Write Wild: The Demon Girl

2 Mar
Eighth-grader Keziah Myers joined us last month for our very first Write Wild! workshop at the peaceful and rustic Writing Barn. Surrounded by trees and quiet and deer wandering the periphery, we spent the morning exploring the art of storytelling — how to think about characters, force them into problematic situations, and keep our readers on the edge of their seats. Keziah’s story was anything but rustic! And all the better for it. Here, she offers an excerpt of the story she created that day, ” The Demon Girl.” There’s plenty of drama going on behind the scenes in this tale, as the narrator seems to have fingers in many pies (and a few bottles).

The Demon Girl

– an excerpt
Diana’s drinking glasses shattered when she growled. She really wished they wouldn’t do that. It was a pain to clean up the shards. Not to mention that she had to replace her glasses often. And, of course, if Martini, her cat, was in the kitchen when they exploded, he would bolt out of there and claw his way up her back to sit on her shoulder. So yeah, Diana tried not to growl.
It was hard because she really didn’t like yelling too much either. Yelling splintered all the wood in her flat. But… yelling didn’t run the risk of shattering her shot glasses. Because, really, with all the complications the demons had been making, she needed a drink every now and then. She normally had these after a failed negotiation with some big name down there. She really wished she could have them during, but the demons didn’t like it very much.
It was ironic, she would muse (normally over a cup of coffee or a shot of whiskey), that people thought drinking was a devil’s game. They actually hated it. Of course, not that there weren’t guys down there (there was only one lady who had powers she wanted, and Diana didn’t have the money to get to Scandinavia) who couldn’t drink her under the table, but those guys, the ones who she could negotiate with in a bar, they wanted things from her. Things she wasn’t willing to give. Yeah. Things were complicated.
Keziah Myers
Murchison Middle School, 8th Grade

Write Wild: The Two Bears

1 Mar

Fourth-grader Nina Stockinged joined us for our first Write Wild! workshop exploring the art of storytelling. Nina’s creation inhabits a community of bears where white and black are just colors. As you’ll see, Nina’s story reminds us that even if we’ve been told we can’t get along, one meeting can change our views for the better.


The Two Bears

Once upon a time, deep in the forest, there lived some white bears and some black bears. But the white bears and black bears lived in separate parts of the forest. The white bears’ village had only white bears, and the black bears’ village had only black bears. They never saw nor spoke to each other, and for a long time that’s how they lived. Each group thought bears of different colors would not get along with each other.

Then one day, a young white bear went to pick raspberries at the far end of the forest. He had tied a ribbon to a nearly-ripe raspberry bush the day before, but when he arrived at the bush, he saw a black bear standing next to it.

The white bear thought to himself, I tied that ribbon to that bush so I could pick raspberries from it, but I’m sure the black bear has already picked my raspberries.

The white bear was disappointed. He was looking forward to picking those raspberries. He sighed and started off in search of another bush, but the black bear called to the white bear: “Wait!”

When the white bear turned, he saw the black bear smile. She asked, “Are you the one who tied this ribbon to this bush?”

“Yes,” the white bear answered. He couldn’t understand why the black bear would ask such a question. Perhaps the black bear was being cruel, he thought, taking his raspberries and teasing him for tying that ribbon to the bush.

This made the white bear very sad, but then the black bear smiled kindly. “Good thing I asked. These raspberries must belong to you, and they’re very ripe for picking.”

The white bear was surprised. After taking a good look, he realized the bush was indeed the way he’d left it the day before. None of the raspberries had been picked. Cocking his head in amazement, he said, “I don’t understand why you didn’t pick the raspberries.”

“Well, there was a ribbon tied to this bush,” the black bear said, “so I thought it was already spoken for.”

“Even so,” the white bear said. “If someone else had picked the raspberries, I would have never known,” said the white bear. But the black bear smiled at him and continued, “If I were looking forward to picking raspberries and somebody else picked them first, I would be very disappointed. That’s why I decided to guard this bush.”

The white bear was very embarrassed. He had just assumed that the black bear had stolen his raspberries. Then, when he almost thought his mistake had hurt the black bear’s feelings, he became very sad. He’d always thought that because they were different colors, white bears and black bears could never be friends. But now that he’d met the black bear, he understood that colors didn’t matter. Bears of different colors could be friends if only they could meet and talk.

