Want to keep reading?

You've reached the end of your complimentary access. Subscribe for as little as $4/month.

Aready a Subscriber ? Sign In
Giving voice to displaced children and young people.

"Untitled" (acrylic)
By Halil (Syria), created with the support of the Inside-Outside Project and published in Stone Soup June 2021. Artist description of the piece (translated from Arabic): There is something hiding behind the painting. There is a ghost behind it. It is the ghost of someone. (Who?) (No answer to that.) It is not me (says the artist); it is another girl who is afraid. The ghost frightens people, but it does not hurt them. (What does the girl in the picture say?) The girl (in the picture) says the ghost came to her. (What does the girl say to you about the ghost?) She told me so we can help her.

A note from Conner

World Refugee Day and the Stone Soup Refugee Project
June 20 is World Refugee Day, a day of observance to raise awareness about the plight of refugees and to demonstrate a commitment that the world’s forcibly displaced people are not left behind. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, there are approximately 70 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, 25.9 million of whom have official refugee status. Over half of the world’s refugee population is under eighteen years of age.

So often, media portrays refugee children as the subject of a narrative. We at Stone Soup are committed to providing a platform for refugee children to use their voice to tell their own stories. The Stone Soup Refugee Project, in collaboration with seven organizations and refugee camps, has collected close to 200 pieces of creative work, including paintings, photography, poetry, and plays, from children living in refugee camps and host countries around the world. These children have fled their homes in Syria, Afghanistan, Burundi, Tanzania, and Thailand, among other places. They have been resettled in countries including Australia, the United States, Turkey, and Greece. Refugee camps represented in our submissions thus far include Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan; Umphiem Refugee Camp in Thailand; and Vasilika, Ristsona, and Moria Refugee Camps in Greece.

We are excited to announce that these works are currently on display and will soon be free and publicly accessible in our newly created Refugee Project website, which you can explore here.

A Little About Myself
I received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and have just finished up my PhD at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and accepted a tenure-track professorship of creative writing at Albright College in Pennsylvania. I’ve been teaching some of the Stone Soup Writing Workshops since April, where I’ve had the pleasure to interact and write with some of you. This summer I will also be offering a class on playwriting via the Society of Young Inklings.

Weekend Project
This week, I want to showcase Rainer Pasca’s strange and beautiful poems—poems that call our attention to the processes and mechanisms of attention itself. Here I focus on Rainer’s poem “Rumi on the Table.”

Like many great poems, “Rumi on the Table” tells the story of its own inception—the moment the poet aims to possess that which possesses the poet. It presents the act of poetic creation as its subject matter. The poem, therefore, teaches us how to see and think like poets.


I’m thinking of nothing.
My head is empty like a garbage can.

The poem reminds me of Wallace Stevens’s poem “The Snow Man,” which tells us to have “a mind of winter”—a blank mind—to see the world anew.

Rainer takes up this injunction: “My head is an empty garbage can.” Of course, the key word is “empty”—free of metaphorical trash: assumptions, preconceptions, and prejudices. A mind of winter, thinking of nothing, is a poet’s mind: ready to see the world as it is.


Hey, look. Rumi is on the table.
Rumi, why don’t we make a poem?

When the poet’s mind is empty, seeing becomes an act of collaboration. To perceive is to perceive with. In these lines, the poet sees Rumi (a cat and a famous mystical poet) and asks to see as Rumi sees.


He’s purring!
Awww, he is purring the poem.
I love you, Rumi.
You’re the king of gold.

Rainer and Rumi make a poem together. The poem is a collaboration. In the final couplet, the poem becomes a celebration, an ode, a song, a love poem.

This week, I suggest that you write collaboratively. Try to write a poem or story with someone or something else. Go out into the world and write with a “mind of winter,” “thinking of nothing.” What will you hear? What will you see?

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.

Congratulations to our most recent Flash Contest winners!

Our June Flash Contest was based on Creativity Prompt #156, provided by sagacious '20—21 Intern Sage Millen, challenging participants to interview a grandparent/older friend about a memorable moment from their childhood and to write that memory as a first person story. This clever prompt afforded those who participated with the opportunity to get closer to the elderly than ever before, allowing them to literally inhabit the perspective of their interviewee. These submissions followed no similar narrative arc, though each and every one did provide a unique window into various cultures of the past. Submissions ranged from tales of a smoking car radiator stuffed with gum to a mishap with homemade firecrackers in Taiwan to a poetic vignette about a car crash, plus much, much more. Thank you to all who submitted this month; it was a pleasure to read your work.

Congratulations to our winners and honorable mentions, listed below. You can read the winning entries for this contest (and previous ones) at the Stone Soup website.

"4 Blocks" by Katherine Bergsieker, 13, (Denver, CO)
"Nature's Lullaby" by Mariana Del Rio, 12, (Strongsville, OH)
"Still Life in Which Everything is on Fire" by Arishka Jha, 12, (Redwood City, CA)
"A Love that Lasts a Lifetime" by Pranjoli Sadhukha, 11, (Newark, OH)
"Rocket Trouble" by Natalie Yue, 9, (San Carlos, CA)

Honorable Mentions
"My Friend Tommy" by Tilly Marlow, 12, (Bristol, UK)
"The Burning Finger Fix" by Nimay Shah, 11, (Portland, OR)
"The Stubborn Fever" by Nitya Shah, 11, (Portland, OR)
"Across the Fields" by Ava Shorten, 11, (Mallow, ROI)
"The Secret Fruit Patch" by Emily Tang, 12, (Winterville, NC)

Highlights from the past week online

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

Sofia, 13, wrote a compelling personal essay detailing why she chose to participate in the COVID-19 trial for teens.

Brais, 11, reviewed David Rees’s 2012 book, How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants.

Young Blogger Adela Zhu wrote a tender piece about falling in love with her pet hamster, Oreo.

Writing classes and Book Club

Are you looking for classes to inspire, improve, and practice your writing with great teachers and a group of like-minded young writers and readers? Join us! We do charge fees for our clubs and workshops, but we try to keep them as low as possible, and we offer discounts to subscribers and scholarships to students who need them. Contact us at education@stonesoup.com with any questions.

Writing Workshop: we have two writing groups for spring/summer that meet via Zoom every Saturday (except for William’s class, which does not meet for the last Saturday of the month). Come write with us and share your work with your peers. Find out more and register for a workshop at Eventbrite. To see some of the great work produced by current workshop members, read contributions published at Stonesoup.com, or join us at one of our free public readings!

Book Club: a book club for writers that meets via Zoom on the last Saturday of every month. Find out more and register for book club at Eventbrite. Check out which books we are reading on our website.

Young Author’s Studio Summer Camps: we are offering a wide range of classes through the summer jointly with the Society of Young Inklings. Each camp runs for two hours per day, Monday through Thursday. All details and bookings via Society of Young Inklings.

Rainer PascaFrom Stone Soup
June 2021

Rumi on the Table

By Rainer Pasca, 14 (Bay Shore, NY)

I’m thinking of nothing.
My head is empty like a garbage can.
Oh, I can’t write this poem.
Hey, look. Rumi is on the table.
Rumi, why don’t we make a poem?
He’s purring!
Awww, he is purring the poem.
I love you, Rumi.
You’re the king of gold.

To read more from this issue, including more of Rainer’s poetry, click 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.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.