Whitney the Workshopper: June Callwood Centre
I’ve been a long time participant, volunteer and now employee of Literature for Life, a Toronto-based charity that empowers young mothers through literacy programming. I first encountered Literature for Life by joining one of their writing circles called Womenz Wordz. I can’t express how influential this group was. Not only did I meet my long-time mentor Motion as the group facilitator, publish my poems in the chapbook Holla! but it was within these circles that the beginning pieces for 3 Cities emerged.
I was beyond honoured to run a writing workshop for Literature for Life after all the good they’ve done for me. The workshop was an four-week workshop with teen moms from June Callwood Centre in Cabbagetown. I’m so sad I didn’t have enough time with the women. I felt I was just starting to get to know them and their children.
The workshop was a reading circle and the book of choice was Leslie’s Journal, a young-adult coming of age story dealing with themes about personal relationships, rape, abuse and self-esteem. Pretty heavy topics, and yet the girls had brilliant insight, very opinionated perspectives and we always ended up laughing at the end of our time together.
One especially poignant moment in an early workshop was a letter-writing exercise to a main character, Leslie. She was raped by her boyfriend, blacked out, he uses his charm to convince her that it was “her idea” and I encouraged the women to write a letter to Leslie. The anger, compassion and practicality that was written on the page was overwhelming. I’m blessed to meet these strong, intelligent women and engage in a discussion that is complicated but all too prevalent in our communities.
Here’s a video from before I started the workshop but features the women I had the pleasure of working with. Hopefully I can return and run another workshop with these young ladies at June Callwood.
If you’re interested in having me run a creative writing workshop with your group or organization, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To read about other workshops I’ve done: