The L.A.B. Literary Arts Boom for kids, which shares space with Garfield’s Assemble, is starting a new Write-Read program that encourages kids to write such fun art forms as flash fiction and poetry – and then lets them read their creations alongside professional writers at the L.A.B. reading series.

“We like to celebrate the kids’ work,” says L.A.B. director Paula Levin. “It’s cool to have the kids do a literary reading at the bookstore.”

L.A.B.’s programs often explore writing for younger kids, but the organization has begun to develop programs for teens, involving them in National Novel Writing Month recently and engaging another group of teens for a reading at the East End Book Exchange in Bloomfield.

Now the monthly Write-Read, in the Teen Space at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh main branch and other locations, will offer writing workshops with mini-lessons, prompts to encourage writing and writing time on the spot.

The first flash-fiction reading featuring Write-Read-generated works will be March 6 and include local writer Sherrie Flick along with Jude Rosen and Ziggy Edwards of the online publication Uppagus.

“Flash fiction is fun to write, because it’s a little less intimidating” than a full short story, Levin notes. “Flash fiction starts at the high point of the action, so that’s a fun thing to do. We created the wildest first sentence we could think of, then we swapped” to have another student complete it.

“Also, being outside the classroom helps,” she says of their workshops in the Carnegie’s Teen Space.

The first Write-Read
poetry workshops will be
March 9, 11 and 15, with a reading on April 26. Upcoming Write-Read workshops are already set for April (science fiction and fantasy), May (remix writing, which Levin describes as using “a variety of prompts and activities that include things like black out poetry, collage, incorporating a favorite quote or lyric into a piece of writing”) and June (memoirs).

The core team of volunteer teachers includes local writers, medical students, current and former teachers and professors.

“The Write-Read series provides an opportunity for teens to connect with their peers and with mentors,” Levin says. “It’s a chance for kids who already love writing to write more, and for kids who are interested in writing to try it out in good company.”

Marty Levine's journalism has appeared in Time, and throughout Pennsylvania and has won awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania and elsewhere. He teaches magazine writing for Creative Nonfiction magazine.