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Telling Our Stories
By Ryan Connolly
Warrior Writers is an organization started by Lovella Calica in 2007. It primarily facilitates writing workshops for veterans. The organization operates by empowering veterans to facilitate the workshops, which are largely closed to only veterans. Exceptions are sometimes made based on group dynamics for gold-star families and care-givers.
Workshops are run in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. They provide a place for veterans to write in a non-discriminate setting. Workshops do not focus on grammar or writing-style, but focus on the telling of stories. Veterans are encouraged to write poetry, prose, draw, and other forms of artistic expression. We have recently begun incorporating other forms of art such as visual art, playwriting and music.
Every few years we publish a new anthology of works created by veterans. Although workshops do not focus on critiquing works, when a veteran wishes to be published in the anthology, editors and the organization's leaders will work with the veteran to make his or her piece ready for publishing.
June of 2014 brought our fourth anthology, self-titled Warrior Writers, to the presses. It features poems, artwork, and photographs by veterans from Vietnam all the way to modern-day. In conjunction with the book release we also held a week-long writing retreat that ran concurrently with the two-week seminar run by the Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences. Retreats have also been run in the Washington D.C. area and Chicago over the last month.
Warrior Writers provides a safe place for veterans to deal with some of the issues of returning home. Whether we have been home for decades or are just returning, at every workshop we are met with understanding and compassion. They have allowed me to deal with issues through writing that I have not been able to speak of.
Warrior Writers provides a community of veterans who are able to understand each other. Through the use of facilitators who are also veterans we have ensured that the community remains intact. The feeling of going to a place that is therapeutic for my mind, and not having to deal with anybody in a lab coat has truly opened up my heart to the healing I have encountered with Warrior Writers.
Through partnerships with IVAW, Combat Paper, The Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences, The National Veterans Art Museum, and others, we have been able to bring our art to the forefront of the conversation regarding war and veterans.
To get more information please visit us at WarriorWriters.org.
Ryan Connolly is a US Coast Guard veteran, who since his discharge has become a philosophy student at Bridgewater State University. He is a freelance writer, currently employed by GI Jobs magazine, writing about transition from the military to college. He is also a facilitator for the Boston chapter of Warrior Writers, and has recently become a member of IVAW.