Friends of the Phoenix Public Library needs donations of children’s books to help economically-challenged schools stock their libraries and classrooms. Click here for donation details, and to learn about the Friends’ annual “Winter Book Sale” taking place later this month.

Coming up: Celebrating black history on stage and screen

Theater by the numbers

This is the place to be on Aug 6

The fine folks of Space 55 Theatre Ensemble are readying to take their act on the road. They’re performing “The Unhappiness Plays” by Greg Kotis at the New York International Fringe Festival.

First they’re doing a final fabulous performance here in the Valley — Sat, Aug 6 at 8pm. 

Lots of folks know Kotis from a musical titled “Urinetown,” which has been performed by a couple of theater groups here in the Valley. The “Urinetown” tour hit ASU Gammage in 2004.

“Urinetown” is a tale of ‘haves’ versus ‘have nots’ in a world where water and toilets are scarce (think student travels in Europe, which inspired the work). It debuted at the New York International Fringe Festival and was performed Off Broadway in 2001.

“Urinetown” opened on Broadway in September 2001 and closed in January 2004. It earned three Tony Awards — one for best direction (John Rondo), one for best music and lyrics (Mark Hollman), and one for book and lyrics (Greg Kotis).

My point? See “The Unhappiness Plays” now. Keep an eye on the rest of Space 55’s season (with your grown-up friends or mature teens — they don’t do kiddie fare). And check out their education offerings. Think acting classes and private coaching, writing for the stage and more.

Those of you who follow the “Blue Bike Kids Show” will recognize at least one cast member if you hit “The Unhappiness Plays” Saturday night — Valley actor, director and playwright Steve Wilcox (who co-founded Space 55 in 2005). He’s also a member of the “Blue Bike” gang.

This is the place to be on Aug 19

Program your GPS now, so you can quickly jot back and forth between Space 55 and Venue 104, a “performance cafe” in Tempe celebrating its “grand opening” on Fri, Aug 19. Theater folk know owner and general manager Michael Peck from his Chyro Arts days in Scottsdale, and his work on various Valley stages.

Nowadays he’s booking all sorts of local emergent talent for Venue 104. Think live music, theater and independent film — coupled with grazing options like gourmet sandwiches, salads and baked goods. No worries if you’re without GPS because Venue 104 is just two blocks from the ASU light rail stop.

Venue 104 and NewBrave Arts and Entertainment recently announced the first offering in their “2011-12 Season of Theatre” — a Noah Haidle work titled “Mr. Marmalade” that featured Michael C. Hall (now the star of Showtime’s “Dexter”) in the 2005 Off Broadway production.

Like works at Space 55, this is an adult or mature teen offering, best reserved for a night out with pals or partner. Fond as I am of cheery musicals full of talent still sporting braces, it’s nice to enjoy grown-up options now and then.

— Lynn

Note: I’ll be blogging next week from the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which is offering a “Hot August Nights” deal through August 15

Coming up: Performing arts studio opens new West Valley location, A contemporary take on “Romeo and Juliet”

The smell of childhood?

Orange blossom soap from Athens Locally Grown

When I connected recently with Tempe mother and journalist Amy Silverman, she shared a bit with me about her Arizona childhood.

Seems she’d recently purchased a bar of soap with an orange blossom scent. “It literally made me sick,” Silverman told me. “It smelled like my childhood.”

In a sentence, sometimes less, Silverman conjures detailed images that transport readers to other places and perspectives.

Orange blossom cheesecake from Atlanta Cheesecake Company

Hence her many accolades and awards. She’s been twice honored by the Arizona Press Club with the Virg Hill Journalist of the Year award.

For 18 years she’s worked for Phoenix New Times — serving the last six as managing editor.

Still, Silverman finds time to share her talents with others. She’s co-founder, along with Deborah Sussman Susser, of a “Mothers Who Write” class that helps women find and share their voices.

A public reading by “Mothers Who Write” participants (past and present) takes place Sat, May 7 from 2-4pm at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s free and open to the public, though some material may not be suitable for children.

Orange blossom gift basket from LadyBug Great Gifts

I’d like to see Silverman pen a children’s book. Perhaps something about Praying Monk on Camelback Mountain — a Valley landmark Silverman says she’s always thought of as “the camel’s eyelash.”

Silverman and her husband have two daughters, so she’s got plenty of pearls about both parenting and poising the pen. Registration for the next 10-week “Mothers Who Write” workshop will begin July 1 through the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Orange blossom cocktail from Science of Drink

The workshop offers “support and advice for writing mothers (of all ages) who want to develop their craft and receive feedback on their work.” Though all genres are welcome, the main focus is creative non-fiction, poetry and fiction.

Visit the “Mothers Who Write” website to learn more about classes, readings and the many adventures of “Mothers Who Write” alumni — including Deborah Rich Gettleman of Theatre Artists Studio and Raising Arizona Kids Magazine.

And keep an eye out for the June 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine — because the ever-fascinating Silverman and her family are profiled in the “AZ Generations” column.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for a list of journalists who’ve won 2010 Arizona Press Club awards — which includes two mothers who write for Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Winners will be recognized May 21 at the Arizona Press Club Awards Party in Phoenix.

