Authors gather in outer East Portland for a Saturday WRITE

See why so many folks got together on a beautiful weekend day in the Russell Neighborhood, to sit with pen and paper – and write

ozens of people gather, for the sheer joy of writing and sharing stories, at this “Saturday WRITE!” session.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Gathered around tables in the Eastminster Presbyterian Church’s Community Room, 28 people put pen or pencil to paper, and shared the joy of written expression – on May 5, during the annual “Saturday WRITE!” session.

In several locations around Portland, similar groups meet at these Write Around Portland-sponsored gatherings to celebrate the organization’s 13th year of “respect, writing, and community, with their community-building writing workshops,” as volunteer workshop facilitator Steven Skoczen put it.

Volunteer workshop facilitator Steven Skoczen’s contemplates the story he’s about to write, and then share, with the group at his table.

The idea of this, he said, is to involve more people in the literary arts – by hosting workshops that will bring people who wouldn’t normally find themselves at a table together to write, read, and connect.

Journals, pens, and light snacks were provided – and all the attendees needed to bring was an open mind, and a willingness to share ideas at the free workshop.

Participants Maddelyn High, Faye Ponik, Gloria McGrath, and Billie Shults take a break from writing, and get to know one another better.

Facilitators at each table presented an idea – a word, a phrase, or even an image. The participants were asked to write for about ten minutes on that topic in a way that was meaningful to them. Then, they were to read what they had written.

When tablemates discussed the manuscripts, their banter was encouraging, not critical.

Writer Jerrie Nelson tells of her adventure while hiking.

For example, in the response to a phrase “in a pocket”, participant Jerrie Nelson read her story about taking a walk, carrying a backpack with an easily accessible pocket on the outside. “When I looked, a wild chipmunk carried away the apple and the chocolate bar that was in there,” she said.

Some stories were lighthearted, some were dark with personal tragedy.

As we left the workshop, a ripple of laughter drifted up from a table in the far corner; the participants’ eyes were wet with the dew of laughter.

To learn more about Write Around Portland, or take one of their upcoming workshops, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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