Focus on Teen Writers and Artists: Inlandia Launch

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Inlandia-Teen-2019-Cover-e1557118499842-967x1024.jpgThursday evening, the Inlandia Institute celebrated the launch of this spring’s

Image of woman.

Christina Guillen, Inlandia Institute Programs Coordinator, introducing teen readers.

teen issue of Inlandia: A Literary Journey at “Literature on the Lawn,” part of Riverside’s monthly Art Walk. Several of our teen writers and artists spoke as their family, friends, and Inland Empire community member listened. It was a delightful evening of focus on teen writers and artists.

Image of flyer advertising ‘Literature on the Lawn.’

 

Why Focus on Teens?

 

Image of teen reader.

Kiyani Carter, teen editor and writer

Last night I was at my writers’ workshop where I was having a nonfiction piece critiqued by other adults. In my essay, I had written a few paragraphs about something I’d learned in many years as a high school English teacher and a teacher-librarian. This small bit of my essay–it was about helping teens choose books to read–ended up being the most discussed section of my piece. Why?

The adults were fascinated that I have years consistently reading young adult books, things I could keep in the catalog of my mind for later book talks, to use for suggestions when a student would ask me if I had a book with someone just like him as protagonist and hero.

“I didn’t think of that–that every student wants a book with him or herself at the center.”

 

Write Your Own Story

Image of Victoria Waddle

Victoria discussing the process of creating the teen issue and congratulating the teens.

 

Well, of course they do. Sometimes they don’t find that book or that story or that poem, so they try to write it themselves. As Nobel winner Toni Morrison said,

  • “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”
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Samantha Schmiedel

 

 

The reason I wanted to have a teen issue for the Inlandia Journal–and this is the second annual teen issue–is that it’s a good place for teens, particularly local Inland Empire teens, to write their experiences and have those experiences read. It’s as simple as that.

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Maihan Phan

 I love giving the teens the opportunity to be heard, I love having teen judges who are getting their first experience as being editors. And while I hope to give teens opportunities, many in this process faced their first rejection–in fact, 75% of the submissions didn’t make it to the journal. To each person whose work was not accepted, I sent notes about what did work in their pieces, encouraging them to keep writing. I want everyone to keep striving because the fact that the pieces weren’t ready doesn’t mean that they won’t be published with a bit more work. They are simply in progress.

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Aubrey Koyle

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Alissar Nahhas

 

 

 

Image of teacher and kids.

Loma Linda Academy teacher David Stone, with his kids, supporting the teen readers.

 

Thank You for Your Journey

Tonight, I want to thank all the teen editors for their work in reading the pieces. Their efforts are truly a sacrifice of time at a particularly busy point in the life of teens–the end of the school year. I want to thank all the teen writers for submitting. It’s a pleasure to feel the emotional resonance of your work, to see you writing yourself into your own story.

Image of students.

Creative Writing teacher Alejandro Cisneros (second from left) with Wren Levya, Alyssa Valenzuela, Violette Valencia and Vivyan Perez (left to right), all from Loma Vista Middle School.

Congratulations on your success!

Note: If you’re interested in submitting work for the next teen issue of Inlandia, subscribe to this blog, and you will receive notification of submission dates. (Right now, that appears to be October 15, 2019-Jan. 31, 2020.)

About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
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