Foundation & Camp

Guest Artist for the Readers and Writers ProgramAfter teaching at PEN America’s Readers & Writers Program Summer 2010, I was so heartened by the students and working with teenagers–how many people can say that?!–that I decided to launch The Rena’s Promise International Creative Writing Camp, to further the vision of Holocaust survivor Rena Kornreich Gelissen and in honor of her memory. Rena’s Promise is a promise to create a more ecumenical world unhindered by prejudice, racism or hatred by bringing young people together from all walks of life and providing them with a place to develop the cultural and creative voices of Generation NEXT.

“Loved your work.  You were FANTASTIC! One of your students just finished reading Rena’s Promise and said it was “reeeeeaaaaalllly good, it was like sitting with Rena.  You think you know these kinds of stories, but then she shocks you all over again. You can feel that it was real.”

–Stacy Leigh, Director of Readers and Writers, PEN America.

“Rena’s Promise truly is the number one favorite book of all of my students…. It is really making a difference in my students’ lives.” –Jill Van Alstyne, Secondary School Teacher in Helena, Montana


Billy Collins speaks to my creative writing high school students, 2007.






Savannah College of Art and Design students on one of our many field trips. This was an investigation into the best barbecue and sweet tea in Georgia.



My summer students talk to Bonnie Grice of WLIU (now WPPB) about the new Harry Potter film, which they had stayed up all night to watch! (Emily on the right is now studying creative writing at Sarah Lawerence:)

“I divide my life into two parts–before the summer writing conference and after.” A Happy Camper!




You never know when inspiration will strike or a new idea for a creative writing exercise. Here we are on a “Fog Walk”. My stsudents were perplexed, when I announced the assignment, but found magic in the morning as we wandered and wrote in the fog that had swept in off the sea and required our meditation upon its solitude.

For More Information on Rena’s Promise International Creative Writing Camp 4 Teens, visit