5 Things Every Teen Should Know About GrubStreet

GrubStreet’s Working in the Arts Summer Fellowship (WITA) provides young writers with job experience working in the arts. Over the course of the summer, Fellows support GrubStreet’s YAWP program, receive mentorship, and gain access to other working artists. In this post, WITA Fellow Unglid Paul reflects her experience as a YAWPer and the five things every teen should know about GrubStreet.

As a young adult, there are very few things I can positively say I know a lot about. Thankfully, one of those things is the organization that took me under their wing and had a hand in creating the person I am today. I can’t speak for the experience of all Grubbies, but I can shine a light for the teens and what they should expect when walking into this creative writing home. Because I too thought that GrubStreet was too good to be true. What I found out? It’s even better.

1. GrubStreet supports teens as they find the confidence to be a writer and an artist. 
Language is a weird thing to work with. Anyone who makes a profession with it is undoubtedly bold, and maybe even a little crazy. At least, that’s what I thought as a teen. I was told many times that to make language an area of study, is to waste my time. If I wasn’t going to be an accountant, a businesswoman, a medic or a lawyer, college was a hole of debt I would never survive. It scared me half to death. Then I walked into GrubStreet. And I found that language doesn’t have to be scary. It also doesn't have to be a waste of time. GrubStreet taught me that my voice is never a waste. I walked into the Summer Teen Fellowship, hoping to prove myself as a writer, only to find a soul of an artist among other artists. I now laugh with my peers when we use our strange metaphors to make points. I can now better communicate my ideas. I can paint a picture of my future without question of intent. But mostly, I can write a book, and believe in my story. I can write a poem and believe in my message. I imagined that confidence to be drowning somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle, only to find it waiting for me in a classroom, between the pages of my Grub notebook. And with it was my identity as an artist.

2. The community and the friendships you make are lifelong connections. 
As I sat at the front desk, I got the chance to catch up with all four of my Grub instructors. One is now my boss.  This summer, I had my GrubStreet poetry instructor from almost two years ago review my work. I chatted with my fellowship instructor and heard the beautiful words:  “I’m so proud of you and how far you’ve come.” And for the fourth instructor, I was a teaching assistant in the same class I took when I was a Grub student. Beyond those connections, you find peers that inspire you as much as you inspire them. You start the dreaded group chats and share the Insta and Twitter handles. You stay in touch, telling each other about cool poetry spots and readings. Then GrubStreet emails you about events and classes. They invite you to conferences, which then open up opportunities and information that can help you grow in your career and expose you to the world outside your bubble.

3. Opportunities for teen writers. 
As a teen, you never get bored with GrubStreet. And although summer is a peak time to take classes and fellowships, opportunities are not exclusive to one season. Free Saturday Sessions run throughout the year once a month. And weeklong classes also happen during the winter and spring breaks. Not to mention the highly honored YAWP Summer Teen Fellowship where you actually get paid to write for three beautiful weeks. The Fellowship also includes field trips and lunch. Plus, you leave with your very own piece in a published anthology! Summer Teen Fellows also get invited to the Muse and Marketplace conference for free, which is one of the biggest writing conferences in the nation. At the Muse, you get to talk with agents, editors, publishers, and other writers. The teen poetry slam is also a way to get into the poetry world as a teen and perform and compete on a big stage with friends. And of course, the WITA Fellowship is a new program that gives you a chance to gain professional development skills and get a behind the scenes look at GrubStreet with hands-on experience on how programming and nonprofits work. 

As a WITA fellow, I was tasked with refilling the free snacks for the teens this summer and it boggles my mind how much of a role this truly plays in the GrubStreet experience. I’m pretty sure fruit snacks have become a new incentive to come back to take classes. It’s understandable, though, as I for one was used to taking three packets of pretzels at a time during breaks. Having a little snack craving during your writing process is (thankfully) something that GrubStreet is very compassionate towards. After all, cheeseballs and Nature Valley Bars are a necessity for every young writer as they develop their artistic abilities. So take as many of the Oreos as you want!

5. There are no obstacles at Grub.
When it comes to cost, transportation or food barriers, GrubStreet is known to break them down. For one, scholarships are given frequently if you can’t afford to take a class. And if you don’t get a scholarship for one class, they encourage you to sign up for another one. Also, the Saturday Sessions are completely free, as well as the YAWP Summer Teen Fellowship. The Slam Poetry Team is also free. So really, for teens, there are many free ways to get involved with GrubStreet. And for any classes with price tags, GrubStreet will always find a way to make it affordable for the writers who need it. Worried about how you’ll get there? GrubStreet also provides MBTA passes for those who need it, and commuter rail passes on approval basis. So now that you can afford it and you can get to it, what about food? You can also apply for free lunch and we will give you a gift card to a nearby restaurant or encourage you to take a Trader Joe's frozen meal in our freezer. And if you are left with only the fear of taking that next step in your creative writing journey, please note that the best thing GrubStreet provides is support. Whether it’s borrowing laptops, helping you find a schedule that works for you, or giving you the practical means to be a successful writer, they don’t want anything to deter you from being as creative as you want to be.

GrubStreet is only going to get bigger from here. And from my time as a YAWP Summer Fellow and student, there has been progress and new programs that only enhance the experience. If there was one thing I wish I knew about GrubStreet as a teen, it's that it’s even better than I imagined it to be. 

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About the Author

Unglid Paul is an upcoming sophomore at Union College in Schenectady, NY. She is currently studying English and minoring in Political Science and French. Her creative writing mostly focuses on slam poetry and short fiction but she is also currently working on her first novel. She hopes to become a professor one day as well as a business owner and published author. When she isn't overbooking herself with cool courses and activities, she's either reading a young adult fantasy novel, complaining about her Boston Celtics team, or binge watching daytime talk shows on YouTube. Feel free to connect with her about cool slam poetry you've seen and local performing spots.

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