Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Congratulations on an Award-Winning Year!


282848_10150855170961139_167431060_n 4Of the 25,000 submissions from across the country, 
our Writopia writer won the top scholarship! Congratulations...
  • Isabella Giovannini for winning the Scholastic Award's National Gold Medal Portfolio and $10,000 scholarship!
Congratulations to all of Writopia's 2013 National Medalists, grades 7-12:  Olivia Alcabes, Rachel Calnek-Sugin, Sarah Cooke, Gillian Page,  Lillie Lainoff,  Clara Olshansky, Eva Shapiro,  Katherine Snoddy, Altana Elings-Haynie, John Lhota, Alec Montgomery, Allegra Brogard, Emma Koosis, Alice Markham-Cantor, and Clea Woodbury.

"Amid Dropping Test Scores, Teen Writers' Creativity Soars":  a wonderful article about the awards on NPR by a Writopia dad and daughter team.

Read some of the winning stories in our literary magazine, 

And congratulations to the 146 Writopia writers who won recognition on the regional level, and to every single writer of all ages at Writopia who inspire and entertain us each day--we love you for it!
  • Alice Markham-Cantor, "Best of Borough"  in  Poetry.
  • May Treuhaft-Ali, Honorable Mention in Poetry. 
Our college essay students won admissions to top schools along with top scholarships!
Congratulations: May Treuhaft-Ali, Yale; Layla Treuhaft-AliWesleyan; Matthew Arbess, Brown;  Julie Byrnes, winner of a Questbridge 
college logos 1resize 3 scholarship and admittance to Vassar;  Katie Hartman, University of Pennsylvania; Nora Miller, Hampshire College; Isabella Giovannini, Yale; Sarah Cooke, Brown; Lillie Lainoff, Yale; Cecilia Laguarda, Princeton;Alice Markham-Cantor, Weslyan; Fard Shabazz, BMCC; Akiva Schick, Yeshiva University; Jessica Zeng, Bennington College, and to so many more of you!!


 Please welcome Writopia Chicago! Writopia workshops will appear for the first time in the midwest this August. We are thrilled that author Trish Cooke is spearheading this branch. 

Please welcome Writopia Long Island! Workshops began this past spring, run by comedy writer Whitney Meers. Donna Sheeler (yes; Danielle's mother) is the branch manager.

Please welcome Writopia Hudson Valley! Veteran Writopia instructor, Rachel Ephraim is spearheading this branch. Camps in this area begin this August! 


Writopia was featured in a segment for Voice of America! 
VoiceofAmerica 2


StephenDubnerWe did it! At our annual benefit in March, we raised $50,000 to expand our outreach and scholarship programs. 
Thank you to Stephen Dubner and Nicole Krauss, who read, spoke, and led our fundraising efforts. 


The Worldwide Plays Festival has grown! Over the 2012-2013 school-year, we produced over 80 plays in our series of staged readings, and in our Off-Broadway festival May 8th through May 12th
Congratulations to our accomplished playwrights! Several playwrights received media attention for their works:
Kyle AbrahamsThe New York Times
Zania CousinsThe Bronx Times 
Sienna MalmadJersey City Independent 


In 2012, Writopia began a new partnership with theNew York Public Library. We now run free workshops in public libraries throughout New York City. Enrichment doesn't end the last day of those workshops. Writopia's Driven to Write initiative ensures that we commit to chaparoning at least one writer from each NYPL workshop to Writopia's NYC locations on a regular basis. 
This summer, we will run a writing camp withHomes for the Homeless at the Saratoga Family Inn, conducting a full summer of workshops for children and teens who reside at this shelter.
In addition to our sliding-scale fees, 18% of writers who participated in Writopia workshops attended using full scholarships. 
Support from our wonderful community allows all of these programs to develop. If you would like to get involved, please contact us! 


2013AwardsAt Writopia's Annual Benefit, we honored several of our young writers for their incredible writing and for their work with the Writopia community.  

Isabella Giovannini and Alice Markham-Cantor (High School) -- The Susan Cain Award for Humility, Commitment, and Outstanding Work
Grant Gordon (Middle School)-- The Susan Cain Award for Humility, Commitment, and Outstanding Work
Annelie Hyatt (Elementary School)-- The Susan Cain Award for Humility, Commitment, and Outstanding Work
Katie Hartman and Rebecca Teich -- Outstanding Dedication to Craft, Service, and Excellence Award
Teddy Becker-Jacobs-- Community and Development Award
Rachel Calnek-Sugin, Akiva Schick, and Clea Woodbury-- Community and Mentorship Award
Margaret Heftler, Abigail Sylvor Greenberg, and Jaiden Robinson  -- Changing Worlds with Poetry Award
Matt Arbess -- Changing Worlds with Personal, Outstanding Work 
Ian Sherman and Ali Levinson-- Changing Worlds with Exemplary Dramatic Scripts.  


