Tent Peg Reading Series for Young Writers: Building a supportive space for young writers
by Silivia Pikal
The Tent Peg Reading Series for Young Writers does more than help teens polish their writing for public readings; the program also offers a space for young writers to grow in their writing, become comfortable with expressing themselves, and form relationships with each other.
Lisa Murphy-Lamb, director of Loft 112, is a mentor with the reading series. In the past she has worked as a director of a creative writing residency for teen writers. We sat down with Lisa to learn more about the Tent Peg Reading Series for Young Writers.
Tell us about the Tent Peg Reading Series.
The Tent Peg Reading Series for Young Writers is named after a novel by Aritha van Herk, a Canadian author and who has mentored many young writers in Calgary. The program is an opportunity for young writers to write, build a community, be mentored, and read publically, which is a really important part of writing. They also have an opportunity to be published.
How have you been inspired by young writers?
I only started my own writing after working with teen writers. They were so good, and I felt in order for me to be credible in their eyes, I had to be at least half as good as they were. My eyes have been opened creatively, intellectually, and emotionally because of young writers.
Who can participate in the program?
Our writers have been between the ages of 12-19, but anyone who wants to write can participate. We meet once a month. It costs $5 per session, and we always have tea and snacks!
How is the program structured?
One month we’ll have a new writing prompt for the young writers. They will take that writing prompt and write whatever they want, whether it’s fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction or a slam piece of poetry. They have complete creative freedom. After this, three writers who want to do a reading the following month will be matched with mentors to help them get their piece ready for publication. All of the stories shared during the readings will be published in a chapbook, and the writers will receive proceeds from the sales.
The workshops are for young writers, but the readings are intergenerational and open to the public. We have a surprise local writer who will participate in each reading who will also read something written from the same prompt. Anyone can come to the workshops and attend the readings.
What are the successes you’re proud of?
The writers tell us they really enjoy the space to come together and meet other writers. What we love most as mentors is how quiet it can be in September when you have 15 young writers who don’t know each other, and how difficult it is initially to get them to share their writing, and then in June they become secure in themselves as writers. Then we get to hear how brilliant and profound and beautiful and creative their work is. There are fantastic young writers out there.
What are some of your favourite moments from the program?
Some of my favourite moments have been watching the young writers encourage one another. Even though 12-19 seems like a huge age range, it’s really not when everyone just wants to write, tell stories and express themselves. They are appreciative of each other’s approach to writing.
What is great about working with young people is getting to see their hearts and souls through their encouragement and their writing.
Sept. 25 Workshop 2:30-5pm
October 16 Reading 2:30-4:30pm
November 6 Workshop 2:30-5pm
December 11 Reading 2:30-5pm
January 8 Workshop 2:30-5pm
February 12 Reading 2:30-4:30pm
March 5 Workshop 2:30-5pm
April 9 Reading 2:30-4:30pm
May 7 Workshop 2:30-5pm
June 4 Reading 2:30-4:30pm
Need more information or to let us know you'll be attending?
contact Lisa @ Loftonetwelve@gmail.com
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