A young girl and aspiring writer who is just starting to experience the trials and tribulations of writing regularly meets a seasoned author who has dealt with her own fair share of failures and achievements. They talk about literature and life. They work together on their writing and this relationship has become an inspiring and empowering force in both their lives. This connection was made possible by the organization “Girls Write Now” an after school initiative. In NYC public schools 40% of students fail to graduate on time, 100% of the girls in the project graduate from high school and attend college, two thirds of the girls are at the poverty level or near and one third are recent immigrants. In this piece we turn to Heather (mentor) and Iris (mentee) who share some of their poetry and life experiences with us.
“…I wish someone had told me it’s okay to fall in love with whoever you want
and that gender doesn’t matter when someone makes
you feel elated and important
even if that person happens to be
your best friend
but that’s okay
I wish someone had told me that religion should protect you
and not make you feel
afraid of what you don’t quite
I wish someone had told me that youth,
innocence, and freedom should never
“Brown was her name
Bright were her wings
Lights brought black dreams
To be seen and heard
On a screen
That the world thought was everyone.
Don’t they know it just crushed men?
And left women slick with oil
On their bodies, barefoot and shining
The flame burns on and more generations ooze.
They dance and sing not knowing where to trod, their lipstick’s smudge on each other.
They are mixed as one.
Don’t trade yourself for the glow, let it go, go deep.
Words will be rewarded, toil and soil, can change the world. “
Heather Kristin has written for Glamour, Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, among others, and has been interviewed in Elle Magazine and by Oprah. She has recently written a novel about India and a memoir about New York. Heather, a former actress and subway performer, teaches violin with her four year old daughter Daisy and has been honored to be a mentor with Girls Write Now for almost a decade.
Iris Torres is a current first year student studying Journalism at Rider University. She has been published in the Girls Write Now Anthologies three times. This past May, she received an Honorable Mention at the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her flash fiction piece. Currently she is writing a novel and working on a collection of original poetry prose. Photo by Emily Turner