Woke Words is a multi-genre creative writing series for young women of color ages 15-25. This year-long program is designed to provide access and exposure to writing by women authors of color; encourage thoughtful discussion around issues of race, gender, and identity; and inspire young writers to give voice to their experiences, forge empowering connections, and create new languages for reaching across cultures and communities.
A different writing genre will be explored during each group through reading assignments, multimedia presentations, creative writing exercises, guided discussion, and craft-based projects. Woke Words is not a class or writing workshop; although participants will engage in reading and writing exercises, the series is designed to be purely creative and exploratory.
Participation in the series is open to individuals of color who self-identify as women and are between the ages of 15 and 25. To promote trust and group cohesion, the group will be limited to 15 participants per year. Admission will be application-based and selections will be determined by a committee comprising previous Woke Words participants and facilitators. All books and craft supplies are provided to participants free of charge, and curbside delivery is available in the Salt Lake County area.
Information regarding the Woke Words 20-21 session is forthcoming. Be sure to sign up for the latest updates!
Ways to Get Involved
Woke Words Coordinators & Facilitators
Becky McFalls-Schwartz, Co-Founder & Coordinator
Woke Words is coordinated by Becky McFalls-Schwartz, YWCA Utah’s Director of Development. As a Korean American adoptee and freelance writer, she has published essays on identity, family, and culture in Nylon, Brooklyn Magazine, and other publications. Becky received a B.F.A. in Creative Writing and a B.A. in Linguistics from Brooklyn College. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at the University of Utah. Please direct all inquiries regarding the Woke Words program to Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ylan Camille Lockwood, Co-Founder & Coordinator
Ylan Camille Lockwood is a student and published author of two young adult novels. In 2018, she won the National Scholastics Silver Writing Award, and has participated in numerous writing programs, including The New York Times Summer Academy, Writopia, John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, and 826 Valencia, founded by Nínive Calegari and Dave Eggers. She has served in junior counselor roles for YWCA Utah and Harvard’s Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment Programs. During the summers, Ylan works in Vietnam with at-risk students living in poverty via the Thrive Networks education program. She hopes to continue volunteer work with refugees and underserved youth in her community. Ylan is Vietnamese American and was born in San Francisco.
Sarah May, Coordinator & Facilitator
Sarah May is a biracial Indigenous Latina, artist, curator, and storyteller based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah with a B.F.A. in Photography & Digital Imaging and an M.A. in Community Leadership with an Emphasis in Art & Culture from Westminster College. Sarah creates work exploring the intricacy of narrative through imagery and text in reflecting on the collective human experience using cyanotype, film photography, and her own writing. Her current work and process reflects her journey in identity being cyclical and evolving, the links personal ancestry manifests throughout generations, and the idea of destiny and healing as intertwined.
Nkenna Onwuzuruoha (Kenna), Facilitator
Kenna Onwuzuruoha is a third-year PhD student in Writing & Rhetoric Studies at the University of Utah. She has taught composition and social justice courses at the U, Salt Lake Community College, and Westminster College. She moved to Salt Lake over 9.5 years ago to serve as an AmeriCorps Vista for the SLCC Community Writing Center and currently works as the Outreach Coordinator for Write Here, Westminster College’s community writing center. Kenna enjoys cycling and co-chairing the U of U's Black Graduate Student Association.
Charnell Peters, Facilitator
Woke Words Facilitator Charnell Peters is a doctoral student at the University of Utah, where she studies race and communication. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, Un-becoming (Thirty West Publishing House), and her previous work has appeared in Foundry, Hippocampus, and elsewhere. She is the editor of Ruminate Magazine's online publication, The Waking.
‘Ilaheva Tua’one, Facilitator
Woke Words Facilitator ‘Ilaheva Tua’one holds a PhD in British and American Literature, and was a Pasifika-Mellon Dissertation Fellow in the Pacific Islands Studies Initiative at the University of Utah. She received an Honor's B.S. in Gender Studies from the University of Utah and an M.A in English Literature from Northeastern University. As a Tongan-American, she is most proud of a class she developed and teaches called “South Sea Tales.” In her free time she enjoys cooking, building, collecting, hiking, watching, listening, and concentrating. 'Ila makes her home with her wife, Lucy Terzis, two nieces, Ana and Ada, and two dogs, Francis and Bella, in Sugarhouse, Utah.
Nina Feng, Facilitator
Woke Words Facilitator Nina Feng is a PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric Studies at the University of Utah. She studies anti-racist language practices and pedagogy, along with game theory and storytelling. With an M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction, Nina loves to explore intersections of multimodal expression, personal narrative, and social justice. She is currently teaching two writing courses that utilize an interactive game narrative to disrupt standard language expectations—her classes often get interrupted by robots, friendly characters, food and secret missions. Nina enjoys spending time with her family, and dance parties, when she’s not writing and reading.
The YWCA would like to thank the Lockwood Family for their generous donation to make Woke Words possible, and for their belief in the power of stories to connect and empower cultures and communities.