All Write: Circles of Community Online

Introduction

Over the past few weeks, we have entered a new realm of normal filled with many challenges. This blog post serves to honor those young writers who have risen to the challenge of staying healthy at home while also staying creative at home and inspiring at home—and, yes, courageous at home as they traveled through their imaginations, inventing new worlds and novel ideas about our world.

During the weeks of March 23-April 3, 2020, hundreds of young writers gathered in small workshop groups to read, write, and share what they were creating on the page. Despite the restrictions of working online, these writers remained fearless in their commitment to creation. They wrote poems, short stories, and interpretations of strange symbols! They painted watercolor with language! They wrote odes to their dogs! The dove deep into dreams! They made friends with merpeople! They transported fairytales into reality! They wrote lyrically and declared—here’s where I’m from!

These young writers shared their work with one another, but they also shared their laughter, their smiles, their virtual backgrounds, and their hopes for the future. Their voices echoed across the Wi-Fi and broadband cables—and here is where the magic really happened. These young writers transformed the square of a screen into a circle of community. They now invite you into that circle to join in a celebration of all things.

The pieces below prove that despite storms rumbling heavy above us, there is a deep joy ringing underneath. Welcome to that joy.

Kate Kelly
Programs Manager
The Library Foundation

 

I am From

I am from red and white diner booths in my homey kitchen, from cats dozing on the couch, and a cabinet full of fragile teacups.
I am from the small, cozy cottage of a sort of watered-down green color.
I am from a city that has bright blue skies and barely ever snows. I
am from the rosemary and chives that line my stone sidewalk, and the beautiful trees swaying all around.
I am from an amazing neighborhood in which all of your neighbors know you and always say hello when you pass by.
I am from the shouts and praises of the nearby people spectating soccer matches, and from the burnt orange flags lined up neatly next to the Texas ones at the basketball stadium.
I am from a hot summer sun beating down on my back, and cold watermelon slushies that my family and I make every year.
I am from my church family singing and laughing while we swim and kayak on the Frio River.
I am from lots of playdates and family gatherings, but most of all, I am from the smiles of all of the people that care and love me.

Ruby Airhart
5th + 6th grade Workshop

 

The Ways of Basketball

Hands up, bottom down,
Hear the squeaky shoes all around.
Eyes focused on the dribbling opponent,
Defense, defense you’ve got to own it.

Fast paced pounding down the court,
Running sprints, this is my kind of sport.
Zinging the ball left and right,
We can do this, we can fight.

Ruby Airhart
5th + 6th grade Workshop

 

Dr. Seussland

Snow clings to the trees,
Ice to the tall grass and leaves,
A new world is created as the sun winks off of the ice,
A land of Dr. Seuss trees,
A land of diamond Truffula trees.

Breath in the cold crisp air,
Winds wrap around children and run around with them,
They jump and skip,
Laugh and fall,
They desperately grab at the necks of children,
The wind just wants to be a part of the joy,
It just wants to run up and hug the child that is sitting in the snowdrift under the tall white trees.

The snow falls like so many unique skydivers,
Each flake its own little world of magic,
Each flake its own person,
This one, well, she is an energetic social butterfly,
A second is a bully knocking into every other flake disrupting their path to the crunching floor,
Another one an introvert trying to stay away from every other one,
A fourth one, he is just looking for a friend,
And a fifth who is just believing that the universe will bring her where she should go.

Each snow-covered cattail like a single mini whiteTruffula tree,
Each bent tree like the Cat in the Hat’s hat reaching down to tap you on the head,
And sometimes when the wind rustles through the trees a lump of snow does tap you on the head.

The waves of the lake crash against the cement walls,
Each wave a smaller kid being crashed in the lockers by a bully,
Each wave the bass drummer just wanting to be heard in the marching band,
Each wave bringing a frothy white cloud,
And when you look around you are surrounded by the genius of Dr. Seuss and are welcomed into the magical wintery Dr. Seussland.

