Peninsula Writers History

Peninsula Writers was formed as a result of teachers taking a class that they wanted to have a lasting effect on their teaching. In the summer of 1983. E. Kathleen Booher taught a class on the New Jersey Writing Project, Writing As a Process. Fifteen teachers from Western Michigan enrolled. We spent three intense weeks. We wrote, we shared our writing, we laughed. Sometimes we cried… We analyzed our own writing, critiqued each others’, rewrote, edited, and polished until we each had a few pieces with which we were pleased.

In our class discussions we talked about the theories of leaders of the writing movement: Janet Emig, Peter Elbow, Gabrielle Rico, Ken McCrorie. We learned how their theories applied to our own writing. We experimented knowing we’d have a safe audience to try our experiments on.

Then we went back to our classrooms. Most of us felt like pioneers. In many cases we were the only teacher in our school, sometimes the only one in the whole district, teaching writing as a process. We experimented with ways to free students from their fears of writing. We planned pre-writing experiences, formed student groups for peer evaluation, published student work, and sometimes were criticized for our efforts by those who did not understand what we were trying to do.

The class met in follow-up sessions twice that school year. We exchanged ideas on what we found had worked well in classroom practice, management methods, evaluation, and very important, public relations within our schools and communities. We decided “we had to keep on meeting like this.” We needed a support group of peers for our teaching methods, just as surely as our students needed a support group of peers for their writing.

That was when the first summer retreat was organized. We rented a resort at Glen Lake for the week following the close of school in June. At the retreat we wrote for ourselves, experiencing again the anxiety and the joy of sharing ourselves through stories and poems. We continued to share classroom methods and lesson ideas. As the week neared its end, we made the decision to form Peninsula Writers. Our purpose would be to encourage writing in the schools by providing a support group for teachers of writing. In August of 1984 we incorporated as a non-profit organization. We planned two Saturday workshops, a social event during a writing conference in Grand Rapids, and the 1985 Summer Writing Retreat.

Over the years we have grown to more than 100 members. We have teachers from elementary schools, college professors, and teachers of all levels in between. We have a few members who are not teachers, but who enjoy writing and want to encourage it. As our membership has expanded, so has our scope of projects.

We plan each year to have three workshops. We traditionally sponsor an annual writing retreat at Glen Lake each June. We have co-sponsored summer writing institutes for many years. In addition, many of our members make presentations for teacher inservices around the state.—Shirley Neitzel

Membership Information

Whether you’re just now joining Peninsula Writers … renewing your membership for the first time … or registering for the 20-somethingth time, we look forward to having you as a member of our writing community. We also appreciate your assistance as we move toward an electronic record-keeping system for PW. Therefore, in order to activate your membership, please print, complete, and return the PDF form linked here, along with your dues payment of $40. Only your completed registrations/renewals & payments will ensure inclusion in the PW Membership Directory.

Contact Information

If you want to get in contact with the website committee, send us an email at peninsulawriters@att.net.  Here is contact information for other areas:

Membership Forms

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