What is creative writing? Why is it important? Over five days, these Badgerdog creative writing summer campers answered those questions with thoughtful discussions and craft exercises that brought their imaginations to life on and off the page. Each day was packed with literary expression that yielded craft essays, creative nonfiction, fiction, fantasy, science fiction, horror, screenplays, and poetry. Even our daily breaks centered around fun word games like Bananagrams and Haiku Deathmatch. As you read their work, notice the detailed images that build new worlds in prose and the attention to line structure and form across their poems. It was a joy working with such curious writers who enjoy writing, came to the page with a playful spirit, and committed to showing up and writing it all down.
Badgerdog Teaching Artist
Life is a game.
Everything is based on one
Good or bad decision taken.
Whether you will be the richest of
The world, wearing gold bars
And eating without making a choice about
Who to feed
Or if you will be not
As privileged, wearing
Rags and choosing who
To feed in a family.
It is based on one
Make your decision a
A World Away from World
At a secret set of coordinates in the ocean, there are eight portals that open up right at the crack of dusk and dawn. Every night, a different portal opens up. If you don’t make it out to the real world at dawn, you will be lost there (where you are) for a year and a week until the portal opens up again.
Once you exit the different world, you will end up in, another portal of the same color, not the portal you came from. Every Earth day (about 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 months in portal time), the portal opens up in a different spot in its world. There are four portals you can enter and four portals where you will exit. Each portal opens up a different world, and one earth night is about 2 ½ – 3 weeks, so be prepared or you could die there.
The first world is full of life and color and friendly animals. This world is meant not to be touched by the greedy and maniacal souls of the world. You may only enter if your soul is pure. You can get here through the green portal. The second portal, the blue one, is a world with five moons and never-ending night. You may think that without a sun, there’d be no light, but the moons are little individual suns themselves, not shedding pure white light, but blue moonlight, and reflecting off each other. These moons do not revolve normally, but stay the same distance from each other in pentagonal prisms.
There is one world that is up in a sky with beautiful hills as far as the eye can see. This world contains a naturalist civilization that lives in harmony with nature. No pollution, no buildings, but rather large huts and underground passageways. It is said that every single traveler or adventurer to ever visit this world has never returned. It can’t possibly be the civilization that took them out, but the journey one must take to get there. The journey has steep cliffs and large plateaus and one must simply know where they are going or, like I said, you will get lost in the orange portal.
And the last world through the red portal is unseen and untouched by anyone. It could be the portal to hell or a passage to immortality or heaven. No one knew until now.
An explorer by the name of Elario decides to go in and explore. Elario is in one of the few families who know about the portals, and one of even fewer who have explored the portals and came back alive. He lives in a two-story, three-bedroom, and four-bathroom house. He is an executive foreman at an underground construction company. He gets paid $20,000 a week, so he has a good life. He spends his vacations visiting the green world.
The families who know about the portals are part of a secret society (not like the one in the orange portal). It’s a society as old as time, and shrinking in numbers. It began when one Mexican family, one African family, and the last American family got lost in the orange portal.
Elario lives with his parents, his wife Maria, and his son and daughter. His son and daughter are the best of friends. Their names are Serina and Rodrigo. When Elario is traveling, his brother Arturo helps Maria with the kids. As for the African family, they stopped exploring the portals because they felt it was becoming too dangerous and risky. Keep in mind that traveling through these portals is like time-travel because one day on the other side is almost two weeks in the portals. The last of the American family is one single man by the name of John. He is the one aging as we speak in the orange portal.
The only way to get to the portals is by boat. As Elario prepares, he rents a fishing boat from a boating service and has his brother take him. Now, they are at the location and Elario is saying his goodbyes. For the first time in the history of the society, someone has jumped into the red portal.
I lived in a place called Icen. It was so cold that the water froze. Not many people lived there. There was only one building.
Once, with the class, we went outside. If you don’t know, there is a legend in Icen. A long time ago, there were two people. When they were living, this place was warm, though it had to be hidden from other people. The two people went to the outside world and told them about Icen. They were sent back to Icen and turned into two stones that would keep Icen from getting too cold and from being discovered.
Our class went outside and climbed the mountain and talked about the two stones.
“Will it be big?” Jin asked.
“I don’t know,” Sana said.
We decided to find the two stones to save Icen.
The next day, a girl named Icen came. She looked like she had a secret. What could it be? After school, we climbed the mountain and talked about the two stones.
“I think I know where it is,” Icen said. “There’s a hole at the top of the mountain. Inside, there’s a box that holds the two stones together.”
“OK! Let’s go!” Sana said.
We went to the very top of the mountain. There was a lot of smoke and it was hard to see. The wind was blowing, and it was hard to move.
