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"Peering Out" by Delaney Slote, 12 Published in the July/August 2018 issue

A note from William

Call for Bloggers

Are there ongoing protests in your city related to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement? How about public art? We’re asking for blog submissions related to BLM in your town. You can submit art, writing, music, or whatever you’re inspired to create.

We’re also looking for readers who live in Portland, OR to write about what is going on there. If you have anything you’d like to say about the situation, please submit it to our blog category. To our readers in Portland—please stay safe.

Book Contest

Warning! Warning! Deadline of August 10 approaching for Stone Soup’s Second Annual Book Contest! I know that a good number of you are on top of the deadline, and some of you have even submitted your manuscripts already. Congratulations! As a writer who is often running late, I can tell you that the ability to write to the deadline is a life skill that is (almost) as essential to the craft of writing as writing itself.

Art and Poetry

Peering Out, the featured artwork in today’s newsletter, is by Delaney Slote. What a difference time makes! In the Summer of 2018, when we first published this photograph, it made us at Stone Soup smile. Two girls looking out the window into the sunny outdoors planning an excursion. It is a photograph that suggests possibilities. At least it did in 2018. If this had been sent to us today, we would have read it as the opposite: As two girls looking out at a world shut down, one in which they are not quite prisoners but also very much not free. A world in which looking out the window reminds them of the danger we are all in, and what we have lost. This is a great lesson in how the meaning we find in art shifts with our experiences.

I want you to keep this photograph in mind as you grow older. There is no question that at some point in school you will be assigned to read a book that you find totally boring but that has an outsized reputation as a brilliant work of art. This happened to me once with a novel by Charles Dickens I was assigned in high school: David Copperfield. What an utterly stupid book, I thought! And then, forty years later, I re-read it for a book that I was writing. I was amazed! What a deep and profound book that novel that I thought stupid really was. As a reader I had needed more experience, like having been divorced, to find the heart of the story. There needed to be a different William, not a sixteen-year-old William but a William that had more to bring to the book.

Delany’s photograph is magnificently composed. Look at the arcs made by the girls’ arms. Pay attention to the shapes defined by the way their arms and bodies divide up the space. The part of the photograph I like the most is how the girls are together but separate, but also linked by how they are holding onto the curtain. They will both be feeling the pull of the other. Friends, sisters, cousins, sharing a moment together.

Last year, there were two second place winners in our book contest, both poets: Analise Braddock and Tatiana Rebecca Shrayer. For those of you who subscribe to Stone Soup, you will have received both of their books in your Summer Special Poetry Issue. This week, we are featuring a poem by Analise in the newsletter. In a future newsletter, we will feature a poem by Tatiana. Their books are both available in the July/August edition of Stone Soup, which you can buy via our online store, and they are each available as individual ebooks, which you can also purchase for $4.99 at our store (and/or at Amazon). Please scroll down to the bottom of the Newsletter to read Analise’s “The Heart of the Earth” from her book The Golden Elephant. This poem is so powerful. So perfect. I just want you to read it. Please read it aloud. Thank you, Analise.

I want to close today by sending you all to the Stone Soup website, Stonesoup.com. Follow the links to the fabulous work that has been posted this week. If you are not a subscriber, please, please subscribe—and tell your friends and colleagues to do so as well. Subscription dollars are what makes our work possible. The work our print magazine features is magnificent—worth re-reading—and the magazine itself is a pleasure to hold in your hand.

Until next week,

Winners from Weekly Flash Contest #16

Weekly Flash Contest #16: Write an unsettling poem.

The week commencing July 13 (Daily Creativity prompt #81) was our sixteenth week of flash contests, with a sinister challenge set by contributor and writing workshop member Liam Hancock, 13. It seems everyone had plenty of scary stuff to get out of their systems: We had an absolute record number of entries this week. More than 70, in fact! Well done, Liam, for setting such a terrifically inspiring challenge, and thank you for all your work helping us read and judge our huge pile. It was really fun working with you.

We were looking for the creepiest, most unsettling poems for our winners’ list, and we certainly found them! While all our winners had slightly different subjects, all of them built tension through their poems to a frankly terrifying end. And they showed us that while sinister, creepy, eerie things often come at night, these feelings can be evoked in broad daylight too. The honorable mentions were equally varied, moving between suspense, nightmares, death, unexplained disappearances, and even managing to make a butterfly into something sinister.

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

“In the Light of the Red Moon” by Katherine Bergsieker, 12, Denver, CO
“Something Peculiar” by Fern Hadley, 11, Cary, NC
“Shattered” by Meleah Goldman, 10, Oakland, CA
“Count Them Down” by Ella Yamamura, 12, Cary, NC
“A Little Off” by Keira Zhang, 12, Belmont, MA

Honorable Mentions
“Lucid Dreams” by Aiden Avedissian, 9, Valley Glen, CA
“Tick Tock” by Morgan Dodd, 13, Portland, OR
“When Mark Went Missing . . .” by Daniel Shorten, 9, Mallow, Ireland
“Lifeless Vessels” by Ismini Vasiloglou, 11, Atlanta, GA
“The Butterfly” by Michela You, 11, Lexington, MA

Also, there were a few entries that didn't place in the contest, but which we will share with everyone on our COVID-19 blog in the coming weeks—well done to Samson Brown, 13; Madi Frank, 11; Eleanor Levy, 8; Lucas Lin, 11; Aviva Rosenstock, 9; and Olivia Wang, 10.

Highlights from the past week online

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

One of our contributors, Liam Hancock, led the writing workshop last Friday on the theme of mixing genres. Check out the blog post that summarizes his presentation and features work that people created during the meeting.

Aviva, 9, wrote a short poem called “maybe” that captures the uncertain feelings that abound during this pandemic.

In her blog post “Humble Beginnings,” Lainey emphasizes the importance of small actions when it comes to saving the planet. Read her guide on starting a family compost.

Anya gives us an update on the Stone Soup book club, which most recently discussed Jacqueline Woodson’s Harbor Me.

Michaela, 11, took a Daily Creativity prompt and infused it with details from our current time. Read “Mama’s Mask” on the blog.

Alisa, 11, reviews Eoin Colfer’s The Dog Who Lost His Bark. Read what she has to say about the book, including how the story emphasizes perseverance.

We published a week’s worth of journal entries from Sofia, 12. She discusses her online classes for school and observes how her city looks as it fights coronavirus.

detail from fall

From the Stone Soup blog July/August 2020

The Heart of the Earth

by Analise Braddock, 9 (Katonah, NY)

From The Golden Elephant,
awarded Second Place in our 2019 Book Contest! 

It’s old still and quiet.

No heart at all.

Just a place.

The emptiness makes my heart hollow.

I feel it’s been stolen.

Hurry there is not much time.

To read more of the collection, go to your copy of the summer issue of Stone Soup, or purchase the eBook version of The Golden Elephant in our online store or at Amazon.

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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