Tonight’s 826 Valencia Storytellers’ Showcase at San Francisco’s The Strand Theater was a high-energy and inspired evening of students sharing their stories, poems, and journalism. Young writers, their parents and family, and staff and supporters of 826 Valencia transformed The Strand’s normally cool, chic theater crowd into a joyous and jubilant gathering.

In the lobby and mezzanine, attendees engaged in writing letters of appreciation, checking out publications, taking author photos, and discovering how building a structure out of marshmallows relates to writing.

(I bet you’re wondering what a marshmallow structure has to do with writing.)

“Just like this changing and expanding structure, there’s no right way to write,” the young ambassador manning the station explained. She added, with the confidence and joy of one who loves to share what they have learned that, “Through editing and rewriting, the structure will be made better and stronger.”

After adding my four mini marshmallows and toothpicks, I walked away with sticky fingers and a real appreciation for a creative and concrete example of the writing process.

The evening’s main event, The Storytellers’ Showcase, proved to be as passionate and filled with imagination as the lobby activities. Ranging in age from 10 to 20, six inspiring writers shared their work with the audience. From poetry to journalism, to short stories, to monologs, these six published authors spoke from the heart, casting a spell across the rapt audience.

These six stories and many more appear in 826 Valencia’s latest Quarterly publication, vol 25.  The current Quarterly is available at both their locations in the Mission  (826 Valencia) and the Tenderloin (180 Golden Gate). Back issues of their Quarterly publications are also available at their online store.

From Carlos Gomez’s piece, Preserving Life in Words, “I write because I want to give life to my thoughts.” Indeed, all the young writer’s this evening not only gave life to their thoughts, they gave their family and friends and tutors and supporters so very many reasons to be proud.