Write Around Portland recently released its 52nd book, Illuminated by the Words/ Iluminados por las palabras, an anthology elevating the voices of underrepresented Portland writers. The community-based writing workshop offers hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, senior centers and other low income environments the opportunity to participate in writing intensive workshops. Their main mission is to give Portlanders the opportunity to use writing for learning, growth and self expression.
“One fundamental idea that Write Around Portland believes to be important is that everyone can be a writer, and everyone can benefit and contribute to this community through writing,” said Elizebett Eslinger, executive director of Write Around Portland. “It can be a very powerful tool for societal change and self expression.”
Write Around Portland is dedicated to inclusion and diversity, providing a space for people to come together despite differences in race, ethnicity, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, education or religion.
“We are always looking at how we can reach as many people as possible, if we haven’t reached them before,” Eslinger said. “We are always looking forward and thinking about how can we bring our writing workshop to as many people as possible, so that all voices are reflected, valued and heard.”
Their latest anthology is a collection of works by WAP participants. The anthology includes works by youth and adults from workshops held throughout the Portland area in spring 2017.
“The unification of the book is more about the process of writing and people being part of Write Around Portland Workshops,” Eslinger said. “It’s a way of getting those perspectives out into the community for people to read, appreciate and to learn from.”
Participants were asked to present 2–3 pieces they were most proud of during their time writing in the workshops, and every participant got to have at least one piece published in the anthology. The anthology also includes an introduction by award winning author and international journalist Putsata Reang and Linda Apperson, author, drama mentor and WAP volunteer facilitator.
“The anthology part of Write Around Portland was here from the beginning,” Eslinger said. “The idea is to have a publication that elevates the voices of the people from our writing workshops.”
Workshop participants wrote in various genres, often experimenting with imagery, style and language. The purpose of these workshops is to provide a platform for underrepresented communities to use writing as a tool to build community and connect through writing.
WAP is always looking for ways to partner with local, underrepresented communities. Eslinger urges people who are interested in Write Around Portland to participate, whether as an intern, volunteer or writer seeking a fee-based workshop. All fee-based workshop proceeds help support WAP’s mission to bring writing to low-income communities.
“I believe there’s a place for everyone at Write Around Portland, whether they want to participate in a writing workshop or whether they want to volunteer or donate,” Eslinger said. “There are various ways for people to be connected with our work. I think there’s a place for everyone here.”