A note from Emma Wood
As a teacher of literature, I am constantly thinking of new ways to categorize ways of writing, so that I can say to my students, “Poetry is this,” and “Fiction is that.” Since I love to organize and arrange, these kinds of neat categories are very satisfying to me. However, reading—and especially reading submissions for Stone Soup—serves as a constant reminder that these categories can be both limiting and unproductive. There are short stories that read like poems, poems that read like stories and look like art, and art that tells stories. Often, art that crosses these generic boundaries (meaning, the boundaries of genres) is the most powerful and the most creative.
This weekend, I encourage you to create outside of the usual boxes.
For writers: Instead of sitting down with the intent to write a story or a poem or a personal narrative, sit down to simply . . . write. Since some structure is always helpful, maybe set a timer for 10 minutes and look at Hannah Parker’s stunning image “Bird in the Clouds” (above) for inspiration. Try to write without stopping for the whole 10 minutes, letting the words and your mood lead.
For visual artists: instead of taking photos of a picturesque scene or an interesting object, think of creating your own scene. How might you tell a story with an image? How much can you convey without any words at all? Similarly, if you paint or draw, challenge yourself to draw a story, rather than a thing. I encourage you to look at the paintings of Pieter Bruegel for inspiration. Alternatively, think of ways to incorporate text into your visual art. Maybe that means using watercolors over a newspaper story or adding text to a photograph.
Whatever you do, do it in the spirit of experimentation and play!
Until next week,
Customer service and online accounts
This week we launched a new Customer Service FAQ to answer some of the questions we have been receiving most often in the last few weeks since launching our new website and order-processing functions. The FAQ starts off with advice on how to log in to the new “My Account” facility and moves through more detailed questions about checking your subscription details, updating your payment information, and more. If you have been wondering about how something works on the new site, take a look! Plus, you can always write to us at email@example.com with any questions about your account or our services in general. We love hearing from you and we want to help.
Do you have an outstanding query with Stone Soup?
In the past couple weeks, we have become aware that our former fulfillment house has for some time been taking messages and answering customer queries even though they no longer work for us. Some of the information given out to subscribers was incorrect, other issues were not followed up on as promised, and they had not been passing any details of the messages or calls on to us.
If you have an open query with Stone Soup, especially one left by phone or sent to an email address with the letters “icn” included in it, would you please resubmit it by writing to us direct at firstname.lastname@example.org? We will deal with it for you right away. Thank you.
Please note that any old customer service email address(es) and telephone numbers that you may have noted are no longer functional. Please delete them from your records. We do not currently have a facility to take telephone queries. We intend to reintroduce that facility within the coming months, and for now we ask you please to email us with all of your requests and questions at email@example.com. We will keep you informed about improvements to the site and to our customer service as we work on it over the coming weeks and months.
Highlights from the past week online
Don’t miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!
We’ve published another short interview with a former contributor to the blog. Siena DeBenedittis wrote the story “Illuminated,” which was published in our March/April 2015 issue. Now she’s a college student studying environmental studies and English. Her interview is full of great advice, including, “Rejection is an opportunity to improve.” Read it here.
From Stone Soup
What is hope? Why do we feel hope? And why is hope so important to us? In a story from Greek mythology, hope was famously the only item to remain in Pandora’s box after it released the evils of the world, demonstrating just how valuable hope is to us: had hope escaped from our possession, humanity would have been unable to survive the evils of the world.
Emily Dickinson believed in the power and value of hope just as strongly. Famously reclusive, this 19th-century American poet remained largely unpublished during her lifetime, by her own choice. After her death in 1886, however, her poems were discovered and published by her close friends and family. Since then, Dickinson has grown to become one of the most mysterious, emblematic, and loved poets of all time with her short but powerful poems. Much of her poetry is devoted to exploring the nature of life, death, and what she called the “Circumference,” the boundary where the reality that we know meets that of the sublime—God, for example, or for the less religiously inclined, Truth with a capital T. Dickinson was the first poet to really capture my attention when I was younger, and she is now one of my all-time favorite writers.
Stone Soup is published by Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup Inc., a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization registered in the United States of America, EIN: 23-7317498.