Alexandria, VA – Art is coming back to life in Alexandria in many ways, and poetry is no exception. Alexandria’s Poet Laureate, KaNikki Jakarta, hosted her first “Write Like A Woman” workshop in person since the pandemic took over. On July 17, 2021, over a dozen women gathered in the lower level of the Athenaeum to write, read, share, express, and simply enjoy each other’s presence.
Started in 2016, Write Like A Woman was based on the need for love and support between females, writers or not. KaNikki explains, “I said, ‘Where is the place where everybody is included, old people, young people, black people, white people, gay people, straight people?’ That didn’t exist. I wanted to start a writing group, a support group for women writers. So I started Write Like A Woman online on Facebook six years ago.”
Of course, Write Like A Woman quickly grew from a Facebook group to a writing workshop, so KaNikki began looking for a space to host events in person. The Athenaeum offered her an opportunity, and to KaNikki, it immediately felt like home. “This space opened up the women. We are here alone. It is just so amazing what happens when these women get together.”
Since its inception five years ago, Write Like A Woman has grown into a flourishing writer’s workshop and a well-known community safe space for women to come together as they truly are. During the pandemic, that safe space was not closed, but it was changed. Zoom runs the world today, the world of poetry not excluded. KaNikki reports that after months of virtual connection, it was amazing to see and feel the physical connection that occurred when these women reunited at their beloved Athenaeum.
A poetry workshop typically looks like a round table. The leader at the head of the table directs writing prompts. KaNikki’s workshop consisted of writing prompts and personal stories and shared laughter and tears. The women’s words were uniquely their own; each line of rap, fiction, personal poetry, and comedy was truly self-expressive and goosebump-inducing.
One attendee said she chose to join because, for her, “there is just something about being around other writers.” Another said, “Because I like to write with other people. This workshop provides inspiration, encouragement, and just the opportunity to write with other people who like to write.”
Several artists in KaNikki’s workshop had been with her from the beginning and possessed a prolonged passion for the written word, while others were newcomers and burgeoning writers. What is unique about Write Like A Woman is that there is no one way to write like a woman; no right way, no wrong way. KaNikki encourages her women to “write like yourself.” That is how you write like a woman.
Alexandria is a city of art and talented artists. If you want to become one, visit one of KaNikki’s upcoming workshops at the Athenaeum.