Coming: More mothers who write

Cows for a cause

Thousands of boys from Sudan immigrated to the United States during the 1990s — including the “Arizona Lost Boys of Sudan” — who are among the many children orphaned in one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.

Sudan might feel a world away, but who can’t imagine what it might be like to be orphaned? And who doesn’t wish there was some way they could help.

This is where the cows come in. They’re ceramic handmade cows crafted by orphaned children, and they’ll be on sale during “The AZ Lost Boys of Sudan 6th Annual Birthday Party” at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe.

Birth dates are rarely recorded in Sudan, so aid workers have given many orphans a Jan 1 birthday — which Changing Hands recognizes with an event featuring birthday treats and a cow sale to benefit the AZ Lost Boys and Girls scholarship fund.

If you want more info on the scholarship fund, just visit the AZ Lost Boys Center online at www.azlostboyscenter.org. Of course, they pretty much had me at “ceramic cows.”

Changing Hands Bookstore has all sorts of interesting fare this month — including a Jan 12 panel with psychologists and educators sharing “strategies on how teachers, students and parents can cope with bullying.”

Sesame Street puppeteer Noel MacNeal hits Changing Hands Jan 14, and the “Yallapalooza” — “a literary extravaganza for tween and teen readers featuring more than a dozen ‘YA’ authors — takes place Jan 29.

You can bring little ones clad in pajamas to the Jan 13 “Pajama Storytime for Preschoolers” with children’s specialist Ramie Manch, or awaken your own writing muse with one of Changing Hands’ many writing workshops and poetry roundtables.

Another “Local First Arizona” bookstore — which has stores in Mesa, Phoenix and Tucson — has diverse offerings for literature-lovers of all ages. This Sat, Jan 8, folks can head to Bookmans in Phoenix to learn the art of paper folding from the Arizona Origami Society.

Other Bookman happenings this weekend include an author signing of a new book about the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Tucson), a “Silly Bandz” trading event (at the Glendale Glitters & Glow Block Party) and an anime club get together (Phoenix).

Later this month, you can enjoy several “Music Hour with Nature!” events, a Harry Potter club gathering, and a performance as part of the “Ear Candy Charity & Chicks with Picks Live Music Series!” (Store locations vary.)

Be sure and check with your local independent booksellers as well — many of whom provide an environment rich for conversation and community building. Your local bookstore is a great place to find fellow readers, writers and thinkers — and to help your children cultivate these skills in a day and age too full of distractions.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about Local First Arizona and its members (which include Raising Arizona Kids magazine).

Coming up: The fine art of tolerance, The art of “Sacred Places,” Art adventures: Glendale, Shrek: I’m a Believer

Art and the teen scene

Vincent van Gogh, 1889 - Self-portrait

It’s hard to imagine a better combo than teens and the arts…

Consider sparking your teen’s muse with the following events or programs designed specifically for the young at art…

Scottsdale Artists’ School presents “Summer Fine Arts Camp” for high school students as part of their 2010 Youth Academy. Session III runs July 12-16 from 9am-3pm Mon-Fri. Session covers drawing, painting and ceramics. Cost is $300.

For the 9-14 set, they have three remaining sessions (one- or two-week sessions also weekdays 9am-3pm). Cost is $275/week or $475/2 weeks. Classes include instruction in acrylic, watercolor, charcoal, pastel, pens and ink, clay and mixed media.

“Open Mic Teen Night” gives teen soloists and small groups the opportunity to perform on stage with an open mic event hosted by Walt Richardson. Professional musicians will be on hand for a free mentoring clinic from 5-6pm. Tempe Center for the Arts hosts “Open Mic Teen Night” July 14, 21 and 28 from 6-10pm. Free.

Vincent van Gogh at age 13

The Phoenix Art Museum presents “Cezanne’s Obsession” for ages 12-21 on July 14 at 6:30pm. Includes a visit to the “Cezanne and American Modernism” exhibit, with special consideration of Cezanne’s obsession with apples–followed by the opportunity for teens to construct their own ‘fruity obsession’ via painted still life. Free.

Apparently Cezanne had a thing for apples

“Teens and Tweens Writing Workshop” gives aspiring writers ages 10-17 the chance to work with Angela Morrison (author of “Taken by Storm” and “Sing me to Sleep”) for a series of three evenings, July 27-29, from 3-5pm. Morrison will offer insights and ideas on the theme “Write What You Know” at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe as she help young writers workshop their writings together. $50/3 sessions.

If your teen enjoys coupling competition with creativity, consider two contests now underway through the Tempe Library Teen Center. “Water, Water Everywhere: Art Contest” for ages 12-18 invites submissions in several categories, including 2-D art (drawing, painting), digital art (ala computer) and photography (they still use cameras, yes?). Submission deadline is July 16.  They’re also holding a “Making Waves with Words,” a writing contest accepting short stories and poetry by youth ages 12-18 (also due July 16).