Conor McClellan
High School Workshop

 

Fall: poem and watercolor 

Bronson's poemThe laughing
trees
dressed up in their
extravagant
carnival clothes

their leaves
dance
dance
dance
about the earthy hues of the
branches
they are proud
flags
strung along the trees’
arms

as the festivities
commence
the fresh air
full
of the earth’s aroma
the smell of
h o m e

Bronson Wang
7th + 8th grade Workshop

 

Black and White

Black and White
Dark and Light
Sure to help you
See gray as a sight

Black marker on a paper
Fingers running across the keyboard
Pandas whisper like water vapor
And Yin and Yang where we are heading toward

Josephine Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop

 

Volcano

Red, hot, a fiery sea
Eating the grass, and all it sees
It screams out loud and ashes up the air
It bursts and pounds just to scare

But sometimes it’s nice, even if it is hard to believe
It doesn’t erupt or perish, just somewhere in between
It is sleeping, it is resting from the anger it shows
But again, one day it will scream and throw

Josephine Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop

 

The Mountain Girl

The mountain tells us when bandits are here
It shakes and rumbles when trouble is near
We pull out our mallets, our hammers, and our swords
And they see us as roses with our sharp needle thorns

Other times we are happy, working in the quarry
We smile and we laugh for nothing else is so merry
There is nothing we fear as long as our mountain is here
We are birds flying high in the sky

Even though lowlanders have more land
Even though we can never go to the beach to see sand
The mountain is our home
The only place to play and roam

Josephine Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop

 

This Way or That Way: an exploration of symbols

Arrows

The arrows represent everybody in the world. As you notice, all the arrows are different in colors, patterns, and sizes but they are still all arrows just like all humans are humans but not all humans are exactly the same. Even identical twins are not the exact same. The arrows are all pointing into different directions like people’s interests may vary or people might just have a totally different background than others.

Valerie Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop

 

If I Were in a Picture of Arrows

I am bold
She is yellow
He is blue
They are dotted
Her structure is quite full of lines
The unique one over there is dotted and lined

Why am I stuck here in a museum next to the useless brass
Why am I just sitting here in melancholy
Blankly pressing my rounded tip against the glass
Why are we even here if we don’t make the visitors any more jolly
This museum doesn’t take out the trash
So they are always leaving us to smell the horrifying stench
And you know what? They still pay their workers with cash
Outside our window there is a little bench
Where I always wish to be
I wonder if I will ever get out there,
To the world of wonders
It is always either this way or that way

Valerie Wang
3rd + 4th grade Workshop

 

Ode to Banjo

Banjo is a little bundle of joy,
But he is also loud.
He wakes everyone with his barks
Of the mighty West Highland White Terrier.
The dog has a little wet nose and tongue to kiss us with.
The mighty dog has a big look so we are scared of him.
But who would be scared of a little white puppy named Banjo?
The fuzzy little dog has a little fear over the fearless ant!

Lucas Xu
3rd + 4th grade Workshop

 

The Dream Catcher

Late at night, when almost
nothing is in sight, when your
eyelids flutter, when dreams
Are like a memory you’ve always
Known. When nightmares become visible,
When you seem to know nothing
But dreadful places or harmony.
When you know that your
Dream time is going out.
Your dream time going to
An end no one wants.
Your smile is a frown,
And your eyes squeeze shut
Even tighter and when you realize
That a dark shadow is hovering
Over you. The Dream Catcher
Itself it swoops down from above
And catches your miraculous
Dream with a laugh and a
Shout and possibly a cackle,
As it sashays
Away into another house—
Into another dream.
You’re wide awake now,
Eyes wide, mouth open
But the Dream Catcher is in its new
House. Dream Catcher sleeps
In your attic/basement
Curled up in a shadow,
Grinning to itself under
Your old shelf or your
Sister’s old toys. He curls in
A ball in a dark corner full of
Cobwebs, dust, and spider webs.
There the Dream Catcher is
In your very own basement,
Frowning and squeezing its
Eyes shut even tighter
And realizing that his time
In his miraculous dream is over,
When he realizes that a
Shadow is hovering over him,
When he hears a shrill cackle or a
Laugh from up above,
Then he sits up, eyes wide
Mouth open.