Alice Markham-Cantor
Alice Markham-Cantor, who has been writing at Writopia since 2008, was honored by Mayor Bloomberg at the inaugural NYC Literary Honors, along with Toni Morrison, John Ashbery, Calvin Trillin, Jon Scieszka, and Jules Feiffer

, for the excellence and breadth of her writing collection. Congratulations, Alice! 


The Larry Neal Writers' Competition commemorates the artistic legacy and vision of Larry Neal, the renowned author, academic, and former Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH). Congratulations to our DC writers and instructors who were honored with these awards! 
Poetry Finalist: Sophia Diggs-Galligan
Fiction Finalists: Celia DohertyNaomi Steinglass
 Essay Finalist: Raya Kenney 
Fiction Finalists: Bridget DeaseLucy Rose Freshour 
Fiction Finalist: Kathy Crutcher (Writopia Lab DC director & instructor)
 Dramatic Writing Finalist: Norman Allen (Writopia instructor)
Congratulations to our teens on these accomplishments: 
  • Rebecca Teich recipient of the  Telluride Association Summer Program Scholarship (TASP)--a full scholarship to attend a 6 week seminar at the University of Michigan sponsored by the Telluride Association. Rebecca was also awarded the Knopf Poetry Prize (Honorable Mention City College of New York, Poetry Outreach Center), as part of their City-Wide Poetry Contest and Festival.     
  • Ian Sherman attended the New England's Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf this past spring. Ian will also be published in Ginosko's 13th e-mag issue this year, and the Creative Communications Spring 2013 Anthology 2013, and was the Silver Award Winner of YVNV's 2013 "Write a Dream." As a result, his play "Finding My Voice" is being produced at the 201Alliance 3 Theatre Education Black Box at the Woodruff Arts Center in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. 
  • Congratulations to Riley Pearsall and Joe Polsky for their acceptance into the Iowa Young Writers' Studio! And to Ian Sherman and Rachel Calnek-Sugin who will be attending Kenyon's Young Writer's Studio Workshop this summer. 
  • Congratulations to Annelie Hyatt for writing an award winning essay on "What the American Flag means to me" for the Forest Hills Gardens Corporations.  


  • Jordana Frankel's debut novel, The Wardwas published in April. 
  • Stephanie Strohm's new novel Confederates Don't Wear Couture, will be released on June 4th
  • Jane Kelly will be the Thurber House Children's Writer in Residence of 2013. 
  • Dan Kitrosser's play The Mumblings will be part of the New York International Fringe Festival this summer. 
  • Playwright Stephen Cedars, Winner of Theater Masters Visionary Playwright Award and a finalist for Stella Adler Playwright-in-Residence Program.
  • Hannah Wolf, teaching assistant and the Associate Artistic Director of the Worldwide Plays Fetival, will be spending 2013-14 in Bucharest, Romania on a Fulbright Grant, awarded by the US State Department.  There she'll be directing new plays and collaborating with emerging Romanian playwrights to translate new American plays in Romanian, and will be creating new works with these emerging Romanian playwrights. 
  • Chris Tarry's short story collection How to Carry Bigfoot Home will be published by Red Hen Press in early 2015.
  • Cristin Terrill's debut young adult novel All Our Yesterdays, will be published by Disney-Hyperion on September 3rd. The book recentely received a starred review from Kirkus, and has been optioned for film by Gold Circle Films and Global Produce.
  • Kathleen McCleary’s third novel, Leaving Haven is due out Oct. 1, 2013 from HarperCollins. Her second novel, A Simple Thing (HarperCollins 2012) was recently nominated for the Library of Virginia Literary Awards in fiction.
  • Tony Mancus has two forthcoming chapbooks: Bye Sea (Tree Light Books) and Diplomancy (Horse Less Press), and his poems have appeared this year or are forthcoming in numerous literary magazine, including Radioactive Moat, Horse Less Review, Phantom Limb, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Thrush Poetry Journal, and others.
  • Jessica Spotswood went on a Penguin Books for Young Readers East Coast tour in February to celebrate the paperback release of Born Wicked: Book One in the Cahill Witch Chronicles. Book Two, Star Cursed, will be out in hardback on June 18.
  • Christie Hauser's debut novel, Maritime,will be published by William Morrow in 2014. 


525334_10150627624836139_1997150618_nOver the past year, Writopia Lab has joined in on the national debate on writing education and the new common core standards. Rebecca Wallace-Segall, Writopia Lab's Executive Director Founder, wrote op-eds for The Atlantic and for TakePart. She has also made the case for the value of creative writing instruction in schools in her TedxYouth talk, and in her TedxDESA talk. 


We have loved every moment of this past school year (check out the pictures!), and we are looking forward to a fantastic summer of writing workshops and camps. Join us! 
SummerCamp 3
 L1110262Thank you to all Writopians for inspiring us with your writing every day. And thank you parents, guardians, and community supporters for reading and celebrating our news with us, and for helping us blossom into the most socioeconomically diverse creative writing youth community in New York--and the most exciting writing program in the country! 

