WINCHESTER — Two local writers want to help people express themselves using typewriters.

Sofia Syeda and Joseph Jablonski, who is known as The Walking Mall Poet, are hosting a type-in in conjunction with InnoVault from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 19 inside InnoVault’s work space at 100 N. Loudoun St.

“The artistic and interactive space will exhibit stories, poems, and paintings by local artist, Pam Klein, that have been collected during Spring 2021, and encourages visitors to walk around the room and immerse themselves into one-page stories, lessons and lives,” a news release about the event states.

“Type Your Story” is billed as “an open invitation for the community to creatively express themselves” through writing, which will be done on typewriters. The writings will be done anonymously.

“I feel like there’s an itch in the air to find something to contribute to or to go to,” said Syeda, a graduate student at Georgetown University who lives in the Winchester area with her husband. “That’s really where the project came to mind — what can we do to bring people together as a community, see each other and confront each other’s stories and troubles. The whole premise of collecting stories is that they’re supposed to be anonymous. Confessing your fears or writing your hopes down can be a little intimidating. Then knowing others will read it might even hinder some people from participating. So, I want people to know these are anonymous stories that will be displayed.”

Syeda and Jablonski plan to take the works and publish them into a bound book that will be made available to the public. Those attending the event will have the option to have their work submitted for the book, but it’s not a requirement.

“We want them to see this is what their stories sound like sitting next to one another. Expressing their concerns, their fears or even what brings them happiness,” Syeda said.

Writers don’t need to stick with a certain topic, but there will be prompts available for those looking for inspiration. The prompts will be offered in English and Spanish.

The event came about after Syeda and Jablonski met on the Loudoun Street Mall, where Jablonski offers personalized poems typed on one of his many typewriters.

Syeda had told him about her own project, “What’s Your Story?,” that she was working on for a public writing class, where she collected stories from Winchester residents to learn more about the area.

“Toward the end of a conversation, we realized we both have the same goal of building a literary community here. We just want to generate some sense of community,” Syeda said.

She said that Jablonski talked with the folks at InnoVault and then came back to her with a plan.

Jablonski said he was eager to work on the project.

“As a writer, I’ve treasured the opportunity for over two years to create poetry based on others’ stories by using typewriters. Now, I’m excited to be able to put people at the keys of my timeless machines,” he said. “Typewriting helped me unlock my creativity, and now it can do so for others. This fun, open and free event is a wonderful way to become enchanted with the nostalgic machine of writers for generations. A type-in can take away the distractions of technology to remind us of the simple joy that can come from words inked on the page, and transport us to the world of our own stories.”

There will be an optional pre-registration link available on InnoVault’s website at innovault.space for the type-in. People are invited to check out the space, even if they don’t plan to write.

Union Jack Pub & Restaurant will also be providing event space and complementary production materials.

— Contact Matt Welch

at mwelch@winchesterstar.com

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