A creative community of respect for youths from anywhere.

(cropped) Photo by Hannah Gustafson.
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Essay contest

YWP wants to let you know about The Calvin Prize which awards those with the most eloquent essays a little fame and, yes, a little fortune ($1,500 for top essay and $500 for runner-up). BUT THE DEADLINE IS SOON: May 27. Here's the link to where to submit your essay. If you'd like to post a draft here for a little feedback, go for it and give it the hashtag: #calvin. More info:



YWP Stories

YWP Stories: Young Writers Project needs your help. We are in the process of applying for some major grants ($ to help us help you!) and we need some testimonials: Words for sure, but it would be GREAT if you recorded yourself so we'd have it in audio format (or video if you are so inclined. And just upload to your blog here via the little media button:

Tell us: Why you like this site, how it has helped you, how you have grown. Describe the impact of getting comments or having your work selected for publication or connecting with others. We need this as soon as you can. Be succinct, meaning you don't have to spend a long time on this, but if you have an anecdote, that always helps. Thank you. Thank you.



Feedback Frenzy

REACTIONS: This community now has more than 1,800 authors. Wow. Our intentions are to grow it to twice this size so there is a constant stream of traffic and energy. To do that, we need your help to build this community. Here's how:
  • Post a REACTION to someone else's post. Do it several times. In your reaction, tell the author what you notice, what moved you and, specifically, what you wondered about. Offer a suggestion if you can. Don't talk about spelling, grammar or punctuation unless you really really think it harms the content. NOTE: They'll get a private message saying you posted a reaction. Maybe they'll return the favor.
  • INVITE A FRIEND. Click here or click the link below the ME menu (if you are logged in.) Know someone OUTSIDE of Vermont who'd have fun here? Know anyone down the street? Invite them.