“What’s the matter?” the black bear asked with concern.

The white bear was so deep in thought that he had grown silent.

“Does your head hurt?” she asked. “Do you have a fever?”

“No,” replied the white bear. “It’s not that.” Then he turned to the black bear and said, “Let’s pick these raspberries together and share them equally.”

“These raspberries are yours,” protested the black bear.

“But you guarded them for me,” replied the white bear.

Then the white bear smiled at the black bear and said, “Will you be my friend?”

The black bear looked surprised at first, then smiled. “Of course,” she said.

Nina Stockinger
Spicewood Elementary, 4th Grade

Life, Love, and Paradise

24 Feb

Dear Reader,

Imagine for a moment being invited to a family picnic where everyone, quite magically, gets along. Imagine witnessing people offering easy hugs and gentle back-pats and listening to each other’s life updates, both good and bad. Imagine being greeted by friendly faces and feeling welcomed immediately. This only partly describes the wonderful community of writers I spent an hour with each week at Hope Lutheran Church. I can’t help but think it was their strong bonds that fostered a setting for magnificent writing and poetry-making to occur. Below you will discover just what a recipe of innate talent and close friendships can create—pure, sumptuous delight.

Julie Poole
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



There was an old man
from Nantucket
who kept his money
in a bucket.

His daughter, Nan,
ran away with a man,
and as for the bucket…

Elizabeth F.



Who needs to wait until something occurs to make you feel that “it’s good to be alive?”

According to recent research, 100% of research groups studied agreed unanimously that being alive beats the heck out of being dead! Every day is a new day, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to live it however I want. Keeping your expectations low is critical to happiness.  I just say, “Hey, at least I’m alive. It’s better than being dead.” I have never heard a dead person say, “Man, I’m glad I’m finally dead.” Life is good, and death, well, who knows? I’ll stick with what I know: Life!

Rick Guilbeau



– This poem is not endorsed by the Republican Party.

Do I or
do I not
in this debate?
Should I?
Or should I not?
I’m smart enough, but
not that much.

Hate to be a stupid chump.
Why in the
heck did I vote for
Donald Trump?

Rick Guilbeau


World’s Longest Fishing Pier: Port Lavaca,
A Refuge For Young Lovers

Always windy
Dead Bait / Live Bait
Dead Fish / Live Fish
Both adding a rugged scent
To salt air
Dark unlit places at night
Sparkling stars above
Also a sparkling reflection
Waving reflections—the salt—the air—
We are along 1 1/2 miles out on the bay
We hold
It’s getting
Even in
The wet
And wind
Kiss and
Hope it

Rick Guilbeau



Our grandchildren live on an island off the coast of Washington State. When we visit them, we also go to the beach! Their beach is unusually windy and cold, but the last time, in August, it was mild enough to explore the tide pools—small pools of water and tiny creatures and plants that are left behind when the tides go out. The experience was delicious for me—there were tiny creatures that I cannot name, even now, and never knew existed. I felt like I was in a magical world with some of my favorite people. In other words, Heaven.

Rebecca Lowe



Writing on snowy paper,
inspired by others’ words,
is easy
and intimidating
and solid.

Rebecca Lowe


Old Cabin

Prickly cedar among white powdery rocks
bordering winding trails.
Reptiles are seen sometimes, both friendly and not.
An old cabin is sinking into the tall grasses
bordered by a thinly running creek.
Wood stoves and cold winters,
wildflowers in spring, summers of heat.
Old graves of beloved dogs,
friendly faces, good hearts.
Doors open, still.

Rebecca Lowe



Everyday life seems to be accelerating
with time as we age.
We seem to notice details of life with
much more appreciation now than in earlier
periods of our lives.
We see children as much more
involved, advanced, active in everyday life
than when we were growing up. Science and
technology were not as advanced as they are today.
There seems to be recognition of the
acceleration that is occurring in science and
technology and how much more needs to be
learned, practiced, and controlled.

