Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Michael Kearns

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Michael Kearns

Only in rare instances do I ascribe to the theory that a room is alive—alive with memories, alive with revelations, alive with accomplishments—but Terry Wolverton’s Writers at Work has been swelling with life for twenty years.

The spacious room’s assertive orangeness, a pulsating palette for the imagination, is subjective, mercurial; it can be sexy, demanding, childlike, queer, fearless, brazen, and androgynous.

You and me in various stages, encompassing two decades and millions of words.

If the pulsating room on Fountain Avenue contradicts how many perceive art’s inherent grandeur, too bad. These are writers at work, honey. With muscle, they excavate, ruminate, explore and investigate; these writers sweat and get dirty.

No different than the neighboring body shops, Writers At Work is situated in the community, providing an artistic service that results in thousands upon thousands of pages that voyage all over the world, recording our diversity while underlining our humanity. And questioning, always questioning.

http://writersatwork.com

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Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Crystal Allene Cook Marshall

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Crystal Allene Cook Marshall

In 2004 I sought out Wolverton’s advice on life as a woman artist. Her succinct advice came in these words: say “no” and say it often. In short, women are not supposed to carve out creative spaces/lives for themselves; they are supposed to be martyrs to everyone else’s needs. Say “no” and say it often to everyone and everything else.

One other short story on Wolverton-I came into the weekly women’s writers group very excited. One participant asked if the good news was that I was pregnant. Oh, no (Wolverton already knew the news)–we both shook our heads, but smiling. It was better than that: I had been published!

Thanks again to Terry Wolverton for being a queen steward of so many creative souls. Many blessings and gratitude her way.

http://writersatwork.com

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Burcu Gezek Harbert

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Burcu Gezek Harbert

The power of a moment. During our first meeting, my very first one-on-one consulting session with Terry, she sat across the table from a young, easily excitable writer with a memoir who vented sometimes with a high-pitched voice and other times with her fist banging on the table. Terry listened patiently, like a rock. Nothing I complained about surprised or made her react. She just listened. Feeling like I was being heard for the very first time in years, I eased into our professional relationship that still is one that I truly cherish. I workshopped, read, learned and unlearned with her and the amazing community of writers at WAW. We not only shared our work, gave and received feedback, we also shared our joys and challenges.

Until I started my MFA, I had never been with a community of supportive writers aside from WAW and if it wasn’t for the very positive experience at WAW, I might have never gone back to school. Terry is always there for professional and personal assistance which is what makes her a one-of-a-kind, accomplished all-around mentor and friend. I feel that we truly are family.

Thank you, Terry and WAW participants for allowing me to grow with you and for adding so much meaning and value to my life.

http://writersatwork.com

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Pablo Alvarez

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Pablo Alvarez

I came to Writers At Work a bit nervous; I was new to the area (I had just moved to Atwater Village) and I had never participated in a writing workshop.  As a participant in Writers At Work, I realized that the commitment involved in the project of writing is similar to the commitment of a lasting friendship.  For the writing to take shape, one must first show up and be open to the possibilities of critical feedback.  I learned at Writers At Work that crafting the story involves serious focus and a healthy, loving approach.  Not only did I progress in my craft but I also began to build lasting friendships with socially conscious and loving people committed to the act of writing.  More than 10 years from my first writing workshop, I remain friends with some of the participants of Writers At Work. I have built solid friendships through my participation.  I continue to meet with three of the participants that I shared space with at my first workshop.  We continue to meet often for “writing dates,” dinner, walks, and community events.  We keep each other on a path of writing while sustaining a lasting friendship.

http://writersatwork.com

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Pat Alderete

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Pat Alderete

When Terry told us that our workshop, Women At Work, had been invited to read at the Getty Museum, we all said, “Hell, yeah, we want to read!” We felt pretty chingona about this.

The day comes and we’ve been asked to be there hours and hours in advance of the reading, so we can do the tech and rehearse in the space. When we arrived at the entrance to the Getty, we told the guard that we were performing. Instead of directing us to the parking lot, he called to another worker, “Top of the hill! We got an artist here!” A gate opened and we drove up the hill. Angelina Jolie couldn’t have made a bigger entrance.

We got settled in, then went into the auditorium where we would be reading, and it was huge and it was beautiful and it felt like we had arrived at a place that was ours. After rehearsing for a bit, we were starving, and the Getty had catered lunch for us. Terry made sure that the menu included some roast beef sandwiches, so that I would have plenty to eat.

After lunch, Terry decided that rather than have us all onstage from the beginning, she asked me if I would walk down the stairs from the back of the auditorium. During practice, I got a muscle spasm, but I realized that I would have to do it anyway, just keep going, and that was a good lesson to learn.

Just before the performance, we were all saying, “I hope people will come,” and then the auditorium filled up until there were people standing in the back. We were so excited!

When it was time for me to read, I came from the back of the auditorium. I began to read and —boom!—a big follow spot came on me. I was thinking please, don’t let me mess up, please don’t let me mess up, and I just kept talking and reading, an made my way to the stage, and took my place with my fellow writers.

You took us to the other side of the moon that night, and that’s what you do, Terry, you open the door and say, “Come on, you’re welcome here.” You push us and you push us some more, and when I thought it was done, that was just the beginning.

http://writersatwork.com

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Yvonne M. Estrada

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Yvonne M. Estrada

I have been a member of the Saturday poetry class with Terry since one year before Writers At Work was established.  In the beginning we were the Women’s Poetry Project and then Poets at Work.

SO of course my very favorite memory is when we took down the classroom tables, set up rows of chairs and had my publication reading/party for my book!

My Name On Top Of Yours is a crown of sonnets about graffiti around Los Angeles, and includes photographs of some of that graffiti that I took over a number of years.

This book started out as a 14-line poem that I brought in for critique one Saturday morning.  During that process I believe it was Gwin Wheatley who asked if maybe the poem needed to be more than one poem, which prompted Terry to say maybe it needs to be a series… and well, it became not only a series but a crown of Shakespearean sonnets.

I put the project down for about 5 years when there were approximately 9 poems.  One day Terry asked me about the project and it came alive again, and was born as my first book of poems.  Reading the crown out loud from beginning to end to the people that had watched it grow and finally be born was exhilarating and it will always be one of the happiest memories in my life and of Writers At Work.

MNOTOY

http://writersatwork.com

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Kim Dower

Writers At Work 20th Anniversary — Kim Dower

I attended Poets-at-Work for ten years, every Saturday, come rain, snow, sleet or hail (as the post office says) and even if we’d had snow, sleet or hail I still would have been there! So many Saturdays, so many memories, it’s difficult to choose for this little story.

Do I write about the indelible friendships I made inside those orange walls? Should I talk about how I’ve learned to look at my own work objectively and will often hear my comrades’ voices in my head as I revise my work at home? Maybe I’ll confide how I’ve kept years of poems – even ones that have been published in my three collections — with my fellow workshopper’s notes so I might reminisce, remember comments they’ve made that still help with new poems – my favorite one being, “What would it be like if you took out the last line!!”

Even though I no longer attend WAW I can still feel each person’s presence, and know that although I’m not there, they still care about my work. Every Saturday morning from 10-noon, I knew I was bringing my brand new poem to a group of writers who were committed to helping the poem be its best; they were there for me, as I was for them. I loved how we knew one another through our work – our words. Nothing can compare to that particular experience of closeness.

http://writersatwork.com