Daily Read

© Photo By Unkown Source

     "Non! Non! Tu es un mauvais enfant! Tu es un horrible garçon, un garçon méchant!" screeched the woman, her untidy, matted strings of dirty- blond brown hair flying madly about, her hawkish eyes glinting in a lunatistical manner as the now-dawning streetlights began to cast long shadows on the streets. Her apron was dirty and covered with brownish-yellow stains, and her ratty brown dress with floral patterns looked as if she had never changed out of it. The collar was fringing, the lace frayed, and all throughout it carried a scent of mothballs and was scattered generously with small holes. Her breath had the stinking, sweetly grotesque smell of alcohol.
     "Desolé, maman! Desolé!" the small, dirt-covered boy cried back, interspersed between the whacks of the cobbled shoe upon his face. One of his eyes was a stormy, cloudy blue flecked with greens colored like clover, while the other was a warm, amber-brown, each of which had become hardened and locked away after the years of living like this. His arms, legs, back, and face were all covered in bloody, purplish bruises and his scrappy trousers and old, too-big, off-white buttoned-up shirt were both doused in dust and rips. The grimy street urchin looked to be about seven, and his soft, sweet voice would be soaked in desperation as he yelped, his voice cracking from overexertion. "Vous arrêtez, s'il vous plaît! Vous arrêtez!" 
     During the whole affair, completely forgotten and oblivious in the scrubby, dank backstreets of Paris, remained two figures watching the scene steadfastly. One had golden, ochre colored eyes and a thick bottlebrush tail; she watched the scene with the slits of her pupils jetting back and fourth, occasionally flattening her ears when the taller of the two humans below would raise her voice too shreakishly. Her paws twitched in irritation and sadness for the boy, wishing she could be holding him and comforting him. She would unsheathe then sheathe her claws, back again, making faint gutteral noises in her throat.
     The other had a scraggly white coat, with floppy black ears and spots around his doe-like, saddened dark eyes. He sat uncomfortably, yearning to fly off of the balcony where they waited to reassure their boy, but remained still and pillarlike, shifting restlessly as his eyes would flit to the occasional homeless person peering out from behind a newspaper blanket or from a slimey, bleaken alleyway where no light ever shone. His tail stood erect and his whiskers would quiver ever so slightly, the inkling of a growl begging to be released.
     When the mother's whiskey-filled belly had exhausted her, the smashing of the shoe on her son's face ceased to exist, and she drunkenly staggered away and her heavy-lidded eyes fell dim and closed, the boy crawled away dejectedly, his tiny back hunched over, and let out a long sigh much too old for one who had only ever seen about seven quiet and painful years. He would quietly shuffle away from his mother, who had fallen into a drunken stupor, flecks of spittle running down her vile cheek, and curled up into a ball in the safety of his own little box. His room. His kingdom. There, where he slept each night under the far-off, distant stars, shining blissly and absentmindedly with not a care in mind for the tiny, vicious world below, the boy would dream.
    He never knew his father, but he would dream about him. Perhaps he was a fine gentleman who always wore freshly-pressed, tweed suits and carried a glinting silver pocketwatch, ticking away the hours he and his son would spend traversing the clean and spiffed streets, finding the boy a matching suit and his own watch and filling their pockets full of the most intricate and detailed toys and the most savory tobacco for the father's pipe.
     Or maybe his father was a fine peddler or salesman, dressed in a red pinstriped suit with a boater hat and a thick, black glossy mustache. His eyes would crinkle with delight as his son thanked him for the strawberry ice cream cone, and then the boy's father would reply with, "Pas de problème, mon fils!" and toss a shiny, new coin into his hand. Then the two of them would go riding in a buggy pulled by two grand horses, and his father would wave to the ladies in their puffy, silken dresses, and shyly, they would wave back and giggle.
     What a life that would be for the boy.
     But alas, he knew it would never be so. Closing his weak, tired eyes from the harshness and unforgiving life of venial, visive Paris streetlife, the boy pulled up his desecrated blanket and felt himself drifting off to sleep carried off to a land of surreal placidity. (If only for one short moment of rest before the violent men would wake up in the early morning hours, looking for some prey to harass and to hug and to fondle and beat, and the police would roam through with their nightsticks just waiting for one small scrap to hit and kick around, or the ladies would drag him off and dance around him madly, touching him and feeding him strange remedies. There was no difference. This life was of torture, and of no serendipity or tranquility.)
     But when asleep and, which, despite being only a dream, the boy felt his body surrounded by the warmth of two furry, soft-smelling others. The lovely purring and the thick, creamy fur felt so real the boy could have cried in simple joy and given each furry snout a loving kiss back, for occasionally he felt his face covered with licks from a rough and soft tongue, lapping, lapping at his face.
     "Bonne nuit," he whispered, before shutting his eyes this night.
     When the two figures on the hidden balcony heard the boy whisper those sacred, steady words, one sinewly leaped off and landed with the ease and grace of a ballerina, and smirked at the black and white figure glancing down, annoyed at the inability to do such acrobatics. Instead, he trotted down the pockmarked, broken-metal stairs and joined the cat. She smiled serenly at him, despite missing one of her yellowed, sharpened teeth, almost as if saying in her feline, slinky manner, "Je pense qu'il a assez de ça vagabonde," and when the dog shook his coat off of the greasy grime of the day, it seemed that he replied with, "Oui, oui, je le pense, aussi."
     Eventually, after moments of quiet walking down through the mistified, miry, frigid night soup, squirming and squashing through the smoggy, grimy street, the two friends had arrived at the little, mishapen food box and saw the shaking, quaking cold figure, his eyes closed tight in desperation. Perhaps he wasn't asleep, or, perhaps, he couldn't sleep alone.
     The partially-hairless, velvety white she-cat slipped in first, her seldom yellow-orange thick-haired spots on her naked pelt burning in the light of the streetlamps, a purr rising out of her sagging chest. She settled her body down beside the boy, and nudged his ear ever so lightly, and was calmed when he gently threw his arm on top of her, his tensed eyelids loosening a bit. 
     Next, the shaggy and rat-furred dog managed to crawl in, his knowledgeable, oaken-forest brown eyes reflecting the sleeping boy's chest rising and falling ever so slightly, his small wheezes making his mothball, sour-smelling blue blanket flap up and down like a fliver from an innocent, quiet tree. The dog let out a silent, raging and lonesome, yet silent howl to the moon, their lover, and curled around the frail, breakable child. The moon beams which leaked and seeped in from the cracks in the boy's box shined down upon the dog's knobbly, crooked ribs, and made him glow.
     They were together now. A dog, a cat, a boy, a family, and feeling such a strong feeling of warm, comforting cloud-like love embracing him in a golden, shining light, the boy opened his eyes for one moment, and saw beside him two creatures. Yet they were not the tattered and scraggy mangelings who would corner the boy and rip his clothes to pieces and scratch his belly to bloody shreds; no, they were different. Each serene figure was now a lusciously-coated and radiantly glowing creature, entwined together around the boy in a celebratory dance of love and loyalty, of peacefulness and of jovial amiability, of life. He had never felt so calm and settled yet so merry and effervescent in his entire life.
     Then, suddenly, the boy realized he was dancing, too. He had always been dancing. Those dreams he had were never dreams at all! It had been real. 
     He had always been a broken little boy, but from now and forever on he was to be the little broken boy who was loved. And that was all he needed. 
     "Je vous aime," he whispered, before closing his eyes one last time with the smallest of the smiles upon his face.

A/N: This piece is a draft. Please give me feedback!

Read the first three parts of Hannah Campbell's Outsider series:

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Young Writers Project needs to raise $4500 in order to send Muslim Girls Making Change and their coaches to the Brave New Voices Festival and national slam poetry competition this July  - and we need your help!

All donations should be sent to Young Writers Project and are tax-deductible. Checks should be made out to Young Writers Project with a memo to let us know that it's for MGMC's trip.

You can donate
  • in person at any of the team's performances;
  • by sending a check to Young Writers Project offices at 47 Maple Street #106, Burlington, VT 05401; or
  • by card via secure PayPal transaction - just click the 'Donate' button below!
We will send you acknowledgement of your kindness. Thanks! 

Help YWP Thrive!

Young Writers Project depends on your generosity to provide programs to thousands of youths. YWP  is a 501(c)3 nonprofit so all donations are tax deductible. Donate what you can —$25, $50, $100, or more — to help us provide this creative, respectful space for youths from all over and to mentor them and publish their best work for free.

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To learn more about YWP:  youngwritersproject.org/about or email me or call at 802-324-9537.

Geoffrey Gevalt
YWP Founder and Director