Manny Chavez


Appreciation of Life

It seems to me that life is just the way it has been described before, as being “miraculous.” I have much more appreciation for life now (at age seventy-three) than I did before. Just being “alive” is miraculous. To think that I am now in a much later stage in my life is scary and daunting, yet is is also very rewarding and appreciated. I feel very blessed to have had a good family, a good education, a good career, and good health. As I face an older age and have indication of neuro-degenerative impacts, I am still not scared of getting older. I still feel very honored to have been born and to live in the U.S.A. Recent occurrences have been good for all of us. New challenges are good for the U.S.A.

Manny Chavez



Why am I here?
What do I want to do
with my life?
Who am I—who is this
woman Pat?
Will Pat ever do any more
art? Will she be strong
enough to work alone? And make art?
Would taking a pill make it more
easy and likely to work/make art?

Pat Keen



This morning, I walked my dog Mo around 7 am and the sun was not yet up, but it was sending up orange and blue lights across the sky… and then in another viewing direction, the sky was a very deep yellow mixed with that same intense blue.

How wonderful that I remember it, and I can see it in my brain! Because I have some form of Alzheimer’s, so sometimes my brain is not available.

Pat Keen



The peace and tranquility that
comes with friendship,
sharing moments precious
to each other

Enjoying the unity
and bonding in
feeling refreshed
by each other’s
views and ideas
and loving,
having friends
to share
your journey!

Audrey Krier


What Makes Life Worthwhile

Being married, having kids,
seeing them go through school, and friends
and adventures, successes, and feeling
you did something worthwhile in your
life. Seeing grandchildren grow and
being proud of their successes
and getting to know their talents
and what they give to the world.
It gives one something that makes
life worthwhile and fulfills one’s
dreams. Now, hopefully, this
world will benefit from
their successes. That’s
a legacy worth
passing on!

Audrey Krier


Bridge City, Texas on the Louisiana and Texas State Line

in the marshes with the snakes, crabs, alligators,
mosquitoes, and crawfish that live here.
Jet boats riding on top of marshes to see alligators
in dark, salty water.
And hot boudin cold couscous. Come on, push-push-push,
and eating rainbow crawfish.

Bobby Pruitt



With my family and grandchildren,
lots of laughter
in the outdoors,
in the mountains,
in the fresh air
that our God gave to us to enjoy.
My God is an awesome
God who reigns above.

Bobby Pruitt



Many years ago, I was put in charge of training a new salesman for Singer Sewing Machine Co. I let him drive the company van, and on the way back from the sale he was driving so fast that I thought, “I’m never driving with this guy again.”

We were headed down the freeway and about to turn onto the off-ramp when another truck happened to turn in our direction in front of us. He slammed on the brakes, and we rolled three or four times. There were no seat belts at the time, so our heads bumped the ceiling and we bumped into each other as we rolled in the air.

When we landed, the van was on its side and all the windows were smashed. He said, “You Okay?”

I said yes. I asked him if he was okay, and he said yes. We climbed out of the broken window and dusted ourselves off, both surprised to be alive, not a scratch on either one of us.

Lee Roy S.


On living in Casablanca, Morocco

The life I had was rich and happy,
good family and good friends,
the life that I’d love to
give to my children and to
have again. Living was rich.

Sarita Mais


Reading My Book

I am reading my book.
He is clearing the table and sweeping the
I am reading my book.
He is cutting the grass and sweeping the
I am reading my book.
He is running the vacuum and dusting.
I am reading my book.
He fixes a quick dinner and brings
me my portion in the living room.
I am reading my book.
He looks at me and slowly heads up the
I wait a moment or two, put my book down
& head up the stairs behind him.
Ain’t love great!

Jeanne Roden



When my son was four or five years old, we were living in Arizona on the Navajo reservation off and on, and the school would hold outdoor activities for us. I always attended them with my son Jon. At one event, there was a swimming race for all the kids ages ten and under. They had to enter the adult pool and swim its length. Jon took off and was flashing down the lane. Soon, he was out front! I was cheering for him and leaning against the guy next to me. He kept murmuring, “He’ll never make it. He’ll never make it…” But Jon persevered and came in first—far ahead of the others. I was so proud, I actually squealed!

