“Wherever you don’t see yourself, that is where you need to be.” — actor Moses Gunn
This is the quote that guides the New Hampshire Writers’ Project Chair, Masheri Chappelle.
Masheri was born in Harlem and grew up in South Bronx, New York. Her ticket out of her neighborhood was a chance to take a test for academically gifted students. A winter storm had coated the entire city in ice, and as Masheri recalls, she did everything she could to get there on time. “I put on three layers of pants and my best boots, and I slid all the way down Longwood Avenue to get to the train station. And then I crawled on my hands and knees to be able to take that test.”
Masheri is an accomplished author and playwright and is now heading up the New Hampshire Writers’ Project (NHWP) on a volunteer basis. This means she works into the wee hours of the night and on weekends. Her energy is boundless. She believes her chance to have attended the ABC program at Guilford High School in Connecticut and her four years at Smith College have all combined to put her where she needs to be right now — creating programming and helping to cultivate authors.
The NHWP started in Portsmouth 30 years ago and has found a tireless leader in Masheri. She attended the monthly Writers Night Out meetings at a tavern and then a coffee shop. “I couldn’t hear the conversation over the coffee machine.” When Masheri became a volunteer, she found a more permanent and quieter place to meet. “When I saw NHWP’s home base, The Ford House, on SNHU Campus in Manchester, I wanted to learn more. I wanted college level experiences. I wanted to talk about writing and share our pieces.”
As part of the NHWP, novice to experienced writers partake in writing labs where they share their work, learn from their mistakes and hear positive feedback. “We are creating a literary experience that is not just educational but it is also from the soul, and most of all, it is affordable for everyone.”
The New Hampshire Writers’ Project has partnered with New Hampshire PBS and New Hampshire Humanities to organize an online event to celebrate the new Ken Burns film HEMINGWAY. “Being a part of the HEMINGWAY screening and discussion has brought the New Hampshire Writers’ Project to a place where we’ve always wanted to be — a place to educate our communities on what it is to be a writer and to explore what it took for this man to create his work. This is so needed — to be able to have a dialogue about being creative, about literature and about humanity. I think this is what NHPBS does best, and the New Hampshire Writers’ Project is there to add the literary aspect to it,” says Masheri.
The NHWP not only will take part in the screening and discussion, they’ve added a few chapters to this project by hosting the HEMINGWAY WRITERS CHALLENGE. Ken Burns himself made a call to writers to pen an essay for the challenge, and NHWP is also hosting a virtual literary salon with NH author Robert Wheeler, who will lead a discussion about Hemingway’s Paris.
As Masheri sums it up, “This opportunity to meet other people and to have literary conversations, particularly on HEMINGWAY, is exactly what we dreamed of. It can’t get any better than this.”
HEMINGWAY will premiere on April 5-7 starting at 8pm on NHPBS. To learn more about NHWP, go to nhwritersproject.org.
About New Hampshire PBS: New Hampshire PBS inspires one million Granite Staters each month with engaging and trusted local and national programs and services on-air, online, via mobile, in classrooms and in communities. Beyond its award-winning television programs, New Hampshire PBS is a leader in education and community engagement. www.nhpbs.org
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