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Pictures of spring Spring
Spring, by Myra Nicolaou, 8 (Cyprus), and published in the May/June 1985 Issue of Stone Soup

A note from William

Hello again! I haven't written our Saturday Newsletter for some months, as I have been writing a book about the history of bread. Thank you to my colleagues who have taken over during this time.

I turn 68 on Thursday, which also brings us into the 49th year of Stone Soup. In 1972, I gathered a few fellow students at my college, and we set to work to teach ourselves how to be publishers. The first issue of Stone Soup was published in May, 1973. I must say, between the magazine, our blogs, and the work coming out of our writing classes, Stone Soup is publishing more creative work than it ever has—and this is attracting ever more brilliant young writers and artists.

I am a writer. I write every day. I am in awe of the work Stone Soup is publishing. I encourage all of you to subscribe to the magazine so you can get copies of our important literary magazine, and gain access to our vast catalogue of writing on the Stone Soup website.

Stone Soup Classes
Our classes resume on September 18th. The fall session runs until December 3rd, with class readings scheduled for December 11th. Registration will open early August with my writing class, Conner Bassett's, and a new class taught by Isidore Bethel, a French-American filmmaker who will teach students how to tell stories through film. All of our teachers practice what they teach. Both Conner and I are published authors. Isidore is a well respected filmmaker. Please check out his Wikipedia entry.

We are in school expansion mode! We will be adding more classes as we find appropriate teachers. We will also be expanding the types of classes. Poetry, photography, long-form fiction, and book illustration are examples of classes that we are hoping to add to our listings. We also hope to offer classes to students in Asia.

Refugee project
Please check out our new Refugee Project web pages. A gift you can give to these young artists is to simply read their work and speak their names. We will be fundraising for this program in September, so check back then for more information. Right now, you can help by looking at the current material. COVID-19 broke the momentum that Laura Moran, who runs this program, had built. Our Refugee Project web pages have all been approved by the agencies currently featured. Laura put in a ton of work on getting approvals and managing requested revisions. Thank you, Laura.

Weekend Project
The magnificent painting from Cyprus was part of a group of paintings given to us in 1977 by the Cypriot embassy, in Washington, D.C. For me, this work captures the exuberance of spring.

Art and writing projects based on seasons are often one of the dullest of school projects. I want you to put all uninspiring back to school projects out of your head. One of the most famous musical pieces of all time is a set of four violin concertos by the Baroque composer Vivaldi, which he published in 1725 under the name, Le quattro stagioni, or "The Four Seasons" in English. Here is a link to a YouTube recording of the spring concerto.

The many sunflowers paintings by the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh are representations of summer. Most of his sunflower paintings—and he made a lot of them!—are of sunflowers in a vase. These can be thought of as summer brought into the house. A vase filled with hollies with their red berries would be a comparable image for winter. The painting he made of a sunflower growing in a communal garden in July, 1887 is another approach to memorializing a season. This painting could only be made in the summer, when sunflowers bloom. Depending on where you live, thunderstorms might also suggest summer.

As we are at the height of summer, I want you to think of something that screams "Summer!" where you live, and then capture that idea in a drawing, painting, photograph, or in a story or poem. If you are currently working on a piece of fiction, then if appropriate, you could work something in that might anchor your story in the summer. As always, if you like what you produce and think that our Editor, Emma Wood, would be interested in publishing it in Stone Soup, please go to our website and submit it. Thank you.

Lastly, please read the poem, "The Memorial Tree," by Amber Zhao, which was published in the February 2021 Issue of Stone Soup. This is an unusual, evocative, and complex poem. Congratulations, Amber!

As COVID-19 surges again, please, please, please stay safe.

Until next time,

Book Contest 2021

For information on submitting to the Stone Soup Book Contest 2021, please click here.

To submit your manuscript, please visit our submittable site.

Highlights from the past week online

Don't miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com!

Emily Collins, 12, wrote a staggering, evocative story about desire for change in the face of the ongoing aftermath of COVID-19.

Jaslyn Kwan, 12, wrote a personal narrative about her return to competitive ballet in the YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix).

Make sure to read Pragnya's (12) review of Laurie R. King's 1994 novel, The Beekeepers Apprentice, the first novel in her Mary Russell series.

Meleah Goldman, 10, wrote a lyrical and inspirational work, "The Roots of Our Peace."

April, 13, reviewed Jenna Evans Welch's sweet, debut novel, Love and Gelato.

Calling all 9-14-year-olds to Virtual Summer Camp!

It's not too late to join our summer classes with Young Inklings–we have a few spaces left in all our July classes. Each interactive writing camp runs for two hours per day, Monday through Thursday, with plenty of prompts and activities for you to take away and use outside class, too. Have fun writing and learning with us this month!

July 26-29 - learn from two generations who have started journals before in Start Your Own Literary Journal - with Stone Soup '20—21 intern Anya & Jane

July 26-29 - get a new perspective on Creative Writing Through Art with Jiang

Amber ZhaoFrom Stone Soup
February 2021

The Memorial Tree

By Amber Zhao, 10 (Brisbane, Australia)

Battered plate, battered life. Plumed reed and paperbark
surround that memorial, certain heirs of late afternoon and evening
drifting like phantoms around that blurred steel lake,
now ancient with new faces, my face lost in that ripple of glass,
ripple that comes to all living things, the realization
that life is not what you expect, and that glorious crown,
charming everyone with heart-struck bedazzle,
may tomorrow just be a faded visage of an earlier hope,
withheld by a greater force, propelling everything.

That tree waits, patiently, for its reincarnation as something,
something, at least, for those cold words on the memorial do not signify
anything about the kind woman who inhabited this place,
or that gentleman, friends with birds and driftwood spears.
It only quotes a name, birth and death date—
but in that little punctuation mark, that tiny indentation of a dash,
a whole life of sorrows, happiness, hopes and fears,
all lost now on the gentle spiraled clouds,
patrolling every speck-person day after day.

In memorial of (insert person)—would they really want that?
What if they detested that dear childish park,
preferred the jazzy pace of mature metropolis life?
I ask parents this; they shake their heads, clearly thinking,
“The girl’s too old for her age.” They shake their heads again,
but I know they have good intentions. They just don’t
understand how I make magical spells, poems, out of mundane things, experiences,
think such profound thoughts about life, death, eternity, and existence.
But, well, that is my existence, to be honest.

I do some research into their lives, with no success,
and find the memorial tree again—the willow still weeping,
its dainty leaves like fallen tears guarding the memorial,
still highly polished, but faded with time and age.
Without thinking, I cup water from the drought-sickened stream,
pour it onto the memorial tree. It still looks sad.
However, the next time I visit it, by an invisible change, it is happy:
the falling leaves are tears of happiness, not sadness,
and a delighted face uttering joyful words floats upwards like a ghost, is gone.

...read more from this issue of Stone Soup, including more poetry by Amber

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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