Young Writers Project

Weekly On

VPR partners with Young Writers Project to present selections of the work of young writers, photographers and artists in Vermont.

Each week, VPR features a submission - an essay, poem, fiction of nonfiction - accompanied by a photo or illustration from the Young Writers Project.

The Young Writers Project provides VPR's audience another avenue to hear and read selections from Vermont's young writers. The thoughts and ideas expressed here are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Vermont Public Radio.

The collaboration is organized by Susan Reid of Young Writers Project and Vermont Public Radio.

Young Writers Project: 'Elemental'

Feb 14, 2019
Lake Champlain Waldorf School poet Charlotte Hughes uses the chaotic forces of nature to describe the deterioration of a couple.
YWP Media Library, artwork by Tim Searls, 16, Danville, Vermont

They say that
he was the water
and she was the fire.
But his riptides overcame her
and buried her flame.
She was caught in his wild storms
and tossed around like a rag doll.
She used to be fierce,
but she became soggy
and flexible like a rubber band.

Young Writers Project: 'Peace'

Feb 8, 2019
This week’s Richmond, Vermont, poet Anna Wahlin puts words to the stormy resistance she feels walking uphill toward the better, brighter future.
YWP Media Library, digital art by Walker Jones

The snow swirls around me,
covering up my footprints
and leaving me stranded
in the colorless blizzard.
The cold bites at my bare skin,
turning it to a rosy red,
trying to take me over.

Charlotte, Vermont, poet Courtney McDermott writes of spontaneous introspection that claims her in a school locker room, allowing her past to weave itself into her present as she comes to a new understanding of herself.
YWP Media Library, photo by Jenna Rice

One shoe off, then the other.

Quiet, besides the rhythmic replacement
of clothing fabric against my skin.
The lights don’t buzz;
the sink doesn’t drip, for once.

Young Writers Project: 'Skiing'

Feb 4, 2019
Burlington, Vermont, poet Laura Zhou-Hackett reflects on the first blurry image of her childhood: her father and herself, swishing through the winter countryside.
YWP Media Library, photo by Lindsey Stuntz

Happiness is the faded memory
of tiny cross-country skis
next to your father’s tall ones,
and of climbing the snowy hill sideways
(or else you will fall back down).
Happiness is the sight of a frozen pond
next to an open field,
and the swish-swish of skis
penetrating the still, quiet air.

Young Writers Project: 'Fields'

Jan 25, 2019
This week, Essex Junction, Vermont, writer Maecy Odit shares a series of assigned journal entries.
YWP Media Library, photo by Carmella Clark

Chapter 1
Today I am asked to write whatever comes to my mind,
and really nothing is coming to my mind.
So really, my mind is like… a blank field of wheat,
with the wind lightly blowing.

Chapter 2
Today I am adding on to this story,
only because once again I have nothing on my mind –
but today there are cows in the field
slowly eating the wheat as if in slow motion.
But they don’t care; it’s as if they are happy to be slow eaters.
They have flies buzzing around their ears and heads,
and I think, How are they not getting distracted by the flies?
I know I would be. Or maybe they are,
but they are just good at hiding it from others.
Or maybe they just don’t want us to know.

Young Writers Project: 'Light-finder'

Jan 4, 2019
Lake Champlain Waldorf School student Wyatt Trzaskos wrote a poem whose imagery shows how personal challenges can sometimes appear as monsters.
YWP Media Library, photo by Coyote Farrel

I traveled deep into the Earth,
forging my way to the devil’s hearth,
slipping on the gravely stones,
taking in the faded bones…

Young Writers Project: 'The Man In The Suit'

Dec 23, 2018
 This week’s Stowe, Vermont, poet Astrid Young pleads with us to remember the fragile nature of our planet.
YWP Photo Library, image by Vivien Sorce, Hinesburg, Vermont

The Lorax tried, but he couldn’t stop him.
It is my turn to make him understand.
I speak; my leaves brush against my fellow saplings.
I feel; my roots dig deep into the soil
and I hold hands with baby maples.
My home is this Earth, and my job is to breathe.
I cannot breathe if you light my branches ablaze,
if you cloud the air around me with smoke.
My roots cannot sink deep beneath the soil
if your machines continue to rip them from the ground.

Young Writers Project: 'That Wall'

Dec 14, 2018
 Newbury-based poet Lana Wood uses humor to contemplate the fourth wall.
YWP Media Library, photo by Gabrielle McKitty

Do you ever feel like life is written for you?
Do you ever feel like your thoughts aren’t your own?
Do you ever feel like some 16-year-old theater geek
is sitting in front of a computer,
writing about how you feel?
Do you ever want to just… reach out?

Young Writers Project: 'This Is Not A Story'

Dec 7, 2018
Shelburne, Vermont, poet Julia Shrier wrote a whimsical work in which a narrator readily admits her story is not one for the books.
YWP Media Library, photo by Sophia Cannizzaro

Hello reader!
This is not a story.
There are no heroes with powers,
nor evil witches in towers.
So you can leave.
Go. Shoo.
There is nothing here for you.
No damsels telling tales of woe,
nor knights riding
with ladies in tow.

Young Writers Project: 'The Pianist'

Nov 30, 2018
Weybridge, Vermont, poet Maisie Newbury crafts her own melody using musical terminology to illuminate the depth of feeling between lovers.
YWP Media Library, photo by Hazel Civalier, 16, Burlington, Vermont

Play me something new and sweet.
I need a bit more than deep, blue nothing.
Play me a cleansing, colorful melody
that smells and tastes of cherry wine,
to ease the pain in my dancing feet
and buy me a bit more time.
Play me something more than a memory;
I am tired of the sounds of black and white.

