A special announcement from William
Firstly, on a personal note, I hope you all have a truly fabulous Christmas Day. My daughter and I will cook our Christmas meal on our fireplace. Some years ago, I wrote a book called The Magic of Fire. So, you can imagine us eating by candlelight in a room dancing with shadows, standing outside of time and place. Our table is from 1800, and our silverware from the same period. I have piano sconces on the walls in all of our rooms so at night we move within this lovely soft light. I have tried to make a home in which poetry is life.
However, we are not in the eighteenth century, so the day after Christmas you may imagine my daughter and I strapped into an airplane seat heading for New York. As my daughter is now sixteen, this will be our first visit to New York City when we can do more adult things—magic shows, cabaret, off-Broadway plays. We are both very excited!
I wish each of you the best for this holiday, and may next year be a healthy and rewarding year for all of you.
And now, for the Stone Soup news! I have the best Stone Soup news imaginable! News that is so good I cannot even believe it myself:
After fifty years, I have just stepped down as President and CEO of Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup Inc., turning over that role to our brilliant and beyond competent editor, Emma Wood. This is a generational shift. Emma is roughly forty years younger than I am. This will make Stone Soup young again.
I find it totally amazing that it has all worked out. There is no better outcome for Stone Soup than to have Emma as its leader. You all know Emma’s work as editor of Stone Soup. Under her direction the magazine has thrived as the preeminent showcase and support community for young writers and artists. Her work with the Stone Soup Annual Book Contest broke new ground in the history of publishing creative work by young authors.
What you will not know is that in addition to being a gifted editor, she is also massively competent in ways that I am not. She brings to Stone Soup the management skills Stone Soup needs to thrive. Under Emma’s leadership, the future of Stone Soup is assured. The first issue of the magazine was published in May 1973. I can't imagine a better 50th-anniversary present for Stone Soup than Emma Wood—poet, translator, editor, and now our new leader. If Stone Soup could talk, it would also say, “Thank you, Emma, for giving me new life!”
I am seventy. I am a writer with, what can I say, too many irons in the fire! There are so many it is an embarrassment. Most pressing, I have a big book on the history of bread that is “out of contract,” a polite name for a book that is not just late, but super, super late! I should now be able to complete my Book of Bread by this time next year. I have a big project concerning Amanita muscaria, the mushroom you will all know from the mushroom emoji and cartoons—the mushroom with a red cap and white dots. A lab that a colleague and I have been working with for a couple years is just completing the lab work to support my previously published assertion that the mushroom is edible after parboiling. The lab will be publishing the discovery in a food science journal, and then I have a lot of writing to do for the popular press. Plus, many, many more other writing projects in various states of completion.
So, for me, I am looking to sprint in the next ten years to complete what I can. So, don't imagine me with my feet up taking in the sun on a tropical beach. I will be writing. Everyday. And because I love teaching my students, I will continue teaching my Saturday creative writing class, next on offer in the spring. To offer continuity, I am also staying on the Board of Children’s Art Foundation.
As I step down after fifty years, the favor you can do for me, the thank you you can offer me for my work here, is to please give Emma your support in any way you can. In the next newsletter, the last of this year, Emma will be writing to you as Stone Soup's President with full authority over the company. As she develops her plans, I am sure she will be reaching out to you collectively, and in some cases, individually. She will, for sure, be asking for financial support to enable her to realize her dreams for the organization. I suspect she may also be asking some of you to help with skills that will help her implement her programs. I strongly encourage you to attend the Donor Meeting on January 14th to hear more about her vision for Stone Soup.
I’d like to thank all of you for your support for Stone Soup while I was its leader and I'd like to thank all of you for the support you will give to Emma as she moves the magazine into its 50th year, and beyond.
And, to you, Emma, words cannot express the depth of my thanks to you, and my admiration for your work at Stone Soup. Thank you, as I enter the last decades of my life, for breathing new life into this dream of nineteen-year-old me. Thank you for keeping this candle for creative young writers and artists alight.
All my best for the new year,
From Stone Soup December 2022...
By Celia Chen, 10
Once upon a peaceful time, there was a little Christmas tree. He wasn’t that much different from the other fir trees on the little mountainside. Day by day he stood there soaking in the golden beams of light cast from the setting sun, soaking up the pure, clean water from the dew-wet soil. How boring every day is, thought the little fir tree. There is nothing to do here but feed myself and feel the earth.
But one day, the ground shook and pine needles rained down. The sun glinted off the quivering metal blade of an ax. The little tree shook with terror, and as the blade hacked at his trunk, he cried tears of sap. As he was bound in mesh, the ignorant little tree wished to be strung with tinsel and have presents laid at his feet. How grand I would look, strung with glittering tinsel and having presents laid at my feet like a king; how the other trees would be jealous!
A family brought him home in a truck, and as he was jerked up and about, he was jolted out of his daydream and went back to being disgruntled. His boughs shook and quaked, raining down needles everywhere. He thought, How bedraggled I look. How everyone will look down on me. I shall fix myself up once this wretched vehicle stops. He felt so kingly and royal as he was painstakingly lowered into a pot of water and delighted while these powerful and mighty two-legged people hung elaborate, heavy glimmering orbs. How the others will look up to me! he thought.
For many days he sat in a pot of water. Presents were laid at his feet and shiny, glittery tinsel wrapped grandly around his boughs. He felt rather grand, looking down upon these two-legged emperors of the world. Though presently, he felt quite stuffy and dusty; his branches drooped as his essence was slowly leaking out of him. The air had his sweet-smelling soul entwining through it, and his pride gradually diminished. The tree soon wished for rays of sunshine and the moist, dewy soil—to no avail.
Then, one day after Christmas, his wish was granted when he was tossed outside. As he soared through the air, rays of sunshine were thrust upon him every morning, and icy rain and snow plummeted down on him. He cried some more; the foolish tree would always be wishing away at nothing. And so, his last wish was that he could be grand again, and his many babies were rolled by the wandering wind into the forests, to carry out the tale of the little Christmas tree.
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.