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October 8, 2012
 
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A Note From Program Manager Heather Simons

Dear PEN In The Classroom supporters,

Thank you for reading the seventh edition of the PEN In The Classroom newsletter. I am thrilled about the PEN In The Classroom academic writing residencies that are currently in full swing in Los Angeles. Students at San Fernando High School, John Marshall High School, and Palisades Charter High School have already reached the midpoint of their writing residencies and are working hard to complete stories, essays, and poems for their final anthologies.

In addition, we have an impressive roster of writing instructors scheduled to teach one-day workshops at Animo Pat Brown High School, as part of PITC’s Literary Journal Program. And, finally, we will announce in the next few weeks a new and exciting community residency that will take place this fall and winter. Follow PITC on Facebook for more information.

This week, I’m pleased to announce that PEN’s Executive Director Adam Somers has provided insight into the value and future of PITC in our community interview. In addition, a talented student from John Marshall High School has shared her writing with us.

Thank you for supporting PEN In The Classroom, and please be in touch if you have any questions.
 
Best,
Heather Simons

 
Newsletter-News Flash
Creatively College Bound Workshops in Los Angeles

PEN Center USA and Urban Word LA are partnering to bring five Creatively College Bound (CCB) residencies to Los Angeles High Schools next spring. In a CCB residency, the goal is to prepare junior and senior high school students for higher education. Over the course of twelve weeks, instructors use creative writing prompts and critical literature seminar work as inspiration for crafting professional, high-quality college application essays and statements for scholarship applications. If you would like to know more about CCB, please contact Program Manager Heather Simons at heather@penusa.org.

 
Newsletter-Community Interview
Meet PEN Center USA Executive Director Adam Somers

Why is PEN In The Classroom (PITC) an important part of PEN’s programming? How does it fit into PEN’s mission statement?
 
There are two main tracks of programming at International PEN and at the centers: freedom of expression and, in one way or another, supporting the literary community. Individual centers may emphasize one of these tracks over the other, but, almost without exception, all PEN centers are involved in both tracks of programming.
 
Adam PITC Interview 2PITC is often taken for granted as being an outreach literacy program, because it usually takes place over twelve weeks in a middle or high school, but from my perspective it is a pure freedom of expression program. The idea being that if you go through high school and you are never made aware of the idea that you have a voice or given a chance to explore your voice, then, perhaps, your freedom of expression has been encroached upon as much as any writer imprisoned for peacefully expressing themselves.

Some people have accused me of being melodramatic by describing PITC in terms of freedom of expression, but I believe the description is correct. Seen from this perspective, PITC is positioned within freedom of expression and, therefore, within our mission statement.

Read the rest of the interview here.
 
Newsletter-Writing Sample
Writing Sample by a PITC Student at John Marshall High School

"I Come From" is by Maritza V., a student in Jill Diamond's 9th grade Honors English class at John Marshall High School.

I am from Mexico! It’s in my blood! I don’t care if I was born in another country. I am Mexican! I can’t be more proud to call myself from Mexico. I come from picking grapes off the vines, sweating under the hot sun, dirt and dust all over the place. I come from hard workers! I come from women cleaning the houses while the men go do work. I come from tortillas, tamales, frijoles and menudo and the coffee aroma every morning! I come from a small ranch. I come from cowboys and cowgirls. I come from horses and goats and burros. I come from the pigs eating leftovers. I come from the bride not wanting to marry at a young age. I come from pregnant teenagers. I come from dirt roads. I come from riding the huge trucks to work. I come from a dry, rough desert. Rattlesnakes and cactus. I come from people screaming, “ya vamanos!” I come from immigrants crossing to have a better life. To give their kids their dream. I come from running away from the cops. I come from hiding in the car to get to the other side. I come from people who have been to jail! Innocent but accused, and can’t be out because we have no money. I come from where the older men work in gardening or agriculture, getting burned, but still working, while bees sting them. I come from hiding from my mom when she’s mad. I come from “Ven paca, me las vas a pagar pinche cabrona.” I come from running away from the chancla and the belt. I come from falling to the floor and getting back up while bleeding. I come from crying every night, hoping he will come back. Still having that thought one day he will return, and we’ll have a happy family.
 
Newsletter SUPPORT
Calling All Instructors!

PEN In The Classroom is always searching for new creative writing instructors to join its team. PITC instructors teach ten- to twelve-week creative writing workshops in schools and community centers. If you are interested in becoming a PITC instructor, or if you know someone who might be interested, please download the instructor application from our website and apply today!

Completed applications can be mailed to PEN Center USA or e-mailed to Program Manager Heather Simons at heather@penusa.org.

You're Invited:
The 22nd Annual Literary Awards Festival
October 22, 2012, at the Beverly Hills Hotel

 

PEN Center USA’s annual awards program, established in 1982, is a unique, regional competition that recognizes literary excellence in eleven categories: fiction, creative nonfiction, research nonfiction, poetry, children’s literature, graphic literature, translation, journalism, drama, teleplay, and screenplay. Learn more about this year's honorees, award winners, and ticket information on our website.

Last year, PEN Center USA gave the distinguished Freedom to Write - Domestic Award to Ellie Herman, a PEN In The Classroom Host Teacher from Animo Pat Brown Charter High School. Watch the video from last year's awards festival, which features Ellie:

Video

PURCHASE

PEN Center USA is supported in part by grants from the California Community Foundation, Herb Alpert Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, Kayne Foundation, The Rosenthal Family Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, UCLA Extension Writers' Program, The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and The National Endowment for the Arts.

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