During a time when everyone’s narratives are shifting, Literary Cleveland is continuing to roll out new, community-centric programs during the pandemic that help a variety of communities focus on writing as a source of power and comfort. The nonprofit has hosted a number of classes and events such as a writing course for veterans and an upcoming eight-week writing workshop for essential workers beginning in April. Executive director Matt Weinkam explains how their various workshops help writers transform the emotions fueled by COVID-19 into work that inspires.
The act of community, bringing people together, was the exciting part about it. And then to collect that writing and share it as a celebration of the community only turned a time like this when we’re isolated into a real time to bring us together, which is what writing can do. Writing empowers you to take ownership over your story, over how it’s told.
What great writing and great literature can do is allow you to be open in the moment to the possibilities of who people are and what they contain. That makes a real impact, sort of in a political and culture way, as well as connecting across communities, boundary lines, backgrounds and beliefs. And when you can see the humanity in each other, that’s the path forward.
Ideally, that writing then gets out into the community and changes what happens in the world. When you go to a writing program, whether it’s a workshop or a reading or an open mic, you get permission to tell that story and share it and see how it changes you and how it changes the world. — as told to Lydia Mandell