I spent four summers on a mountain in Vermont (check out that sweet photo above). I wasn’t alone. I’m no Thoreau. I was going to school. There were about a hundred and fifty of us altogether, mostly English teachers, some artists, all of us lovers of the written word. We had a special name for ourselves: Nerds. We loved Shakespeare and Shelley and Dickinson and we didn’t care who knew it. We were NWA: Nerdz With Attitude. And though I was in my 20s and 30s during my time on the mountain, those summers in Vermont had all of the best things of childhood summers: intense friendships, being outdoors, and bliss. The name of that mountain was Bread Loaf.
Fast forward to a time several ago when I decided my students in the Bronx might enjoy a similar experience. I wanted to bring the mountain to the Bronx, so to speak. But I couldn’t do it alone. I’m no Emerson. Mountains are heavy. With the help of an incredible group of teachers, administrators, and writers we built our own mountain of poetry and prose and called it Bronx Loaf. Each successive year, more and more teen-writers find their way to Bronx Loaf. They also come from the five boroughs and far-off exotic places like England and New Jersey. They come from Title I public schools and charter schools, private schools and specialized schools. They come in every shade of wonderful, as you see in their faces and read in their words, and I believe they find in Bronx Loaf what I found on that mountain in Vermont. They find fellowship and they find their voice, and if they are lucky, they find their bliss.