Writing as Spiritual Practice

Begins September 11

Writing can be a spiritual practice if you let it open yourself to the circus of human emotions. The ashes of grief. The light of praise. The scars of failure. The chant of gratitude. The overflowing mug of mercy. The windstorm of anger. Or loneliness—ah, that lovely blue heron in flight. After all, what is a spiritual person except a whole human being… and writing is one way to grow into all you were meant to be. Our format is simple. We will read, reflect, and discuss a poem together and then—right from the heart—respond in writing.  All are welcome. The only requirement is a soft leaning toward writing as a spiritual path that you’d like to explore. Sessions are second Wednesday of the month.

Facilitated by Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB. For more information, contact Sister Mary Lou

Date: Wednesdays, September 11, October 9, November 13, December 11, January 8
Time: 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Location: The Writing Studio, 310 East 10th Street, Erie
Cost: $20 for five sessions

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2019

Members of The Women's Writing Studio helped local businesses distribute poems.

A dozen or so residents at the assisted living center came together to play bingo with Erie Benedictine Sister Carol Ann McLaughlin and her dog, Rusty, just like they do every week. But this week she had a surprise. “It’s poem in your pocket day,” she told them and proceeded to hand each person a specially rolled poem. The residents opened their poem and read them aloud. Then they began to talk about the poems they remembered from their youth. One of them said, “I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast, but I do remember this poem that I memorized…” and then recited it aloud.

Sister Mary Lou reflects on Celebrating Mary Oliver

One of the most touching moments during a recent celebration of Mary Oliver’s poetry did not involve the sharing of a poem. Rather, a woman went to the microphone and talked about her teenage daughter who is autistic and doesn’t have time for organized religion. “I didn’t know how to reach her,” the mother explained. “We were growing apart…we couldn’t connect and I wanted something for her that would substitute for a religious practice.” What the mother and daughter began doing is going to the lagoon area at Lake Erie on Sunday and reading Mary Oliver poems together. “The poems are enabling the two of us to talk about God in an intimate way and to build a stronger relationship. I will be forever grateful to Mary Oliver.”...

Celebrating Mary Oliver

The words of the poet Mary Oliver have affected and inspired many of us. To honor the life of this beloved poet, who died in January, we will gather to share and reflect on the impact she has made in our own lives on Thursday, March 7. Come to the Women's Writing Studio at St. Mary's A Space to Create (310 East 19th Street, Erie) prepared to share a verse or stanza of her work that is meaningful to you as well as a personal response to your selection.

You might respond to your Oliver poem with a piece of art you've created, a movement or gesture to accompany the lines, a poem of your own, a song, a dance, a memorization, or simply a personal reflection on why you chose what you did. Or, you might just come to listen to the ways Oliver's work has impacted others.

Join as we celebrate the poet who has asked us all what we plan to do with our "one wild and precious life."

Click here to download a flier.

Date: Thursday, March 7
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Women's Writing Studio at St. Mary's A Space to Create 310 East 10th Street, Erie PA, 16503
Suggested donation: $3.00 contribution for light refreshments

Women's Writing Circle First 2019 Session

Women's Writing Circle 2018-2019 Session begins September 12

The Women’s Writing Circle meets the second Wednesday of the month, September - April (no December meeting) and is open to writers and non-writers alike. Each session includes discussing a short reading on a writing topic; a poem for group reading, personal reflection and group exploration; a writing prompt; time for personal writing and optional sharing in large and small groups. The writing circle creates a safe space for you to develop your own voice and offers you an opportunity to have your words heard and honored without judgment. Facilitated by Mary Lou Kownacki. Snacks, beer, wine, water provided.

Next gathering: Wednesday, January 9; continues the second Wednesday of each month
Time: 6:30 - 7:45 p.m.
Location: The Writing Studio, 310 East 10th Street, Erie
(Entrance and parking lot behind building on 9th Street)
Donation: $5 per meeting or $25 for all seven gatherings

To help plan for group size, please sign up here.

Breanna Mekuly shares Poem in Your Pocket experience

To celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day on Thursday, April 26, the Writing Studio, a collective of women writers and literary advocates, organized a distribution of poems in Erie County Public Library and Erie businesses. Volunteers also handed out poems in downtown Erie over the noon hour

One of the volunteers, Breanna Mekuly, shares her experience:

I joined the Erie County Poet Laureate, Marisa Moks-Unger, and Sister Anne McCarthy in handing out poems in the Perry Square Park area in downtown Erie on Thursday, April 26, National Poem in Your Pocket Day. The three of us entered restaurants in the area, the County Courthouse and distributed poems in the Gannon University area.

Erie Celebrates Poem in Your Pocket Day April 26, 2018

Breanna on Poem in Your Pocket Day

The Women’s Writing Studio partnered with the Erie Public Library and five other places to celebrate National Poem in Your Pocket Day, Thursday, April 26.

Brew-Ha-Ha, Ember & Forge and State Street Starbucks coffee shops, Room 33 restaurant, and Springhill Retirement Community distributed poems to patrons, residents, and staff. Over the noon hour volunteers, including Marisa Moks-Unger, Poet Laureate of Erie County, handed out poems in the Perry Square area to passersby. Breanna Mekuly, pictured at right, shares here experience here.

“April is National Poetry Month and this event is one the most popular and widely celebrated,” said Sister Mary Lou Kownacki, coordinator of the Writing Studio. “This is the third year Erie is organizing the day and we are excited to see it expand to area businesses.”

Book Discussion on Mary Oliver's poetry

Book Discussion on poetry of Mary Oliver

The next Writing Studio Book Discussion is Thursday, January 4, 5:00 - 6:30 p.m. at The Writing Studio.

We will continue a discussion of Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver." Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver presents a personal selection of her best work in this definitive collection spanning more than five decades of her esteemed literary career," says Amazon.com.

We will be reading poems and sharing our thoughts on them--so if you don't have the book, you can still join in the discussion and then get your copy before next month's meeting.

Niagara Creative Writing Conference at Writing Studio

Niagara Creative Writing Conference at Writing Studio

The International Women's Writing Guild (IWWG) is sponsoring the Niagara Creative Writing Conference at the Women's Writing Studio at St. Mary's Space to Create on Saturday, October 7, form 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. This is an opportunity for a day of creative writing led by three outstanding Guild instructors. You'll find insights into writing memoir, fiction, and op ed as well as enrichment for your creative life at this day-long workshop.

Women's Writing Circle begins again

Women’s Writing Circle meets the 1st Wednesday of the month, beginning June 7, from 6:30 – 7:45 p.m., at The Writing Studio, 310 East 10th Street. Click here to sign up. Breanna, left, and Stephanie participated in the July 5 session.

The group will gather from June to November 2017 and is open to writers and non-writers alike. Each session includes discussion of a short reading on a writing topic, introduction of a writing theme through stories and poems, a writing prompt, time for personal writing, and optional sharing in large and small groups. The Writing Circle creates a safe space for you to develop your own voice and offers you an opportunity to have your words heard and honored without judgment. Each session is stand-alone, come to as many or as few as you are able.

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The Writing Studio is part of The Studio at Saint Mary’s: Space to Create, where studio space is available for artists and innovative programs that can positively impact center-city Erie. For more information, contact Holly Nowak.

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