Jan 13

Where are you from?

I was either five or six years old when I came up with a simple answer to a question our family often faced which always seemed to require long explanations. We were in Kampala, Uganda, where we lived until I was seven, walking to get ice creams when a woman we didn’t know stopped us to ask where we were from.

My parents knew she wasn’t asking which area of the city we lived in, so they launched into their usual complicated explanation, mentioning that my father was born in Tanzania but grew up in the United Kingdom; that my mother, who was born in the United States, was Irish by family background; that I was born in the Rakai district of Uganda, and my older sister in North Carolina.

It is tempting now to give myself a more interesting motive, but I am pretty sure I was just trying to get us to the ice cream stand faster when I cut the conversation short, jumping in and blurting out, “But actually, we’re from Hong Kong.”
Jun 03
The Soccer Bee 48's picture


            I am hungry for knowledge. I alway want to learn. The only downfall is I want knowledge on thing I want to learn about. So if you tell me to learn about some I don’t want to learn about I am going to Half ass it. But when I learn some thing about a thing I like to learn about. Then I will keep digging for more knowledge.
           For example in first through third grade I was obsessed with anacondas which are a kind of snake. I kept learning. I was a computer of knowledge on anacondas. Now I am thirsty for understanding of World War two. From memwoirs to historical fiction I am continuing to read and inform myself on this horrific topic.
             I can’t compare to my hunger for knowledge to anything else.

Oct 18
joseph.deffner's picture

A Quiet Winter Day

The snow crunches softly beneath my boots as I trudge up the hill. Small delicate snowflakes land on my fuzzy hat. I tilt my head back to catch them in my mouth. Out of the corner of my eye, a male cardinal dashes from tree to tree, his red feathers bright against the white snow. When I get to the top of the hill, I pause to look around at the snow covered trees, and listen to how peaceful it is. Dropping my sled on the wet snow, I climb on and slide down the hill, going down easily on top of the smooth and icy snow. The cool wind blowing in my face, smiling to myself. Winter makes me feel serene and content.
Jun 28

Lights Out

On June 27, after a heart-warming dinner with the Young Writers Project board (thank you Kathy), after hearing (thank you Susan) the startlingly kind words sent to me from many of you and your predecessors on how much this little project and community has meant, does mean, to you, I shut off the office lights for the last time after 12 years as YWP's executive director.

To you and the 110,000 kids we have touched in that time, thank you for opening your souls; thank you for sharing your ideas and observations, your flights of fancy and moments of bewilderment. Thank you for taking such creative risk.

You have enriched my life. You've opened my eyes to what you see and feel and experience and think and believe. And you have enriched the lives of thousands upon thousands of others -- your readers.
Aug 09

The Story of Coming Out (and being closeted)

Note: I'm writing this the way I speak, so I apologize for any grammatical errors.

Before I was out, things were simpler, to say the least. The questions were less, "ooo, who do you like, spill!" And more like, "oo, what are you going to have for dinner, DANG IT, you spilled the tea! Go clean that up!" Or rather, that was before any of us were thinking about being out and more about what we were going to find in our lunchboxes (let me tell you, I often found the strangest things—orange peel, dog food, even the odd piece of string that my cat had clearly ruined). 

Aug 06
JhermayneU's picture

Me, the most successful immigrant

"Why doesn't she speak it?" scoffs the nail salon lady. I poke through the dried leaves of my mother tongue. I open my mouth, and close it. The silence swells, a bullfrog, broken by the croak of a fake laugh from my mother.

My search history, an hour later:
learn tagalog
learn tagalog free pdf
tagalog course free online
free ta
how to do filipino accent

Mabuhay. Mah-boo-hay. Whitened syllables. Clumsy tongue rolls. My 'filipino accent' flops to the floor and oozes.

Eventually, you reach a point
Aug 06
JhermayneU's picture

Me, the most successful immigrant

"Why doesn't she speak it?" scoffs the nail salon lady. I poke through the dried leaves of my mother tongue. I open my mouth, and close it. The silence swells, a bullfrog, broken by the croak of a fake laugh from my mother.

My search history, an hour later:
learn tagalog
learn tagalog free pdf
tagalog course free online
free ta
how to do filipino accent

Mabuhay. Mah-boo-hay. Whitened syllables. Clumsy tongue rolls. My 'filipino accent' flops to the floor and oozes.

Eventually, you reach a point.
Aug 06

Second Line - First Line Challenge

What we said and did that day was unbelievable.
Aug 05

Short Story - Tranquility in Cordona Loop

I step out into the blanket of the heat’s embrace. My Jiddo and Baba done filling up fallen tires, and adjusting gears, I amble my way to the bike. It isn’t my bike, in fact, I am not entirely sure whos bike it is, but we packed on our way to Ohio. At first, I just eye it to estimate how high the bike seat should be, but after this proves to be futile, I ease my legs over the leather. I cannot help but feel like a kid far younger than 15, teeter-tottering aimlessly about the driveway in attempts to pedal. My legs are a little shorter than where the saddle sits, but after a few helping hands, traction stirs to life under my feet.
Aug 03

Short Story - Grace Me With Time

I awake from my nap, from my skin being tenderly embraced by the hurricane five feet upward. Their new ceiling fan. No noise roused me from my slumbers, in fact, it is unbearably quiet, but it is midday, and my body is ready to resume its duties. My wet hair hangs sticky to my neck, catching itself on my earrings again and again as I rise from the bed, and move blankly to face the white openness that consumes the hallway. I stand beside her, my Teta, and we talk sparingly, taking in the surroundings, and in my case, pulling myself from that nap.
Aug 02
Doctor Who's picture

onomatopoeia alphabet

La la la
Aug 02


Inspired by Rubber Soul's poem, Phin, write a piece to describe your username or a nickname you have and how it makes you feel when you/someone else uses it. Does it give you a sense of freedom or power? Does it make you feel childish? For stories, you can also have a character change their name and explain what it symbolizes.
Aug 01
Yellow Sweater's picture

Speed with Direction.

