Military veterans have stories to tell and the various learning opportunities provided by the Kansas City Vets Writing Team, a program supported by Moral Injury Association of America, will help them gain the tools and confidence to tell them well. By using reading and writing exercises to explore deployment, wartime and post-deployment experiences — fear, boredom, anxieties, thrills, brutality, tears and beauty — attendees learn how to write their stories and make them compelling. Through our workshops, monthly veteran critique groups and other literary events, participants explore the many approaches possible to create personal stories, poetry, fiction and essays.
The objective of this program is that attendees write about their military memories, begin the process of owning their stories, and by doing so, possibly negotiate their way around serious barriers. As one vet wrote in his evaluation, “[The workshop] is a great start to help me tell my story of service, however painful it may be.”
The first writing workshop was in April 2014, and the program has grown in the five years since. More than 200 vets and family members have attended day-long workshops in the Spring and the multi-week sessions held the last two years in the Fall. Many graduates of the workshops now meet on a monthly basis in a structured writing critique group, continuing to hone their writing skills, and share their personal stories in a safe environment, offering the camaraderie of military life.
Our work has been made possible through the support of the Missouri Humanities Council, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mid-Continent Library and Story Center, Kansas City Public Library System, Moral Injury Association of America, Kansas Humanities Council, The Writers Place, The World War I Museum and individual donors.
Nearly three dozen vets and family members signed up for the 2018 Spring Veterans Writing Workshop on April 21 at the Story Center at the Mid-Continent Public Library at the Woodneath Campus in Kansas City, Missouri. The day was filled with learnings and camaraderie.
On May 7, six vets participated in our first Veterans Reading held at The Writers Place. More than 30 family and friends listened to poetry and prose written by our vets.
Our writing program was featured in the Spring 2018 edition of the Missouri Humanities magazine. Check out the story at http://www.mohumanities.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/MO_Humanities_Spring2018.pdf
Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 15, when the KC Vets Writing Team welcomes Guggenheim Fellowship recipient and nationally acclaimed poet and author Brian Turner to the KCMO Plaza Library. Brian's visit will kick off the Fall 2018 Vets Writing Workshop, set for five week sessions. More details are coming but you can be assured this community-wide event and following vet writing seminar will be one you don't miss.