“It’s there!” Icen said.
We got the two stones and then everything started to melt. Everything was green. A happy green! Then the ground started to melt. It was starting to melt Icen. Ahhhhh!
The Witch’s Spell Book
I saw her, the witch her face full of rage
She cut off his fingers because he ripped off a single page
She knew he would not last there were no spells she could cast
She threw him across the room real fast then her spell book started to blast
She ran away and left us to die then we heard her evil laugh
We got scared and started to cry when I found my brother he was cut in half
It comes after sadness
After rain pouring down
With the perfect amount
Of rain and sun
Red: like the big beach ball bouncing at the beach
Orange: like the adventurous animals aiming to get attention
Yellow: like the sunny seaside sand
Green: like the wet weeds waving under the waves
Blue: like the sky soaring safely on a summer’s day
Indigo: like the ocean observing over all the octopus
Violet: like the umbrellas of the underwater people
All shining next to
The sun and clouds
Calling for attention
My eyes, a map to guide me.
My mouth, a speaker calling out for all to hear.
My ears, a vortex sucking in sound.
My arms, a weapon to defend me.
My hands, a masterpiece creating works of art.
My back, a strength for me to rely on.
My legs, a cane to keep me steady.
My feet, a possibility to roam the earth.
But my brain, wisdom beyond compare.
And my life, a beacon of hope.
Read me like an open book,
Break my spine and throw me away.
In between the lines, you took
My path to our yesterday.
My tears pool a waterfall,
Rivers on these dead pages.
Run me an ocean of grief. You call,
I’m willing to drown.
Every bitter thing you said
Imprisoned, caged within my head,
Left it typed in black and white,
All your hate and all your spite.
All of it there, in black and white:
All of your shades of gray.
Out in the cold, cold thin air
Between two tombs where you … despair
Under the ground where your loved ones sit
Six feet under they shall not shift
You want to be with them
You want to be dead
A million thoughts go through your head
The cold is rushing
The wind is strong
Suddenly you realize what is wrong
You lay on the ground you remove your coat
Now you feel nothing but you see a boat
It drifts down the River Styx
And your mind’s thoughts begin to drift
You don’t care so there you lie
You are happy to go, happy to die
The grass glows green
The sun shines light
The sky is blue and bright
Full of life and air
A cool breeze through your hair
The fluttering of butterflies
How fast time can fly by
The leaves fall fast
The tree is bare
Too cold to last through the night
The flowers bloom
The birds all sing
Now it’s time to go back to spring
sitting there still as a stone
staring at people writing and laughing
coming and going never moving
never on always off
this is no feelings
a sad T.V. a bored T.V.
“Does this even count as a house?” Ivy scoffed, her eyes circling the Victorian-looking house like a hawk stalking its prey. Her mother, Grace, gave Ivy a little punch on her shoulder from behind. “Ow…” Ivy said, turning around, meeting her mother’s eyes.
“It’s the start of our new life, Ivy,” Grace said with a hint of sadness in her voice. Ivy knew how much her mother liked their old house, but the memories of her dad were horrifying.
Ivy gazed up upon the house, observing its surroundings. The Victorian-like house stood on dead grass, surrounded by leafless trees. Ivy looked back toward her mother again, observing her face, slightly full of regret.
Suddenly, the back door of the gray minivan slowly lifted up, and her older sister, Raven, tumbled out of it. Ivy wasn’t surprised, since Raven had always been accident-prone. Raven quickly got up and sprinted toward the house, her long, jet-black hair bouncing up and down. Her quick movements broke Ivy and Grace out of a daze, making them speed walk toward the front door.
After a few failed attempts to open the door, they finally got into the house. The house was sparkling clean, looking as if someone had cleaned it every day. “This house hasn’t been touched in six years…” Grace said, confused. Suddenly, Ivy heard a skittering sound upstairs and saw Raven sprinting to her room–or, well, what Ivy thought was her room. As her mother picked up the phone to answer a call, Ivy hurried upstairs to find out which room Raven had chosen.
Ivy softly walked down the hallway and found a slightly opened door, figuring it was Raven’s room. She reached for the doorknob and opened the door, making a high-pitched noise that echoed down the hallway. A sudden blast of cold air shocked Ivy, giving her unwanted goosebumps. Creeped out, she closed the door, not wanting to go back in. Suddenly, she saw Raven at the end of the hallway, her hair covering her face. “Raven?” Ivy asked. Raven didn’t reply. Curious, Ivy slowly tiptoed toward her. Raven didn’t move. Ivy groaned, hating her sister’s attitude. “Come on Rav…” Ivy started “Who’s Raven?” it answered.