Jeanne Roden

Health and Well-being

22 Feb

Dear Reader,

If you happened into Meeting Room A at the North Austin YMCA, you’d see a friendly group of folks with coffee mugs and bright, warm sunlight illuminating the room. You’d hear the intermittent sounds of weights dropping on the ceiling above. You’d be privy to amazing stories and poems and plenty of laughter. If you’re a single lady in her mid-thirties, like me, you might even receive some encouraging dating advice. Most of all, though, you’d feel this writing group’s infectious positivity and easy generosity. What better place to be reminded of the importance of health and well-being than at the YMCA in a room full of some of the most kind-hearted people you could possibly meet. I’ve found their words to be as revitalizing as a daily dose of vitamin C.

Get ready to feel rejuvenated.

Julie Poole
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Sunny Day

Happy to see the sun shine
This morning the clouds were gray
But the sun was bright and warm
A good morning for
Nice to hear
The sounds of morning
That seem to increase with the sunlight
That I listen to and hear the
Noises the household makes

Bob Russell


Falling Pen

– an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

I rose while books
Tempted my pen falling

My life

A gypsy     circle

Bob Russell



There are emotions that at times are
rekindled—reminding us of what was,
what brought forth joy, what is
savored—those feelings that move
us forward—or, cherished as they are
or were, are stored in the keepsake
box of our heart.

Love is probably the most dominant—
It is the emotion that creates, consolidates,
and holds us together. This can be said
of friendship, short term or years in length,
one that shares the ups and downs of everyday.
Every day there is the echo of my grandchildren
as they prep for school, return home, tackle homework,
and joyously share their day—ups and downs,
all arounds. What more can I ask for.

Helen Haynes


Where the Wind Blows

an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

Follow your genius
White sands—pleasant sunshine—
Free wind blows—

Helen Haynes



It is good to be alive because there are
so many things to see. I see the sun rising
in the morning, I see stars in the sky.
What more could you want to see?
I would like to see a jet fly in the sky
on a sunny day. I would like to see
clouds float by after
a summer storm. There are wonderful
things to see. If I would stop long
enough to see.

Ed Stephens


The Pond

– an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

At least I rose enough to see
white sands from the pond.

Ed Stephens


Turtles Sunning

I live along Brushy Creek in Round Rock, Texas. It’s a place I have become quite fond of. I like to walk along the creek enjoying the tree-lined banks, walking upstream to the Round Rock and continuing further upstream to a place I call “Turtle Cove.” It’s a name I gave to the area where turtles like to gather and sun themselves on the banks of the creek. I always count the number of turtles on the bank.  Yesterday, I counted forty-five turtles sunning themselves on the bank. It was a good number, better than I had seen for some time. It made me happy to see them again.

Alan T. Sagen



On Saturday, I saw the
hordes of woman and even
children descending on
Washington, D.C., in celebration
of the Women’s March for

Marian Fleming


On Living in Downs, Kansas

Downs is a small town in Northern Kansas
just off of Highway 24. The town has one movie theater.
Many local farmers come to Downs on Saturday
nights to go to the one movie theater and drugstore.

Bruce Fink


View of Life Near Nature

 – an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

A gypsy’s pack,
where free wind blows, a three-legged table where
blackberry vines run around its legs.

Bruce Fink



It’s good to be alive to hear
the birds sing, to be with my
children and grandchildren, to
be able to do fun things with
them, to watch them grow
and live their lives,
for them to be happy.

Heather De Loyo

American Values

22 Feb

For many, the act of reading is the process of making connections with the past and with one’s memories. For this group of writers, writing is an essential element in that process. Through a series of four workshops, these writers shared their stories and memories, and made connections to the world beyond our classroom space. I hope you will experience similar connections as you read the following pieces. They are a gift to us all.

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



America never was a truly
integrated government to me!
Rather, it was separated and corrosive to many
People of Color and those considered
“foreigners,” although all persons
came from other countries at one
time. Native Americans are the true
Americans, run over by those “foreigners”
from other countries: immigrants.



An Ocean Postcard

The waves are indicative of life’s ebb and flow.
The crashing waves are life’s difficulties and road blocks,
plus the termination of one’s life against the rocks.
Water returns to the ocean to start the
life process over.
The ocean is the provider of life.




To me, America will be home of the free.
I was born in a country
far away.
India was the
We won our freedom
from the British
after two hundred years
of servitude.
It is a country with
mountains, hills, and plains,
and peoples of different
languages and religions.



