A Community of Writers

Leah Falk

Leah Falk, program coordinator for the Writers House, with Candida Rodriguez, a fiction writer and regular participant in writing workshops.

By Leah Falk

Before Candida Rodriguez discovered the community writing workshops at Rutgers University–Camden, her motivation to write, which once burned bright, had flickered out. “If it had not been for the workshops I attended at the Writers House, I would not have returned to writing,” said Rodriguez, a Camden resident who for several years has been a participant in writing workshops on campus that are open to the public.

Rodriguez, who works at a preschool, writes fiction and is working on a novel. She most recently took part in The Writing Sangha, a meditative workshop for women through the Cooper Street Workshops held in the Writers House. “I have made wonderful connections to a community of writers and poets in the city which I had no knowledge existed, and which I longed for,” Rodriguez said.

Since the Writers House launched its first programs in 2016, it has been dedicated to fostering connections among writers—whether or not they’re affiliated with Rutgers–Camden. The beautifully restored Queen Anne Revival-style house, built in 1885 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by celebrated architect Wilson Eyre and was home to Civil War surgeon Henry Genet Taylor. In classrooms that feature historic fireplaces, light fixtures, and woodwork, the campus community and public can experience an intimate audience—and, occasionally, a manuscript critique—with novelists and poets such as Okey Ndibe, Rick Moody, Jennifer Egan, and James McBride.

Writers House

Writers House

While the Writers in Camden reading series, which offers free workshops, predates the house’s restoration, other programs have grown out of conversations with students, faculty, and residents.

The Cooper Street Workshops series makes a range of writing courses accessible to the public, and offers significantly reduced rates for Camden residents. Latasha Perry, a Camden novelist who took Turning Life into Fiction, a workshop taught by Rutgers–Camden M.F.A. alumna Cherita Harrell GSC’16, was inspired by her experience. “I have been awakened in a way that has elevated my writing,” Perry said.

For more information about the Writers House programs, including the Cooper Street Workshops and the Writers in Camden series, visit writershouse.camden.rutgers.edu or call 856-668-4980.

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