Young Writers Project: 'A Blackberry Pie'

Nov 26, 2018
Duxbury, Vermont, writer Sydney Taft Cole digs deep into her childhood memory bank to revisit a cherished pie-making experience.
YWP Media Library, photo by Emily Aldrich

Memories fade with time; this one is no exception, but I will pull it back carefully so that it doesn’t break as I retrieve it from deep, deep down within my mind.

Young Writers Project: 'Guacamole'

Nov 16, 2018
Sometimes, how we feel grief doesn't happen in predictable ways. This week, Fairfax writer Avery Daudelin, 16, shares her own unpredictable process of letting go of a loved one.
YWP Photo Library, photo by Alexandra Contreras-Montesano

I chopped onions yesterday and I didn’t cry.

Two avocados, a smidge of tomato, ½ a garlic clove, a few drops of lemon juice, lots of salt, a dash of pepper, our secret ingredient we always forgot the name for, and ¼ of an onion.

Young Writers Project: 'All Fall Down'

Nov 9, 2018
South Burlington, Vermont, poet Iris Robert ruminates on details intrinsic to her character in this week's writing selection.
YWP Photo Library, photo by Audra Drury, Essex Junction, Vermont

If I ever went missing,
my parents could tell the police,
“She leaves behind cups and mugs
stained with her lip-prints
(they're like fingerprints,
but instead of DNA
you’ll find swirling moons
of glossy brown, matte pink, creamy red),
and they circle the rims
as if marking the territory as hers,
all hers.”

Young Writers Project: 'Too Young/The Sun Will Die'

Nov 2, 2018
Burlington, Vermont, student and writer Hazel Civalier has much to say about the treatment of the Earth she and her peers are soon to inherit.
YWP Photo Library, photo by Sam Aikman, Richmond, Vermont

The year I turn 18, our atmosphere
will release the last particle of helium into space.
There are theories that the universe is random –
incredibly cruel.
I can’t completely agree, considering I was born
in the second year of the second millennia on the twentieth,
and the second atomic element will leave our planet in 2020,
two years from now.

Young Writers Project: 'Painter's Sun"

Oct 26, 2018
Rebecca Orten of Middlebury, Vermont, follows the creative process of a painter transitioning from realism to abstraction after a sudden epiphany.
YWP Photo Library, photo by Lia Chien, 16, Jericho, Vermont

You think you know
the color of the sun
until you sit down
to paint it.

You reach for the yellow –
the yellow of sunflowers,
of a cliché crayon drawing you did,
a perfect lemon in the top right corner.

Young Writers Project: 'Changes'

Oct 19, 2018
Fall is a time of transition in nature and this week’s writer follows a character through a spirited New England street scene in the throes of a vibrant autumn.
YWP Photo Library, photo by Emanuel Dawson, Essex Junction, Vermont

A woman hurries down the street, her pale hands pulling a coat tighter against the cold. Her long auburn hair tumbles down her back in loose waves. The brisk air bites at her nose and cheeks, turning them a rosy pink. The red scarf she wears around her neck pops against her paling skin and dark coat. Her tan, freckled skin and blonde hair from summer are gone, along with the glowing, golden-brown hair from spring. The tips of her hair are already fading into a muddy brown color, for winter is coming.

Young Writers Project: 'The Steps To Making Tea'

Oct 12, 2018
This week, Liz Martell, 16, of Essex Junction, Vermont, uses the quiet act of making tea as a vehicle to explore the bond between two loving partners.
YWP Photo Library, illustration by Ada Shookenhuff, 14, Bakersfield, Vermont

I have never found myself in poetry,
but I think I may have found
myself in your arms,
as we sit in your kitchen
waiting for the kettle.

Modern science has since given us concrete answers to most of our questions – or so we like to think. This week’s Colchester writer Gavin Roberge presents his own whimsical legend about the planetary bodies of the universe.
YWP Photo Library, photo by Sarah Hall, 13, Hanover, NH

Long before man walked the Earth, there were two beings: one of light and warmth, and one of darkness and solace. We call these beings the Sun and the Moon. The Sun and the Moon were watched by the spiteful, mean-spirited Stars. The Stars liked it quiet and dark, much like the Moon. The Sun and the Moon wandered the bleak landscape of Earth separately for what seemed like an eternity, and the Stars happily watched their misery, until one day, the Sun met the Moon. Together they danced across the Earth in a joyous bliss, spreading light and love to the four corners of their world.

Young Writers Project: 'If I Could Fold The World'

Oct 1, 2018
Writer Sophie Usherwood from Hanover, NH, meditates on the creation of origami flowers, relating the handiwork back to a bigger personal picture: her desire to help the world with her own nurturing touch.
Photo by Sophie Usherwood, 15, Hanover, NH / YWP Photo Library

Once I folded an origami rose,
with layers of curled petals spiraling,
gently leaning back in the sun,
wrapping in close to itself.

Young Writers Project: 'Women, Stand Up'

Sep 23, 2018
North Rochester’s Jillian Sherwin seems to shout from the rooftops; she does not mince words in addressing the necessity of feminism.
YWP Photo Library, photo by Anna Doucet, 14, Bristol, Vermont

At camp we play a game called
“Women, Stand Up.”
We stand up for what we’ve accomplished.
We stand up for when we’ve been hurt.
And we stand up for our truth.