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Gloria Frym collaborating with Community Works

Award: $35,000 Literary Arts Grant Awarded in 1998

Completed: 2002

Collaborating with Community Works and with students at San Francisco’s International Studies Academy, writer Gloria Frym created a work of fiction that re-imagined Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles in a contemporary setting.

Frym lead an in-school class and after-school salon in which students read and discussed Hardy’s novel. Simultaneously, she developed Rose of the Mission, a 350-page novel shaped by her sustained dialogue with the students and their critiques of her work-in-progress. Seventeen eleventh grade students participated in reading and discussing the book and eight participated in the salon. The students and Frym grew so close that they invited her to their prom.

Community Works supported Frym’s efforts by facilitating the relationship with the high school, selecting students for the salon, providing materials, documenting key sessions on video, and organizing presentations of the work-in-progress. At the project’s culmination, Community Works printed the novel in a limited edition.

Gloria Frym is an American poet, fiction writer, and essayist. In the 1980s she taught poetry writing to inmates and former inmates of the San Francisco County Jail through a Community Works project. There she began experimenting with form, expanding upon the poem in prose she had written for many years. Frym’s work with high school students on Rose of the Mission continued her investigation of prose forms.

A small alternative school within the San Francisco Unified School District, International Studies Academy primarily served students whose families are recent immigrants to the United States. The nonprofit Community Works is dedicated to forging links between diverse cultures and neighborhoods, improving educational attainment, fostering strong communities, and extending the benefits of the arts to under-served individuals.