The “Beautiful Truth” Initiative

Transforming Community through Writing and Sharing Our Stories

Beautiful Truth is an exciting new community initiative from Charlotte Lit. To explain what it is, we’d like to begin with a story.

Charlotte is a great place to live and work—that’s the story we hear. Our city’s accepted narrative is that of a shining New South star, a place in which opportunity flows generously along every street and through the front doors of every home. The truth, however, is that Charlotte is something different to each of the area’s one million people. Every Charlottean has their own, sometimes difficult, story to tell. And every one of those stories comes with a unique cast of characters, its own detailed setting, and original plot.

At Charlotte Lit, we began to wonder what might happen if we started sharing those stories with one another. What new relationships might we forge? What new understanding might we bring to one another’s lives? How might we, together, transform our city into a place where every voice is heard and every voice matters?

Because we’re writers and readers, story lovers and storytellers, we came up with the “Beautiful Truth” initiative, a simple program designed to help community members write and share stories about themselves and their lives here in Charlotte. Beautiful Truth is made up of three parts: public workshops to teach narrative storytelling; a weekend of events with acclaimed poet Terrance Hayes; and a public reading of personal narratives from across the Charlotte area. Details are below.

Phase 1: “Writing and Sharing Your Personal Stories” Public Workshops (January 2019)

Patrice Gopo

Charlotte Lit community volunteers will facilitate 12 free two-hour workshops at libraries and other locations throughout the city to teach personal narrative writing—to help participants tell their own stories. We’ll do this through reading and discussion of writing examples, writing prompts, and sharing aloud the short narratives created in the workshop. The workshop was created for Charlotte Lit by Patrice Gopo, author of a new collection of essays titled All the Colors We Will See: Reflections on Barriers, Brokenness, and Finding Our Way (Thomas Nelson, 2018).

Here’s the workshop schedule:

2-4 pm; Saturday, Jan. 5 — Scaleybark; Beatties Ford
2-4 pm; Sunday, Jan. 6 — University City; South County
2-4 pm; Saturday, Jan. 12 — Matthews; Plaza Midwood
2-4 pm; Sunday, Jan. 13 — Main
2-4 pm; Saturday, Jan. 19 — Davidson
2-4 pm; Sunday, Jan. 20 — Independence
2-4 pm; Saturday, Jan. 26 — Morrison; Mint Hill
2-4 pm; Sunday, Jan. 27 — Main

Seating is limited; pre-registration is requested for these events. Please register in person at the library branch, or by phone (numbers are available here: https://www.cmlibrary.org/branches).

Phase 2: Three-event Weekend with Terrance Hayes (February 1-2, 2019)

Nationally acclaimed poet Terrance Hayes comes to Charlotte on February 1-2, for three events, all held at the Midwood International and Cultural Center, home of Charlotte Lit.

7-8:30 pm, Friday, Feb. 1: Reading and talk on using personal narratives to share our stories. Midwood International and Cultural Center Auditorium. This event includes the release of the next 4X4CLT Poetry+Art Posters, featuring poetry by Terrance Hayes. Tickets, including free tickets, available here.

10 am-Noon, Saturday, Feb. 2: Writing workshop led by Terrance Hayes for writers and educators in the Charlotte Lit studio. Limited to 24 participants. Registration is here.

2-4 pm, Saturday, Feb. 2: Community conversation about sharing stories for social change, facilitated by Terrance Hayes in The Light Factory. Free, but limited to 40 participants. To request an invitation, email us. (Due to demand, not all requests can be accommodated.)

Terrance Hayes

Phase 3: Public Reading and Celebration (March 15, 2019)

Up to 10 participants from the public workshops in Phase 1 will share their stories with a larger audience at a public reading event. Free tickets are here.


Beautiful Truth is funded by a major project grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, with additional support from The Plain Language Group, and with generous assistance from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library.

Brooke & Justin Lehmann