How will you remember the coronavirus pandemic? Community organizer Helen Katich and East High School teacher Noah Kaplan were talking about that in mid-March, and decided to find a way to record the experiences and personal stories of everyday people during this time of COVID-19, creating online spaces where they could connect, be heard and be seen.
Along with Stain'd Arts, the two created a virtual writing workshop designed to guide writers — both professional and newbies — through the fundamentals of personal storytelling. The first three-week, nine-session program drew 21 participants, who each built a body of work as a reflection of this moment in history.
The inaugural session was so successful that Katich and Kaplan are starting another Stain'd Arts introductory workshop. As a sample of the kind of work that came out of the first workshop, the organizers shared this piece by Riley Welch, who turned out about forty pages of writing during that initial session.
Every day I am cooking,
I am making new meals,
I am kneading bread until my eyes have dried.
Moving my body,
sometimes walking, sometimes doing push ups on the floor of my living room
until all the unvacuumed hairs catch themselves in my toes.
I am talking,
Coffee every morning, phone calls, instagram.
Sometimes I leave the video chat on for many hours, though we barely talk.
We work separately and occasionally will turn to our computer screen,
as you would a friend at a coffee shop and tell them the shocking email your coworker sent.
I am writing, though not as I thought I would be—
but also not as poorly as I thought I would be.
Sometimes a group of us chat while we watch a movie,
and it feels like the before times (as we call it).
I experiment with edibles,
because there is no consequence if it goes wrong,
also it’s destructive.
And now feels like, maybe, the time for destruction.
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Then I remember that I must come out of this, and remain partially whole,
which is usually when I drink water.
And then I sleep.
The next introductory workshop begins Monday, March 18, and it's not too late to jump in; just reach out to Kaplan at email@example.com. The workshop is donation-based, with donations directed back to the arts community. Find more information on the Stain'd Arts Writers Workshop here.