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An update from our sixth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday May 22, plus some of the output published below

The Challenge: Simply, write a heavy story/poem—describe a place or character with heaviness.

The Participants: Emma, Josh, Simran, Georgia, Anya, Sasha, Lucy, Zhilin, Ronny, Emi, Alice, Harine, Sinan, Aditi, Samantha, Svitra, Sena, Julia, Audrey

Emma Hoff, 9,
(Bronx, NY)

Cloud Jumping

Emma Hoff, 9

Every time I try to jump up to touch the black clouds, what bothers me most is that you can’t even enjoy falling back to the ground, because it’s a second of coming to the ground and then, “Whump!” you’ve touched it. I can’t jump very high. I can jump rope though, I used to pretend that the rope was a big white fluffy cloud, so I didn’t mind when I accidentally tripped over it. I would just imagine being on a large fluffy cloud, carrying me home, becoming my best friend, walking me to school every morning. When I was little, I thought the clouds had hope. I thought there were little angels hiding in there, all rosy cheeked and kind. Then they would hug me and lead me to a perfect, loving family. Now that I'm older, I know better. I know no family, perfect or not, will get me, because I already have one, no matter how horrible they are to me. And I’m old enough to know that angels don’t exist, and those little winged creatures in all the paintings are just figments of a very religious painter’s imagination. Anyways, the clouds are dark now. It’s going to rain, but I don’t want to go inside to my horrible family. I remember that in science class, we learned that the clouds have so much rain in them that eventually they let it all go. But I’ve always wondered, how do they let rain go? Do they have little trapdoors on the bottom of them? Or do they just explode, into a million hopeless black pieces?

Sena Pollock, 14,
(Madison, WI)

The Memory Machine

Sena Pollock, 14

It was a sunny day and the birds were all singing. I imagined that I could understand them. “You did it-you did it-you did it you’ll never get-a-way.” It was true, I had done it and now even the birds knew, and they were mocking me. The sun was too, shining so brightly that no one could overlook anything. If it had been stormy I could have - I don't know what I could have done but it would have been better than living in the sunshine pretending that I was still the person I had been since I was six years old. The person I had been from then until yesterday. Yesterday, when I had broken the system that held and hid what I had done. I used to have insatiable curiosity, but now I know what I could find, and I don’t anymore. We had been playing on the scaffold, my little sister and I. She was only two years younger than me and I loved her more than anything, even ice cream, which in our little-kid minds was the highest compliment, to be loved more than ice cream. But when she said that I had stolen the toy giraffe, which had been mine since I was born, I forgot, and I forgot that we were on the scaffold, and I pushed her. She fell off the scaffold and she didn’t die, only broke her legs. While she was in the hospital, it was the only thing I talked about, and when my mom asked if I felt very bad about it, I said I would do it again and then I burst into tears. I was only being confused and contrary, but my mom had just learned that my sister would never walk again. My parents thought I was a danger to society, so they took me to the place where they put my memories in the machine. They gave me to a new family and lied about why. I think that they put their memories of me in a machine too. My new parents never told me I was adopted. But yesterday I got my memory back and now I know that somewhere I have a sister and she cannot walk and it is my fault.

Lucy Rados, 14, (Buffalo, NY)


Lucy Rados, 14

It was rainingagain. Just like it had been the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that. It made the inhabitants of Old Town bored and gloomy, making them look forward to a chance where they could step outside without getting drenched and muddy. Even worse, it wasn’t the kind of rain that danced on the rooftops and made you want to run outside, or perhaps jump in a puddle or two. No, it was the kind of rain that came down in slow, plodding droplets, sucking energy out of everyone all of the time.

If one, desperate after being cooped up, felt the need to step outside, they could bring an umbrella, but then it felt like a funeral, like one in a movie. They would look up at the sky, wondering when the gray would dissipate, and even if it did, whether any of the joy and happiness would come back with the sun.

So many chose to stay inside, where at least they would not have to acknowledge the seemingly eternal grayness. And so Old Town stayed, for another long week of rain, rain and waiting.

Svitra Rajkumar, 13,
(Fremont, CA)


Svitra Rajkumar, 13


She felt her body plunge into the freezing water and hear muffled voices screaming above her. Although Lucy was sinking deeper and deeper, she felt at peace, and it didn’t hurt. In fact, she felt light, as though she could soar off into the sky any minute now.

In a split second, her thoughts recollected as she realized her situation. All the tightness disappeared as though it was never there. Instead, it was replaced by a new feeling. It pulled her lower and lower into the water, as Lucy began to panic. Her chest ached for the feeling of air. She tried to move her arms but it was too late.

Lucy had gone far too deep into the seemingly bottomless ocean. She tried to remember the feeling of lightness and peace but that felt like years ago. Her lungs called for the long-gone air at the surface. She stared at the top of the water that was gradually moving further away from her.

Lucy extended her pale hands towards it, trying to grab onto the flowing currents. She was tired of giving up and running away. She was tired of being pushed onto the ground. She was tired of falling. With as much strength as she could muster she pulled herself a little higher, even though her head ached from the pain.

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