One day, there was an ordinary barn. Or so you thought. The barn was big and red from the outside. Mysterious things would happen in that barn. Animals would vanish, food would disappear, and people would leave the barn crazy and obsessed with it. After these strange things occurred, the government sent people to destroy it, but they too came back super crazy. So then the government locked the barn doors. Years after that incident, a strange man with red eyes convinced John that he should enter the barn. John thought that the man was very weird. He had red eyes, didn’t know his name, and would only talk about the barn. But John still listened to him. When John went to ask the government if he could enter the barn, they said no in an instant. John wouldn’t give up, so he went to buy a chainsaw to cut open the lock. He went into the barn, and the doors shut behind him. When he looked around inside, there was a table with four chairs around it and six pieces of paper on it. John tried to unscramble the letters, but was too late. His eyes turned red suddenly. He left the barn crazy, looking for someone to bring to the barn.
When I arrived at the building to sign-in for my wakeboarding camp Monday morning, I knew it was the start of a great week. When I got inside, I recognized two people: Andy and Matt, a.k.a. Bear. (Bear says he got his nickname when he was “eaten by a bear.”)
Later, when we got on the pontoon, I didn’t notice Charlie or Katy. Charlie and Katy had been there every year I had gone to that camp. When I asked about them, Andy said they had gone to college. There were three guys I hadn’t seen: William, Wilson, and Cullen.
That day, every time I got on the wakeboard, I just practiced jumping the wake. On Tuesday, I asked Matt to double with me so I could practice my 180. By the end of that day, I had almost nailed it, but I had also face-planted at least four or five times. Wednesday I doubled with Andy, Wilson, and Cullen. I wanted to do an exit 180, which is a 180 in midair, but first I needed to learn how to clear the wake. Each of them gave me some good tips. I doubled with a kid named Gage, but we accidentally collided. I also doubled with William’s brother, John Henry. When I was by myself, I went by the dam.
I was trying to clear the wake when the front tip of my board caught. I face-planted harder than I had that whole week, but I kept going because I didn’t want to give up. The next day, we were going to have a show at 3:00 p.m. when parents could come watch you show off. I was jumping off the top of the pontoon when they called me and told me it was my turn. During the show, I did three 180s and cleared the wake a few times. After camp was over, we thanked the counselors and left. I can’t wait to go back. I had so much fun!
Born to a river, raised by the sea
Life’s simple passive pleasures flow by me
The Force of Fire
Stolen by flames
Away from my village
Heading towards pain
Mountains and blue jays
Fill me with rage
Why am I here
Trapped in this cage
Thrown out of the robot
With circles for legs
Into the building
I think that’s how it’s said
Threading and threading
My family is gone
Under over under
No break until dawn
No laughter, no smiles
Only the work that consumes me
I want to escape but I’m stuck
In their circle
Their circle of greed
I miss life’s simple treasures
Like planting a seed
But I am forever stuck in the
Lilac walked up to the tree and looked up at its many branches. She thought it was amazing how one tree could have so many limbs, so many segments that made up one huge tree. There was the trunk, sturdy and strong, like a father you can rest against. There were branches, comfortable and reliable, like a mother who will hold you in her arms. There were the roots, holding the tree in place, growing and discovering like a sibling or friend, supporting you. And then there were the petals.
There was a special feeling that connected Lilac to this tree and she intend to find out what that was. She sat and leaned against the tree. She looked up at the branches and watched the swirling petals. There were so many different petals. They weren’t all perfect, but Lilac thought that together they made the tree even more beautiful. She stood up and felt one of the petals on the lowest branch.
Slowly, the world around her melted away and was replaced with a familiar place, one she hardly remembered. She realized it was her room, but back when it was a nursery. She glanced down at the crib, where her bed usually was. In the crib a baby girl was looking sleepily up at the mobile hanging above her crib. With a jolt, Lilac realized the baby was her.
Baby Lilac started crying and Lilac went to comfort her, but in this place–a memory she was reliving, Lilac guessed–she couldn’t be seen by the baby or by her parents, who walked in a moment later. Her parents went over to the crib, picked up the baby, and rocked her back and forth, trying to calm the crying.
The scene melted away, leaving the teary-eyed baby and Lilac’s slightly younger parents behind. Unsure of what she’d just seen, she brushed her hand through the other petals and saw glimpses of her earliest years, scenes of crying and sleeping and a few precious baby laughs.
She reached higher for the other branches and felt the soft petals. These were of her toddler years. She soon discovered that the higher she adventured the newer the memories became. She had soon climbed to the highest reaches of the tree and, feeling the petals nearest, recognized a memory from the previous week.
The sky darkened when she looked up from her memory tree, and Lilac decided to leave, but resolved to come back as soon as she could to relive more memories. She was sure she would never tell another living soul about this place she had discovered.