Let America Be What It Was Proposed to Be

But it’s never been that yet.
There was a military faction from the beginning.
There is still such a faction.
With weapons being used against each other,
With proposals of a wall going up to separate us,
With marching and slogans coming out,
Against our proposed freedom.
Can we not talk together, together to
Be friends, to love each other?
We do love each other, but we must all
Know what love is. Let us smile and
Be friends, forever, together.




I taste their beauty.
They have been make the right way,

by my grandmother,

with her flour,
with her butter,

with her hands,
with her soul.




America has always been America.
I can never believe America will ever change.

Farms and ranchers, homes—I always think
about the wonderful life we all have
shared living in America!

I pray for everyone who comes to
America—regardless of race or any other factor!
America has given memories to many people,
memories people may not have in other countries.



My Name

My first name is Michael. My middle name is Theodore. I had two older brothers, a sister, and one younger brother. My family is Hispanic, from northern New Mexico. All of my cousins are named after grandparents or uncles and aunts. My parents had five kids—none named for relatives (heaven forbid).


Healing Waters and Woods

22 Feb

When I first began working with the Memory Connections group at Westlake Presbyterian Church, many of them tried to convince me that they were by no means writers, and I felt like it would be my job to convince them otherwise over the next four weeks. By the end of that first class, they had convinced me that the creative spirit lived in all of them, as demonstrated by their purity of insight and beautiful construction of our language into something uniquely theirs. Then my role became helping them to draw out that creativity, to tap those wells, and to act as a medium for those who found it difficult to transcribe the vastness of their thoughts onto the page. They rose to every challenge presented to them with good humor, passion, and unflagging support of one another. These folks overcame physical and mental boundaries to produce work that humbled and inspired me each week. Walls were broken down, tears were shed, and powerful stories and poems emerged, works that felt like they’d been hiding inside these writers for years, just waiting to come out.

Julie Howd
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Reflective Forest

I am walking through the woods of Arkansas. It is early in the morning, and there is a soft breeze and light fog. I have explored these woods on many occasions, and on each exploration I always find something new or exciting.

As I sit quietly, I hear the snapping of a branch and then slowly, a beautiful doe steps into the meadow. Her brown eyes dart back and forth, and her nose sniffs for any unusual odor. Once satisfied, she bends to eat the soft green grass.

Two blue birds sweep by, settle on a branch, and begin clacking and speaking to each other. They snap up insects as they fly by. Suddenly, a large owl settles onto a branch, and the other birds quickly fly away. All is quiet again, except for the buzzing of insects.

I think of the times I have walked through these same woods with my father, wife, and children. Each memory is etched with emotion and wonder.

At times like this, you remember the times you have been harsh and immediately regret your transgressions. I think of the love I have received from my mother, father, and grandparents.

I walk back home as afternoon fades, and I remind myself to try to return the love that I have received from my family and friends. I also give a short prayer of appreciation for the Marines I treated in Vietnam. At times, the only thing I could do was to hold their hands as life slowly slipped away. As the tears slip down my cheeks, I realize how lucky I was to have loved ones I could relate to.

As the deer walk out of the woods, I slowly walk back to the camp where the Marines are currently entrenched and look to the time when I can be home again with my wife and family.

Charles W.



Playing basketball with my brothers
We’d hide out from my parents
The smell, sound, and taste of BBQ
Throwing balls to the dog
Riding bikes
Walking with Stephanie

Keith P.


Find Your Way Home

The wild geese, heading home again,
Soar in the clear blue sky.
Listen to their calls.
Follow the sound as long as your ears allow,
Knowing the world is in your heart,
And your heart fits perfectly into the universe.
You and the geese love what you love,
And will find home soon.

Carol Y.


Dock Time

Penguins jump in and out of the water.
They glide in and out of the sea.
I sit on the dock and watch as the kite
flies over the ocean, and the breeze is cool and green.
When the sun comes out, I put on my hat
and go have a beer.

Bill B.



Green is the color that says there is life!
Leaves in the spring ripple with green stripes.

All the green in the leaves provides rich nutrients
that bring more green and life to all.

Green provides food for all and beautiful growth.
Green makes me think of color to soon arrive.

Susan W.


Cerulean Sea

The aqua blue sea calmly washed ashore over the smooth, sandy beach in this bay, while around the point, it was crashing wildly like a drunken sailor. Looking out through the waves, there was unlimited space under massive thunderclouds. Nothing else to see or do today but enjoy the coolness of the aqua colors surrounding me as I stood there in the buff.

