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FAIR HAVEN: TEENS LAUNCH MAG, WITH VERVE

A Verve magazine production session in Fair Haven last week. Below, instruction Jennifer Chauhan, left, with Samantha Quinn. (Photos by Colby Wilson. Click to enlarge)

By COLBY WILSON

What is imagination? What is artistic expression?

It’s “Verve,” according to an ambitious group of local young creators led by Little Silver-based writer, editor and educator Jennifer Chauhan.

This summer, Chauhan, the founder of the JC Writing Studio in Fair Haven, is helping five teens from local schools tap into their creative energy and craft their  own online publication. During a four-day open writing studio last week, Chauhan helped the founding editors transform Verve from an idea into a reality.

Chauhan’s studio is proving its effectiveness as a shelter from which young creative writers and photographers emerge. Even in July, with the irresistible Jersey Shore just miles away, her students are focused on their passion to create.

“This is all their doing,” Chauhan said of the quintet’s publication. “They came up with the categories. They each have an area that they’re going to be focusing on for the first couple of issues.”

The inaugural issue of Verve is expected to feature fiction, “flash fiction,” poetry, short stories of all lengths, and photography created by Dylan Van Sickell, Sadie Britton, Hannah Christensen, Samantha Quinn and Emma Wright.

Van Sickell is helping kick off a “How To” section. Drawing from his own personal experience, he plans to write a story called “How to Go on a Date.” He’s also interested in publishing some interviews with the older members of the beach club where he lifeguards.

“I want to write new stories with new people,” he said.

Wright is the poet. She’ll be contributing her free verse pieces to Verve. According to Chauhan, Wright has already won contests with her poetry.

Britton and Christensen are co-editors of the fiction section. Britton says she’s contributing her best flash fiction to Verve’s first issue. In her latest piece, “Amy in Cyprus,” she describes her main character at her husband’s funeral:

“Her black boatneck dress brushes the tops of her calves and the small wedding band on her finger glitters in the weak light filtering in the chapel.”

While each student has one area to focus on, they’re all going past their comfort zones by contributing to all the areas available to them.

Take Quinn, who is in charge of Verve’s photography. She’s going to match her photographs with the stories everyone else is writing. But, some of her stories will also be featured in Verve too.

How does it work? The editors] “are going to put their stuff up online, and then invite teen writers from all over to submit their own writing and to share their stories and personal narratives,” Chauhan said.

The founding editors will ultimately decide what pieces are accepted.

This is just the beginning. Chauhan wants the effort to extend beyond the studio and into the broader community. It’s part of a larger project that she’s developing called Project Write Now.

“With Project Write Now, I’m hoping to go into schools with workshops and integrate pieces of work from a particular school into the issue of that particular month,” she said.

One month, Verve might feature writing from a school in Red Bank, the next month it could be a school from Little Silver, she said. Chauhan hopes to continually expand the audience that contributes.

“I opened my writing studio because I believe our educational system, with its focus on analytical intelligence, can be a disservice to so many children, particularly those labeled the ‘middle’ children, who often fall through the cracks,” Chauhan says on her website.

Van Sickell, Britton, Christensen, Quinn and Wright hardly seem like they’ve fallen through the cracks. If anything, they’re emerging like flowers from the sidewalk, proving that creativity can come from even the blankest of slates.

Solari Creative of Red Bank is helping Verve get its website up and running for the inaugural issue, set to be released as early as September. Solari also designed the publication’s logo.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
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