Angelica Xu
3rd + 4th grade Workshop

 

The Curious Mermaid

          —after Matthea Harvey’s “The Backyard Mermaid”

Adrianna was a curious mermaid. She realized that someone or something was up in another world up there, possibly the world her parents have been warning her about—Human World.

Human World is a terrible world where humans make fools of themselves.

She told her relatives and everyone that lived in the mermaid area, but they gawked at her or with a swat of a hand, replied, “Honey, all this-nonsense! Maybe the talks you’ve been in have addled your brain, dear. You need a hobby. You know that?”

Then they would swim away or turn their eyes back to the magazine they’d been reading or turn their backs and continue the chat they had going on. Adrianna didn’t care one bit, for she would swim away with a sway.

One day she’d had enough—not of the excitement on the surface—but enough of the swatting hands and the ignorance people have been giving her. She swam up to the surface persistently and knocked hard on the surface, over the noise of girls giggling and laughing and jumping.

Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock!

Adrianna’s knocking startled the girls and everything went quiet up above.

You could hear a pin drop. Adrianna knew it! Things were up there.

“What the heck is down there? A witch?! I am so scared! Ha, Ha!! Right girls??”

A harsh sound of flip-flops echoed throughout the deck. “Girls? everything okay? You’re so quiet!! Avery has never had a quieter birthday party. Oh-a-ha!!”

“Mom!!!! Ugh!! Stop now!! I have had a quieter party!” the girl named Avery said.

For some reason, I broke the surface and hid my tail swiftly.

“What the heck?!” the girl who asked the same question earlier, Darby, says.

“What is this creature?! Definitely not human. We don’t swim underneath the pool. If you are human, I’m asking, how did you get down here?”

Ugh. I hope it’s clear enough for her to see that I’m a mermaid. Though, truth be told, I never intended to show her my delicate appearances. Adrianna thought to herself.

Adrianna never needed to hide her appearance, well, mostly because she’d never faced the challenge of humans before. But she hid her tail under a seeking turtle, which very un-helpfully swam away to reveal the appearance of a tail.

“OMG!! She is a-a-a mermaid!!! Really, you guys, come look, guys!! She has a tail!!”

“Ugh, she has a tail, big deal. Who cares? Come on, guys. I’ve got a new collection of toys to show you.”

Adrianna clabbered her way down. Unfortunately clabbering down cannot be done unless you stick your tail up in the air, about just in human eyesight.

Adrianna disappeared in a broad vail of seaweed coral, along with fish. She didn’t want to end up like in those stories Pa told her: a little girl gets put in a net by humans, they took her life because they wanted her tail. She was a mermaid, and this rumor is very famous according to mermaid folk.

A bird named Cannadrien, Avery’s pet, swoops down from the nest above and plucks out some of Adrianna’s wet hair.

And from that day on, whenever Adrianna peeks at Human World, Cannadrien swoops down from her nest to examine Adrianna and her hair, possessions, and items.

Angelica Xu
3rd + 4th grade Workshop

 

Good Morning!

Once when I got out of bed
My head was very red.
“I don’t know why” I said.
So I got out on the floor
Then walked and closed the door. Then
I walked on my feet
I was ready to eat.
I was gonna get some food
Cause I was really in the mood.
I pulled some cake
But It was fake, and it was gonna take a while to make.
So I got some tea
It was right for me.
Then I had some pea porridge that was 500 years old—
It was very very cold. Then I turned on the light
It was very very bright
Like a bright bright flight.
Then I watched my TV.
I found a show that’s right for me.
It was about a bear, and he had long hair
But I didn’t care. It was about bears.
But who cares?
I flipped the channel to see a car driving near
A tree. It was a documentary. They had a car and it was at night under a big bright star.
My TV was very fun
And now I’m done!

