Sunday, August 30, 2009

Young women finding their voices...

How might your life have been different if, as a young woman struggling to find your voice…in despair that you might never be able to say what you knew inside…there had been a place for you to begin to speak as a woman?

If you had been received into a circle of women, and during the silence, the women had let you speak…had let you speak over and over, as your words slowly came together? If they had listened deeply and attentively to your emerging voice…had noted your tenacity and tenderness…your steadfastness and resolve.

And you had seen, in the faces of the women seated there in the circle…in the still older faces of the women standing slightly behind them in the shadows…the pride and respect the older women felt as they heard the truth in your young woman’s voice.

How might your life be different?
An excerpt from I Sit Listening to the Wind by Judith Duerk

* * * * *

I remember opening my very first diary on Christmas Day, 1975. It looked like a mini-bible with its black cover, gold-leafed pages, and tiny lock and key. I went back again and again to fill the blank pages in my journals of all sizes and shapes, my most trusted confidantes. These pages held sacred space for me to write down my innermost thoughts, yet my words remained pressed in the darkness between the pages, without air to breathe. There wasn’t much connection between this heart-writing and the writing I dared to share with the world, and like most girls approaching adolescence, I experienced a split from my true voice.

The vision of community Judith Duerk describes is now a reality for young women in Bloomington. Young Women Writing for (a) Change offers sacred space for girls to write, with the additional gift of a safe, boundaried community where they have the opportunity to share their words and hear them resonate in the “acoustics of intimacy.”

It’s hard for me to describe how I felt sitting in a circle with girls for our very first sampler class one year ago. When Greta lit the candle and started it around the circle, I delighted in watching each girl take her moment with the flame, needing no explanation about what to do or how to do it. We don’t dilute the rituals for the girls. Rituals tap into something deep inside each of us regardless of age – a desire to connect with ourselves.

I feel the presence of the larger community of women writers supporting these girls. And beyond that, like the “still older women” Duerk describes, I like to believe the women of Poplar Grove school stand in an outer ring of support in the shadows.Our first sampler led to a six-week winter class in 2009 with our pioneering group of six girls, which led to our first summer camp in July, with a group of nine girls, and myself, Greta, and Beth facilitating. With each circle, the wisdom that springs forth from these girls simply blows me away. It is so inspiring for me to witness girls creating community where each voice is honored and respected. It gives me great hope that they are acquiring tools they will carry with them as they navigate the circles of their lives.

We are now gearing up for our next sampler class on Sept. 20 followed by our six-week fall class beginning Oct. 4. Our hearts are open to any girl who might resonate with the Young Women Writing for (a) Change experience. Please help us get the word out.
Kim Evans for the Poplar Grove Muse


  1. Anna is very excited. MKP

  2. I wish I could be 20 years younger for a day, to come to a circle!