A note from William Rubel
In the next few Newsletters I’d like to re-introduce to you the Stone Soup staff. As the current September issue marks the first anniversary of Emma Wood taking over as Stone Soup’s Editor, and she also has a new book out this week, we’ll begin with Emma.
I’ll start with congratulations on her just-published translation from Russian, A Failed Performance: Short Plays & Scenes by Daniil Kharms. Daniil Kharms (1905-1942) was a Soviet poet, writer, and playwright who worked in the surrealist and absurdist literary traditions. Emma only told me her book (co-authored with C. Dylan Bassett) had just been published yesterday morning. I ordered a copy right away! Is surrealist and absurdist Soviet literature something I know anything about? No, I don’t. But I always order books written by my friends and I always learn something. While this is not a young adult title, I hope the many adult readers of the Newsletter will join me in supporting Emma by ordering her book. If you can also write a review on Amazon that will be extra great.
Before I say more about Emma, I’d like to just say, thank you, Emma, for the extraordinary work you have put in this past year at Stone Soup. I can’t believe how lucky we are to have you. Thank you from my heart.
In addition to being a translator, a poet, Editor-in-Chief here at Stone Soup, and an editor at other literary publications, Emma is a university instructor, a PhD student, and a marathon runner. I encourage all of you to check out Emma’s website. Like you, Emma sends her work to publications hoping to get published. Here are the literary magazines where her poems appear. I posted a link to this interview in which Emma talks about poetry when she first joined Stone Soup. Whether you are a young writer or an adult reader of this Newsletter, please listen to the interview. Even if you don’t understand the entire interview I know that each of you will find something in it. I find it inspiring. What is poetry? Listen to Emma’s answer.
I’ll write more about the other people in the team who bring you Stone Soup next week.
This week’s drawing and story from the archive
Look at the drawing by Sarah Dennis. I mean, really look at it. What I find remarkable is the amount of information conveyed about the the scene around Tyler’s hospital bed. You see Tyler’s face is scraped up–note the big red patch on the right side of his face–and he has stitches above one eye. The story the drawing is linked to is about an awful car crash (it’s scary in parts–but, spoiler warning, everyone is fine in the end). The two figures in the foreground, Tyler’s mother and step-father, are massaging his feet while his father holds one of his hands. Everyone is looking in a different direction. We are observing an intimate family moment in which the participants in the scene are united around the injured Tyler. He is in physical pain. His family are in emotional pain for him. His grey-haired father looks very worried. I also read worry on the face of the man in the left foreground. His mother, with her red fingernails (nice detail) seems to be the calm one, despite the detail of her neck brace, a remnant of her own injuries from the crash. I sense that she may hold the family together through her calm demeanor and practical solutions. Somehow, I sense that she is the one who said, “Let’s massage Tyler’s hands and feet.”
Inspired by this, here is your activity for the weekend: sketch a scene that involves an important moment with other people. Think of something from this past week or two where you were involved with two or three other people, united in a common purpose and doing something. It might be a moment in your family, with friends, out in a public place, or at school. I suggest the doing something part of the idea inspired by the strength of the hand gestures we see in Sarah’s drawing. Give thought to where each person is looking when you make your drawing snapshot. And, as always, if you come up with something you really like, please send it to Emma by uploading it on our online submissions form.
Until next week
Write a book and get it published: a brand new contest
Do you think you can write a whole book? This week we announced a brand new contest, in partnership with MacKenzie Press, challenging you to you to do just that. Do you dream of getting it published? Well, if you win this contest, the prize will make that dream come true!
The Secret Kids contest invites entries in three age categories, for longer fiction, either illustrated or unillustrated, in any genre. We’ll write more about this contest over the coming months–the deadline for entries is January 1, 2019–and for today we invite you to check out the contest information at our website (click the link above) and think about writing, revising, editing and perfecting your best work in time to submit your entry by the end of the year.
Plus, one last reminder about the Concrete Poetry contest: you have until midnight (Pacific time) tonight to get your final entries in!
The deadline for recipe submissions for the December food issue is September 30. As I’ve mentioned before, for Stone Soup we are interested in both the recipe and the headnote, the narrative that precedes the recipe that explains why it is important to you, the author. The December issue is not limited to holiday recipes.
This week, I purchased the cookbook, The Bread and Salt Between Us: Recipes and Stories from a Syrian Refugee’s Kitchen. I’ve had the book a few days and my daughter and I can say that the recipes are good. But, what makes this book exceptional is the combination of the text and the recipes. Recipes can often tie us to a memory. Perhaps it is the memory of a dish that was a grandparent’s favorite, or a dish that you associate with a particularly happy or sad memory. Or, if you are living away from the country where you grew up, like Mayada Anjari, the author of this cookbook, quite a lot of your cooking is about the memory of place, in this case the destroyed city of Homs, Syria. Recipes are often a way we link ourselves to a memory. When you make your grandmother’s cookies there is a way in which you touch your grandmother. And when Mayada Anjari makes her Syrian food, there is a way that she is transported back to Homs.
Which recipes matter to you? Those are the ones we want. Those of you with a copy of the 2017 Stone Soup Annual can look at the recipes we published there–and you can find recipes at our website by word-searching or going straight to the December 2017 issue. I also recommend looking at Zoe’s Summer Crumble, published as a blog entry in July by Sarah Cymrot. Two weeks to go! Get cracking! If Emma approves your headnote, then Jane will test your recipe and take photos.
Highlights from the past week online
Don’t miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at stonesoup.com!
This week we have a first on the blog: an author interview by one of our regular young bloggers. Lukas Cooke talked to Patricia Newman about her book Plastic Ahoy! He asked some really great questions about her writing process, how she became an author, her research techniques and more. We found their conversation really inspiring.
This week we also published a beautiful piece of music composed and performed by Abe Effress. ‘Misted’ is a piece for saxophone and piano, inspired by a spider that lived outside Abe’s window for a while. The sheet music is on our site for you to download, along with links to his recordings for you listen to.
From Stone Soup
By Alex Miffiin, 12
Illustrated by Sarah Dennis, 13
When I look back now, eighteen months later, at our horrendous car crash, it seems so far away, so surreal. But the harsh reminders are suddenly there. My older brother’s scars, jagged lines across his muscled chest and stomach, and also running down his spine. Still my hero, so brave in his suffering, never a word of complaint during his long healing process. My mother’s stiff neck and hole marks on her brow from her “halo” brace, used to heal her broken neck (what a nice name for such a painful contraption!).
One moment my parents and two older brothers, Scott and Tyler, and I were carefree and traveling along a remote country road on the second-to-last day of our family vacation in Australia, my stepdad cracking a joke, hilarious as usual. Everyone relaxed from just playing tennis. The next moment, we’re violently hit head-on by a speeding car. The sound of crashing metal, then everything is still, my family all moaning in pain, smoke in the air, no one seems to be able to move. In a haze, I try to open the van’s side door but can’t. My stepdad groans and rolls out, blood is everywhere, my mom is not moving, shouts to get out of the van, my eldest brother Scott whimpers in agony that he can’t move (broken pelvis and nose), but Tyler, thirteen, an incredible athlete, miraculously moves to the front seat and crawls out, now lying in a fetal position by the side of the hot, dirt shoulder of the road, moaning in intense pain (back broken in three places, severed stomach and severe intestinal injuries, severed leg arteries). Finally I jump out of the driver’s door and see the smoking car that hit us and it seems to be on fire, with an older man trapped inside.
What to do? My parents are now both shouting for me to get help, I am the only one who can move. Me, the kid brother, the out-of-it one, suddenly called upon. I have no choice. . …/more
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.