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Song at Dusk (watercolor) by Aspen Clayton, 11 (Lisle, IL), published in Stone Soup May 2022

A note from Caleb

Happy second Saturday of May!

This week, I'm delighted to focus entirely on two pieces of art from the May 2022 issue, which should have—if it hasn't already—arrived for our print subscribers. (Once again, we apologize for the delay!)

What we have with Aspen Clayton's watercolor Song at Dusk and Necla Asveren's poem "Golden Moons" is yet another example of our editor Emma Wood's magnificent ability to match up artwork with written work. Of course, the obvious connection between these two works is the central object of Aspen's painting and the title of Necla's poem—a golden moon. However, I would like to focus more on the thematic links between these two pieces and how they work in conjunction to elevate each other.

Necla's poem is, at it's core, a "song at dusk" in both content and structure. Its content is a lyrical eulogy to a crumbling society that flew too close to the sun, that had "beauty and riches beyond measure, and drowned in it." In other words, a song at dusk. The structure or form of the poem can also be simplified into two things: song and dusk. At the molecular level, if we break down the two connotations of "song"—positive—and "dusk"—negative—the golden moon at poem's end, of which the subjects of the poem "[crawl] out of our holes to see," can be seen as the "song" of the poem whereas the setup—the fall of society—is the "dusk." Of course, without Aspen's painting and its title, I wouldn't be able to analyze Necla's poem in this manner.

Most likely, the title of Aspen's painting is in reference to the bird perched on a branch. Thus, a literal interpretation of the painting is a bird song at dusk. But placed next to "Golden Moons" and its descriptions of a society in collapse, the painting gains new meaning. Look at how thin, flimsy, and barren the branches are. Notice how the bird rises up out of the dark, spooky lower half and appears, with the help of perspective, to perch on the moon itself—the painting's source of light. Like all great titles, "Song at Dusk" represents the literal image of the painting as well as its theme: the beauty of art and nature; that is, art and nature's ability to champion lightness in the face of darkness, positivity against negativity.

Until next time,

Congratulations to our most recent Flash Contest winners!

Our May Flash Contest was based on Prompt #202 (provided by intern Sage Millen), which, like her last contest prompt from February, dealt with food in a remarkably whimsical way. This time the food was pizza rather than tomato soup, as participants were asked to write a story where somebody betrays their best friend for a slice of slightly stale pizza. Once again, the submissions matched the sheer creativity and ingenuity of the prompt as submissions ranged from a direct address story in verse to a story set in an interrogation room to a piece of historical fiction set during the Bay of Pigs Invasion. We were also so impressed with the work of Ellis Yang in their story "An Unsent Letter" that we decided to publish it separately on the blog at a future date. As always, we thank all who submitted, and encourage you to submit again next month!

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.

"The Stale Pizza Slice" by Suanne Li, 8 (San Jose, CA)
"The Perils of Pizza" by Lui Lung, 12 (Danville, CA)
"The Triad Trials" by Emily Tang, 13 (Winterville, NC)
"The Trash Pandas and the Pizza" by Michael Wilkinson, 12 (San Carlos, CA)
"Would You Like a Slice?" by Joycelyn Zhang, 12 (San Diego, CA)

Honorable Mentions
"Hope" by Jeremy Lim, 9 (Portland, OR)
"The Tale of the Raccoon" by Anushi Mittai, 10 (Beaverton, OR)
"The Last Slice" by Arshia Ramesh, 12 (Overland Park, KS)
"Kaleidoscope" by Cayleigh Sukhai, 12 (Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada)
"Two Best Friends and a Slice of Pizza" by Savarna Yang, 13 (Outram, New Zealand)

For the Stone Soup blog
"An Unsent Letter" by Ellis Yang, 12 (Los Altos, CA)

Necla AsverenFrom Stone Soup
May 2022

Golden Moons

By Necla Asveren, 12 (Shanghai, China)

And it was with bright eyes and a bold step that we reached into the stars.
Grouped around our television sets and computers, we cheered the sun
one more day until a new start.

And we pulled down the diamond net from the sky.
The lovely, glorious, gold-silver—
we drowned in it.
Beauty and riches beyond measure,
and we drowned in it.

Fireworks turned into bombs and our stars were against us.
Nothing was ever enough.


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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