Avenue A’s Write Out! program releases second anthology

  • 'What I meant to say', a new anthology published by the Write Out! program at Avenue A in Antrim. Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/30/2020 12:43:48 PM

The teens of Avenue A’s Write Out! program released a new anthology this month and it’s definitely worth a read.

Twenty-one local writers make up the 88 pages of the program’s second anthology, featuring original works and art that have been developed during the group’s weekly gatherings on Tuesday evenings, which in recent months have been held virtually.

“What I meant to say” covers a wide range of topics, some more serious than others. There is poetry about prose about difficult subjects that can greatly affect younger people like the loss of a friend or loved one, body image, self acceptance, mental health, and overcoming adversity. There are also pieces about nature and an excerpt from a play that one student had been working on for three years.

“It’s really a fun sampling of all the work they have done,” said Jacqueline Roland, Avenue A Coordinator. “And there’s some really powerful pieces of writing.”

The Write Out! program began in 2016 with a total of eight teens. The following year, they released their first anthology, “I need to see this on paper” and now there are anywhere from 25 to 30 teens taking part over the course of a year through the middle school and high school writing clubs.

Cynthia West, a local writer, editor and poet, has been the Write Out! program mentor for the last four years and guided the teens through the process of creating both anthologies. From time to time, local guest writers also join the group to discuss various aspects of the writing process. The students can go in any direction they choose when it comes to their writing. Some have written lyrics or rap songs, while others dive into screen plays or personal narratives.

“It really varies,” Roland said. “Sometimes they have pieces that they work on for the year and longer.”

Roland said it took almost a year to put together the anthology, as the students really take an active role in all aspects of the publishing process. The writing is just the first step, as they work together to select the pieces for publication, come up with chapter themes and then decide how the layout of the book will look with the help of the group’s book designer Eva Ruutopold.

“It’s a student driven project and that’s really important,” Roland said.

Paula Kingsbury Evans, a graduate of the Write Out! program whose work was published in our 2017 anthology, helped mentor teens through the anthology’s process.

“It was cool to have someone who had been through it helping out,” Roland said.

For this school year, Adam Arnone of Peterborough is leading the program and helping the teens create a podcast to showcase their work.

With the first anthology, the group held a mini book tour to promote their work, but with coronavirus precautions in place, “we’ve been a little limited this year,” Roland said. They held a small outdoor reading for family and friends a few weeks ago and hope they can do something once it is safe.

Roland said the great part about the program is seeing the growth that takes place. Through sharing within the group, they get crucial feedback that helps each one grow as a writer.

Write Out! is supported by The National Endowment for the Arts and The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Monadnock Paper Mills donated the paper for the printing, and Bank of New Hampshire funded the anthology project.

“It’s neat to have local companies supporting us,” Roland said.

Abby Theberge, one of the Write Out! teens wrote the forward for “What I meant to say,” and it really sums up the idea behind the book: “Sharing our writing with others is perhaps the most vulnerable thing humans can do, which is why we have decided to share the works within these pages with the world. When we read others’ writing, we are invited into the psyche of someone else and are reminded that we are not alone. Here at Avenue A’s Writing Club, we often find ourselves nodding along to the words of a peer, our hearts filling with the feeling of belonging. We know what it is like to think that we are all alone, but writing helps us realize that couldn’t be further from the truth. We hope that when you read the words within this anthology – the words that are the foundation of our beings and our community – you will find a sense of belonging and that you will feel inspired to share your writing with the world. Because no one is alone, and all writing deserves to be read.”

The anthology is available for purchase at the Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough for $10 each. Proceeds support the Write Out! program. If you would like to purchase a copy to donate to a youth in need, email avenuea@grapevinenh.org.


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