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: '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.

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.”