To be a teen girl anywhere in 2020 America is hard. To be a teen girl in an at-risk area of Los Angeles is even harder. That's why the work of WRITEGIRL is so important. For nineteen years, this organization has mentored at-risk girls, encouraging them to write, get published, graduate from high school, earn scholarships, and get into college -- boasting a 100 percent success rate along the way.
This nonprofit organization has received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from Michelle Obama as well as eighty other honors. Every year, they release a book to sell as a fundraiser filled with work written by these girls. This year's offering, This Moment: Bold Voices from Writegirl, features 180 pieces on topics as varied as identity, friendship, growing up, impermanence, image, girl power, relationships, voice, confidence, and family. These girls may well be producing the pop culture of the future as they move forward into their creative writing endeavors.
The anthology contains poetry in the main -- sprinkled with a few lyrics, prose pieces, as well as drama. The primary affect of the book on the reader? Respect, respect for the honesty in each work.
In the poem "Failure," for example, Isabella Sanchez admits the word may be "so small," but it comes "with the blow of a hundred punches." The "weight" of "despair" becomes the "pathway" the narrator must "overcome." She ends on a positive note when she acknowledges that success isn't possible without "this seven-letter word," which forces us to "search for the right solution."
Imagination abounds in the collection. In "Skating in Pink," Kendra Teraoka challenges cultural stereotypes and ask, "What if" she "decided to skate in the street" while wearing "pink nail polish"? Sky Bradley writes a poem from the point of view of a girl's stuffed rabbit while Alyssa Ho takes a "spaceship thingamabob" though "spacetime" in order to say "I told you so" to those who destroyed the planet with global warming.
In a press release about the book, Executive Director Keren Taylor states, "The creative words of 180 teen girls burst through the pages of this new anthology. They offer wisdom, humor, warnings and rallying cries, and there is a fresh vitality here that is worthy of a book in print." Fiction and screen writer Attica Locke gushes, "I am in awe of these young women's courage, lyricism, wisdom and grace on the page. They are bright lights on the literary horizon."
As the actor, writer, and WRITEGIRL mentor Lauren Graham states in the Foreward to the anthology, "Writegirl creates opportunities that illustrate to its girls, in word and deed, that their ideas matter, that their songs, and poems and stories matter, that they matter."