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A Village in Malawi, circa 1975
Wisland Phiri, age 12

A note from William Rubel

Hello everyone

School is out, so I know that you will all be spending a lot of time outside this summer doing things. When I look at this picture I like to think about the sounds that we don't hear but that are implied by the scene—the sounds of chickens, roosters, dogs, and the leaves rustling in the trees. And, of course, even though we don't see children, we can imagine them playing just outside the frame, perhaps around the back of the house. The woman making the basket is working alone, but it makes sense to imagine others doing similar things nearby. It is likely there is conversation in the air, as well. And birds. And insects. The air would be alive with sound. This picture has what is called "a sense of place."

I'd like you to make a picture this weekend of an outdoor scene that, like Wisland's picture of this Malawian village, offers a full sense of what it looks and feels like to live where you live or to be visiting where you are visiting this summer. Make a picture that, though silent, is so rich with the sense of its place that viewers will be drawn into the scene even to the point of hearing the sounds that are part of it.

I can't wait to see (and hear) your drawings!

Introducing Emma Wood, Stone Soup Editor

Today, I'd like to more formally introduce you to our new editor, Emma Wood.

Originally from New York City, Emma currently lives in the redwoods of Santa Cruz, CA, with her husband and their two dogs. She is a poet with a BA in Russian History & Literature from Harvard, and an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she taught literature and poetry writing. Emma has previously served as an editor at The Morning News and currently edits interviews for the Rumpus. Her first book, a collaborative translation with the poet C Dylan Bassett, will be published in Winter 2018.

The best way to introduce Emma, though, is to see and hear her talking about poetry and her own work in this video. I learned a lot about poetry from watching this, and I hope you find it inspiring, too. I also encourage you to visit Emma's website, which includes a section with links to her writing.

Welcome, Emma!

Our new Stone Soup Editor, Emma Wood, talks about poetry.


This week's story from the archives

Like the drawing at the top of this letter, this week's story has a strong sense of place. Perhaps you'd rather write a story than draw a picture this week, so perhaps you can read this one and think about creating a powerful sense of place with your own words. If you are looking for some great examples, other stories published in Stone Soup with a strong sense of place can be found here.

Until next time


From Stone Soup
January/February 2014

Where the Cotton Bolls Grow

By Sharon Wang, age 13
Illustrator Vivienne Clark, age 11

My father was the first in his rural hometown to ever go to college.

In China the colleges are scarce. College entrance exams were created to wipe out the majority of the people who wanted to advance from high school. In my father’s time, not all the high-school graduates took the exams, and out of those who did, only three percent made it to college. It was the accomplishment of this feat that led him to meet my mother and eventually move to the United States.

Ten years later, our family took our first plane trip back to China. I was twelve the summer we rode on a silver bird over mountains and seas to fly to my father’s homeland. We transferred to a seven-hour bus which bobbed over miles and miles of blue and green expanse with fishermen laying sheets of plastic on the sides of the road to dry their newly harvested crayfish. Bus changed to pickup truck when an uncle that I had never seen enthusiastically picked us up in the only automobile in the village, a large clumsy machine with a roar that mixed with that of the wind until I could not tell which was which.

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