SHU Professor to Offer Free Writing Workshops for Veterans and Their Families

News Story: October 21, 2015

Many of us know the sensation of having experienced something profound—where words fail us. Jubilation. A moment of realization. Deep personal anguish.

Veterans and their families experience a whole world of memory and meaning, a story that often can’t find the words. How do veterans remember war? What kind of meaning do they and their families find in the face of such experiences?

Writing can help find the words.

Veterans and their families deserve a safe, supportive place to tell their stories—a place to learn how to write their stories with power, grit and poignancy.

To help provide this outlet, Sacred Heart University will offer free writing workshops for veterans and their family members, including parents, spouses, partners, siblings and adult children and grandchildren.

Writing participants will:

  • learn the writing skills necessary to help them tell their stories
  • practice writing genres such as fiction, poetry, drama and nonfiction
  • receive strong feedback and guidance to help them improve their writing
  • share their voices, perspectives and world views with veterans and civilians
  • read the war experience literature of veterans and civilians
  • polish and prepare their writing for an edited and published anthology called Veterans and Civilians: Writing After War—on Sacred Heart University’s website

Workshops will be facilitated by Professor Sandra Young, a Sacred Heart University professor of English who has taught creative writing and creative nonfiction for 34 years.

“Good storytelling transforms and transcends,” says Young, recalling a lesson she learned through war literature such as Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny’s Got His Gun and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried—but also through her personal experiences with vets in the classroom.

“I had my first vet in class about four years ago. A Marine in his early 20s, he looked 40. His writing was raw, almost feral; he wanted to release his demons. My current Marine is in his mid-30s. His writing is contained, careful; he wants to control his demons. Both of my Marines write their wars.”

Young looks forward to working with more vets through her workshops.

The writing workshops will run for six Wednesdays: October 28, November 4, November 11, November 18, December 2, and December 9—at Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Ave. Fairfield, in the Humanities Classroom 210, 5:30-7 p.m.  To register or for more information, please email Sandra Young at youngs@sacredheart.edu. Light refreshments will be served.

Bring a notebook and pen, or a laptop, and find the words to write your story.