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"Fist" (acrylic) by Claire Jiang, 12 (Princeton, NJ), and published in the June 2019 Issue of Stone Soup

A note from William

Stone Soup Friends!

It is spring in Santa Cruz. My aviary birds are going crazy making new families! The aviary is already thirty feet (ten meters) long, but the parakeets and zebra finches are making so many nests that I am going to have to expand. The quince tree right outside my window is in full bloom, the lemon and Seville orange trees I see just past the quince are laden with fruit. The Mirabelle plum in my backyard has hundreds of tiny fruits, and the wild onions with their white, bell-shaped flowers are glowing in the afternoon sun. It is spring! Finally! I am now two weeks past my last COVID-19 shot. Perhaps by the end of the year we will be back to something closer to normal.

Celebrate and support our great writers by attending these two public readings!
We have two public readings coming up. One is a reading for the Saturday Writing Workshop next Saturday, April 3, 9 a.m. Pacific. The other is our first-ever official reading by Stone Soup authors. This is a new quarterly reading event. This first one is scheduled for Sunday, April 18, 10 a.m. Pacific. Registration is via EventBrite. Public readings are an important part of being an author. Please support our authors by attending these events. Thank you.

Summer school 2021
Register for our many classes at the joint Stone Soup–Young Inklings Summer 2021 program. This year, for the Stone Soup portion of the program, classes will be taught by Editor Emma Wood, Jane Levi, Laura Moran, and our new writing teacher, Conner Bassett. Read more about him in the section below that introduces our new writing class.

Spring Saturday Writing Classes
Stone Soup digital or print subscribers receive a substantial discount. No student will be left out of classes because of financial considerations, so please write if you need a scholarship. Private registration only at this time. My class resumes April 10 until summer at its usual 9 a.m. Pacific time. Current students have received a private registration link. I look forward to seeing you all again.

Register for our new writing class
We are opening a second class Saturdays at 11 a.m. Pacific taught by Conner Bassett, a poet, translator, and creative writing teacher at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Conner is a brilliant teacher with extensive teaching experience. He is also Editor Emma Wood’s husband! Enrollment is limited to forty. As with my class, if you need a scholarship, let us know. We don’t want any student who wants to attend kept from the class for financial reasons.

Art and Writing Project
The amazing painting of a fist by Claire Jiang is a technical tour de force. It is very, very hard to render any object, much less something as complicated as a fist, with such accuracy. I am also impressed with the use of color—naturalistic, but not. And, of course, the fist emerging from black. A shadow. Another dimension. Is it a fist of anger? Should we be afraid of it? Or will the fist open to a hand, asking us to help rescue it from the shadow? What are your ideas? What does this fist imply to you? Try making a drawing, painting, or photograph that, like Clare’s fist, depicts a single object up close. And, like Claire, try to do something that will suggest one or more stories. I like the idea of emerging from darkness—as that always suggest the opposite possibility of falling into darkness. If using photography to make your image, experiment with taking your photographs in low light. You may also want to use a light to highlight the most forward part of the object you are photographing, letting the rest of the object fade into the dark background. If you come up with something cool, please send it to Emma so she can consider it for Stone Soup.

Isabel Swain’s remarkable story “Innocent Yet Dire Words” is a true masterpiece. It would be difficult to render its power in just a few words—you would be better off just reading it. But I will say this: the piece interweaves poetry and fiction, long and short sentences, one form emerging from the other in a manner reminiscent of Claire Jiang’s Fist. Along with the form, the story’s content pushes and pulls—one moment you’re laughing and the next you’re in tears. Just as I have encouraged you to consider the multiplicity of meaning held within Claire’s Fist, so too should you look to Isabel’s story as an example of interwoven complexity.

Until next week,

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!

Last week we had the final writing workshop of the winter/spring session, a workshop on antiheroes led by Stone Soup contributor Madeline Kline, 13. You can find a video of Madeline’s instruction here.

Fittingly, Sita, 13, wrote a review on the Gone series by Michael Grant in which she attributes much of the novels’ intrigue to the “villainous antihero.”

Stoke the fires of your imagination with Weekly Creativity Prompt #145: Make up a Fictional Government or Country.

FistFrom Stone Soup
June 2019

Innocent Yet Dire Words

By Isabel Swain, 12 (Portsmouth, RI)
Illustrated by Claire Jiang, 12 (Princeton, NJ)

Like the mythical creature,
It calls out a sound.
Just not a pleasant one;
A torture in its own way.

I hold my ears and tell myself to breathe. One, two, three, four . . . 12, 13 . . . 20. This will pass; don’t worry. It’s just a siren. You don’t have to have another Freak Out, Lila. It’s okay, it’s okaySee, it’s leaving? Okay, okay. I open my eyes, slowly uncurl myself from my Freak Out Stance, and take one last deep breath.

I shake myself off; it’s over now. I peer out the dirt-encrusted window and see a hazed-out dawn. I look at the clock, which shows me that it is 6:17. Two hours and thirteen minutes left. In the far distance, a careless person pushes a little too hard on the gas, and their car makes that God-awful noise that makes me wince despite myself. After doing a pointless once-over of the three-room shack that is supposedly for two, I scan this “house” (not home) for a woman who doesn’t deserve the title of mother. I prefer to call her by her first name, Ilene. She’s barely ever here. Figures. Last night was the Fourth of July; she probably ran off to San Francisco with only the clothes on her back trying to fill her never-ending want for “adventure.” She’s nicknamed her spontaneous outings “longings” in order to make them sound more magical. Let me assure you: it doesn’t work.

After I do my usual morning routine—make the bed, dust the window (singular), eat breakfast (dry cereal)—I get dressed and ready to go. By now it’s 6:50, which means one hour and forty minutes . . . Well, better just treat it like it’s a normal day, even when my stomach is churning as a way of calling out, Don’t do it! I just hope that Ilene’s back on time.

Once I’ve located and thrown on my only decent pair of shoes, I thrust the door open and breathe in the hot air.

. . . /MORE


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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