Logan M.


An Ode to an Orange

You begin as green but end as an
orange orange.

Art U.


Ah! Purple

Royalty seeks it, all others too.
As for desire and reproduction, PURPLE stimulates too!
Blue is desire and forward-looking, drawing purple.
Its love for humanity outweighs its care of self: a handsome one.
Other emotions—yellow, say—flow to it, emit from it.
Fit for personal use, an irresistible flow
of ebbing brightness.

Royalty adapts it to its position.
LOVE! Ah, sweet love,
filled with passion is chosen and warm,
carried and cared for, romantically calling
emotion, defining akin to a love.
All love should share
in this purple… this love.

Ed M.



Gently in water
Dive deeply, quietly, alone—
Model elegance.

John A.


Red, White, and Blue!

The flag and patriotism.
Red is hot. The feeling of anger.
White is neutral. The feeling of purity.
Blue is feeling. The feeling of sadness.
Red, white, and blue signifies gratitude
for country. The U.S.A.!

Carl M.


Back Deck of Our Cottage: Glen Arbor, Michigan

Relaxing in my favorite chair on the back deck of our cottage in Michigan, I can often watch and hear the squirrels running along the top runner of our fence and chipmunks racing across our deck. Our heart-shaped flower garden contains beautiful flowers with a border of stones from the local quarry. The clear blue sky and breezes from Lake Michigan relax me. It is the perfect place to read, contemplate, and appreciate our good fortune and the beauty of nature.

Boyd S.


Kerry Green

Dear Mike,

I am writing from Muckross House in County Kerry, Ireland today—September 3, 2011. The house is yellow brick and quite large and sits on a lake. It is a beautiful estate with a vast green lawn and many trees starting to turn fall colors. There are people near the lake taking a horse and buggy ride. There are others playing croquet on the lawn.

It is a beautiful sunny day. The air is fresh and full of the happy sounds of people and animals. I love hearing the lilt of the Irish brogue and the smiles of locals as they go about their daily tasks. The tour guide is speaking of the family obtaining their wealth from shipping things to and from the continent. They have a lovely greenhouse that grows vegetables and plants for the estate.

It takes twenty-five workers to run this vast estate. Only ten live on the grounds. The others commute from nearby. The estate also has a large barn of race horses that are worked and trained on the grounds for the upcoming race deep in Kerry. Everyone is proud of what they contribute to the estate’s successful running.

We will have tea in the back garden since it is such a nice day. They will serve bread and cheese and small sweets to the guests. I am happy, wanting to sing a ditty. This trip has been relaxing and restful. Hope all is well at home. I will see you next week.

Love and God Bless,

Patsy K.

Forrest Preece Young Authors Award

15 Nov

Forrest Preece (middle) with award-winners Jason Luo (left) and Nitya Ganesh (right).

Each year, Forrest Preece and his wife, Linda Ball, honor two young writers from our Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp and recognize their work at our Illumine gala. Forrest and Linda read through a stack of several dozen impressive poems and stories written by our summer campers and somehow make a very difficult decision — choosing which two pieces will win the prize. (One award is given in the elementary-age category, and one to middle- and high-school students.)

This year, Forrest and Linda chose Nitya Ganesh’s poem “Joy” and Jason Luo’s poem “Fearless,” which are included here. This year’s runners-up are Keerthanyaa Arun for her poem “Meant to Be” and Kate Hirschfeld for her poem “The Kinds of People.” You can enjoy their work below. All winners receive a cash prize provided by Forrest and Linda. Both Nitya and Jason read their poems at the Illumine gala on Friday, November 11 — to much applause and fanfare!

Nitya told us it was an honor to receive this award. “I am grateful to my parents for providing me this wonderful opportunity at the Badgerdog Camp. I also promised my mom that I will thank her when I get any award, for always keeping my pencils sharp and ready for me. P.S. My mom did remind me about the last part.” Nitya also wanted to thank her instructor, Katie McClendon, “for encouraging me to try harder and showing me that writing is cool and fun.”

Congratulations to these four incredible and inspiring writers! And our heartfelt thanks to Forrest and Linda for their continued support of this special honor, one of few that recognizes young writers in our community.

