In the fall and winter of 2018, Mississippi writers will lead creative writing workshops in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, asking senior citizens to consider the following prompt: “What’s your strongest memory from when you were a teenager?” Through looking at examples of creative writing and brainstorming ways to think imaginatively about their memories, residents will craft brief narratives from their own lives. These stories will be collected and, in the spring of 2019, shared with students in public high schools. A second series of workshops will send writers into classrooms to help students imaginatively expand those memories, using the prompt: “If this story took place today in your community, what would happen next?” The best pieces and pairings will be collected once again into a published book to be distributed across the state — a kind of call and response that will highlight Mississippi’s past and map out its bright future.

We believe this will be a remarkable opportunity for both our senior citizens and our young people to investigate memories of youth, enjoy the benefits of creative expression, and engage across generations to create a shared narrative of where we’ve been as a community and where we want to go.