Youth Writing Festival | UMSL

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Youth Writing Festival

Every year, GWP hosts writing festivals for students.


Our Middle School Youth Writing Festival (grades 5 - 8) is schedule for Thursday, November 14th, 2019 at the JC Penney Conference Center on the UMSL North campus. Students participate in three break-out sessions and experience an open-mic sharing celebration. 


Keynote speakers Ahmed Barrow and Hope Daugherty shared writing tips and some of their work at the GWP Youth Writing Festival at UMSL on November 8th with 175  students in grades 5 to 8 from the St Louis metro area. 

Seniors Hope and Ahmed attended OneCity Stories.

Want to know more about what the day offers? 

The day provides students with mini-sessions that focus on improving writing skills and style. The day concludes with a celebration of writing for students and teachers.  You don't want to miss this opportunity!

The writing festivals are an opportunity to…

  • play with voices and words
  • share writing
  • celebrate yourself as a writer
  • create poetry, fiction, and memoirs

Samples of past mini-sessions                                                        


(Mrs. Roslawski)
Writers will take a guided “walk” through their mind to bring up images, smells, sounds and textures that make up home. The resulting rich piece of writing could be prose or poetry, but no matter what the form, it will be a writing piece close to the writer’s heart. 

I’ve got Rhythm—how about You?

(Mrs. Griner)
Rhythm is not only for music. Sentences can simply tell the story or they can unwrap the story with rhythm and cadence. In this session writers will observe how published authors use rhythm in sentences to unwrap the story. Mindful of rhythmic styles, writers will then construct their own stories with sentence fluency.

Playing With Poetry

(Mrs. Brosch)
Have you dreamt of writing the perfect poem? Do you have emotions, experiences, and opinions that are dying to get out, but you're just not sure how to get them onto paper? Try Playing With Poetry! We will practice several strategies to help bring your inner poet out into the open.

Ode to Walter Dean Myers

(Mrs. Book)
In Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, a reluctant poet is inspired by the writing of author Walter Dean Myers. Learn to take risks by imitating poets as in Love That Dog, and write “Found Poems” using text from Myers’ popular books.

Imitation: The Sincerest Form of Flattery

(Mrs. O’Brien)
Use your imagination and creativity as you try your hand at imitating Shel Silverstein poems. Or feel free to bring your favorite poems and learn to be a better poet yourself through imitating a poet you admire.

Music Memories

(Mrs. Griner)
Do you remember music sung or played by a loved one? Are there songs that inspire or relax you or just dance through your head? Let’s use these music memories to jumpstart great writing.

Giving Us the Sparks to Ignite Writing

(Mrs. Roslawski)
Sometimes we just need something to spark our writing. You will be able to chose a photo or a first line to begin a poem or story. Voila! The writing will just keep flooding out.

Sketchbook Journaling

(Mrs. Crump)
With sketchbook journaling, you write down spontaneous thoughts, memories, or dreams. Explore what happens when writing and doodling unite! Sketching skills not required.

Unravel the Mystery!

(Mrs. Brosch)
Many years ago, Harris Burdick left a stack of intriguing photographs with an interesting tidbit for each photo. Then he disappeared. Now you can use your creativity to tell your own story that Burdick helped you start.

Is Real Life Stranger Than Fiction?

(Mrs. O’Brien)
Explore current events and incorporate “the crazy things people do” into writing.

Random Autobiography

(Mrs. Roslawski)
Bits of your life, randomly arranged, make for a powerful free verse poem. Delve into your memory to create a moving piece.

Arabian Nights

(Mrs. Crump)
With inspiration from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights and stories from desert kingdoms, let's write.

Rhyming and Stealing 

(Mrs. Savens)
Often a word or phrase is enough to spark writing of your own. Today we will write with a technique called looping. Time to make our own music!

64 Gigs of Memory

(Mr. Anians)
Flash drives, jump drives, external hard drives, and online storage -- everyone is clamoring to find more digital space for their pictures, music, videos and memories. In this session, you will write about a special memory you have stored in your "internal" hard drive. 

Magic or Science

(Mrs. Murray)
Come and see if you can create tales of wonder or sci-fi creatures after exploring some mysterious scientific questions that may baffle you or bend your writer’s point of view.

Take a Walk in Someone’s Shoes

(Mrs. Orr)
As the saying goes, “You never understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around.” Explore this idea by stepping in the shoes of someone different from you and write with a new perspective.

New Perspectives—Rewriting Stories

(Mrs. Arnason)
The big bad wolf, evil stepsisters, witches...What if we could get their version of classic stories? How would they like themselves to be portrayed? Have fun rewriting a story so the tables are turned and character traits are revised.

This I Believe

(Mrs. Klonsky)
Take a belief, a value, or a pet peeve and turn it into a powerful personal statement.

My Quiet Place

(Mrs. Griner)
We all have quiet places that help us recharge. Writers will visit those places in our buzzing minds to energize our writing.

Creating Characters in Fiction

(Mrs. Baken and Ms. Dougherty)
Through a series of writing prompts, students will build complex and well-rounded fictional characters. We will consider the many elements that make up a well-rounded character such as physical traits, personality traits, likes and dislikes, quirks and ticks, wants and desires, etc. 

Memoir: a Written account of One’s Memory of Certain events or People 

(Mrs. O'Brien)
Take a quick jog down “Memory Lane” and find the key to unlock the specific details of a particular event that, or person who, somehow made a difference in your life.