Press Release

Portland Museum of Art to Host Telling Room Founders

PORTLAND, Maine — The Portland Museum of Art will host a conversation with the three founders of The Telling Room, a Portland youth writing center, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. Authors Susan Conley, Sara Corbett, and Mike Paterniti, will discuss their recent publications, the founding of The Telling Room, and their connections to Maine in a conversation moderated by PMA director Mark Bessire. A book signing and refreshments will follow. This event is free and open to the public.

All three authors published books this past summer with featured reviews in the New York Times, Esquire, NPR, and Amazon, among others. Conley’s Paris Was the Place, Corbett’s A House in the Sky: A Memoir (co-written with Amanda Lindhout), and Paterniti’s The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese were released in July and August.

The three authors founded The Telling Room, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring young writers, in 2004. The founders began their work by rallying a group of local writers and artists fueled by a belief that the power of story could change their community for the better. They met first with any students they could bribe with pizza into roundtable writing workshops. Then in 2005, they secured their first grant and began to meet regularly with a group of international English Language Learner students at Portland’s high schools, most of whom were immigrants and recent refugees from impoverished and war-torn areas throughout Africa and the Middle East. Fifteen of the best student stories and poems were published in the anthology, I Remember Warm Rain.

Nine years later, The Telling Room has a paid staff of seven, a permanent Writer-in-Residence, and three AmeriCorps members serving over 2,000 students each year. They utilize the services of over 200 volunteers annually to provide one-on-one support to young writers, and during the 2012-2013 school year, they reached students and teachers from nearly 50 schools spanning 20 towns across the state of Maine. Their accomplishments have been recognized with awards and major funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Maine Association of Nonprofits, and the Maine Alliance for Arts Education’s Imagination Intensive Communities program, among many others.

The Telling Room is a nonprofit writing center in Portland, dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. Focused on young writers ages 6 to 18, they seek to build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for their students’ stories. They believe that the power of creative expression can change communities and prepare youth for future success. More information is available at