AWA Affiliate and Board Member Kate Hymes shares her work with Wallkill Valley Writers (wVw) in New York and her commitment to uplifting each writer’s voice within that community.

“All people are writers who can, if they so desire, claim their writing as a personal art form.” –Pat Schneider

Every human being has a story to tell, real or imagined. My personal story, and yours, is a record of our life experience. It is our contribution to the ongoing, unending story of what it feels like and means to be alive.

Wallkill Valley Writers (wVw) prepares a space that welcomes and encourages, inexperienced to published, writers to tell their stories through the written word. They are free to play, explore and discover the content and shape of their stories. In workshops, we have listened to first draft writing that feels “physically as if the top[s] of [our heads] were taken off.” We have listened to short stories, sections of novels, passages of memoir, and poems of emotional genius and striking craftsmanship. Much of this amazing work will never be public or heard outside the safe space of a wVw workshop.

As a community writing workshop and community of writers, wVw encourages and supports writers to make their work public. The writing deserves a wider audience. It is excellent work. Making work public, publication, takes many forms: reading at open mics and local spoken word venues, self-publication for family and friends, self-publication with self-marketing, publication in local and national journals or anthologies, local or national literary contests, publication with regional or national book publishers, or online publishing. Publication makes visible and concrete the AWA tenet that “Art belongs to the people…. Art is the creative expression of the human spirit, and it cannot…be limited to those few who achieve critical acclaim or financial award.”

There is a Bible verse that asserts no one lights a candle and hides it under a basket. wVw, in league with other AWA workshops, has lit thousands of candles. wVw lets its light shine in the world by publishing writing online at The first thing you see when you visit is the writing of members of the wVw community. We invite you to visit and read. We look forward to reading the writing of our colleagues across the world in AWA workshops.

Pat Schneider writes about the necessity and importance of intimate support as writers write in community. There is also the intimate support of reading; this too is a gift we can give one another.

Let’s affirm that AWA is an international community of writers and readers.

—Kate Hymes