Teen Spirit

A couple of months ago, Zo Frechette led a writing workshop for a group of creative teenagers. They worked on novels, kept journals, turned their life stories into memoirs and proudly read their poems and short stories aloud. At the end of the class, the instructor felt as though she'd learned as much from the kids as they had from her.

"There's something in the energy level of kids at this age," says Frechette, a local fiction writer who taught the class through the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a Denver-based independent creative-writing school. "They're raw, in a way. There's not that censor that we get as we get older that says 'I can't say that' or ŒI can't write about that.' They just let it out. It's cool to be around, to get a reminder that your internal censor can cut you off. Because they're having fun and writing really cool stuff."

Frechette's class was so successful that Lighthouse decided to launch a series of writing workshops for young people, with two parallel tracks: one for teens and one for "tweens" ages ten to fourteen. The classes follow roughly the same model used in Lighthouse's adult workshops; students will share and brainstorm their work in a group setting and use writing exercises to explore elements such as structure, plot and point of view. Lighthouse hopes to expand the youth programs to include after-school classes and a summer camp.

The series kicks off this week at the Panera Bread community room, 1330 Grant Street, with The Writer's Notebook: A Journal Writing Workshop. The class is designed, in part, to get young authors' juices flowing for future sessions, which are set to include a workshop on fantasy writing and one on memoirs. These and all Lighthouse programs combine collaboration and community with craft and creative exploration -- and there are no grades or report cards.

"It really is an outlet, and it's all about being creative and being with other creative kids and having that same positive energy that happens in the adult workshops," Frechette says. "Some of these are kids who might feel a little isolated, like bookworms, because they like to write. When they get here, they say, 'It's so nice to meet other people who share the same interest.'"

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Laura Bond
Contact: Laura Bond

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