I was invited this week to talk with a group of young writing campers held at a local university campus. The e-mail I received advised there would be about 100 kids, from 3rd to 12th grade, and asked me to talk about “being an author,” what I write, and my writing process. I did some of that. But I also wanted to hear from the kids; how they are experiencing camp and the world.
Early in the conversation with them, I brought up Writing for Peace. I asked them how they thought a person might write for peace: how that might work, and how it is possible that writing might somehow accomplish peace. They were tentative at first but ultimately they came to these wonderful answers about understanding another person’s point of view through reading their stories, and how by reading what others have to say we can better understand their experiences. And then this one young man raised his hand and started speaking earnestly:
“Because really good writing,” he said, slowly, “can touch your heart.” This beautiful response moved me deeply.
I was also asked to bring them a “writing prompt,” so I asked half of the room to write down two or three new laws–things we should start doing to make the world a better place, a safer place, a more peaceful place.
And to the other half of the room, I asked that they write two or three new laws of things we should stop doing in order to make the world a better, safer, more peaceful place.
Again, they were shy at first, but then they started getting into it and hand after hand went up. They’d come up with some amazing ideas, many of them talking about love and respecting all genders, skin colors, and religions. One young woman, cautiously and from deep in a corner, stated quietly but steadily that we needed to begin thinking more deeply and responding much more thoughtfully to the events happening around us.
Again, hand after hand went up, young people presenting idea after idea, until I ran out of time. And just as I had to stop calling on the young writers, one more hand went up–a clearly determined young girl who hadn’t yet raised her hand to speak during the time I’d been there. I called on her, of course. She said the most amazing thing.
She said, “We shouldn’t wait for these things to become laws. We should start doing them right now.”
I turned and put it to the group, “Who can start right now?”
Every hand went up.
“Really? You all are serious?”
The hands went up harder. Many nodded.
I was so proud of these kids. I hope they settle firmly into their ideas and their generous and kind hearts. I hope they keep writing.
And I wanted to share these moments with you.
About Writing for Peace Adviser Melissa Hassard
Melissa Hassard is speaker, writer, poet, mother, womanist, and activist — currently residing in North Carolina. Her background is public relations, advertising, and travel, and she considers herself a student of the world, who loves travel, history, culture, and language. Writing is as much a part of her life as breathing. Partner at Sable Books and founder of Women Writers of the Triad, she is blessed to work with writers on meaningful projects — from helping writers publish, to teaching writing to survivors of domestic abuse, to organizing local community workshops and readings. Her essays and poems have been published in various journals, is she is now revising work for a first book, that will no doubt take her years to finish. For more information about Melissa and her work click here.
Writing for Peace News
The Peace Correspondent: Call for Submissions
Information is beginning to go up on the website about our new online periodical, The Peace Correspondent, a tri-annual solution-based publication. The first issue will be published on October 31st. Submission deadlines are September 1st. Guidelines are posted here.
DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts: Call for Submissions
Guidelines are posted for the 2017 Edition. DoveTales is an extension of our mission to promote writing that explores the many aspects of peace. Our purpose is to expose young writers to a diverse collection of thoughtful works by established and emerging writers, as well as our advisers. The journal will also feature works by the winners of our annual Young Writer Competition. The journal will be released on May 1st, 2017. There is no fee for submission, but please read our guidelines carefully.
Theme: The theme of our 2017 issue of DoveTales is Refugees and the Displaced. As in our earlier issues, we encourage contributors to take a broad view of the definitions within the context of peace.
- The reading period begins July 1st, 2016 and ends January 15th, 2017, and the journal will be released on May 1st, 2016.
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You can help make the Writing for Peace Mission a reality by supporting our youth outreach, international journal, and peace journalism in the following ways.
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