celebrating our young women writers

 How would your life be different, as a young woman
struggling to find your voice, if you found a place
to speak as a woman and be listened to deeply, attentively.

(adapted from Judith Duerk, I Sit Listening to the Wind)



From the spring of 2008 through the summer of 2012, we were honored to work with young women writers in middle and high school. For the first several years, we held Saturday afternoon groups in 6- and 8-week sessions. We would meet for three hours to write, share, offer and receive constructive feedback on our writing. We created art together, carved stone, composed songs, designed improvements for our world; examined the relationships between nature and feminism, participated in Earth Day, wrote fiction, performed for one another; held annual writing camp, collected our writings into anthologies, participated in adult celebrations of the program. And more. So much more.

Yet, for all the vitality and promise of this program, we regretfully must bring it to a close this spring of 2013. Our talented assistant directors have, one at a time, been called to other locations, work and life circumstances. Our director is in a time of redirecting her own time and energies. It is with regret for the future and immense gratitude for the past that we officially close our doors to young women writers.

The good news is – as we are pulling back from  face-to-face, intimate gatherings for young woman writers – Young Writers Project is initiating a drop-in opportunity for young writers to bring writing and receive mentored support for their work. It feels good to know that we are leaving young writers in good hands and that the immediacy of a live community in which to write and be heard will continue to be available for our Vermont youth.

Below, highlights of our writing years with young women, starting with camps and moving back into weekend groups.


Final project - photo collage and found poem

Final project – photo collage and found poem

SUMMER 2012:
Monday July 2 through Friday July 6 (YES! we met on Wednesday the fourth!!) we gathered at the Writing Studio from 9 to 4 to write together and separately to prompts; share our words; explore different forms for those words; enhance our writing with visual and kinetic art; eat lunch at Oakledge and swim. As an additional feature this summer, for those wishing to do so, we provided the time and space for writers to work and rework a piece(s) to give her the experience of crafting a work to completion.

As always our focus remained on writing as a vehicle for personal expression; experiencing positive and supportive exchange; fun games and art projects, all within a community of young women sharing a love of words. Co-facilitated by Sarah Bartlett and Heidi Smith.

Day 4 lunch25SUMMER 2011:
For four days, eight girls and two facilitators met at the Writing Studio (a short walk to Oakledge Beach!!!) to write and create artwork connecting us/our bodies and the body of nature. We created mandalas, or sacred circles, using ink and geometric patterns; and another using watercolor ink dropped onto wet paper. From each, we found patterns that spoke to us.

The bigger art project, drawing on these, was a nature mandala using twig circle and adding found objects to create a statement of our relationship with mother earth. In the film, we have layered images from various activities during the week – including the individual mandalas – with four readings from the final read-around: two about mother earth and two about our personal body.

SUMMER 2010:

Dedicated to writing!

Dedicated to writing!

This was perhaps the hottest early July any of us could remember – yet we had a full, productive, fun time. Check out our FACEBOOK page for a photo album of the week. Here, writing and swimming for a change – a neat way to beat the heat while going with the flow!!!

“I would title a song about this week, “Listen,” because to me, this week has been a lot about listening to others’ writing and stories, and being listened to as well.  The lyrics would be about being heard for the first time, and about hearing other people. It would be a happy, slower song, and would also be about achieving an old goal: having my writing heard.

“I heard girls who seem to have found their voices. I heard stories, both made up and true. I heard wisdom born from youth. I heard enthusiasm and exuberance. I heard well crafted writing.”

“Thank you so much for this whole week. I have had so much fun and have gotten lots of wonderful feedback! I hope to see you again next year!

Morning girlsSUMMER 2009:
Our first camp was held at St. Michael’s College Women’s Center – a perfect location with the indoor swimming pool available to us late mornings for swim break between writing and lunch. Here also started our summer practice of reading after lunch, usually a book we’d get through together in the course of the week. It was also the camp where stone carving continued by popular demand.


Do you remember?

all eight of us surrounding each other
in a house of words

Do you remember?
the candle flicking it’s lit-
tle fiery tongue

Do you remember?
stones and swimming pools and watches?
bruised fingers and scarves?

Will you remember?
perhaps you will, or you won’t 
I think that I might.

– JD, Girls Camp 2009

GALLERY OF GROUPS, Spring 2008 – Fall 2011:

All Young Women Writing for (a) Change  programs are designed to help strengthen girls’ and teens’ authentic voices; their ability to ‘speak out’ through writing and in person; and their faith in their own creativity.

–  enhance self-esteem;
–  build skills in creative self-expression;
–  learn to receive and give honest support and encouragement;
–  develop skills in building and maintaining community;
–  seek and recognize role models who inspire creative life choices.

–  Create a supportive community of writers
–  Write together and on our own
–  Share our writing and listen to one another
–  Explore other modes of artistic expression
–  Read and discuss stories, poems and articles

 “This is a real community where everyone is an active part.
This is where I come alive and realize my true beauty and strength.”

The Other Paper, 11-26-08, Schools & Education: A Middle School Student Writes for Change, by Susie Merrick
VT Woman 8-08: Young Women Writing for (a) Change, by Michelle A. L. Singer