Festival of Books: ‘Write your brain barf’ and other WriteGirl tips


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The Etc. Stage at the L.A. Times Festival of Books kicked off its Sunday festivities with a presentation by WriteGirl, a Los Angeles-based organization founded by Keren Taylor to pair mentors with young girl writers and to encourage them to find empowerment through self-expression.

Undaunted by the cool, hazy weather, 10 girls ranging in age from 14 to 18 took the stage to read excerpts from their original writings or works written by others. Camille Crisostomo, 17, was the first brave emerging writer to take the microphone. Confidence building through her performance, she broke the ice for the other girls to follow. Subjects of the original teen works ranged from poetry inspired by a breakup to part of a chapter from a “modern epic” in progress.


PHOTOS: Festival of Books

Kirsten Giles, WriteGirl’s workshop coordinator, said the organization’s goal is to “encourage girls to be confident and not be afraid of the microphone.”

Some were first-time readers, but confidence, clarity and humor woven into their readings in some ways made them indistinguishable from seasoned veterans. Their words and performances were convincing evidence of their potential success. Taylor later explained that every high school senior who has participated in the program successfully graduated from high school and went on to college.

FULL COVERAGE: Festival of Books

WriteGirl had an assignment for the audience too. Colorful note cards were passed out to attendees, who were asked to write down a significant memory of when they were between the ages of 13 to 18. Later, Giles and Zoë Lawrence, 15, read a few of these cards as an “I Remember” poem. (Giles explained this exercise is how she likes to “trick girls into writing great work.”)

The event closed with all of the girls giving a piece of writing advice to the audience: “Put your emotions into it”; “Make it personal”; and “Write your brain barf.” It appears that Los Angeles won’t suffer a shortage of talented writers any time soon.


For more information on WriteGirl, head over to the booth near the Etc. Stage today or visit


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