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Magnolias at Midnight, Acrylic | Shaivi Moparthi, 11 (Sugarland, TX), published in Stone Soup January 2022

A note from Caleb

Hello and happy second Saturday of 2022! In exactly two weeks’ time, we will be beginning our Winter 2022 session of Saturday classes. As was the case last session, our founder, William Rubel, will be teaching his writing workshop on Saturdays at 9:00 am Pacific, Conner Bassett will be teaching his writing workshop on Saturdays at 11:00 am Pacific, and Isidore Bethel will be teaching his introduction to short-form filmmaking class on Saturdays at 9:00 am Pacific. We are also excited to announce that Maya Mahony, an MFA student in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, will be taking over Book Club in place of Laura Moran, who will be spending more time on the Stone Soup Refugee Project! Book Club will continue to take place the last Saturday of each month at 9:00 am Pacific.

Both Avery DiBella’s stunning poem “The Moon” and Shaivi Moparthi’s breathtaking acrylic Magnolias at Midnight concern themselves with the moon’s magic. Every line in Avery’s poem begins with “The moon”; at the center of Shaivi’s painting is a bright, shining moon, and, at first glance, it would seem both works are concerned with singing its praises. But, there is a sense of foreboding at play, lurking beneath the surface. Take the fourth line of Avery’s poem:

“The moon/ is too/ Bright/ That in the/ Gorgeous/ Night/ I dream about/ The moon.”

I’ve emboldened the “too” because it is this word choice that changes the entire meaning of the poem. In essence, the moon’s brightness is so dominant that its beauty takes precedence over the “gorgeous night” and the speaker’s dreams. Without that “too,” the poem’s final line, “The moon/ Feels like/ My pillow/ When I myself/ Am/ Sound asleep,” might only denote how the moon “soothes” the speaker. Instead, the line takes on an eerie significance; in all its dominance, the moon has become so ubiquitous, so inescapable that its presence is felt in the inherently unfelt: the pillow beneath a sound sleeper.

In Shaivi’s painting, the magnolias are beautiful; it is their pink color that accents the image. In a literal sense, they take up more space than the moon. The painting is even titled Magnolias at Midnight. And yet, the moon—this bright, shining, floating orb—steals the viewer’s attention. After looking away from the painting, the moon is what remains, seamlessly imprinted like Avery's pillow beneath a sound sleeper. Shaivi's painting also reminds me of a famous quote from Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens, which would go on to inspire Nabokov’s Pale Fire: “The moon's an arrant thief, And her pale fire she snatches from the sun."

So, thinking about how Avery’s poem and Shaivi’s painting indirectly take issue with the moon’s dominance, this weekend I’d like you to think about something in your life that is beautiful, marvelous, breathtaking, but for whatever reason rubs you the wrong way. Then, write what appears to be an ode singing the praises of this object, but, perhaps with the help of just a few words, in reality highlights your sense of unease. As always, if you like what you’ve written or created, we would love for you to share and submit it to us via Submittable!

Till next time,

Avery DiBella
Avery DiBella, 10 Salem, NH

From Stone Soup
January 2022

The Moon

By Avery DiBella, 10 (Salem, NH)

The moon
Shines as bright
As the stars
In the glimmering
So glimmering
Night sky.
The moon
In my sleep.
The moon
Is soaking
With new
That can
Be discovered...

Continue reading "The Moon" here...

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.

Stone Soup's advisors: Abby Austin, Mike Axelrod, Annabelle Baird, Jem Burch, Evelyn Chen, Juliet Fraser, Zoe Hall, Montanna Harling, Alicia & Joe Havilland, Lara Katz, Rebecca Kilroy, Christine Leishman, Julie Minnis, Jessica Opolko, Tara Prakash, Denise Prata, Logan Roberts, Emily Tarco, Rebecca Ramos Velasquez, Susan Wilky.

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