At our first class this term, a woman came in late with her tiny baby. She had only arrived at Sojourner House at the end of last semester. She participated in the final public reading, but as she had no material of her own, she read a poem written by a woman who graduated before the term ended. It turned out the poem expressed something relevant to her. She felt it was fate. Now, she has the opportunity to attend the class for spring term. As our first session was wrapping up she said “I’m not a writer, but I heard the writings of the women last fall and I was inspired.” She was excited to become a part of the program.
From one point of view, what’s not to like about a writing class? Ever. Anywhere. I can’t imagine anyone not loving the opportunity, particularly in the context of difficult life situations. Women sometimes ask us at the end of class: are you coming back next week? I’m never 100% sure that they are asking because they hope we will, or hope we won’t. But I like to think, and I tend to think, they want us back. When we go around the room and hear each woman read, they are writers. The strength of their voices, their body language, their focus, tell us that they are present in that moment with a determination and an identity outside and beyond and yet because of their personal setbacks. Whatever else they are going through, you can see a kind of joy that comes from the language of sharing truths. Creating with written words has a power and a transcendence. You feel the bonds forming in that process. As a group, the energy is positive, supportive, sometimes sad, often light; and it is definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. And yet, each part is great enough.
-Shawna Kent, Words Without Walls Teacher