Read more!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Writopia's NYC Children's Poetry Festival at the 3rd Annual NYC Poetry Festival

By Lily Gellman

Writopia Lab authors/instructors and interns ferried out to Governor's Island to run the annual children's poetry event on both Saturday and Sunday, and it was an absolute blast! Young adult author Jordana Frankel spun poetry gardens and origami poetry tents and more; it was incredible to be so much a part of the creative magic there.

Sam, Writopia intern, sets up at one of our three poetry stations. 

The Children's Festival area was across from the White Horse and next to Spontaneous Generation House. In this area, Writopia hosted four main stations. We set up one called Blackout Poetry, one called Origami Prompt Poetry, Group Poetry, and an additional one called Five Senses Poetry. Young poets creating blackout poetry took pages recycled from existing literature, and carefully selected which words to omit -- to "black out" -- and which to keep and thus transform into an entirely new piece out of old words.

Meanwhile, upon finishing their poems, origami-minded poets would fold their works into paper tulips and plant them in the adjacent Poetry Garden.

                                                       Kids' Finished Origami Poetry Tulips

And just a few steps away at the third station, kids enjoyed such exercises meant to stimulate descriptions from all five of their senses such as picking a random object out of a box and describing it, without ever fully revealing what the object was. In additional prompts poems asked themselves what the color red might smell like, and tried waxing poetic from the perspective of a missing cat.

New poet works on a blackout poem.

One of the most wonderful parts of the station setup overseen by our staff and interns was that it allowed even young people who had never explored poetry before to create. One five-year-old girl who had not yet had the chance to develop her reading and writing skills to the point of independent composition dictated her poem to a Writopia intern. The girl's older sister later took the poem that the intern had written down, and performed it before an audience of the whole festival.

We also witnessed powerful work from our returning poets -- so much that it would be impossible to describe all of it. Both Annelie and Marin H. read wonderfully, Annelie reading her favorite, "Don't Read So Much." Jack R. performed a poem that Asya, one of our interns, described simply as "one of the most beautiful spoken word pieces I've ever heard from anyone ever." Rebecca read aloud from one of Maxanne's poems about love and pancakes. And Simone wrote about truth and how Writopia was one of the only spaces she felt taken seriously, saying, "Writopia made me like writing when school didn't." Kids wrote about relationships, and who we are as individuals to the rest of the world, and beautifully poignant subjects.

One writer reads aloud from her piece, glowing.

Writopia poets old and new also had fun writing and performing in a group poetry section. Poets would workshop their pieces together, and every 20 or 30 minutes new poets would get up on our own Writopia mini-stage to share. Nearby, we hosted a reading tent with blankets on the ground for kids who wanted to relax and listen for a while, read each other's art, picture books, and a smattering of more well-known works as well. The whole atmosphere was enriched by the ever-present backdrop of spoken word poetry, and the context of joining together with so many other schools and organizations in this shared love.

Rebecca shares poetry with two more young poets.

At the end of the day, Writopians took to the big stage to read at Algonquin Stage over on the other side of the fest. This meant reading and performing not just for the Writopia group, but for the festival-goers at large! From families to adult poets without kids in tow, the broader community of listeners there was super supportive and appreciative of our kids' work.

Afterwards, most of us left at the end of the day at 5pm, but some of us were so enchanted that we stayed until the gloaming hour.

Many poets working side by side on their creations

A huge thank-you to Jordana who coordinated the whole thing, hand-painted signs, billowing and fabric-festooned tents, overall Burning Man-esque decor, and all! And another enormous thank-you to Rebecca, Jeremy, Danielle, Taylor, Sam, Asya, Angelica, Rachel C-S, Rachel B. and the many staff and interns who made Writopia's presence at the event possible.

We will definitely be back next year! In the meantime, we have plenty of inspiration to tide us over. Time to finish up this post and write a poem with the prompt: first word "salty," last word "hopeful."

Read more!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Write & Perform Slam Poetry with
Reg E. Gaines

Three Saturdays in February
Two-time Tony Award nominee, Grammy nominee and Bessie Award winner, Reg E. Gaines, has invited Writopia poets to write and perform with him!

1) February 2, 2:00 PM-3:30 PM: Write and rehearse slam poetry with Writopia instructors. Ages 10-18. (Free.)

2) February 9, 2:00 PM-3:30 PM: Write and rehearse slam poetry with Reg E. Gaines. He will choose several Writopia poets to perform with him the following week at Art House Productions. Ages 10-18. (Free.)

3) February 16, 2 PM: Performance with Reg E. Gaines at Art House Productions, 1 McWilliams Pl., Jersey City, N.J. (We will arrange carpools and/or travel buddies.) (Performance poets, ages 10-18, go free; $10 per ticket for guests.)

Please RSVP to to enroll in one or both of the free Writopia workshops, and for the session with Reg Gaines.

And here is the rest of it. Read more!