PITTSBURGH – The A.W. Mellon Charitable and Educational Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation has awarded a grant to support the Make Mine Words reading series, part of the Words Without Walls program, a creative educational partnership between graduate students from the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chatham University and Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh.
The grant will aid Make Mine Words in bringing twelve nationally recognized authors to Pittsburgh over the course of two years. The writers will give public readings and book signings to the Pittsburgh community at Chatham University, the Allegheny County Jail, and the Sojourner House (a rehabilitation facility for recovering mothers). Each member involved in the series will receive an anthology featuring all the participating authors. Sheryl St. Germain, director of Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program and co-founder of the Words Without Walls program, will lead the Make Mine Words series.
About Make Mine Words
“Make Mine Words: Writing Your Way to Recovery” helps acquaint the women in the Sojourner House and in Allegheny County Jail with the spiritual healing that can be extended through writing. The workshop participants keep journals, which they use to respond to creative writing prompts. “Creative writing is both a spiritual and healing activity that can offer fresh insights into drug and alcohol use, as well as provide tools to help with recovery,” says Sheryl St. Germain, professor and director of Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program. “Chatham University believes that learning to write poems and stories about one’s life, and developing the habit of keeping a creative journal provides valuable tools to assist with substance abuse problems.”
About The Pittsburgh Foundation
Since 1945, The Pittsburgh Foundation has been connecting its generous donors with the critical needs of our community. Donors who have established funds through the Foundation can support virtually any area of charitable interest in Pittsburgh, or anywhere in the United States. Because the Foundation is a public charity, donors benefit from significant tax advantages. In 2011, the Foundation and its Supporting Organizations awarded more than $41.1 million in grants to a vast array of nonprofit organizations, students through scholarships, and medical researchers, based on donor interests and specific purposes of individual funds.
About Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing Program
Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program consists of both an on-the-ground full-residency program and a low-residency, online program with concentrations in travel writing, teaching, publishing, or nature writing in addition to a primary genre focus (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or children’s writing). The program offers innovative field seminars that include travel to such places as Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, and Germany. The Words Without Walls program, in which MFA students go into the Allegheny County Jail to teach inmates creative writing, is one of several social outreach programs developed and run by Chatham MFA students that offer transformative experiences for both students and an underserved population. In 2007 Poets & Writers named the MFA one of “Nine Distinctive Programs” and The Atlantic Monthly named it one of five innovative/unique programs in the country in its “Best of the Best” graduate program listings. In 2009, The Writer named it one of ten programs that offer a specialty focus. For more information, visit www.chatham.edu/mfa.
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