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: 'If A Tree Falls In The Forest'

Jun 17, 2019
Photo courtesy, Vermont Urband & Community Forestry Program

I am 237 years old today,
the oldest tree in this forest.
I am a living measurement of time,
a history book in its most natural form.
Wizened by decades of observation,
witness to catastrophes and wonders you will never know,
but there is one tragedy I will tell you.
One of every twelve trees in Vermont are ash trees like me
and their wails in the wind
warn of imminent death
in the form of an emerald beetle.

Young Writers Project: 'Irrelevance'

May 24, 2019
Middlebury, Vermont, poet Amanda Gomes writes about her identity as the invisible, overlooked outcast among her peers.
YWP Media Library, photo by Christopher Leow

Pluto is a planet to me.
It's a small one, but a planet just like the rest.

I relate to Pluto more than the average girl.
Some people would describe me as "vanilla" –
not their first choice, but still a decent flavor.
I don't want to be vanilla.
I want to be a flavor that's a first pick,
not a backup when there are no other flavors.

Young Writers Project: 'Prophecies Of The Heart'

May 17, 2019
Barnet, Vermont, poet, Jordan Barbour, uses the mystery of the sphere to illuminate the distinction between fate and desire.
YWP Media Library, photo by Charlotte Hughes, Shelburne

The oiled surface of the stand
shows each glossy glint,
a subtle river dripping infinite varieties
of the ways your life could go,
the ebb and flow of choices.

Young Writers Project: 'I Love'

May 13, 2019
This week's Chelsea, Vermont, writer, Marina Sprague, connotes the small moments that bring her joy with the definition of poetry itself.
YWP Media Library, photo by Emma Parizo

I love staring at the clear night sky for hours.
I love to sit on my deck and paint the landscape.
I love the smell of freshly cut grass and campfires.
I love to wander the forest by my house and take pictures from weird angles.
I love to close my eyes and listen to the birds singing on a hot summer day.
I love to read books while lounging in my bright orange bean bag chair.
I love singing at the top of my lungs with music blasting from my speakers.

I love chasing my dog all around the yard and tackling him.

Young Writers Project: 'I Remember'

May 3, 2019
Milton essayist, Amelia Canney, is still one year shy of the right to vote, but reaches out to her readers to ask that they never forget the victims of domestic and global injustices.
YWP Media Library, photo by Carter Devenney, Essex

I remember a time when I thought the world was a beautiful place.
     I remember thinking about villains in stories and movies, and laughing because everyone nowadays is so nice. How could anybody be that cruel? It didn’t make sense.
     I remember history lessons, and the way we learned about war, discrimination, hatred. It all seemed so far away, as if we were being told fairy tales to scare us. The deaths, the victims, were just numbers to us. It felt like an annoyance to have to fit so many zeroes onto that one line we’d set aside for statistics.
     I remember watching the news with my father, half-heartedly. I didn’t understand what the person on the screen was talking about, and I didn’t really want to. I just wanted the person to stop talking about whatever he was going on about so we could switch back to Disney Channel.

Young Writers Project: 'Meeting'

Apr 26, 2019
Shelburne poet Charlotte Hughes toys with the idea of a tug-of-war between the best and worst parts of ourselves at the discovery of unclaimed money on the street.
YWP Media Library, photo by Cecilia Sweeney

One moment,
one opportunity.
A simple eye connection
and secret looks at the ground.
A bag spilling with coins, bills –
faces glaring up at us,
screaming, “Take me!”

Young Writers Project: 'What Is A Right?'

Apr 21, 2019
 Orwell, Vermont, Faith Holzhammer takes us to a gritty place this week as she contemplates the future of Earth and its youngest inhabitants.
YWP Media Library, watercolor by Nathaniel Steele, Danville, Vermont

Daylight swims in puddled rain,
milking Sunday afternoons with pain,
shattering the weakest segment of chain. 
Daylight questions dreamers' answers.
Dogs of hellfire, moonlit dancers.
Feet pounding the Earthlight into cancer.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the American people the right to freedom of religion - but that is not to say that bigotry does not persist in our midst, as this week's 13-year-old poet Narges Anzali, of Weybridge, points out.
YWP Media Library, photo featuring Narges Anzali

To all the people who hate Muslims:
Do I scare you? They call it Islamophobia after all.

Young Writers Project: 'Beautifully Heartbreaking'

Apr 12, 2019
Burlington, Vermont-based poet, Addie DeLeonardis-Page, wants readers to relish and melt into the pages of the stories they hold between their hands.
YWP Media Library, photo by Autumn Degree, Essex Junction, Vermont

Pick up a book and start to read.
Close your eyes and let yourself feel.
Let the story take you through it all.
Be encompassed in the bliss of love.
Get lost in the fantasy that is fiction.
Feel the tears spill down your cheeks.

Young Writers Project: 'A Knock On Society's Door'

Mar 29, 2019
Twelve-year-old Montpelier, Vermont, poet Hazel Green points unflinchingly at some of American society's most prominent flaws, and commits her voice and efforts to the enactment of change.
YWP Media Library, photo by Ciara Ertle

Everyone gets a chance to knock,
but only some are let in.
When it is my turn, I knock once –
once for the one individual each of us can be.

Young Writers Project: 'For Summer'

Mar 11, 2019
This week, Shelburne, Vermont, poet Sophie Dauerman daydreams about summer.
YWP Media Library, illustration by Autumn Laroque, Danville

My skin yearns
for the sideways kiss of morning sun,
for lake droplets lifted off my skin
by balmy dandelion air.

And my laughter waits for dock picnics,
green mountaintops,
and crowded swimming pools.

Milton, Vermont, writer Amelia Canney encourages citizens of all ages to push onward in their fight to ensure safety within American schools.
YWP Media Library, photo by Caleb Dudley

The first time I heard of the wave of school shootings streaking across our nation, I was shaken to the core of my being. The second time, I was scared but not shocked. By the third time, I was used to getting alerts about students being shot in one of the few places they should feel safe. And that’s not a sentence anyone should ever be able to say.
I read the stories online. I read the obituaries of the students, who had opportunities awaiting them they’d now never be able to take: acceptances into college, internships, places on sports teams – all robbed from them with a single bullet.

Young Writers Project: 'I'm Sorry, But ...'

Feb 25, 2019
Hinesburg, Vermont, poet Layla Morris commits herself to the tough act of forming educated opinions and choosing to care.
YWP Media Library, photo by Lia Chien

I’m sorry, but...
what are we teaching the kids these days?
Are we teaching them to go along
with whatever the most dominant person says?
Don’t have opinions, just move on, avoid distress?

I’m sorry, but…
that’s not going to work for me.
Why is it considered bad when someone states they have a side,
when they want to do or be one thing over another?
Does saying, “I don’t care,” “whatever,” and, “it doesn’t matter to me...”
make you the better person, the desired person,
more so than the one who actually knows what they want?

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.