8 under 18?

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I’ve been reading lots of news lately about the literary community celebrating the “unders,” you know, the best 40 under 40, 5 under 35, or 30 under 30. These young writer awards aren’t perfect, but they’re especially not perfect because they always leave out both older writers who may have begun their writing careers later in life and the youngest writers, even younger than 21. There’s a lot of good writing and writers out there going unrecognized, though I’m going to take a guess that soon we’ll be seeing these awards being given out to an even younger crowd, perhaps the eight under eighteen?

I’ve personally seen how talented the 18 and under crowd can be through my work with an awesome organization in New York called Girls Write Now. This past September I joined GWN and became a mentor to a high school girl who writes both fiction and poetry. We meet weekly to write, revise pieces, and talk about the writing process and writing world in general (and whatever else is on her mind). Once a month the entire community of mentors and mentees (there are 130 of us) meet for an intensive workshop that delves into a particular genre. At both the fiction and poetry workshops I was consistently blown away by the pieces the girls shared. My over 30/under 35 brain is in awe of these girls with their refreshing use of language and clear voices. I think I’m the one being taught something.

And I’m not the only one benefitting from a writing relationship with a teen:

YA author Walter Dean Myers (Monster, Autobiography of My Dead Brother) co-wrote his latest book with a 13-year-old fan, Ross Workman. Workman (now 17) sent Myers a fan letter, which led to the two trading notes, and eventually writing Kick together. The book will be out from Harper Teen Books early next year.

Medallion Press has a new imprint called Ya-Ya: “young adults writing for young adults.” They’ll publish authors ages 13 to 18.

14-year-old Tavi Gevinson is launching a magazine with Jane Pratt of Sassy and Jane fame. The magazine hopes to reach “an audience of wallflowerly teenage girls.” (via HTMLGIANT)


LaToya Jordan is a writer from Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, Thick-Skinned Sugar (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and her work has been listed as notable in Best American Essays 2016. Her writing has appeared in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Mom Egg Review, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, and more. Visit her at latoyajordan.com. More from this author →