Young Authors Reading & Anthology Launch 2019

344_youngauthors19_brendaladdphoto.jpgMore than 300 guests—Badgerdog campers, their supportive families, and proud teaching artists—attended this year’s Young Authors Reading & Anthology Launch at the Central Library on October 5.

“The Young Authors Reading and Anthology Launch is hands-down my favorite event of the year!” said Programs Coordinator Katelin Kelly. “When I see a camper pick up their anthology for the first time and flip through the pages to find their name and their writing inside, it’s a moment of pure magic. To find yourself in the pages of a book is deeply empowering.”


Nancy Hoover, art director at the Girls’ School of Austin, revealed the two pieces selected for the 2019 Rise and Emerge anthologies: fourth-grader Luella Fincher-McConnell’s pastel, Summer Peaches, and recent GSA grad and current New School artist Anabelle Abel, with her piece, I Never Learned to Fly.

Nearly 40 campers from the summer program were honored with the Literary Citizenship Award for their commitment to supporting fellow writers in the classroom and beyond, and 13 selected campers shared their work onstage. Austin native, writing advocate, and friend of The Library Foundation Forrest Preece awarded prizes to eight winning writers from the 2018 and 2019 Rise and Emerge anthologies.

Badgerdog alumna and novelist Lorena Lore attended the reading and met both former teaching artists and fellow writers. “Badgerdog was such an affirmative experience in my passion for writing,” said Lore in her recap of the event, “and I’m always happy to see other students benefit from it.”

YA Reading Typewriter Station FamiliesTeaching artist and Typewriter Rodeo cowboy Sean Petrie typed an on-the-spot poem inspired by an audience suggestion—summer—and captured the longing for that time when imaginations run wild at Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp. As the program concluded, children and families visited creativity stations that inspired storytelling with typewriters, Scrabble tiles, magic cards, and even Nancy Drew mystery novels.

The event was not only a chance for families to create with their children, but also to see these young writers receive their copies of Rise and Emerge. Students autographed the pages, proud to see their work in print.

“I often hear educators talk about the importance of children seeing themselves in the characters they read in books,” said Kelly. “How rare and amazing is it for a child to see themselves (literally!) in a book that they helped write? I want Badgerdog to give all children the gift of being seen, feeling affirmed, and knowing that their story is worth sharing with the world. This is why Badgerdog exists. This is why I do this work.”

Check out more photos of the 2019 Young Authors Reading here!

The Library Foundation’s Badgerdog Creative Writing program allows writers of all ages and skill levels to examine the techniques of literary artists and experiment with language to communicate experience and meaning. Our goal is to empower Austinites to develop the skills necessary to communicate effectively and beautifully, to amplify individual voices, and to share in a love of reading and writing. Learn more about the Badgerdog program!


Stop—It Is Spring

To continue our celebration of National Poetry Month, we have another poem for you today. But this isn’t just any poem! Ebonie’s “Stop-It Is Spring” was a finalist in our Spring Poem Contest.  We’ll be posting each of the four finalists until Sunday…when we’ll reveal our winner!  Ebonie, a sixth grader at Ojeda Middle School, writes in her finalist poem about that special “wonderfulness in the air” that comes from the warmth of spring, the smell of newly blossomed flowers, and the dancing wind.  Ebonie’s words remind us to stop and admire the beauty spring brings and to look forward to a new beginning.

Stop—It Is Spring

The tree stops doing what is was
doing—shaking, you might say.
The grass stops dancing in a very
odd way, like a girl I don’t know
as she runs through the grass
and the red roses and the sunflowers—
she stops. Her nose is clear. It is
hot now. She can smell the
wonderfulness in the air because—
it’s spring.

Ebonie, sixth grade, Ojeda Middle School

Love and Thunderstorms

Carolina, a fourth grade student from Bluebonnet Trail Elementary, reminds us of the unique qualities of time, in her poem, “Love Poem to Time.” Carolina personifies time, which has the ability to provoke the deepest sentiments within us.  She also acknowledges how valuable time is to every person, whether they are stranded on an island, fighting to survive; or whether they are risking their lives to protect and care for their family. Her poem inspires us to love the time we have, and to appreciate  everything we do.

Love Poem to Time

Time, what a never-ending story.
If someone were to write it all down,
you probably wouldn’t be able to read
even five chapters. Some dull, some exciting,
happy, graceful, astonishing, sad,
and some depressing.
But know this,
they are all human stories, like the old,
white-haired woman who walked
to the Amazon on foot. Or the man
who survived four years alone on an island.
Or the man who loves his family so much
he risks his life just to get them fed.

Carolina, fourth grade, Bluebonnet Trail Elementary School


There is a distinctive feeling one gets when a thunderstorm strikes. Cheyenne, a fourth grade student from Mr. Alaniz’s class at Pickle Elementary, seems to feel fear and curiosity at the same time.  She parallels the storm with the sound of a woman screeching and the horrifying image of a cat scratching the sky.  Yet despite the terror the storm produces, Cheyenne opens her window and allows the rain to take hold of her senses and wipe away her fear.

The Thunderstorm

I was on my bed listening to the thunder;
it sounded like a woman screaming.
I opened my window and I could smell the rainwater.
It smelled like the saltwater.
I put my hand out
and it felt like a waterfall hitting my arm.
The lightning looked like a cat scratching the sky.

