Updated May 7, 2020
Welcome, spring! We are finding inspiration in our intrepid and resilient students as they press on with remote learning and we all learn to honor the idea of home just a little bit more each day.
To help us all hit our stride while we keep writing and connecting, we are excited to unveil our brand new online resource—a whole blog that is jam-packed with writing prompts, short and long Telling Room writing lessons, and ways for kids to share their writing with all of us reading at home! The writing lessons were designed for students in grades K-12, and we invite teachers, students, parents assisting with remote learning, and anyone else who could benefit from access to creative writing and personal narrative lessons to use this resource… and it’s all totally free! Check out our new Medium account now.
We continue to publish a daily writing prompt, which can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as on our blog. All of May’s writing prompts will be based on a quote from a youth-authored poem that was written by students in the Young Writers & Leaders 2019-20 cohort to celebrate their upcoming anthology.
We continue to encourage our community to listen to, read, watch, and share our incredible store of thousands of youth-authored writing, audio and video of poems, stories and personal narratives, all of which are available right now on our Stories page, our Vimeo page, and our Soundcloud page.
We feel grateful to live in an age of technology that allows us to keep connecting with our students each week. Students from our afterschool Writers Block, Young Writers & Leaders, Young Emerging Authors, and Publishing Workshop programs—as well as our Casco Bay High School, Mast Landing School, and Mt. Ararat Middle School workshops—are wrapping up their spring 2020 programming via Zoom and Google Classroom. Stay tuned for announcements about upcoming publications and virtual events featuring these young writers!
We’ve also launched “The Living Room,” The Telling Room’s virtual streaming series. In this series Telling Room authors and their program mentors pair up to read selected works and converse about artistic inspiration, youth publishing, and living as writers right now. Audience members (students welcome!) can submit questions to the pair via chat. Check our events pages, social media, and newsletter for an upcoming reading!
We are so grateful for the critical support provided by our many generous friends, donors, and funders who believe in The Telling Room, our vision, and our work! Thank you for inspiring us all—especially in this time of great upheaval across the arts and nonprofit sectors. We’d like to give a special shout out to Print: A Bookstore, our trusted community partner, as they will temporarily fulfill and ship all book orders for us until we can resume daily operations in our writing center.
We’re so excited to announce our 2019-20 Telling Room Writing Contest winner...
Congratulations to Logan Wilbur of Bass Harbor, a student at Mt. Desert Island High School! Logan’s short story “Back When” was selected out of a pool of entries that came in from young writers all across the state. Her work will also be published in our upcoming anthology in June, and she will receive a $200 cash prize. Way to go, Logan!
And thank you all for staying connected to us throughout this time—your many messages of support for our team and our young writers are so encouraging and uplifting. We are so happy you’re out there reading our students’ stories and poems as we take a page from their book and press ever on.
Makes me smile.
One small touch of warmth,
Makes my insides melt into calmness.
The slightest peek from heind the clouds,
Gives me hope.
This thing of joy,
Brings a smile to my face each morning
As it rises proudly over the mountains.
- Claire C., Fifth Grade
As we learn the new patterns and rhythms of our days, we’re keeping a lookout for the sunbeams. As we learn the new patterns and rhythms of our days, we’re discovering and developing new ways to connect, innovate, and carry out our mission to empower youth through writing and share their voices with the world. We are committed to providing resources, activities, and community engagement to help us all keep writing and communicating across the divide. Although we are physically far apart, we believe this new need for distance is not a barrier, but instead an opportunity for our students and community to find comfort and connection through the power of writing and sharing. We’re including a synopsis below of what we’re doing to bring The Telling Room to our students, our community, and to YOU. We will continue to roll out additional resources in the coming days and weeks.
Our studio space in Portland may be closed, and schools may be shuttered, but writing and publishing continues! Our Young Emerging Authors cohort has continued to meet with their mentors over the phone and receive notes on their book manuscripts—and they will meet via video chat in the coming weeks as well, and their books are still projected to launch in August. Young Writers & Leaders cohorts have begun working in a virtual Google Classroom and are continuing to work on final revisions with writing coaches on their personal narratives, which will be included in the program’s own book.
Two of our school-based programs, a poetry podcast workshop at Mast Landing School and an interactive fiction workshop at Mt. Ararat, are continuing now via Google Classroom, with our teacher having posted the first distance-learning lesson for the Mast Landing fifth-grade poets this past Friday. The first draft of the poem above, “Sunlight” by Claire C., was written in this remote class. Publishing Workshop continues work on our themed, “best of” anthology collection, sending edits to students via email all over Maine and connecting by video conferencing, and Ambassadors are meeting virtually to continue their advisory work.
