In this class, Riverside homeless learn that writing about their lives can be ‘funny, sweet, scary’
At a table spread with colored pencils, markers, pocket dictionaries and spiral-bound workbooks, a Riverside writers’ group is warming up, getting their creative juices flowing.
They’re given prompts such as “a phone call to God,” and “a song that heals the world” to generate ideas. But they also write about themselves and their experiences on the streets.
The workshop is at Riverside’s homeless shelter. The writers are shelter clients. And the workshop’s leader, Lydia Theon Ware i, was once homeless herself.
Using a workbook Ware created, they draw pictures of where they slept last night and where they hope to sleep in the future.
Ware plays soft, relaxing music to “get them out of the framework of wondering where the next restroom is, where they’re going to charge their phone, … and into the mindset of, ‘I can write something, I can draw,’” she said.
“Here they can create a small, little oasis of their own creation.”
Since August, a dozen people participated in Ware’s twice-a-week writing workshop, and four of them were regulars. Ware is putting together a small magazine from their work, and they plan to a public reading in November.
“Sometimes it’s funny, sweet, scary,” Faith Osborn, 50, who uses the pen name Seabreeze, said of her writing. “A lot of it, sometimes we have to go out of our comfort zone.”
Writing is new to Osborn, who said she’s been homeless about eight years.
She used to crochet and make jewelry, and she once had her own candle business. But she gave all that up after her parents got sick and she became their caregiver. After they died, she was left homeless and got involved with drugs and abusive relationships, she said.
“Being in and out on the streets, it’s not easy when you’re trying to survive,” Osborn […]