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Young Writers Project is grateful to VTDigger.org, a nonprofit news operation in Vermont, for publishing selected YWP writing, art and photos each week. Please support the young writers and artists by going to VTDigger.org and leaving a comment. These pieces are selected for publication by YWP staff, mentors and this site's Community Leaders. If you wish to participate in the selection, contact YWP Executive Director Susan Reid.
 

 
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.”

Bird

May 18

What my chromebook told me

I am the way you communicate.
I am the thread that keeps you
connected to the outside world.
I am the way you write,
my keys always serving your fingers.
I am the way you
do nearly everything you need to do.
The way you do school.
The way you check your email.
The way you relax, by pulling up
something fun.
Every day you gobble up my services.
Every day you give me orders.
More and more and more.
But it's not enough.
Your fingers tap in frustration as you wait for me to
wake up in the mornings. (I'll be nice, and forget to mention
that you yourself pleaded for
an extra 15 minutes in bed.)
You think I'm slow.
Low quality.
Annoying.
I think you're impatient.
Greedy.
Selfish.
You don't care that
I do everything you ask,
take for granted
the way you can count on me,
the way you know
that I'll always be there,
May 06

Keeping My Eyes Closed

People walk with their families,
The sun shines brightly,
The crisp wind blows,
The birds sing from the trees, 
The peepers in the marsh behind my house chirp,
The water from our well drains through the pipe in our yard.
The cherry tree in my neighbor's yard has bloomed,
and the crisp wind shakes it's pink petals to the ground. 
Time feels frozen,
though I know it's not
because as the cars drive by I am pulled from my thoughts.
But if I close my eyes,
Everything seems normal,
it doesn't feel like the world is ending anymore. 
If feels like if I were to open my eyes,
I would be greeted by beautiful laughing faces.
But as I open my eyes,
I'm greeted only by a clumsy bumblebee dancing from dandelion to dandelion.
The sun has been engulfed by clouds now, 
and everything has a different feel. 
I'm transported back to reality.
A reality that I'm not so sure I like.
Apr 27

Acadia

Apr 27

Kindness Garden!

We made a kindness garden by painting on rocks and placing them in the front yard. You'd be suprised how many smiles these little things bring. :)
Apr 19

Feeling Betrayed...Again

First you close my high school.
Now you’re trying to close my college.
I have to tell my story on this.
My name is Marina Sprague and I live in Chelsea, Vermont. I’m a high school senior in the early college VAST program at Vermont Technical College. (the Randolph campus)
Apr 19

Closer

I was never any good with writing beautiful things,
so I have to resort to painting tragedies.
I was never any good with watercolors. 

My hair is growing long, 
and I wonder if this is the end of the world. 
The tall pine trees growing outside of my house beg to differ. 
They have seen the end of the world many times and 0 out of those times has it actually ended. 
I thank them and go on my way. 

Writing is so hard, sometimes. 
I sit and think and think and yet not a single beautiful thing can pass from my pen.
Perhaps they were taken up by the flowers outside. 

Maybe poetry is what nature needs to grow and 
they've been taking all they need from my body as I lie in the midday sun.
I would have been happy to share. 

I am not sad. I am simply resigned. I've been inside for five weeks,
but it does not feel like a lifetime, in fact, it feels like a terrifyingly short moment. 
Apr 15

Bike

I was trying to make it look kind of like a comic-book-situation... ended up with this. 
 
Apr 14

More Watercolor

Apr 14
The Activist's picture

Not your normal POC

When people ask me what race are you
I say I'm Love.
Two different people came together
Because of love.
When people stare at my light brown skin 
I say I'm me,
An individual 
Who can be anything he wants.
When people touch my hair, I say 
There's so much more to me than my beautiful crown. 
Respect what's here,
All of me, not just what you see.
When people mistake me with the black boy next to me who looks nothing like me,
I say I'm different than everyone else 
And I'll always be different.

So are you.

