Welcome to Write Away!
The writing forum for Project Read learners.

We've redesigned our blog so that adult learners working at Project Read can share what they have written with other learners, tutors, and the public. There are a few simple guidelines to be aware of.
  1. This is a moderated site, so submissions and comments will first be reviewed before being approved and published.
  2. Adult learners submitting their writing have the option of using their first name (only) or using "anonymous" for authorship.
  3. We wish to honor the writing efforts of the adult learner/authors, so no major copy editing will be applied, but we may suggest minor corrections in consultation with the author.
  4. Only active Project Read learners are eligible to submit their writing to the Write Away blog and there are two ways of doing this: send submissions via email to projectread@sfpl.org, or stop by the office with a hard copy of your writing.
  5. The views and opinions expressed on this web site are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not represent those of the San Francisco Public Library and/or the City and County of San Francisco.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Artist Statement by Demetria Gigante

Break Silence

Artist Statement by Demetria Gigante

I’m inspired to make art to share my experiences with others. My writing is art because I struggle with a learning disabilities and mental health. My blogs and this collage help me heal from my mental and learning disabilities.

Art has influenced my life because my blogs are my creative way to process my experiences of trauma. It is a healthy way to express my feelings and work on not holding them in. My blogs and collage give me a sense of accomplishment and a way to introduce mental help and literacy to my community.

Art has influenced my recovery from PTSD by understanding more about my mental health and how I feel about my experience with trauma. I know it is okay to have mental health issues and to seek help. With Behavioral Health Services, I will heal. This recovery encouraged me to work on my learning disabilities, too.

Living with PTSD is a work in progress. I started with isolation, self-medication and agoraphobia. These feelings and behaviors caused digressions in my career, life style, goals, parenting and struggles with self-sufficiency. After a recent trauma with another drive-by in my community, I sought help through the Victims of a Violent Crimes organization. They referred me to a great therapist that matched my mental health needs. Collaborating with Project Read, I began my creative journey writing my blog, Break Silence, and working with RAMS to make my collage. With these services, I’m becoming myself, engaging and sharing with others, and learning harm reduction skills. 

(Thank you to Project Read learner Demetria Gigante for sharing her artist statement. Her work will be displayed in the Works in Progress: Second Consumer Art Show at the San Francisco Main Library Atrium from October 1 through mid-December, 2017. There is a reception on Tuesday, October 3, from 4-5:30 pm (program at 4:30) in the Latino-Hispanic Meeting Room in the Lower Level of the Main Library. Information about the exhibition can be found citywide.ucsf.edu/art_show.)

Demetria with her collage at the art show reception.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Herm Lewis

    My name is Theresa Lewis and I'm writing about somebody I admire a lot who came a long way in life - my brother. His name is Andre Lewis, but everyone calls him Herm Lewis. I have seen my brother come from being an addict to being a leader.
    I admire the way Herm changed his life and became a good husband and a great father. He never left his family for dead. No matter how hard it was, he stayed. And it was hard. He went through a lot. He stayed with his wife Rhonda until her death a few years ago. He stuck by his kids. He stuck by his step-kids, took very good care of them and treated them like his very own kids. Nobody could tell by how he treated them if they were his biological kids or his step-kids.
    Herm went from being an addict, from selling weed, to going to prison. Prison turned him around. He came home and he was a spiritual speaker and an advocate. He speaks positively wherever he goes. I look at him as a legend in the community and a very powerful speaker on and off Facebook. I look up to him, admire him, and everyone respects Mr. Herm Lewis to the fullest. If he ever runs for mayor, he'll have my vote!
    When Andre was a little kid, he was a loner and he never caused problems in the family. He was always telling on me. If I smoked weed and he saw me, he ran and told Mommy. I was always trying to sneak and do stuff. He always told on me. I could never get it past Herm Lewis - my brother who I love, admire and respect to the utmost. Good job! Stay being positive and the leader that you are!
    Herm owns his own home, his own business, and works for Golden Gate Scavengers. He is truly a survivor and someone I admire and respect. He's been through a lot so I am very proud of the man he has become today!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Getting the Job Done

    My name is Theresa Lewis. The President wants to build this wall to keep the immigrants from coming here. I did agree with that because I thought they were taking jobs from people here in California. Then, I had to think about all that, and maybe I'm wrong for saying what I'm saying, but this is how I feel.
    Immigrants are the most hard working people that I know. The reason why I say that is who wants to do the farming? Who's going to go out there and pick the cherries? Who's going to go out there and pick the lettuce? Who's going to get the job done? The immigrants are good at that work. Are we gonna go out in those fields, bent over working in that hot sun? I feel like they are good at so many things that we could be good at, but we don't want to do it. We also are not going to take the pay that they offer to do it. I was listening to the news where farmers were talking about this and how they lost so many workers. 

    So, now I ask you. Who's going to do this? Who's going to take that pay? And what are we going to do about it? So, I ask you. Are you gonna do it? Are you gonna go out there in the fields? Are you gonna take that pay? Or, maybe the farmers are going to have to raise the pay so we will do the job.
    At first, I was agreeing with the President, but I'm not so sure anymore. I just feel like the immigrants work much harder and are much faster getting the job done. We do have to eat.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

It's Your Birthday

It's your birthday,
another year has passed.
You're a little wiser,
a little smarter,
a little older,
and a little bolder.

So you think you're not a child any more.
So maybe I don't have to remind you to do your chores.

Soon you'll be on your own with no one to remind you of anything.
And after you cook you can clean your own kitchen.
You can have us over for dinner and cook us a vegetarian meal.

