This conference is for you. 

If you’re a high school student who loves writing poetry, arguing politics, or composing epic threads on Twitter, this conference is for you. If you’ve dreamed about journalism, law, nursing, or working for your city, and want to know how people in those professions use writing every day, this conference is also for you. 

In the morning, choose from sessions on poetry and performance, legal argument, writing for the web, news reporting, and more, all in the historic Writers House on the Rutgers-Camden campus. Take a break for lunch, then show us your chops: by yourself or with a friend, present a poem, story, rap, essay, or other piece of writing at our afternoon slam. 


8:40 am – Arrival and Check-in

9:00 am – Poetry and Performance 

10:00 am – Writing Legal Arguments

11:00 am – 

12:00 – Lunch 

1:00 pm – Afternoon Slam 

2:00 pm – Buses home

More information on morning sessions forthcoming. 

Session Choices 

Writing for the Web: Make It Snappy
9 am 
Tamar Fox, Web Content Writer, City of PHiladelphia
How do you take important and sometimes complicated information that people need to know, and make it into clear and easy-to-read? That’s the challenge of writing for a government website, and that’s what we’ll practice in this session. Can you make a page of dense, complex text into something that’s easy to scan? 
Tamar Fox is a writer and editor for the City of Philadelphia. She has also published a children’s book, and articles in the Washington Post, the Jerusalem Post, and Lilith Magazine, among others. 
Poetry Machines 
9 am 
Jim Brown, Professor of English and Digital Studies, Rutgers University-Camden 
While humans can write poetry, it might surprise you to find out the machines can write poems as well. During this session, we’ll develop software that generates poems. No computer programming expertise is required.
Jim Brown is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Digital Studies Center at Rutgers-Camden. His teaching and research focus on digital rhetoric and electronic literature.
Finding News Stories in Your Community 
10 am 
Kevin Riordan, columnist, Philadelphia Inquirer
What stories do you know about in Camden that aren’t being covered – and ought to be – by newspapers and other mainstream media? This workshop will help you understand how you can go about finding, reporting, and writing stories about your city. We’ll discuss the kind of information one needs to know, where to find it, how to interview people, and how to ensure that what is reported is accurate. 
Kevin Riordan is a graduate of the Syracuse University journalism program. He has been a newspaperman in South Jersey for nearly 40 years and the New Jersey columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer since 2010. 
Writing in 4D: The Art of Playwriting
10 am
Jesse Bernstein, Resident Producer, Philadelphia Young Playwrights 
The play’s the thing in this class, where we’ll write scripts actors will be excited to perform. We’ll learn what makes writing for the theatre fun and unique while using prompts to craft our own short plays. Whether you’ve seen or worked on a dozen shows or none, after this workshop you’ll have the basic skills and confidence to create a dramatic scene that will leap from the page to the stage.
Jesse Bernstein is a Philadelphia-based theatre artist and educator. He teaches for Philadelphia Young Playwrights, where he is also Resident Producer. He has written several outreach plays and short films and is currently writing the book for a new musical commissioned by 11th Hour Theatre Company. He has performed and directed at theatres all around the Philadelphia area, including at the Walnut Street Theatre, Arden Theatre Company and Rutgers-Camden. 
Legal Argument 
11 am 
Krysten Connon, attorney and author
In this session, we’ll introduce the idea of writing a persuasive opening argument. Then, you’ll learn about legal problems relevant to your lives (for example, free speech in school). You’ll then get to develop arguments supporting both sides of the issue. 
Krysten Connon is an attorney in Philadelphia.  Following law school, Krysten worked as a federal judicial law clerk.  Krysten co-authored the 2015 Oxford University Press book Living in the Crosshairs:  The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism, as well as several articles that have appeared in publications such as Slate and Rolling Stone.  Krysten is a graduate of the University of Maryland and Drexel Law School. 
Writing for Worship 
11 am 
Rev. Ashley DeTar Birt
When we think about writing and faith, what comes to mind? Working on sermons? Writing prayers? Speaking your heart? In this workshop, we will explore what goes into various forms of religious writing and work on crafting prayers and statements that ring true to us.  
Rev. Ashley DeTar Birt is the Pastoral Fellow for Youth and Families at Rutgers Presbyterian Church in New York City. She holds degrees in Creative Writing, Theatre Arts, and Divinity, and has over a decade of experience working with children and youth in a church setting. She has also written for the Progressive Youth Ministry blog and Believe Out Loud.
Inspired by Real Life
10 am and 11 am 
Diana Rodriguez Wallach, YA author 
Learn to how to pull inspiration from your life to craft a young adult short story. In this workshop, we’ll learn how to outline a plot in a contemporary teen setting. Using all five senses we’ll create a vivid scene, then imagine that world through the eyes of our character by learning how to craft internal monologue. Workshops end with each of us writing the first and last sentence of our unique short story. You’ll be amazed at how you can turn an everyday moment into a engaging short story by focusing on the right details! Event includes a Q&A with the author.
Diana Rodriguez Wallach is the author of the Anastasia Phoenix Series, young adult spy thrillers that include Proof of Lies, Lies that Bind, and End of the Lie (Entangled Publishing, 2017, ’18, ‘19). The first book in the trilogy, Proof of Lies, was named by Paste Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Best Young Adult Books for March 2017.” Bustle also listed her as one of the “Top Nine Latinx Authors to Read for Women’s History Month 2017.” Additionally, she is the author of three award-winning young adult novels: Amor and Summer Secrets, Amigas and School Scandals, and Adios to All The Drama (Kensington Books); as well as a YA short-story collection entitled Mirror, Mirror (Buzz Books, 2013).

How to participate

For students: have your parent and teacher sign the permission slip below and return to Ms. Ally Barajas via email or hard copy (see slip for instructions) by March 30, 2018. **DEADLINE EXTENDED TO APRIL 6** If you’d like to present your writing in the afternoon, make sure to include the title and genre of your piece. 

For teachers and other educators: if you are interested in bringing a group of students, please contact Ms. Ally Barajas or Ms. Leah Falk. 

Download the Writers Conference Permission Slip


Date & Time
April 13, 2018
9:00 am-4:00 pm

Admission Information

Leah Falk

Event posted in youth programs.