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Laura McCulloughBrookdale professor and poet Laura McCullough advises aspiring authors on getting published in the first in a new series of seminars presented by Project Write Now.

While it wasn’t the sort of Grand Opening extravaganza that’s usually accompanied by rented spotlights, a DJ booth and an air-powered dancing “Tube Dude,” the recent relocation of Project Write Now to a larger studio space in Red Bank back in December made a decidedly civilized splash of its own.

All over town, a collection of local people — including Mayor Pasquale Menna, who artfully ambushed a lunchtime crowd at Robinson’s Ale House with a reading from Rudyard Kipling — took part in a promotion that found them sharing favorite poems and inspirational words with their community neighbors.

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project write nowProject Write Now invites the public to an unveiling of its expanded Bridge Avenue space on December 1, capping a Giving Poetry Tuesday celebration of the community’s words and voices.

It’s a unique little event that unfolds over the course of a late-autumn weekday in Red Bank, taking place at various locations around town (train station, library, hospital, classroom), and involving the participation of people ranging from Mayor Pasquale Menna and volunteer emergency responders to staffers from Lunch Break and students from the borough’s schools.

It’s Giving Poetry Tuesday, a “celebration of Red Bank’s voices” that finds people from all walks of local life taking part in a collaborative community poetry reading between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday, December 1. Organized by Project Write Now, the initiative is an engagingly interactive lead-in to the borough-based nonprofit’s main event: an evening open house unveiling of its new, expanded studio space at 25 Bridge Avenue.

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Write NowRed Bank Middle School students proudly display the notebooks that have helped them grow academically and personally, as part of Project Write Now’s Literacy Outreach Program. The nonprofit has announced a fundraising campaign to help finance the program’s move to a new self-contained classroom/studio space on Bridge Avenue.

What if we shared our true feelings about everyone/ Would that be weird?

What if we all looked the same/ Would you know who you really are?

What if we all got along and put issues aside/ What if we all matured and started taking action

What if we all had no social media/ Would you be who you truly are today?

What if we all fought every day/ Would you call it a riot?

What if we all loved each other and cared about each other/ Would you consider that as family?

What if we all had one/ What would you wish for?

What if we all made billions/ What would you do with that money?

What if we all started to be honest/ Would that scare you?

The wise words were composed by a 7th grader from here in Red Bank — a student poet who participates in a modestly scaled (but expansively ambitious) program conducted by Project Write Now.

As Jennifer Chauhan, co-founder of the borough-based nonprofit enterprise writes, “Since January, we’ve had the privilege of working with 7th and 8th grade students at Red Bank Middle School through our Literacy Outreach Program. We’ve encouraged them to write freely, and they’ve opened up, exploring their thoughts and beliefs.”

The executive director of Project Write Now goes on to explain that she and fellow co-founder Allison Tevald have received “more than one hundred thank-you letters, telling us how much they’ve grown academically and personally. One student told us she never would have finished her school assignments without our encouragement. Another boy is perceived as a troublemaker, yet with us he writes poetry (including the above example) that inspires his peers.”

An impressive set of results for the program’s inaugural year — but as Chauhan sees it, the successes of the current class have set the stage for the expansion of the program; a plan that centers around a campaign aimed at funding Write Now’s move to an enhanced studio space at its Bridge Avenue address.

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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)


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.

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