This fall, 7CWP sponsored two new projects: Resistance & Resilience: A Memoir Workshop of the Jim Crow Era, and Journaling for Creative Growth for incarcerated women in the Norfolk City Jail.

Mira Roberts, new to 7CWP, guided the jail project:

“This fall, I had the honor of working with twelve talented female inmates from the Norfolk City Jail in an 8 week long writing workshop titled Journaling for Creative Growth. While I have been the one leading the class this session, the students have been the ones ultimately leading me into a greater sense of how deeply we are all so closely connected to one another.

Each of these women has shown up to class and to the pages of their journals with a story to tell and in pursuit of a voice they thought they had lost. They don’t waver in their writing — they tell the truth, and the work they have elected to publish reflects their willingness and courage to be honest and create, no matter the costs.

What my students long for, most of all, is to express themselves. As their teacher, they’ve been a constant reminder to me that we’re always more than our current circumstances, that our voices only become silent when we choose to let them. In class, we use a variety of mediums to ‘create,’ including mixed media, writing prompts, poetry and our own conversations. Writers have submitted works of fiction, poetry and personal essays to be evaluated and published on our site.

These women are the underserved in our community, but once served, they immediately flourish and grow. I am deeply grateful to be part of their creative process and to learn from their talent and courage to share, week after week.”

Lisa Hartz guided Resistance & Resilience: A Memoir Workshop of the Jim Crow Era:

“We gathered every Friday morning for a workshop that would be extended to twelve weeks. Eight wasn’t nearly enough. I brought reading samples — Ta-Nehisi Coates, Claudia Rankine, Michael Eric Dyson. I brought writing prompts to inspire the mining of this terrible legacy — “physical & psychological damage caused by racism,” “traveling while black,” “racism as terrorism.” These writers brought an outpouring of expression — rage, grief, fear but also courage, pride, strength, and humor. A deep well of humor. It was an honor to be in the room. Every Friday for twelve weeks. I’m editing their work for an anthology we’ll publish in the new year. The mosaic of voices is extraordinary. We’ll begin again this spring, with a new group but also a ‘part two’ for this one. None of us wanted it to be over. I am so grateful to have been included.”

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