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 annual 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. 

The first Rutgers-Camden High School Writers Conference was held April 13, 2018. Presented by the Writers House and the Office of Civic Engagement, Rutgers University-Camden. 


8:40 am – Arrival and Check-in

9:00 am – Poetry and Performance 

10:00 am – Writing Legal Arguments

11:00 am – Graphic Narratives

12:30 – Lunch 

1:30 pm – Afternoon Slam 

3 pm – Buses home

2019 Sessions 

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.

Telling Long True Stories

10 am

Writer Emma Eisenberg, author of the forthcoming The Third Rainbow Girl, will discuss the research and writing practices she uses for long-form journalism. Students will get the chance to explore: what’s a story you’ve wanted to tell that seems like it has a lot of moving parts? How do you know what questions to ask and who to talk to in order to get the whole story? 

Emma Copley Eisenberg’s fiction and nonfiction has appeared in McSweeney’s, Granta, Tin House, VQR, American Short Fiction, the Los Angeles Review of Books, AGNI, and others. She lives in Philadelphia where she co-directs Blue Stoop, a hub for the literary arts. Her first book, The Third Rainbow Girl, will be published by Hachette Books in 2020.


Stories in Sound 
10 am 
Ever heard a story on a podcast or on the radio that you couldn’t turn off? Come learn the basics of how to structure a compelling, creative audio story. You’ll learn the differences between three non-standard story structures, hear about to how to approach interviews for different kinds of stories, and dive into the basics of critiquing audio stories (we’ll listen to clips from Radiotopia, NPR, and more). We will do our learning in pairs and in the large group. You will walk away knowing that you can choose a structure for your first “story in sound” that is both moving and coherent.  
Abby Holtzman is the editor in chief of New Voices magazine, the Jewish and justice-focused magazine by and for college students, and the executive director of the Jewish Student Press Service (JSPS). Abby mentors young writers across the country on journalistic skills to help them document their own communities and hold accountable the institutions that raised them. Abby’s radio reporting has aired on Interfaith Voices, WHYY’s The Pulse, WAMU’s All Things Considered, Tablet’s Unorthodox podcast, and WNYC’s Nancy podcast. They are a graduate of Swarthmore College and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
Graphic Narrative Workshop
11 am 
Love comics? Join a professional cartoonist for a brief overview of graphic narrative techniques. We’ll do a crash course on comic/zine making and visual storytelling. You’ll end the session with your very own finished mini-comic and the knowledge to make more.

Priya Huq is a cartoonist and illustrator whose debut graphic novel comes out in 2020. She’s had work in The Nib, Secret Loves of Geeks, and the Dirty Diamonds anthologies.

Playwriting Workshop: The Playwriting Decathlon! 
11 am 
Playwrights are story-tellers of the stage. Their words unfold out of the mouths of actors and in front of a live audience. In this workshop, you’ll learn ten simple steps that will have you writing plays in no time! We’ll work collectively and individually to create 1- to 2-page scenes. The session will end with a reading of some of these scenes and resources for you so you can keep evolving as a playwright! 
Jesse Bernstein is a Philadelphia-based playwright, director, actor, producer and educator. He is a teaching artist and the Resident Producer for Philadelphia Young Playwrights, and has worked with theatres around the country. In May, the musical for which he is writing the book, Something Like a War, will be presented as a staged-reading by 11th Hour Theatre Company. 
Poetry of Protest
11 am 
Poet and activist Audre Lorde writes, “Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity for our existence. It forms the quality of light from which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.” In this workshop, we will explore the relationship between the language of poetry and the language of politics. We will get inspired by poetry that speaks up, talks back, and breaks the rules. Then, students will begin writing their own poems that dream towards change. 
Stephanie Cawley is a poet from southern New Jersey. She is the author of the chapbook A Wilderness (Gazing Grain Press, 2019) and her poems and essays have been published in The Fanzine, The Boston Review, the PEN Poetry Series, and Best New Poets, among other places. She teaches writing at Stockton University and is the Program Director of the Nick Virgilio Writers House in Camden. 
Science Communication 
12 – 12:30 pm 
Are you interested in both science AND journalism? When scientists make discoveries, we need journalists who understand the science to interpret it for the world. Come out and learn a little about the field of science journalism!
Dr. Nathan Fried is a neuroscientist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at Rutgers University Camden studying chronic pain, sleep, and the opioid epidemic. Dr. Fried is also an avid science communicator who writes stories about recent scientific breakthroughs and presents talks about the brain across the philadelphia area. Learn more about his work at 

How to participate

Students should have a parent or guardian sign the permission slip below and return it to Ms. Ally Barajas by April 19, 2019.

Writers Conference Permission Slip

For teachers 

Want to bring an entire class? Want more information about this year’s program? Contact us at 856-668-4980 or 

Admission Information


Leah Falk