Writing Center wants Bronxites’ memoirs

Dust off your pens and pencils.

The Bronx Writing Center is collecting mini-memoirs that will be published in an anthology this summer.

The writing center, the literary arm of the Bronx Council on the Arts, will be hosting more than 20 workshops as part of the Bronx Memoir Project between now and the May 25 deadline for submissions.

Charlie Vazquez, the director of the Bronx Writing Center, said the goal of the project is to give a voice to ordinary residents of the Bronx.

The locations of the memoir writing workshops include the Bronx Council on the Arts office on E. Tremont Ave in Westchester Square, the Kingsbridge branch of the New York Public Library, the Melrose NYPL, and the Poe Park Visitors Center, among other places.

“Each destination will attract a different demographic,” said Vazquez.

The workshops will also attract a wide range of ages, with some workshops geared toward teens and some towards seniors. Others have specific writing focuses such as “Setting as Character” or “Elements of Suspense.”

Vazquez said there will also be two workshops offered in Spanish, with Spanish submissions accepted, although there is not a bilingual focus to the book.

He also encouraged people of varying writing abilities to attend the workshops and contribute to the project.

“I don’t want to exclude anyone from this,” said Vazquez.

The workshops are meant to help writers develop drafts of their personal stories, but Vazquez said anyone can submit their work for consideration. The only requirements is that the writer be a current Bronx resident; their stories can take place outside the borough.

Vazquez said he hopes the project might help elevate the perception of the Bronx, which he feels is misunderstood. He thinks the finished product could surprise people.

“I think that when people hear the residents of the Bronx sharing stories in their own words their jaws will drop.”

The Bronx has its own literary culture, he noted, and the goal of the writing center is to promote and maintain that culture. Since Vazquez became director in January, he said he’s met hundreds of writers through various workshops.

“I’m really impressed by the quality of writing that happens here.”

The anthology will be published as a hard copy and ebook in July, thanks to funding by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Visit www.bronxarts.org/BronxMemoirProject.asp for a schedule of workshops.

Submissions must be between 500 and 1,000 words and should be sent to bronxwriters@bronxarts.org in the email body or as an MS Word document by May 25.

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at (718) 742–3383. E-mail her at jwilliams@cnglocal.com.