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'Steam', by Sabrina Guo, winner of our 2018 Concrete Poetry Contest

A note from William Rubel

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! In last week’s newsletter we announced that print is back. Over the past week, orders for home delivery of the print Stone Soup have been coming in, and October print issues will shortly be winging their way through the mail to those who have signed up for the new print subscription. Thank you. I know that not all of you read the newsletter every week—so if you didn’t read the newsletter last week, that is the news. You can order your print subscription at our website.

We have also received lots of questions about print (and other subscription-related things) from people replying to this newsletter. We try to respond to everyone who writes to us, but our customer service team has more of the answers. They also have direct access to all the systems needed to confirm your subscription status and make any adjustments. You can contact them here:

Email: stonesoup@icnfull.com (response usually within 24–48 hours)
Phone: 215-458-8555 (between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday)

What’s coming up? There will shortly be more items available in our online store. My colleague Jane Levi has been revising our themed print anthologies and working with our fabulous London book designer, Joe Ewart, to redesign them. New editions will start going to press next week, so we will soon be able to offer them for sale. Jane has merged old and new volumes and added material not included before—for example, there are fifty more poems in the Stone Soup Book of Poetry and eighteen additional stories in the Stone Soup Book of Friendship Stories—which we think has improved them.

We are also working with a local (Santa Cruz, CA) printer to refresh our art print program, which offers beautifully printed copies of our extensive collection of twentieth- and twenty-first-century children’s art for your home. And we have plans for lots of products that we at Stone Soup would like to have for ourselves, such as cards and bookmarks, so we hope you will like what we come up with. We will keep you informed.

You will find the project for this week—for newsletter readers of all ages—in a separate box below. Plus, of course (it being the first week of a new month), don't forget to check out the wonderful October issue of Stone Soup, available now on our website and in the print edition at our online store!

And now, over to our editor, Emma Wood.

Until next week,

Announcing the winners of the Concrete Poetry Contest!

First Place
“Steam” by Sabrina Guo, 12

Second Place
“Moonlight” by Ashley Xu, 13

Third Place
“Octopus” by Marco Lu, 12

Honorable Mentions
“Snowflake” by Emma Almaguer, 13
“A Tree” by Andrew Lin, 8
“The Cloud” and “Disappearing” by Madeline Nelson, 12
“Seeing the Sea,” Maya Viswanathan, 12

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who participated; we all had fun reading and simply looking at your creations. The pieces that ended up standing out to us were the ones that not only showed us the writer had a clear understanding of the concrete poem but that used the shape of the poem to emphasize and illustrate the text. For instance, in “Steam” by Sabrina Guo, a poem in the shape of a steaming cup of tea, the word “interrupting” is itself interrupted by the handle of the mug: “interrup” is on one side of the handle, and “ting” is on the other. In that poem, Guo writes of “slow curling spirals” of steam, just as the text itself spirals around, forcing the reader to turn the page, creating a dizzying effect.

What I love about the concrete poem is that it brings the relationship between the form (or shape) of the poem and its content (or text) to the forefront. Sometimes when we are writing, we simply default to the “usual” form without thinking about it. But in the best pieces of writing, the form is something that emerges from the ideas and narratives represented in the text. You can usually tell if this is the case by trying to rewrite the poem or story in a different form. If your poem feels the same in prose as it does in stanzas with lines, then it probably doesn’t need to be in stanzas! I hope you will try this with a piece of writing you are struggling with, and see if it opens up more ideas.

We will publish the winning submissions in Stone Soup in 2019.



William's Weekend Writing project

Where I live, in Santa Cruz, CA, we have what is called a Mediterranean climate. This is the climate around the Mediterranean Sea; around Cape Town, South Africa; and here, on the California coast. We have a single rainy season and then no rain for most of the year. This evening, as I write this, the air is heavy with moisture. Smelling rain, I looked online and, indeed, the first rainstorm of our rainy season is supposed to come tonight. Wherever you live in the world, whether in the US, Canada, the UK, Singapore, South Africa, India, New Zealand, South Korea, China, Sweden, or Kenya—I am mentioning here the home countries of Stone Soup readers—the weather is changing. Here, in the northern hemisphere, from warm to cool or even to cold, and in the southern hemisphere, from cool to warm.

For the writing project this week, I’d like each of you—and this includes adult newsletter readers—to sit down to write about how you observe the changing seasons. I don’t want to suggest anything programmatic. I want you to feel free to write what you want. If you are totally stuck, then start by writing about your observations of how the season is changing. Then, let yourself be free. If you like what you write, and you are under the age of 14, then go online to our submission page and send us what you wrote.


On the blog this week

Don't miss all the latest posts from our young bloggers and reviewers at Stonesoup.com!

This week, we have a new book review for you: Nina Vigil's review of Dodger Boy by Sarah Ellis–so good she read it twice!


From Stone Soup
November/December 2002

Treasure Box

By Mark Roberts, 11

Born in northern forests of
Australia centuries ago
And carved from yellow jarrah,
My wooden treasure box
Holds secrets of its own.

Felled for ballast on sailing ships,
It traveled over distant oceans
And touched exotic shores,
Seeking the spirit of Africa.

Abandoned on the docks,
The jarrah became railroad ties,
Carrying steam engines
Across the dry,
Burned colors of a continent.

Polished and alive again
After four hundred years,
The box captures within it
The roar of a startled lion,
The thundering hooves of wildebeest
And the long, graceful loping of giraffes.

Our secrets are treasured
Together now
With the shimmering heat of the plain,
And warm a space for my own memories
Still waiting to unfold.

You can read this poem, and many more in the category 'Reflections', at our website.

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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