Sister Writes Empowers Struggling Women To Turn The Page

Pamela Chynn poses for a photo at the Toronto Reference Library on Nov. 30, 2017.

As a poet, Pamela Chynn never thought she’d be scared to express herself. But after leaving a job where she was being harassed and stalked, then losing her apartment, that’s exactly what happened.

“I became a recluse. I became something that I never thought I would become, and that’s somebody who was afraid to be vocal about their opinions,” Chynn told HuffPost Canada in an interview. “I was afraid of ending up on the street … I went through a major depression and my confidence was basically in the gutter.”

Chynn sought out legal and financial help from Sistering, a community agency in Toronto that helps at-risk women, many of whom are homeless or precariously housed. There, she heard about Sister Writes, a creative writing program for women who are in difficult circumstances.

“Being involved with Sister Writes has given me the confidence to go forward with my writing and speak more bluntly and honestly about my experiences,” Chynn said. Through the program, she’s taken writing workshops, published short fiction, and even learned how to facilitate workshops herself.

A longtime poet, Chynn has become more interested in fiction recently. She says putting her experiences down on paper helps her see them more objectively.

Read an excerpt from Pamela Chynn’s story “Amazing Grace,” published in Sister Writes magazine:While brilliant, Rebecca had a dark cloud that hovered over her life. She had been clinically diagnosed with manic-depression. Shortly before we became close friends, she too had gone through a tumultuous relationship. The relationship ended with Rebecca humiliated in court. Rebecca’s mental health issues were spotlighted for the whole courtroom to see as if she was nothing more than a bug beneath the magnifying lens of a microscope.

Many of Rebecca’s friends around the Bloor Street Annex neighborhood, myself included, became increasingly concerned when the once effervescent Rebecca receded into reclusiveness. For months, Rebecca was nowhere to be seen.
It was a bone-chilling cold day in January when I picked up the phone to call Rebecca. I left a message on her voicemail.

“Please call me,” I said. “I just want to make sure you are okay, if you need anything or anyone to talk to, I am here.”

Now, Chynn has a new apartment, a part-time job, and is working on a novel writing certificate at George Brown College.

“Ever since I started, I’m like, ‘What took me so long? I wish I joined sooner,'” Chynn said.

Writer Lauren Kirshner founded …read more

Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel


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