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Norfolk Academy's Literacy Fellows Program, in a partnership with The Muse in Norfolk, has launched a new and eclectic volume of writing done by teens during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Entitled Just a Phase, the book contains stories, essays, poems, and even songs, all connected by the time of writing--the global pandemic--but with topics that vary widely, from youthful passions to yardwork.

The impact of Covid-19 reverberated in the book's official launch: On Thursday, several of the 44 writers who contributed to the anthology held a reading via Zoom webinar, and the online aspect allowed the creation of a live global community.

Mannat Samra, a student in India who submitted work, brought huge enthusiasm and energy as one of the first readers, noting that it was 4 a.m. in India. “I was so excited for the launch that I knew I couldn't miss it, even if it disrupted my sleep schedule," she said, as she thanked everyone for creating the opportunity. Another writer “arrived" from Toronto.

Most of the writers who participated in the reading were based in Hampton Roads, including several Literacy Fellows, which is part of the Batten Leadership Program: Kristen Tan '22, Millie Van Slyke '22, Chloe Pausch '24, and Cooper Poorman '23, who read a poem by Blake Brown '21.

The online reading was moderated by Dr. David Kidd, Director of the Literacy Fellows Program, and Ms. Remy Smidt, a teacher and youth program coordinator at The Muse. They also co-authored the book's forward, which commented on the power of the title, “Just a Phase," which came from Kristen Tan. 

Tan noted: “While that phrase is a stereotype, there is some truth to it: young people are always being told in one way or another that parts of their identities are 'just a phase,' temporary, and insignificant."

In the forward, Kidd and Smidt observe, “The writings in this volume are anything but 'temporary and insignificant'--they instead reveal so many important things about how these writers thought through this difficult phase in their lives."

The introduction, written by Tim Seibles, a nationally renowned poet and former Old Dominion University professor, comments on the range of emotion in the pieces, from “life-affirming wonder to deep sorrow and despair, from quiet reflection to moments of desperate agitation." 

He calls the volume, “a survival kit for everyone who is trying to find a path through these difficult days." The book is available at The Muse and at Prince Books in Norfolk. 

Congratulations, writers, on this exciting publication!


The Literacy Fellows of the Batten Leadership Program partnered with The Muse Writing Center in Norfolk to publish an anthology of teen writing during the pandemic. The book was launched with an online reading this week. Left to right, seniors in the Literacy Fellows Program: Millie Van Slyke, Eliza Blythe, Claire Vu, Madalyn Mejia, and Kristen Tan.

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