When people walk up to me and start speaking a language they think I know,
I say stop assuming who you think I am.
Don't categorize me like I’m a piece of fruit
‘Cause I’m not one.
If you want to know who or what I am
I’ll tell you.
I  am love, beautiful “non ordinary” love.
I am a rainbow, so many different, amazing colors.
Apr 06

A Poem for the Boys in My Life

You don’t have to hide inside yourself,
origami emotions,
delicate paper folded into a vanishing point.
You don’t need to wear the mask of a superhero,
or walk in the lead-heavy shoes
you have been told make you a man.
They will say that ‘boys don’t cry’ — 
no, they will imply it — 
through the stories that infect the television screens,
and the questions they ask you,
but I have watched the pressure build in a cork-stopped bottle,
know the way a smile can feel like an obligation.
You don’t need to be ashamed
of voicing your vulnerability;
there is only so much your lungs can hold.
A golden exterior
can be cracked on the inside,
shining armor
is a cage,
but they will only say:
collect that emotion in a jar.
Bury it somewhere you won’t remember,
and if it breaks,
those shards will be your daggers;
better to draw blood than let them see you bleed.
Apr 05
hannah.banana23's picture

Disabled

Disability
one tiny word
but when people say it
they look like they've just sucked too hard on a lemon.
Uncomfortable silence follows.
They take in my wheels first,
eyes wondering
why I can walk,
why I have a walker,
what's wrong with me.

My walker's name is Clementine.
I bring her everywhere
but why would people care about that
when they can just stare?
At school I'm pretty much accepted
except for last year
when a girl named Anna belle 
came into my life.

At first I thought she was nice
and just needed a friend
but then came the comments
subtle, but hurtful.
"Oh, this might be too hard for you."
"I can do this better than you."
And then there was "people only like you because they feel bad for you"
that felt like
a kickball in the stomach
and then I'd had enough.

Now I have a whole group of amazing friends
Mar 30

A thank you to the world

thank you
for bringing us mornings that taste like leftovers and sound
like last night's debate replaying on TV.
thank you
for giving us the song of the radio:
politics and pollution
promises and lies. 
thank you 
for 8 am voices echoing in the halls of school, snippets of life we forget to love 
until only silence fills their place.
thank you
for unanswerable questions and rain outside classroom windows.
thank you 
for building endless cities to get lost in on a Tuesday afternoon when the sun dangles
from the skyscrapers. 
thank you for the parade of tired buses crawling down Main Street at 3 pm
and the space between sidewalks and April skies. 
thank you for crowds of strangers
but more than that 
thank you
for the people who feel like happiness
and places that look like home. 
thank you 
for sunsets
engraved with promises that tomorrow is already on its way
Mar 23

Silent towns

Big, wet, end-of-March snowflakes muffle the sounds of the already-silent town.
38 (or more) signs paper the windows of the stores on Main Street.
Closed until further notice
So sorry
See you soon

But there's no one to see.
No one walks the streets anymore, especially when the snow is wet as rain and it piles on shoulders like burdens that come right back after you brush them off.
The town was already about to be ravaged by unnecessary construction.
Small businesses were already suffering.
Every couple of windows there were already signs.
Building for sale
Space for rent 
Closed for the season

Now there are signs in every window because 
We can't breathe the same air 
Anymore.

The world wants this town to be silent.
It was already breaking
Slowly
But in ways you could see.
Now, there is only
Coronavirus
COVID-19 
Mar 23

Gender

My gender feels like a river.
Fluid and unpredictable, it carries me
Through whirling rapids that seeth of indecision
And contemplative canyons, echoing with my own thoughts.
Sometimes the water rises, surging towards something new
But I do not drown.
Terrified and joyous, wary and curious, I rise with it.
 steady on my raft of identity.

Other times, my gender is a tree.
Comfortingly unmoving, yet always changing in small ways.
Reaching new branches into the sky, and flowering a different color each year.
A truth rooted so deeply within me, 
that not even the strongest winds can tear it down.
And when I climb this tree and reach the top, I am always surprised.
Because as intricate and diverse as my identity feels,

The sheer amount of things that I am
Is always outdone by the landscape shown below me
Of who I could be.
An endless view of possibilities, 
Mar 18

Officer, I Was Not Speeding.

I took this by accident when I was trying to take a long exposure of a bus.
 
Feb 27

Snow Cart

Feb 26

On the Beach