Writers Room is a College of Arts and Sciences initiative at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, Drexel’s urban extension center at 35th and Spring Garden in West Philadelphia. Here, members of the Mantua, Powelton, and Drexel communities explore writing as a tool for learning and a mode of creative expression. Together, we are creating a shared story.
My name is Rachel Wenrick and I’m a writer. It’s taken me a very long time to be able to type that sentence and send it out into the world, but there it is. One of my most vivid memories from childhood is being about four years old and hiding under the table while the grown-ups sat, their legs forming a circle around me, telling story after story. I’d listen to every word, trying to figure out what they all meant. Turns out, it was good training for the rest of my life.
Hello, I’m Kirsten Kaschock. I’m a poet. I also happen to be the middle child in my family. When I was little, sometimes I didn’t feel there was room in my house for me to talk at all. Sometimes I’d talk too much and still have trouble getting out what I wanted to say. Writing was a slow place, where I had time to put my thoughts together. Plus, my siblings couldn’t interrupt me there the way they did at the dinner table. I’m interested in the places we carve out for ourselves on the page, and also in the gaps we leave. Sometimes the things we can’t quite say (the things we tuck into cubbyholes) are worth dusting off and putting out for company.
I grew up in a rural area, around quiet people. I tacked a world map to my bedroom wall when I was an adolescent, which helped me to imagine traveling to far-flung places. I have lived in or near Philadelphia for about half of my life, but also have had the chance to live in Japan for five years, fulfilling that early dream. Living or traveling in unfamiliar environments has helped me, I hope, to empathize with others, and to understand diverse values. I try to bring these lessons to my teaching and writing. Writing poetry gives me focus, discipline, and great satisfaction.
I’m a native West Virginian who has lived in Philadelphia for the last two decades. Since I was born late to my parents and everyone around me was oIder, I was an introverted child. Reading took me out of the mountains and off of the hill and opened up the world. It was my way to learn and explore and connect with ideas. Now, I’m digging deep into my own experience to do the same as a writer. I have a BA in language arts education from Marshall University and used to teach secondary English and speech in Charleston and Washington, DC. I reside in Mantua where I’m on the Mantua Civic Association’s education subcommittee and am a founding member of Writers Room. I am currently rewriting my life story.
By Andrew Zitcer & Julie Hawkins & Neville Vakharia
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