City Writers Group

Hands…different colors, different
shades of flesh, soft, rough,
leathered, smooth, wrinkled,
gnarled, large or small and delicate.

Hands…with fingers missing,
fingernails bitten or dirty,
henna stained fingertips,
or french-tipped manicures.

Hands…that smell of exotic
perfume, or smell of oil,
diesel, fish, curry, or garlic.

Hands extended toward me
with cash – crisp and sticky
straight or wadded up bills
sweaty, soft and worn.

Excerpt from “Hands”
Written by Tina Carlstrom, Treasury Department Clerk

A monthly writing group open to city employees from all departments.

The monthly meetings of the City Writers Group were attended by employees from Parking, Dispatch, Treasury, Survey, Engineering, Housing, Fire, Police, Corporation Counsel, General Assistance, and the Library. Two hours allowed for time to check-in, write, read and share positive comments. At every other meeting, the group wrote about their work with the City; topics included ‘first day’, ‘worst day’, and ‘mentors’. The year-end anniversary of the City Writers Group was celebrated by creating a chapbook of stories, essays and poems and a City Hall exhibit of the same work.

At the end of each meeting, participants would talk about how much closer they felt to each other and that they were leaving with new thoughts, insights and appreciation of their co-workers and the value of working in public service.

The City Writers Group was made possible by generous funding from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, with project funding from the Maine Community Fund, the Maine Humanities Council, and the Center for Cultural Exchange, as well as evaluation funding from the Kellogg Foundation, Americans for the Arts, and Animating Democracy.