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Jessie’s Centre Workshops

July 18, 2013

I’ve been doing creative writing workshops at June Callwood Centre, also called Jessie’s for over a year now working with three different groups of young and expecting mothers. The experience has been beyond enriching and I’m just speaking for myself. Having the opportunity to read, write, talk and share with these young women have greatly impacted my writing but also me on a personal level. It’s sad that I’ll have to wait until September to do another workshop but it has been well worth it.

These workshops, funded by Literature for Life adopt the Reading Circle model, in which we choose a book, read chapters of it aloud and discuss relevant themes in the story. What makes this so much better than a “school” experience is that we can talk about anything, interact, discuss without judgement or grades.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Whitney French Workshop without a bit of writing. These young women knocked my socks off with the high calibre of writing, the precise level of insight and strong sense of narrative voice in their writings.


On the last day we had a showcase and some of the young women performed their original poems to an audience of staff, supporters and other young mothers. Honestly, my group was hands down the best (just saying!) and when we finished the show, we all went to the park to read from Tupac’s Rose that Grew From Concrete a la Reading Circle, just outside!

If you’ve never read this collection of Tupac’s pieces (many of which he wrote in his teenaged years) it is certainly an amazing read for anyone at any age. It’s raw and immediate, beautiful and intense. Not to mention you see his actually penmanship on the page!

Word on the street is that Literature for Life is publishing a chapbook of all the young women’s stories from various locations soon. The anthology will called “Food For Thoughts”. In the meanwhile, I’m honoured to stare a story about a young boy who doesn’t smile, written by one of my participants.


Over and out!


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