Nolan Benestante
High School Workshop

 

Clean That Room!

If I didn’t clean my room
It would be such a mess.
My stuff would block my dresser,
so I could not dress!!!

My toys would pile up on my bed,
so I could not sleep,
And to get to my bookshelf,
I would have to leap!!!

Then when I opened the door,
my stuff would come out.
Into the hallway through the house,
then my family would start to pout!!!

Out the door,
onto the street.
Aren’t you glad you kept your room neat??

Calla Snyder
3rd + 4th grade Workshop

 

The Photographer

Everyone has a story. Whether it’s about mermaids or dinosaurs. Elephants or zebras. Well, you get the point. My story though is fiction. You’d think at least.

“Sarah! Wake up it’s your first photoshoot!” my mom hollers.I’m already up, but I give her some slack anyway. To be honest, I don’t want to do this photoshoot. But, my mom is really looking forward to this so I guess I’ll try. My family has a reputation for photography, and I don’t want to let them down.

“Coming!” I yell back.

I see my dad and mom sitting at the table waiting for me.

“Hungry?” my dad asks.

“No. I already ate an hour ago before you were up.” I answer. He nods back and my mom smiles.

“Oh, my baby is all grown up!” she squeals as she squeezes me tight.

“Let’s just go. We don’t want to be late.” I say.

About half an hour later we arrived at a beach.

“A beach?”

“Your clients wanted their photograph in the ocean because it makes it easier for them,” my mom smiles.

“We packed a swimsuit in the trunk if you’d like,” my dad says as he rubs my back.

“This is not what I expected,” I mutter to myself and carry the swimsuit from the trunk before walking toward the public bathroom.

I take my shoes off and dig my feet in the grindy sand. The warm sand takes over my cold feet, and I feel wind blow my short dirty blond hair in my face. I walk into the water. I think my camera is waterproof, but I don’t overthink it. My red bathing suit with white polka dots gets soaked and a cold shiver runs through me.

I’m in shock. I must be seeing things, but I see mermaids with tools instead of tails. Tool Mermaids. Of course. They’re known for attacking tourists at the beach and fisherman. They tell us that for some reason Tool Mermaids have a tradition of getting their picture taken once they turn eighteen. I do my best to proceed with the process just as I’d do if I was doing this with a human.

The lady has a saw for her tail, her hair up in a ponytail, and some hair next to her face.

After the photoshoot my mom and dad help me edit the pictures, and we have a nice lunch together as a family. Like I said, my story seems fiction. But that’s up to you to decide.

Autumn Wallace
5th + 6th grade Workshop

 

All Around Me

I see a tree elegantly swinging its leaves in the motion of the wind with a lilac-colored purple flower that seems to have bloomed in the early Spring in the shape of grapes.

I see my dog Levi chasing after a dog toy that looks almost like a football with his ears flapping in the wind.

To the right of me, I see my younger brother trying to scrape the leaves out of the pool, making the job more difficult and rougher than it already is.

I see little bubblers in the pool causing ruffles ruffling across the shore of the pool.

I see that now my brother has put his hands behind his back, making Levi sit and making weird, funny, and stern faces at Levi.

In the pool, I see a white black and blue cleaning machine we call Shark Dog cleaning the surface and sides of the pool.

To the left of me, I see an oak tree growing a bright green moss and dropping saplings that will soon also be oak trees.

In the distance, I can see foggy wide hills flooded with trees, lights, and houses. Even further on the second hill, the sky looks slanted and the top of the hill is touching the sky.

Next door, I can see our neighbor’s back yard with bright green oak trees and some flowers.  There are also bird feeders hanging from the trees and beautiful flowers blooming in every color.

I see swings on the playground still swinging from whoever was last on them, giving the effect as if someone is on them.

Autumn Wallace
5th + 6th grade Workshop

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