by Rachel Kobin of the Philadelphia Writers Workshop
When the writers workshops migrated from The Resiliency Center to Zoom in March, I was initially concerned about whether I’d be able to recreate the comfort participants develop from writing in the same room together week after week. Although I always provide participants with the option to use the workshop time as a substance-free escape from reality, the tentacles of the virus had us in its grip. Some expressed their fear and frustration with humor, while others' emotions poured onto their pages like tears shed mourning for the dead. No one held back despite the electronic context.
When the Black Lives Matter protests began, I decided to address the issues head-on in the best way I knew how: I offered prompts that would give us the opportunity (but not obligate anyone) to write about aspects of the movement. Today a woman responded to the prompt "If I were the last storyteller in my tribe..." with a story about the resiliency the three branches of her family developed as they rose above suffering by making love their guiding force. Of course, she phrased it much more elegantly than I just did, but the point is that storytelling is how we make sense of the world around us.
The writing and conversations provoked by this summer's writing made me see, once again, how healing it is to listen and be heard. When one person shares their story, we grow by coming to understand that while our life journeys may be vastly different, the feelings they evoke are universal. Even when the togetherness we create is on computer screens, the connection is real."
Rachel Kobin leads the Philadelphia Writers' Workshop at The Resiliency Center. The workshop provides a safe, structured setting for writers to express themselves, experiment, learn, and grow. To learn more about joining her fall workshops - and learn about her new writing marathons once they are announced - see her website at www.phillywriters.com.