Your mother taught you well so be proud.
It's your birthday and I'm proud of you, too.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What is Poetry?

People like poetry.
People like to write poetry.
Poetry is about someone you write about--someone you care about  and love, or a special person in your life.
Some people love to write poetry about beautiful things--
  about the earth, the sun, and the sky,
and some people write about oceans and seas.
Some people write poetry and poems to someone
they love and care about.
Some people write about true love.
Some songs people sing are about poems.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

What is Our Society Coming To?

My name is Theresa Lewis. I remember once upon a time when I was coming up and we had an issue with one another. We took it to our parents and our parents took it to the next parent and, if they didn't settle it, the next day we met at school and we'd fist fight.

Now a days, these kids today , they just be killing up each other -at school, on the streets, on the freeways. Where are these kids getting these guns? Where are they coming from? Why is it these guns are so easy for kids to get? And
they're taking lives like it's okay and it's not!

Everybody suffers when these kids die--the mothers, the aunties, the cousins. We all suffer. And you can't say it's just in the black neighborhoods now. It's everywhere-Latino, Asian, Chinese. So, again I say, where are these guns coming from and why is it so easy for these kids to get guns?

When I was coming up. we couldn't get guns. My parent kept hers locked up. One day I went to my nephew's middle school and they had metal detectors. I never seen nothing like that!

The movies are not making it no better. They make their movies with people killing each other. They use rappers to make these movies. What example is that for our kids?

They make all these video games with guns killing up one another like it's okay. Then the kids want to go out and do the same things. As parents, we can't watch our kids 24-7. We can talk to them, provide for them, preach and tell them right from wrong, but we have to go out and work to provide for our families. We can't watch them 24-7.

What is our society coming to? And what can we do for our kids? How can we keep our kids from getting these guns? Again I ask, where are the guns coming from?

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


April 7, 1919, the date that always commemorates your birthday. Whether it was destiny or the will of the Lord you moved ahead of me on this journey in the same month. Although I can’t remember exactly which day. I don’t really care, you are still with me. Few people knew that your name was Ramona del Carmen. I think that you never liked your first name because I used to call you Ramona just to tease you but, you were and always will be Dona Carmencita. Somebody said (I don’t know who) that the life of the dead is in the memory of those still living. I agree. You made a mark on my life in a way that I am only now aware. Your memory is in my way of cooking, my way of talking , in the words I have used when I talk with my son and then he asks me for a translation as If I was talking with him in another language. Maybe he is right, your language. While I am alive you will alive. Happy 98th anniversary Grandma.
-- Claudia

Friday, April 28, 2017

How to Make a Marriage Work (Last)

Go out to the movies.
Take more walks in the parks. Hang out and love each other--doesn't cost money. She will appreciate it and love you.
Cook more for each other.
Save money for giving surprises to each other.
Do things to keep the home clean and neat.
Kiss more often and give hugs.
Go to church and pray to God--keeps you spiritually in line.
BBQ sometimes on the roof, in the park, or somewhere.
Have kids and have fun with them Do lots of things for them, Tell them they are the best.
Do not cheat in your relationship.
Be honest.

-- Daryl Jerome Faison (1963-2015)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Who Do We Blame?

    My name is Theresa and I want to talk about all the people out here in the last five to ten years. Why is it that everywhere you go and everywhere you look there are people on canes, walkers, and wheel chairs? And I ask myself, why is that going on? What are they doing to us? Is it the meat that is keeping us sick? Is it the doctors that are keeping us sick? Is it the pharmacies keeping us sick? Who is to blame for this?
    I understand everybody has to eat, but is it at our expense? Keeping us sick? I understand that doctors have to pay their bills. Cattle ranchers have to pay their bills. Pharmacies have to pay their bills. So where is this really coming from?
    I think it's the meat, what the cows eat, what they put into the meat. Why are so many people diabetic? I see everyone having to have spinal surgery. So many of my friends, we're having the same spinal surgery. Why?
    Where's this coming from? The commercials have all types of drugs and so many side effects. Why are so many people obese? So much obesity, so many drugs! Who do we blame?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Break Silence 4A

Break Silence 4A

Why is there a disconnect from the SFPD and the residents of San Francisco Public Housing? I have seen and experienced the lack of engagement, urgency, common respect and courtesy towards each other. I come from two generations of homeowners, and was taught that the police protect and serve.

That is not the case.

I have not seen SFPD protect or serve in the SFHA community. We must break silence. Wouldn’t it be nice if our officers knew our names before the drama of an arrest? Maybe if SFPD would get out of their cars and just be a part of our community. If we were more engaged we could learn to build some respect for each other as civilized human beings and not enemies, like how I was taught. We could trust and believe that police are really here to protect and serve. Help make black lives matter wherever you live in SF.

We must break silence and all be more engaged with each other, we could change the attitude of a generation to come.

Ms. D. Gigante

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Love is the Topic of this Free Writing

Introduction to love:
    The word love has a variety of meanings in both the classical and new testament (Greek). One definition is the feelings between personal friends, as was the relationship between David and Jonathan. Additionally, it also refers to the emotional relationship between a man and a woman in a romantic relationship such as Romeo and Juliet. Still further, there is the warm feelings as experienced between parents and their children. One biblical example is Job and how petitioned God on their behalf.
     Our focus today, however, is on love that is above all other kinds of love. Simply speaking, "agape" love does not have to meet any standards for God to love us. He loves us because it is his nature to love. He is the essence and the epitome of love.
-- J.C.