Local students engage in the eleventh Greenwich Writers Festival


Natalie Dosmond '21

Three schools in Greenwich participated in the annual Greenwich Writers Festival, held at Greenwich Academy.

Student writers and faculty members from Sacred Heart Greenwich, Greenwich Academy, and Brunswick School participated in the eleventh annual Greenwich Writers Festival February 22 at Greenwich Academy.  This event allowed participants to attend workshops in which they learned about writing poetry and screenplays.  Students also engaged with the guest writers, poets Ms. Sojourner Ahebee and Ms. Maya Popa, and screenwriter and film producer Mr. Rob Burnett.

Ms. Maya Popa read poems from her poetry book American Faith at the Greenwich Writers Festival.  Natalie Dosmond ’21

Each year in preparation, festival moderators Dr. Cristina Baptista, Upper School English Teacher, and Dr. William Mottolese, Upper School English Teacher and Chair of the English Department, work closely with Sacred Heart’s literary magazine Perspectives to organize and promote the event within the school community.  Dr. Baptista encourages her students to attend the annual Writers Festival as it gives them the opportunity to write creatively outside of a classroom environment.

“In my American Literature class, I aim to be a passionate teacher and writer who speaks highly of other artists and, in the end, hope this encourages students to seek creative professionals in our midst, such as the poets, bloggers, activists, and filmmakers they will meet at the Writers Festival,” Dr. Baptista said.  “I remind students, too, that it is not often that they get a chance to write personally and imaginatively in a no-pressure zone, or to collaborate and interact with professionals and other students in schools outside our own.”

Student organizers, including Sacred Heart Perspectives staff members, worked with Greenwich Academy and Brunswick School, inviting Ms. Ahebee, author of Reporting from the Belly of the Night, Ms. Popa, author of The Bees Have Been Canceled, and Mr. Burnett, producer, director, and screenwriter, to attend the festival and host workshops for students.

Senior Elisa Howard, a member of the Perspectives staff, actively sought ways to encourage the Sacred Heart community to attend the Writers Festival.

“To promote the Writers Festival, Perspectives has made various announcements to the school community,” Elisa said.  “I have spoken with many students individually to encourage them to attend, as the festival was a great opportunity to learn from and workshop with accomplished writers.”

Ms. Popa works as the Poetry Reviews Editor at Publishers Weekly and is the director of the Creative Writing Program at the Nightingale-Bamford School in New York City, overseeing guest writers, workshops, and readings.  Ms. Popa distributed three poems in her workshop to analyze various creative writing styles amongst different authors.  At the end of her workshop, students wrote personal reflections about how they could apply numerous writing techniques to their own works.

Mr. Rob Burnett taught a screenwriting workshop at the Greenwich Writer’s Festival.  Natalie Dosmond ’21.

Ms. Ahebee was one of the 2013 National Student Poets, the nation’s highest honor for youth poets, and is a published author in Academy of American Poets for her poetry works.  Ms. Ahebee read her poems to the students and held a workshop that focused on poems concerning political issues such as immigration.

Mr. Burnett, five-time Emmy Award winner, taught a workshop about scriptwriting and the structure of films.  Mr. Burnett also spoke about the writing process and the inspiration for his film The Fundamentals of Caring, as well as his role as executive producer of the Late Show with Mr. David Letterman.

Dr. Mottolese commended the organizers, guests, and attendees of this year’s Writers Festival.

“The Writers Festival is the most harmonious and successful collaboration between Sacred Heart and Greenwich Academy,” Dr. Mottolese said.  “We really work closely with Greenwich Academy to plan and run the festival, and it is a terrific event that requires both schools to make it a success.  We have been doing it for over ten years, and Mr. Jeff Schwarz at Greenwich Academy and Dr. Baptista are passionate advocates of creative writing.  Best of all, students get to write and workshop with highly accomplished guest writers.”

Featured Image by Natalie Dosmond ’21