UALR Emerging Writers Institute inspires young writers

The UALR Emerging Writers Institute attendees, from left to right, include: Front Row: Aubrey Olson, Addy Evans, Celena Ghazal, Alex Kirchner, and Bryanna Williams; Second Row: Karmen Merritt, Addy Brymer, Gracie McEwen, Anika Moorjani, Tessa Douglas, Megha Nelluri, and Kelsie Ford; Back Row: Joanne Liu, Adriana Rabell, Christian Maddox, Samantha Crabill, and Nadeem Javid.

Addy Brymer dreams of becoming a travel journalist.

The homeschooled Little Rock sophomore has loved telling stories since she was a little girl with a menagerie of imaginary friends sporting purple mohawks.

In order to hone her writing skills, Brymer participated in the Emerging Writers Institute at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The 18 high school participants worked with writers from the university’s Little Rock Writing Project June 27 to July 1.

During the institute, students created writing groups to listen to each other’s work and give feedback on improvement. The support she received from fellow writers was inspiring to Brymer.

“I really like the community of people. Everyone encourages each other to keep going,” Brymer said. “It’s good for forcing creativity.”

Brymer hopes the skills she learned during the institute help her become a travel writer, since traveling around the world to learn about the experiences of others seems like an ideal vocation to pursue.

“I love hearing about people’s experiences,” Brymer said. “I would love to be able to talk to people and travel for a living.”

The Emerging Writers Institute teaches student writers a variety of skills. Susan Heffern-Shelton, assistant director of the institute and an elementary school teacher at Fulbright, led a workshop where students learned  ways to begin a piece of writing. The students analyzed openings from successful books and movies, and then applied those strategies to their own writing samples.

Heffern-Shelton’s favorite workshop to lead is the heart mapping exercise, where students write the names of people and events that are close to their heart. The Heart Map can then be used to encourage writing and to teach students that many authors get inspiration from people and things they love.

Samantha Crabill, a junior at Mills University Studies High School in Sherwood, found the style of instruction motivational.

“They teach us as future authors, rather than just teenage writers,” she said. “They see our value and our potential.”

Crabill, who has been writing for as long as she can remember, likes composing  poetry about the meaning of life.

“I like to write about the abstract essence of life, why we are here, and making emotions into tangible things,” Crabill said.

So many students were interested in this year’s camp that the teachers plan to expand the event  into two workshops in 2017, said Greg Graham, director of the Little Rock Writing Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project. The first workshop will be for seventh- through ninth-graders, and the second will be for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

“It’s exciting to see students come in unsure of what to expect, but by week’s end engaging and enjoying the entire writing process, making connections with teachers and other student writers, and becoming more confident in themselves as rhetors and writers,” Graham said.

In the upper right photo, the UALR Emerging Writers Institute attendees, from left to right, include: Front Row: Aubrey Olson, Addy Evans, Celena Ghazal, Alex Kirchner, and Bryanna Williams; Second Row: Karmen Merritt, Addy Brymer, Gracie McEwen, Anika Moorjani, Tessa Douglas, Megha Nelluri, and Kelsie Ford; Back Row: Joanne Liu, Adriana Rabell, Christian Maddox, Samantha Crabill, and Nadeem Javid.

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