Newsflash Banner 2010-11 


White House Group Photo 

On May 11, ten of Girls Write Now's finest poets, along with Program Director Meghan McNamara and Founder/Executive Director Maya Nussbaum, ventured to Washington, D.C., on the invitation of Michelle Obama and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, to attend a day-long celebration of American poetry and prose at the White House. The events featured young poets from around the country, as well as cultural luminaries such as Rita Dove, Common, Billy Collins, and Elizabeth Alexander.  


Says mentee, Emely Paulino, reflecting on the experience: "Once everyone entered the White House, the buzz from the kids grew louder as we waited for the East Room doors to open... Michelle Obama's speech was especially moving and inspiring." Yolandri Vargas recalls, " The way Jill Scott read her piece had me hypnotized." The First Lady quoted Robert Frost in her remarks, and those words still echo in Quanasia Wheeler's head: "A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness." Videos of the day's events are available to watch on


Meghan and GWN Youth Board member Rocio Cuervas also took advantage of the time in D.C. to visit the offices of Representatives Yvette Clark and Carolyn Maloney, and Senator Chuck Schumer, sharing Girls Write Now's goals with our New York legislators, and advocating on behalf of youth arts education. 


After the White House events, the whole group gathered at the Mandarin Oriental hotel's Sou'wester restaurant for a complimentary celebratory feast. "We reflected on the events during dinner," says Emely, "and many of us loved the same performances. The day ended with laughs and new friendships." 


Our deep gratitude to First Lady Michelle Obama, President Obama, and the President's Committee for making us feel so welcome and honored at the White House.


Rocio in DC Capitol  Yvonne DC


Our celebrated CHAPTERS 2011 season comes to a close this June 17, with guest author Kate Christensen reading alongside 16 of our GWN mentees. The series has included three other readings since March, featuring authors Emma Straub, Anna North, and Tayari Jones. (Tayari recently talked about her commitment to Girls Write Now in an interview on NPR's All Things Considered, saying of the girls, "The writing and the mentoring really has changed their lives. It's amazing." Listen to the full interview here!)


Of her experience reading in April, mentee Ireen said, "It was totally great, I loved it. I kind of messed up on one part, but hopefully nobody noticed!" Performances this spring have ranged from the funny (Syeda and her mentor Kirthana's "Happy Birthday, Celia!"), to the poignant (Marlyn's "A Time For Healing"), and everything in between. If you missed any of the previous events, you can get a taste by watching videos of all the reading pieces, which can be viewed on  Girls Write Now's YouTube Channel.  


June's reading will also mark the debut of Opening Lines: The 2011 Girls Write Now Anthology. With pieces from each Class of 2011 mentee and mentor arranged by themes such as home, identity, relationships, this year's book is just as electric as any of this spring's CHAPTERS. If you don't pick up a copy at the reading, you can order one on after June 17.


We're so looking forward to celebrating the close of another successful season. Please join us, and also forward the invitation to friends (it's on Facebook, too!)  

Amalie and Maureen
Thank you for making the 2010-11 season our most successful yet! Help celebrate our graduating seniors and give a gift to support the future of Girls Write Now by participating in our SPRING APPEAL.
Scholastic A&W logo

Girls Write Now mentees continued their success at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards this year, winning 25 Gold and Silver Keys, and 2 National Medals, one Gold, one Silver.


GWN mentees have been submitting to the Scholastic Awards since 2004. "It is now a program requirement to submit to the awards, or a similar opportunity, for girls to experience this part of the writer's life and process," says Program Coordinator Jessica Jorge.


In the past three years, GWN writers have been awarded over 70 Gold and Silver Keys. Famous recipients of Scholastic Art & Writing Awards include Joyce Carol Oates, Sylvia Plath, and Truman Capote.


Samantha White

Since our inaugural meeting of the Girls Write Now Youth Board this year, the enthusiastic mentees and mentee alumnae have been involved behind the scenes at GWN in exciting ways. Samantha White (pictured above) and Rocio Cuevas, GWN Class of 2009, assisted at January's Mentee Mid-Year Event, leading an About the Author exercise. As previously mentioned, Rocio also traveled with us to Washington, D.C. this May, both to chaperone and to lobby on behalf of GWN on Capitol Hill. Carmen Li helped plan this year's Short Poetry workshop, with one of her own poems showcased in the curriculum packet.