I rode a green bike through spring. I could feel the flowers rush past me. Their pink scent sparkling in the golden light of late afternoon. I gripped the handles tightly, the calluses on my hands hurting with effort. The smell of bruised leather mingled with clouds of cherry perfume. The air turned cold as I flew by, my destination becoming as solid as the iron heart of my handle bars. I found myself in the midst of a moment, between effort and realization. I saw myself: head bowed, knuckles white, jaw tight. I laughed. I laughed with the bees who amble, full of buzzing mirth, to the next flower.  

Aug 01

Short Story - What Blue Can Hold

The music surfaces from the stairs behind me. Tenor strings accompanied by the looming brassiness of the french horn. It tugs at my ears and scans the glossed etchings of the table. My eyes settle on the weathered blue of the file holder. Something so detached from my surroundings; I am drawn in. Stuffed to the brim with couscous, and recipes so well known you have to scoff at the monotony of reading it over again. With stains, cluttered with lines a seven-year-old hand struck upon the paper. Always an endeavor to sift through the piles of ripped-from-magazine-we-have-to-try-this, and more often than not, I find myself stuck feeling the color on the paper. Breathing in the familiar lilt of the letters, written with a shaky hand so dear to me. Or settling in on the strike of the foreign ink against a yellowing scrap. Squinting to see people I’ve never seen, recipes I haven’t heard of. People I’ve forgotten.
Jul 30
Doctor Who's picture

I am...

1. different (in a way that makes it hard to make friends)
2. a person who strives for a deep understand of complex things (but quick to point out how little I really know)
3. someone who loves the Idea we are all made of star stuff
4. an artist 
5. bad with tech
6. pretty sure I have the brain of an 80 year old
7. not really sure who I am...
Jul 30
Yellow Sweater's picture


I was discussing Christianity with my mother. I am not a Christian. She is a libral one. I was trying to weave a historical explanation for the differences between Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, differences I had read about in a book by a presumptuous academic. I was sitting in the park, bathed in the golden light of sunset and the smell of almost dead grass. I felt so whole. Too whole for half guessed details and hesitant claims. I flopped down on my back, staring up at the unfathomable sky and uttered a generalization just as vast: Religion is our way of making God tangible. 

My mother paused, her forehead creased in thought. She told me she was not sure if she agreed. She shattered the hopeless perfection of it.    
Jul 24

when the sky falls it is funneled into gutters:

today we swam in a pool 
dyed too purple to remember 
hours after the sun had set 
and watched as lightning
tried to take its place in the sky 

today we ate food 
that the FDA says will kill our bodies 
but feed our souls 

and worked off the extra calories
we didn't have to spare 
by dancing in the rain 

until the chlorine and self doubt
was washed from our hair 

and our clothes were silhouettes 
of their past selves 

and then we kept dancing 

until our arms and legs were numb and tired 
but our eyes were wide
and our hearts were shattered
because there is a specific and unattainable joy induced by water filling up the holes in the ground

and my hair has never been softer 

I forgot what it felt like 
to explode from the inside out 

and I couldn’t tell if it was tears 
or rain 
streaming down my face
Jul 24

Short Story - Ignorance is Bliss, But it’s Also What Has Plagued the Country Since That Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

My tired eyes and racing mind are up and running, 7:05 feeling strong beneath my feet as they snake their way out from the covers, and sink to the carpet. I have a strange consciousness about my feet as they draw me, then my hungry mind, to my parent’s bedroom. A focus that seemed almost silly, once the news struck my head. My awake-until-one-AM eyes slowly adjust to the light that consumes the room, and I flop on the bed knowing, truly in my heart that she had done it. Hillary Clinton; President of the United States of America. Knowing, with every fold of my brain that yes I, a girl, had her to look up to. That my parent’s votes, dinners they spent anxiously checking the polls, counted. For a girl president. With the satisfaction of an artist, finally sitting back from their work, I lie there. Contentedly; I try to think about what this would mean for me as I grow up. I am reminded that Baba’s lightened brown eyes sit upon my delighted face.
Jul 24

Challenge Idea - Song

Pick a song and create a poem, short story, or character inspired by it. Do the lyrics create scenes in your mind? Who do you imagine the song is about? How could the music style be represented in your writing? Alternatively, write a song based on a poem, story, or character. What are the most important pieces to express? Are there any lines that can be reused?
Jul 23

Weaving- Challenge

You are weaving a beautiful fabric that you will be able to wear. Your loom can weave with any substances you want. Anything. The sneeze of an ant, the roar of a river, the fog of london. What would you include in your fabric and why? What strength or symbolism, if any, would these materials hold for you?