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The Connection

The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

Nonprofit hosts storytelling workshop, offers chance to be published

Seth Henderson
Students participate in the “Drop a Pen” creative writing workshop, hosted by 916 Ink, a Sacramento non-profit committed to empowering youth through literature. Sacramento Poet Laureate Andru Defeye, the official poet of Sacramento (right), stands and talks to students about the project.

Sacramento non-profit organization 916 Ink, aimed at empowering youth through creative writing, recently held a workshop in the Learning Resource Center, giving students the opportunity to have their work published and earn $150 if accepted.

Poet Laureate Andru Defeye, the official poet of Sacramento, said 916 Ink’s project, “Drop a Pen,” will create a coffee table book composed of poems, pictures, interviews and other literature from people across Sacramento.

“It’s just really an attempt to let the communities tell the stories of themselves, versus, especially when we look at North and South Sacramento, these are communities that are always having their stories told by people who don’t come from that community,” Defeye said.

Alaina Pipkin, a 19-year-old English major, said she came to the workshop because she was looking for an opportunity to start writing more and she also received extra credit in her English class for attending. She said she didn’t expect the local poet laureate to be in attendance.

“The other people that also have careers that revolve around poetry, I think that’s something I would like to do in the future, so it was really nice meeting them,” Pipkin said.

Paprika Duran, a 19-year-old art major, said the workshop was a great opportunity to be creative and make some money.

“It’s nice. It feels nice to get back into writing,” Duran said.

Lead word-slinger for 916 Ink Eman Salem is a literary arts educator, facilitating 916 Ink’s Find Your Voice Creative Writing Workshop curriculum, according to their website.

“It’s very heartening to see people in a space where they’re there because they love and genuinely care for their community,” said Salem, a Cosumnes River College alumna and former Connection staff writer.

Salem said participants have written about aspects of Sacramento they like or don’t like, why they chose to live here, what the city means to them and their experience living in it.

“I know CRC has a very diverse student body, not just race and ethnicity, but also like experiences, folks of all different walks of life,” Salem said. “And that’s really the core of our project. We want to make sure that we actually capture Sacramento and we want to emphasize the north and south areas.”

Salem said it’s important to not impose on what people want to say and let them write what they feel, speaking how they want to.

Community Program Manager for 916 Ink Paulette Greenhouse said the non-profit’s project is special because it amplifies voices of all ages, publishing the work of more than 5,000 students since 2011 and approaching their 300th coffee table book. She said the “Drop a Pen” book should be published between August and September.

Greenhouse said the pop-up workshops are to give access to education, educate the community and provide a safe space, but also hold each other accountable.

“We’re intentionally going around to different groups, non-profits, sometimes grassroots folks, people who do things in the community and have been able to have a little group they formed as a mentor or leader,” Greenhouse said. “So, we’ve been able to do that and that experience has been amazing and I didn’t expect to get so much out of it.”

Greenhouse said the project was funded by the Creation Corps Grant, provided by the City of Sacramento Office of Art and Culture. She said the grant and 916 Ink’s relationship with the poet laureate has made it possible to pay the writers because Defeye is an advocate for paying artists.

“We’re hoping to get everyone’s voice, the idea being, we want the book to look and feel like the city,” said Defeye, an Oak Park native. He has been the poet laureate of Sacramento since 2020, collaborating with 916 Ink for nearly 5 years, doing project work and summer camps.

Greenhouse said publishing student work is a good thing because it’s a way to get started and noticed in the industry.

Cathryn Ours, a 20-year-old English major and former Connection staff writer, said they were impressed with the event’s turnout, seeing multiple tables of students participating.

Salem said the coffee table book will be in the Library of Congress with an International Standard Book Number when published. She said she enjoys the fulfillment students get from the project.

“A lot of kids don’t like writing and they don’t care for it, but eventually when you hand them that book that’s published and they see their name in it for the first time, there’s this excitement and they don’t really believe you that there’s going to be a book until they have it in their hand,” Salem said.

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About the Contributor
Seth Henderson
Seth Henderson, Editor in Chief
Seth Henderson is the Editor-in-Chief for The Connection. He decided to join the Connection because he wants to become a reporter and broadcaster, hoping to work in Las Vegas for the Raiders and the NFL. He was grew up in the Bay Area and is passionate about journalism, music and sports.

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