Emma Fiske-Dobell (published as a first-year writer for The McGill Daily this winter) joined us at our spring theater benefit as facilitator for the post-performance Q&A with Suzanne Vega. You can read about Youth Board member Amalie Kwassman's recent accomplishments in our Spring Appeal Letter. And, at our final CHAPTERS reading of the season, Tina Gao will be conducting a behind-the-scenes interview with guest author Kate Christensen.


This summer, the Youth Board will be busy helping with mentee recruitment and our Girls College Bound College Essay Writing Series. We thank them for their generosity and commitment, and are thrilled to have this new forum for the new leaders of GWN. 

Suzanne Vega 2

Girls Write Now's spring theater benefit was a smash success! The event, centered on a special performance of the new play Carson McCullers Talks About Love, brought together mentors, mentees, alumnae, friends, and new community members for an evening of conversation, theater, and fun, complete with silent auction items in demand. At the end of the night's Q&A talkback, after a slew of fascinating revelations about her process as a writer, Suzanne Vega declared that she'd love to be a Girls Write Now mentor herself. Thanks to all who came out in support of our organization--we hope it is just the first of many enjoyable evenings for GWN at the theater.


Hannah and Jennifer

"Hannah and I have developed a close relationship throughout the two years I've known her," says second year mentee Jennifer Fuster about her mentor, InStyle Beauty Editor Hannah Morrill. "She's always a great listener and adviser to me, especially when I'm in a slump. She truly cares about my success." One of those exciting successes was Jennifer's acceptance into Pratt Institute, where she will be starting as a freshman this fall. 


Beyond their focus on college applications, Jennifer and Hannah also found time this year to write a collaborative piece telling the stories of the NYC subway riders they encounter every day. "The people and places in this piece are made up, but their stories are real," Hannah reflects. "Some people Jennifer observed; other people I have seen. But all of them are people everyone knows."


To hear more from Hannah and Jennifer about the strangers we know, join us at our final CHAPTERS 2011 reading on Friday, June 17th, at the John Street Church.


Three mentees were invited to read at the Poets Out Loud event at Fordham University on April 26th. Our girls were honored to take the stage alongside acclaimed poet Marie Howe! Voices from GWN were also heard at an April 27th Writers House reading in honor of the release of a new CD, "The Harlem Renaissance Remembered."


Jessica Wells-Hasan joined the Girls Write Now staff as our new Director of Develoment and External Affairs this past April, arriving at GWN from Audubon New York, after having worked in development at Barnard College (her alma mater) and Theater Development Fund. A writer since childhood, she is currently working on a biography of her grandfather, an environmentalist and underground architect. Jessica says, "I can't believe I was lucky enough to find a position that combines my professional work with all of my personal interests! I am so happy to be a part of the GWN community."   

Have you read about Girls Write Now lately? 


Girls Write Now mentoring pair Idamaris Perez and Demetria Irwin were featured on the USA Today "Your Life" blog, while Demetria was also featured on Black Enterprise as one of "20 Editors and Writers to Follow on Twitter."

Graduating senior mentee Erika Marte was profiled in the Daily News when winning the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship.   

Kate Christensen 's new book The Astral is our June Book Pick. Learn more about GWN community books here. 

Vol. 1  Brooklyn 

Girls Write Now is delighted to join in the celebrations for literary website Vol. 1 Brooklyn's second birthday. Please join us on on the evening of Thursday, July 14, at the Brooklyn Winery - the event is free, and features a raffle with all proceeds going to Girls Write Now. We're so looking forward to seeing special authors Deb Olin Unferth, Jami Attenberg, Maud Newtown, Kio Stark and Alina Simone. Check out Vol. 1 Brooklyn for more info. Hope to see you there! 

GWN Orange Transparent Logo
Girls Write Now is currently accepting mentor applications for the 2011-12 Program Year. Guidelines can be found online at, and are due 6/15. Please share with friends, writing groups, colleagues, and dynamic women across NYC.
With gratitude, Girls Write Now is delighted to acknowledge renewed funding from:  

Union Square Awards, a project of the Tides Foundation
- The New York Community Trust
- The National Endowment for the Arts
- The South Wind Foundation

And we proudly welcome the following new funders to our community:
- New Youth City Learning Network Fund at The New York Community Trust
- The Amy B. Morrill Charitable Lead Annuity Trust
- Palisade Capital Management, LLC
- The Baird Foundation
- Ruth Asset Management 




CHAPTERS 2011 Reading Series

Curated by Maud Newton 

at John Street Church



June  17


Vol. 1 Brooklyn 

GWN Benefit

Thursday 7/14   

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