by DeeGee Lester

Writing is considered a lonely pursuit. Young writers can feel particularly alone. Hopeful novelists, poets, and songwriters full of ideas struggle to find time to write, a place without interruptions, and knowledgeable mentors to listen to their words, provide honest and constructive feedback, and guide them in exploring opportunities for publication. These challenges can be even greater for young writers with potential but no resources.

This summer, twenty-six young writers from across Tennessee will hone their skills at the Appalachian Young Writers’ Workshop in Harrogate or the Tennessee Young Writers’ Workshop in Lebanon, thanks to nearly $13,000 in scholarships awarded by Humanities Tennessee.

Throughout the day, students rotate through a series of workshops exploring different writing genres, while also getting time to write and the opportunity to present their own words in a safe and supportive environment.

Lacey Cook, Programs Officer for Humanities Tennessee, says, “It is amazing that many of these students have never heard their own words read aloud. This is an opportunity for them to nurture and grow and find their own voice as a writer.”

The level of personal investment students have in this program can be measured in many ways—through their personal growth as writers, their mentoring of one another, and by the presence of former participants, such as poet/editor/educator Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum, who return to teach and mentor them on their individual journeys to become writers.

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