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Authors on the Move

Participants in the Writing Marathon held in Saratoga Springs put down their words by the side of a stream. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 27, 2018) — The Capital District Writing Project (CDWP) is so serious in its quest to improve the teaching of writing and learning that it’s taking it to the streets.

On Saturday, CDWP, an initiative of the School of Education, welcomes all comers to Troy for its third Writing Marathon, where writers in small groups of 3-5 stroll through various locations, stopping for 20 to 30 minutes to write, then share what they’ve written with group members. No comments. With a smile and a nod the group moves on to the next café or outdoor venue.

The free event begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on 265 River St. and runs through noon. Those interested may register via Facebook at www.facebook.com/cdwp.nwp or at Wufoo (Survey Monkey). Same-day walk-ons are welcome.

Leah Werther, an English teacher in Niskayuna, CDWP member and Writing Marathon coordinator, said the participants will write just what comes to their minds and pens on Saturday morning, “using the city backdrop as inspiration.”

They will also be handed a list of “writing prompts” to get them started. These include:

  • I remember…
  • Yes, but . . .
  • This place
  • Just listen to your surroundings
  • Give us your morning
  • He / She / They said
  • Visualize a place you really love, or who the people you have loved
  • Write about “leaving

About 20 writers showed up for the first marathon, in Saratoga Springs. “Past participants include a horse trainer from Kentucky, a math teacher, an elementary educator, a director of resident life CDWP members, etc.,” said Werther.

The popular author Natalie Goldberg first conceived the Writing Marathon concept, writing, “There is no good or bad, no praise or criticism. We read what we have written and go on to the next person . . . What usually happens is you stop thinking: you write; you become less and less self‐conscious. Everyone is in the same boat, and because no comments are made, you feel freer and freer to write anything you want.”

Those who want to share their words further and celebrate their experiences will reconvene at 1 p.m. at Brinton and Avery’s Place near the entrance to Russell Sage College.

Associate professor of Literacy Teaching & Learning and CDWP Director Kelly Wissman said, “We see the Writing Marathon as a wonderful opportunity to cultivate the writing identities of teachers within the Capital District Writing Project, but also to share the power of writing with the broader community.

“It happens at local establishments where people are bound to ask ‘Wow, what are they doing? that looks so fun,’ and it will link community members who participate with others who love to write from the University, from K-12 schools, etc.”

CDWP is a site of the National Writing Project, a network of more than 200 sites across the United States that develops resources, generates research and acts on knowledge to improve the teaching of writing and learning in schools and communities.

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