Blog by Ellen Meeropol

Patricia Smith awarded the Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award by SDWG Board President Ellen Meeropol & Robert Meeropol

Patricia Smith

Robert Meeropol

SDWG Board President Ellen Meeropol and Advisory Board member Bill Newman

Photos by Doug Anderson 


It is rare and wonderful when several important elements of a life come together and make joy. That’s how I felt on Sunday, November 12, at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, MA when Straw Dog Writers Guild presented the Abel Meeropol Social Justice Writing Award to poet Patricia Smith. Straw Dog Writers Guild is an organization I love. Pamela Means performed Abel Meeropol’s most famous song, “Strange Fruit,” and her version is one of my favorites. Writing for social justice, writing as resistance, is my passion. Abel Meeropol was my father-in-law and my grandson shares his name. Patricia Smith is a poet/activist I admire enormously.


These elements coming together – family and social justice and writing and community - is satisfying on both a personal and political level. I could not have been happier, or more proud. Equally amazing was the audience, many writers and artists, who told me about the convergence of these elements in their own lives and work. Patricia Smith said that sometimes it feels like we’re writing into a void. We need to support each other’s words of resistance. We need to remind each other that we’re together in this work.


As a community, we needed Sunday’s program, and we need more convergences like it, opportunities to celebrate our commitment to justice and to writing, and to the ways they work together to illuminate our world and to change it.

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The first (or second, or third…) draft is finally done! Manuscript pages, boxes of critique and a thousand to-do’s cover your desktop. How do you start? Where is that great scene? Does your dialogue work?  Should you switch back to third person? And how do you organize everything?

Revision can be overwhelming.  This workshop offers structural techniques to make the task approachable.  We will cover three areas of revision: organizational tools; strategies for reading and editing your own work; and managing manuscripts with online and digital tools.  We will also discuss ways to evaluate and incorporate critique into your revision. You will leave with new and sharpened tools for bringing that messy draft to the next level!

Saturday, December 2nd, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm ($150)  Register Now

Randy Susan Meyers is the author of four novels: The Murderer’s Daughters (a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award), The Comfort of Lies, Accidents of Marriage,  and recently, The Widow of Wall Street.  Meyers teaches writing at Grub Street Writers Center.  Find out more…

The Anatomy of a Giggle: Humor and Writing Funny, with Molly BurnhamUnknown

Most people believe that we are either funny or not funny, by design. I believe that like any other aspect of craft, humor can be learned, and it just takes awareness and practice. In this hands-on, half-day workshop, we will set aside our judgments and explore our funny bones. We’ll discuss various types of humor, learn key points to writing funny, and engage in exercises that encourage the playful, humorous side of our brains. Bring an open mind, a pad of paper, and your joyful self, and leave with a fresh approach to humor!

Saturday, January 20th  9:00 am – 12:30 pm ($75) Register Now

Molly B. Burnham, author of the Teddy Mars Series and 2016 recipient of the Sid Fleishman Humor Award, holds a Masters in Elementary Ed. and an MFA in Writing for Children. Find out more about her at

Pamela Means performing Abel Meeropol's song 'Strange Fruit'

SDWG Member Christopher J. Sparks

Robert Meeropol