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Long Island

My Turn: Writers’ workshops for young people open up a new world

For the past four years, I have been facilitating several young writers workshops. Every week, I encourage the students, ages 9 to 17, by using a variety of prompts which include unusual objects, guided imagery, a single word or beginning sentence, artwork and photographs. The prompts spark their creativity and free thinking.

I listen as they read what they have created to each other. You would, by hearing them read, think they have lived many lives. I have been taken away every week into the beautiful minds of our future generation. I have sailed away to their favorite places, been in mysterious haunted houses, excited by a treasure they found that had magical powers, and listened to them leap into adulthood through their stories. I have been enraptured by their descriptions of treasured grandparents, pets, teachers, parents and friends. They have written about having superpowers, about courage, about sad and unbelievably funny experiences.

A young writer writes: “This is why you should know the scribble scrabble of a million pencil strokes is the sound I most adore, for nothing beats the feeling of a piece of paper filled with me.” And another wrote: “In an instant I switch identities; don a disguise and a new personality. Go by another look, by another name. I am all things because I am also a writer.”

If I close my eyes, I can imagine I’m in the company of great writers, storytellers and accomplished poets, listening to a piece of “not-yet-famous” work. I am a dedicated listener. I sit on the edge of my seat. At times I get lost in their dreams, their fantasies, their humor and vitality. I am dazzled by their words that seem to point the way to their future.

They write from their hearts. They have a “writer’s voice” — strong, clear, rich and full. They offer their best selves, beautifying the world with their unique storytelling. They have the courage to be honest and authentic.

Sometimes, their powerful words shift the ground under me and I find myself on a different plane; and sometimes I’m just simply swallowed up by the power of their words. I am privileged and honored to be in their company and to listen as magic unfolds.

Terry Tomasino,


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