We now publish a daily writing prompt on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that schooling-at-home parents, guardians, and helpers; teachers of virtual classrooms; and young writers everywhere are using as an everyday activity on social media.
We are encouraging our community to listen to, read, watch, and share our incredible store of thousands of youth-authored writing, audio and video of poems, stories and personal narratives available right now on our Stories page, our Vimeo page, and our Soundcloud page. We are now working around the clock to assemble and link these pieces into grouped content for teachers who may wish to use them as writing prompts or as discussion points in virtual classrooms.
And we’ll soon be launching a web page to provide more resources: a list of shorter writing activities and write/share prompts; articles written by Telling Room staff that feature key elements of literary and language arts methodology; and a suite of Telling Room lessons curated and adapted for online classroom and at-home learning. We will reach out to our community once these resources are ready to roll.
And finally, for everyone online, we will be live streaming readings by youth poets and authors and craft talks about what it is like to live and work as a writer. Keep an eye on our social media for date announcements!
We believe that there has never been a more important time to stay connected through writing and story and poetry—and we could not be happier to write and share with, and be inspired by our current students—and all others who want to be part of The Telling Room throughout Maine and beyond.
Thank you for all the ways you are continuing to support and buoy The Telling Room and our young writers. Your continued connection means the world to us right now.
Beloved Telling Room Community:
As we remain your strong and steady partner in literary arts education, we wish you to take heart and carry on with us during the challenging times ahead. The Telling Room is more dedicated than ever to providing resources, activities, and community engagement for everyone in this profound period of isolation and distancing. We see this also as a time of great creativity and imagination—and even a time to further innovate the arts through diverse media. Let's write together!
We are opening our virtual doors and now The Telling Room can be with you at home. Everybody needs a place to engage in writing and the arts, in-person or wherever we may be, and so in the coming days, weeks, and months we will be providing the following:
- Pre-recorded, youth-authored audio and video of poems, stories, and personal narratives for schools and teachers who may wish to use them as writing prompts or as discussion points in virtual classrooms.
- Daily writing prompts posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for schooling-at-home parents, guardians, and helpers; teachers using virtual classrooms; and youth as an everyday activity on social media.
- Live streaming readings with community and youth poets and authors, and craft talks about what it is like to live and work as a writer.
- Virtual write-and-share opportunities to support students currently in Telling Room programs and youth seeking virtual engagement with the arts in Maine and across the country.
Although we are physically far apart, we can find comfort and connection through the power of writing and sharing with one another. Teachers throughout the State of Maine can email us for additional literary and language arts resources that can be brought into the virtual classroom. Parents, helpers, and students are welcome to contact us for additional help finding a creative spark of inspiration.
We believe that throughout all of human history there has never been a more important time to stay connected through writing—and we could not be happier to write, share, and be inspired with you.
Be safe and well
The Telling Room Staff -
Celine, Peyton, Blaire, Clare, Moon, Molly, Hipai, Rachele, Sarah, Sonya, Nick, Marjolaine, & Kathryn
Dear Treasured Telling Room Community,
Like many of you, we’ve been actively following the progression of COVID-19 in Maine, in other parts of the country, and across the globe. In the interest of safeguarding the wellbeing of our beloved staff, volunteers, teaching artists, and students—and following guidance from local, state, and federal authorities regarding measures that best promote public health—we’ve decided to temporarily suspend daily operations, including all Telling Room programs and events, starting today, March 13th at 6pm.
During this time, The Telling Room staff will closely monitor the situation, work remotely, and assess the need for continued temporary closure. For the most current information, please visit tellingroom.org. Should you have any questions, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team will try to respond to inquiries in a timely manner.
As most of you know, we are dedicated to creating safe, healthy spaces, both in and out of The Telling Room. We appreciate your understanding and your patience during this time. We will be looking into options for developing creative ways to continue to serve our students and interact with our communities from a distance.
In the weeks ahead, our community will be faced with challenges—but also a unique opportunity. The Telling Room believes in the power of human connection, so while distancing is difficult, let's rise to the occasion and find new ways to share with and listen to each other. Keep communicating, even if electronically. Send a text to a neighbor. Post some writing on social media. Continue to read and, of course, to write. Share your support, share your kindness, share youth voices.
The Telling Room Staff