In The News

 

High school junior Oliver Curtis is working on an invasive species cookbook, Portland Press Herald

Oliver Curtis, 17, has been taking classes at the Telling Room in Portland since he was about 10. This fall he started a project with the nonprofit writing center for youth that will culminate next August with a published book.

 

The Telling Room: Helping immigrant teens tell their stories, CCTV America

In this week’s Close Up, Full Frame takes a look at this unique educational program and the impact it’s having, not only on the lives of students, but also bringing tolerance to a community.

 

How a Writing Program Commended by the White House Is Giving Immigrant and Refugee Teens a Powerful Voice, Alternet

Young Writers & Leaders has served teens from around the world, including Africa, Asia, Central America, and Russia. They are bonded by heroic stories of personal and family survival that becomes part of their writing.

 

The White House Celebrates a Small Maine Nonprofit, The Huffington Post

On November 17th, "the biggest party ever" was held at The Telling Room in Portland, Maine...

 

First Lady Honors High School Literary Program with National Award, AWP: The Writer's News

An after-school literary program for multilingual high school students called Young Writers & Leaders (YWL) received a $10,000 award from First Lady Michelle Obama last week.

 

How a Maine nonprofit uses writing to help immigrant kids find a sense of belonging, The Washington Post

By the time Iraqi native Ibrahim Shkara arrived in the United States three years ago, he had been uprooted twice: First from his home in Baghdad when he was eight years old, and then from his adopted home in Egypt eight years later.

 

Young refugees tell what it’s really like to come to Maine, Bangor Daily News

At a classroom looking out over Commercial Street, poetry conjures memories of “home” for young people for whom the concept is elusive — and often painful.

 

Portland Youth Writing Program Being Recognized by White House, MPBN Radio

Eighteen-year old Nila Seddiqi has done plenty of writing in school - and she's developed some pretty strong feelings about it. "I hate writing," she says. "I mean I hate it."

Then she came to the Telling Room, and it flipped a switch.

 

National Award A Great Story for The Telling Room, The Portland Press Herald

The Portland writing center will be honored at the White House on Tuesday as one of a dozen winners of National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.

 

One Refugee’s Story Of Coming To America, NPR's Here & Now

Paul Okot came to this country as a refugee from southern Sudan when he was 7 years old. He still vividly remembers landing at JFK airport in New York and going through customs.

 

The Telling Room Gives Young Immigrant Writers a Voice, The Boston Globe

The Telling Room has become something of a civic treasure and rich community resource since its founding in 2004.

 

The Telling Room, Poets & Writers

We are trying to give kids a positive message about their own voices—the power of expression.

 

The Telling Room Publishes Student Works, Author Responses, The Portland Daily Sun

The way this new book came together was "a good story in itself."

 

Ten Years of Writing Important Stories at The Telling Room, Maine Today

Richard Russo was hooked the moment he read about the young boy...

 

50 Reasons We Love Portland, Down East

Number 30. In the Telling Room, there are always new stories being told...

 

Portland Schools Incorporating 'Character' Education, The Forecaster

A new style of learning, championed by author Paul Tough, is being applied in Portland's public schools and in the creative writing programs offered at  The Telling Room.

 

The Weight of the World, The Portland Phoenix

The myth may have toppled, but when you see Emmanuel surveying all of Portland from the North Street park overlook, smiling with the sun on his face, you know a different dream is being built.

 

Young Immigrants Share Their Stories for the Camera, The Portland Press Herald

I thought I never could tell this story. But I am proud I did this. I hope my grandmother will be able to see what I did for her.

 

The United States of Innovation, Fast Company

At this writing center founded by a trio of journalists, youth are using storytelling to help boost literacy and self-confidence.

 

Portland's Best: Editor's Pick for Non-Striking Writers, Portland Phoenix

Standing firm behind their belief that writing should be fun, the Telling Room encourages young people to tell their stories with games and field trips designed to awaken the writers within each of the kids lucky enough to participate.

 

A Story for Writers and Cat Lovers, The Maine Switch

"I was in awe. I'd never seen children so excited about writing....Here, pride in writing and confidence in storytelling is cultivated. The Telling Room fosters free thought within programs that develop good writing skills—pre-writing to get the juices flowing, reminders to use all the senses for inspiration, note-taking and writing while experience is fresh. (The public school systems might learn a thing or two from the Telling Room!) I couldn't be more excited about this organization and its benefit to children in the community." 

 

Refugees' Stories Rivet Students, Portland Press Herald

"Your story was very eye-opening to the troubles that our world goes through. I am just awed. I've read stories similar to this kind of thing, but then reading it firsthand from your point of view. Wow."  — Lexi Pelletier, 15, on the writing of Aruna Kenyi, 18

 

Writer George Saunders, on his Amazon Blog

"I recently had the pleasure of doing a reading in Portland, Maine. In addition to the fact that it was one of the most responsive and intelligent crowds imaginable, and the reading was held in a truly beautiful space (called, I believe, The Space) there was another great pleasure associated with my visit. That afternoon I had the chance to talk to some wonderful high-school-age writers at a place called The Telling Room..."

 

I'm Done Killing Hyenas, Portland Phoenix

"(Telling Room student authors) illuminate the world inhabited by so many people who have found new homes in Portland—and across Maine—often seeking better living conditions, and freedom from fear of attack, but arriving to find new fears, and old ones, still arising." 

 

Stories to Tell, Portland Press Herald

"Through his writing, (Telling Room writer Hassan) Jeylani said he found that his Muslim religion has played a constant role no matter where he has lived. He said his story pushed him to rededicate himself to his faith as a way of centering his life.

"Kenyi, 17, said he was satisfied with his first attempt at writing, but found more inspiration after hearing the story of Valentino Achak Deng, who visited Portland in February with author Dave Eggers. The two collaborated on What Is the What, a book based on Deng's life. Since then Kenyi has started writing his complete story.
    
"Aqila Sharafyar said she was excited about the idea of writing and knew she had to write about her father. He loved doves and spent hours with the birds, feeding and talking to them in a small house next to the family home in Kabul, Afghanistan. The 17-year-old Deering High School student said she wanted to tell her story to give others a sense of the security that comes with living in the United States. 'It's exciting to write about this because I want to share my story with people,' she said."

 

Eye for Little Stories, Portland Press Herald-Maine Sunday Telegram

(Question: 'What's the secret to good writing?' Telling Room Guest Writer Susan Orlean answers) "With kids, I just try to encourage them to enjoy it; that's such a huge part of the battle. A lot of kids sort of dread writing and look at it as a burden. I try to get them to think of the possibilities.” 

 

Helping Kids 2 Go Tell It in Portland, Portland Phoenix

"Recently, Jonathan Lethem, recipient of the ultra-prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant, came to SPACE for a reading. Beforehand, he met with a group of Portland-area students to discuss what he does all day. Lucky them, right? Well, it wasn't just luck. It was the work of the Telling Room, a grassroots organization of local writers intent on getting kids geeked-up about their craft."

"'We're big believers in the power of storytelling,' says (Telling Room co-founder Michael) Paterniti. 'If you tell me your story, and I tell you mine, we've already reached a higher level of intimacy in 10 minutes than we have with most people we meet on a daily basis'." 

 

Early Press
 

Download a bunch of our early press clippings here, and check out Maine Magazine's feature of the winners of our 2012 statewide writing contest in their May 2012 issue.