"When we began the project, we were students, but now we are poets." —Stories of Arrival Poetry Project participant, from Burma
In over thirty years of working as a teaching artist, Merna Hecht is continually touched by the complex beauty and vulnerability that comes forth when people are given the space for telling their stories.
A nationally known storyteller, Merna received a 2008 National Storytelling Network Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling through which she worked at BRIDGES: A Center for Grieving Children in Tacoma, WA. Based on that experience and her work with young refugees and immigrants since founding and co-directing the Stories of Arrival Poetry Project, Merna’s essays are most often about the necessity of bringing art, play and creativity to settings for children and teens who have experienced trauma and loss.
Merna teaches Creative Writing and Humanities at the University of WA, Tacoma including a class titled “Art in a Time of War,” which has a focus on the consequences of war for young people and on the expressive art and writing created by children and youth who have lived through wars, violent conflicts and forced migration.
The 2015 anthology of the Stories of Arrival Project is titled Our Table of Memories (Chatwin, 2016), and features student poetry and professional artwork around the food traditions of home.
The 2017 anthology of the Stories of Arrival Project is titled Holding the Earth Together (Chatwin, 2018), and features poetry and artwork by the students, around the theme of care taking the Earth and speaking for oneself and for our loved ones.