Vincent van Gogh at age 19

A final note on the theme of ‘young at art’–The “young @ art” gallery at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is currently exhibiting the works of teens in their “Visions” program. The exhibit, titled “Visions: Text Messages” runs through Sept 20.

Let me know of other art-related teen events or activities you’d like to see featured here–and I’ll add more items as I learn of them.


The Starry Night by van Gogh (1889)

Photos: Cezanne from Phoenix Art Museum, van Gogh from National Gallery of Art

Note: Explore other opportunities for budding young artists at the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers at www.artandwriting.org, or visit teen magazines “Teen Ink” (www.teenink.org) or “Stone Soup” (www.stonesoup.com)

Arming teens with paper and pen

There are plenty of reasons to hit Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe.

Most recently I went with my 19-year-old daughter Jennifer to hear a state legislator and an ASU professor discussing Arizona’s immigration policy with attendees both for and against SB 1070. 

A month or so before I was there with Lizabeth, my soon-to-be 17 year old, to hear Valley actor, director and author Tom Leveen talk about his first “YA” (young adult) novel—titled Party.

Both events were packed, so I’m not surprised that Leveen will be making more appearances at the Indie bookstore

I’m told that Leveen shared a copy of his book with actor James Marsters (known to many as “Spike” in both “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and its spinoff “Angel”) Saturday at Phoenix Comicon, and that the two enjoyed a lingering conversation–which confirms my suspicion that Leveen is both author and marketer extraordinaire.

Leveen is one of several writers and authors presenting writing workshops at Changing Hands Bookstore this summer. The events are geared towards tweens, teens or adults—or sometimes a combination. Most last just an hour or two and cost between $20 and $50 dollars (for a single session or a series). Registration and pre-payment are required. 

First up during June is a teen writing workshop titled “Making Us Believe: Dragons, Spies, & Secret Histories.” Author Mark London will “take readers behind the scenes of his own Danger Boy time travel series, showing young writers (ages 9-14) how he mixes history and storytelling.” June 1 and 2, 2-4pm. 

For four consecutive Mondays, starting June 7, Phoenix New Times copy editor and freelancer Tricia Parker will lead girls in grades 7-12 in a teen writing workshop titled “Fems with Pens.” Participants will “write fiction and nonfiction based on a variety of exercises,” discussing and editing fellow participants’ work “in a creative, supportive environment.” June 7,14, 21 & 28, 5-6:15pm. 

Monday, June 7, will also see the return of Leveen (from 6:30-8pm) for a teen and adult writing workshop called “Using Theatre to Sharpen Dialogue,” during which participants ages 16 and up will discover “how taking an actor/director perspective with fiction can make dialogue come to life.” 

Leveen presents a teen and adult workshop titled “Armed Conflict: Getting to the Backbone of Your Fiction by Taking No Prisoners” from 6:30-8pm on Monday, June 28—and another titled “Publishing Basics” from 6:30-8pm on Monday, July 1. Both are for ages 16+.

Younger writers (ages 8-13) can enjoy a three-part tween writing workshop called “Motion Pictures to Picture Books” with Molly Idle from 4-5:30pm on June 14, 16 and 18. Idle will teach participants about “visual storytelling techniques used in film making” and how they can be used to “create unique and engaging illustrated stories.” 

Another three-part tween writing workshop, titled “Hero Quest,” will take place from 6:30-8pm on June 17, 24 and July 1. J.S. Lewis, co-author of the Grey Griffins series, will teach kids “how to create dynamic characters and striking plot lines using the model of the hero’s journey from Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth.”  

Participants ages 10-17 can join Taken by Storm and Sing Me to Sleep author Angela Morrison for a tween & teen writing workshop titled “Write What You Know” on July 27, 28 and 29 from 3-5pm. Morrison will “challenge participants to draw from reality to make characters and scenes live and breath” while working on “poetry, short stories, novel chapters, or any other genre they are interested in.” 

While you’re there, get a copy of the bookstore’s monthly listing of other family-friendly activities, and allow extra time to browse through books (plus impressively diverse magazine offerings) and find unique gift selections for your favorite teachers, friends and family members. (James ordered a birthday gift for Lizabeth from Changing Hands but I’d best not reveal it here until after the big day.)

Visit Changing Hands Bookstore online for workshop details, or call 480-730-0205 to register. In the war of words, no one wants to be unarmed. And you just might find that a few simple trips to Changing Hands can change a whole lot of things in your world.


Note: Writing workshops tailored to moms (of all ages) who write are offered by Amy Silverman (Phoenix New Times) and Deborah Sussman Susser (Jewish News of Greater Phoenix). Their next 10-week “Mothers Who Write” workshop begins Sept. 2 (registration opens July 1). For details visit www.motherswhowrite.com.

Coming up: Opportunities to honor our military folks and families year-round, Lessons learned at theater potlucks

Update: Click here to learn about Christopher Hitchens’ discovery as a youth that “words could function as weapons.” His new book, “Hitch-22,” is one of thousands of titles available through Changing Hands Bookstore.