Putting young writers on track (from mid-Feb.)

February 4, 2008

The Internet makes it incredibly easy for anyone to produce webcasts, to blog or to self-publish high-quality books, and I love how many opportunities that creates for young people, especially young writers. Heck, the sisters behind kid-friendly cooking site www.spatulatta.com won a James Beard award for their webcast, an honor every adult food writer would give an eye tooth to earn! The girls, Bella and Olivia Gerasole, have a cookbook, and their own celebrity Caribbean cruise coming up, and they’re a perfect example of the possibilities for creative kids.

There are dozens of young-writers’ workshops in St. Louis, targeting all ages and economic levels, but my complaint with many of them is that they’re around for a single project, and the kids don’t get the continuity of steady coaching and editing. But there are two great organizations that happen to have classes starting this month, and they each have a track record.

The first is the Urban Artist Alliance for Child Development, a nonprofit that teaches workshops for all kinds of kids, from those in the juvenile justice system to those enrolled in Saturday morning creative-writing workshops at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. ( I’ve just learned that the upcoming workshop, Feb. 16 to May 10, for teens ages 12 to 17 has an application deadline of 5 p.m. today, so I apologize for not promoting it earlier!) I’ve known of UAACD for about two years, and its organizer, MK Stallings,  impressed me with his enthusiasm for sticking with the kids as they grow and develop. (You can contact him at 314.516.4833 or stallingsmk@umsl.edu.) His Corner Pocket Workshops come around regularly, though, so if you miss this one definitely check out the Web site for an application for the next one.

There’s still plenty of time to become part of Saturdays at the Studio, a creative writing workshop sponsored by the Saint Louis University English Club. Like the UAACD effort, it’s a free, and the young writers’ works will be published in a magazine at the end. It takes place on the SLU campus, and anyone interested can contact co-leader Leslie Evans at almostleslie@gmail.com for more information about the dates and location. She says she can’t wait for the workshop to start up again (it took a break over the holidays) and she looks forward to meeting the young writers. I get the feeling she, like MK, is really sincere in that.

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