Shafiq Abdussabur — author, WNHH radio host, police officer, law enforcement consultant — took a look around New Haven and decided it just might be ready for a literary awakening.
After “operating in so many different circles for years,” he said, “and seeing all the different cultural resources we have here as a city,” he thought: “What is that one common thread that we share? Everybody loves to write.”
So Abdussabur has partnered with the Institute Library to create the Urban Writers Series, a two-session workshop designed for writers who have begun or would like to begin book-length manuscripts, and are looking for help finishing them.
The first session, which concentrates on starting and shaping a manuscript, runs Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The second session, which focuses on getting a manuscript back on track and completing it, happens on Jan. 23, also from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The number of participants is capped at 20; as of this writing, 14 people have preregistered.
“I anticipate that we’ll fill all the spaces,” Abdussabur said. (Click here for information on registering.)
Both sessions are free. But “you cannot attend Session Two unless you’ve attended Session One,” Abdussabur said. “If you show up for 30 minutes and then you got to go, this is not for you.”
For Abdussabur, the Urban Writers Series is the continuation of community-building work he has done in New Haven for years. A decade ago, he ran a similar arts initiative with acclaimed New Haven-based artist Winfred Rembert helping artists hone their craft. “Art, music, and literature have been the three things that define our culture and give it value,” he said. “With all the things that are going on the country right now, what’s the best way to take advantage of what’s going on here in New Haven? What can we be doing to further increase the value of our culture?”
Abdussabur hopes that the series will introduce the Institute Library — a “writer’s heaven,” he said — to people who have not been there before. More broadly, he he would love to see the series bring together people from across New Haven to “create a culture of writers.” More events are in the works for later in the spring, including a conference that could bring together emerging writers with more established writers.
“My goal is that we establish New Haven as being a writers’ mecca for Connecticut,” Abdussabar said, a city where “the average citizen would walk into a coffee shop and find it no surprise that an established author is finishing off one of his books — so that you’ll find other writers thinking, ‘hey, I’ll come to New Haven to finish my novel.’”
But the series is also, of course, a worthy effort in an of itself. After all, “writing is the basis of our modern-day civilized living,” Abdussabar said. “It’s the ultimate level of thought expression. Writing about what you’re thinking is like an element in the earth. It’s there forever.”
The Urban Writers Series takes place at the Institute Library, 847 Chapel St., on Jan. 9 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Jan. 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.