Cecily Sailer
Library Foundation Programs Manager

Linda Ball and Forrest Preece with Nitya and her mom and dad.

Linda Ball and Forrest Preece with Nitya and her mom and dad.


behind all the
letting your anger
drift away like a
flowing stream,
letting your
depression scurry
away like a squirrel
with a nut,
shining through all the the
darkness like the
sun behind the clouds,
shining its way
like the moon
in a dark sky floating
in the night
like a cupcake
behind plates
and plates
of broccoli,
when you have
it, joy spreads
like butter on

Nitya Ganesh
Forrest Preece Award Winner (Grades 3-6)


The miniscule creature lays sprawled before my eyes,
its tissue paper wings extending awkwardly to both sides
of its fragile, emerald-dotted back
grounded on my palm.

Its small frame was etched with the exhaustion
of maintaining
her delicate,

But her eyes were alive with a different inferno.
In her dark eyes streaked the spark
of the insistence
to survive,
against all odds,
against all obstacles,
against the volatile world that doubted her so.
In her dark eyes streaked the spark
of the defiant hummingbird.

Jason Luo
Forrest Preece Award Winner (Grades 7-12)

Meant To Be

Sadly and slowly, the blue dolphin swims
through the deep blue sea.
As if it were meant to be.
The dolphin longs to feel that large, tall tree.
As if it were meant to be.
Every time I see the dolphin,
its eyes look like they are filled with pleas.
As if it were meant to be.
I long to see the dolphin happy,
so I bring it out to see the world it needs to see.
As if it was meant to be.
It looks at me, its eyes now filled with glee.
As if it was meant to be.

Keerthanyaa Arun
Forrest Preece Young Author Award Runner-Up (Grades 3-6)

The Kinds of People

Let’s go back
to when the days were counted not in numbers but in discoveries.
Small fingers outstretched to the sky, trying to get a grasp on this world
one experience at a time.
Asking questions without answers,
your favorite word was always “Why?”
Punctuated with intensely curious eyes,
your head cocked slightly to the side,
expecting a response even when there wasn’t one to give.
Minds full of fairy dust,
wide eyes of wanderlust,
never knowing what life had in store for us.

Back to when you had perpetually paint-stained hands,
dirt under your fingernails,
hair tangled by the wind,
mud stains on your new dress.
Don’t tell Mom, but you always liked it better that way anyway,
said it reminded you of chocolate milk.
And everyone knows there’s nothing on this earth better than chocolate milk.

Back to when we gazed at the stars so long our eyes themselves began to twinkle.
We took to staring contests during the day to share our galaxies.
We woke up early to watch the sun paint the sky like a canvas.
Call us crazy, but we thought it beat Cartoon Network any day.
We searched the sky for the Big Dipper and Orion’s Belt.
They were the only constellations we knew,
but the way our eyes lit up when we saw them
made them the only ones we needed.

Back to when wonder was our only motive.
We dove in headfirst not because we had courage,
but because we didn’t know to be scared yet.

Back to when we rolled the windows down just to taste the wind,
and daydreaming was a common pastime, not a waste of it.
When we were more than just people…
We were heroes and wizards and pirates and royalty.
We soared through storm clouds and danced with dandelions.
Our heartbeats were the only music we ever needed
and every raindrop was proof that magic really did exist.
Bedtime stories didn’t seem so far off.

What happened between then and now?
How did magic become merely a device for Disney to make a profit?
And four-leaf clovers became so rare we stopped even bothering to look?
We stay up late but keep the curtains closed to the cosmos.
They say money can’t buy happiness, but it’s starting to replace it.
We shy away from opportunity because we finally learned what fear is.
We closed our fists and turned our eyes from the skies.
Your favorite word became “because.”

Except for a few.
Some people never stopped daydreaming.
They still wish on dandelions, though some may call them childish.
They wander forests in their free time because their curiosity surpasses their fears.
They smile at the sky simply because they can
and aren’t afraid to get wet if it means dancing in the rain.
They seek out the beauty in the extraordinary and the mundane.
They live to find stories and never stop looking.
Most of all, they still ask questions,
only now they search for the answers on their own.

Kate Hirschfeld
Forrest Preece Young Author Award Runner-Up (Grades 7-12)