Cheyenne, fourth grade, Pickle Elementary School


Compressing Michael Crichton into Poetry

Sahar, a ninth grader and former Badgerdog summer camp writer, shows us that anything can inspire us to write, including Michael Crichton’s novel Airframe: “an aero-techno-thriller which relates the story of a quality assurance vice-president at the fictional aerospace manufacturer Norton Aircraft, as she investigates an in-flight accident aboard a Norton-manufactured airliner that leaves three passengers dead and fifty-six injured.” Sahar gives voice to the pilot, whose thoughts we never hear in the novel.  Sahar shows us what the compression of poetry can create: she develops urgency with white space between lines and demonstrates how a past tense verb can leave a reader with a lingering sense of dread.  


Fighting with yourself, internally
and externally

Because the problem never even


56 injured, 3 fatalities

In the depth of the sky


Elements that seem to be mere
fiction spark panic that gently
flows through your blood

Colder and colder you become, yet
sweat drops onto the controls

You don’t understand what’s
happening to you but you can
control it

Slowly each spark lights another
and another and your body turns

Why You? Why them?

You feel all of it tumbling down to
the world

Let reality embrace all

Let Truth be told

Simple mistakes lead to
misfortune danger

Real facts would have ruled you

They were your only savior


The People and Places

We come know the world through its landscapes and the people who inhabit it. And these become our landmarks, our roadmaps. As we get older, we understand home is more than a building with four walls and a roof, but an atmosphere enlivened by the people who know us best. In this week’s Unbound entry, tenth-grader Colleen explores the convergence of people and places, and how both, together, form a compass that points us where we belong.

The Things I Hear Her Say

My mother taught me that when someone dies their spirit lives on. It’s in the whispering wind, in the stubborn rocks, in the winking blue sundown lake and the promising new day’s dawn. Those who have died stay with you. They watch you, hovering far above; they guide you, pulling your feet from far below.

People say I have no family now, that my mother is gone and my father never was, but I know they are wrong. I see my mother in the whispering wind and the winking blue water, and I feel her in my heart. I hear her when I am in a new place. She sighs and says, “You know what this is, Harmony? This is the story time. My favorite time in the world. We can just lean back and relax and read this place’s story because every place has one. It is good and bad, beautiful and terrifying, all at once, and it is trying so hard to share its story with us. All we have to do is listen.”

I hear my mother when she says this, and I know I never, never want to stop moving. When you stop and stay in one place, you are only a part of its story. History forgets you. Your struggles and your joys blend and merge with those of your neighbors in time and space. You are a single line in the tapestry, a pattern if you’re lucky, but when you keep moving, you get to step back and see the tapestry, terrifying and beautiful, and you can truly understand it instead of becoming a piece in its broken puzzle.

I tell the social workers I don’t want a new family or a new home. I have my mother, and I have the world. Where the wind blows, where the water runs, that is where I go, for that’s where my home is, where my family is. My heart yearns to go and find them.

Colleen, tenth grade, the Griffin School

The Ballad of City Lights

HideoutI walk the darkened streets
only to meet vagrants and beggars
who I take pity on, when few
will take pity on myself.

Though ACL booms loud,
Congress, well-lit after the twilight hour,
still has its crowd;
with electricals coursing

____and bringing power
to small coffee shops, I wander
about the smell of Java and fresh cigarettes
in the air, while I wonder
why this town is so wonderful.

____And it hits me:
Because this is the domain
in which creativity isn’t squandered
but fostered in the darker rooms,
the shadowed theaters where writers loom.

Read More »

Depth of Night

MoonWaterDeep and lonely lingers
Midnight’s lush surrender
Whispers afar yet near
Starlit tears fall tender

Moments’ ebbing murmur
Soft enticing gaze
Sighs of gentle goodbyes
Vivid upon the haze

Wind on silent waters
Torn and broken heartstrings
Sweet melody evoked
Gift of precious nothings

Gently swaying willows
Soft sweeping moonlight
Luscious silvery glaze
Kindless bittersweet night

Pen dips pearly pages
Sorrows will time withstand
Fleeting lonely eve
Retrace a dreamer’s hand

Olivia-Elyse, twelfth grade, Pflugerville High School

Awkward Silence

Our relationship is awkward.
Awkward hugs,
awkward smiles,
awkward silences.
We try our best
not to get too close,
not to hug that much.
Mostly because . . . it’s awkward.

I’ve known him since sixth grade.
He’s always been the
confident one.
Me, not so much.
I’m the one with
no pride,
and unconfident.
He wrote in my yearbook
last year,
“These years have been great
because you were always there
to be second chair,”
then was excited
when he rhymed “there” and “chair”
and didn’t even realize it
’til after he wrote it.

Lately though,
he has been rude and odd,
like he’s PMS-ing or something,
so that just adds to the awkwardness,
especially when that girl is all over him,
or his ex wants to get back with him
because he grew a couple of inches,
and they have three classes together.

I’m not angry
or jealous,
just filled with amazement
at just how
our relationship has grown over the years.

Jessica, ninth grade, Badgerdog alum


StairwellI’m not here,
but I’m near.

Don’t look for me
because, where I am, you can’t be.

I’m an image you can’t see.
Do you agree??

I’m unreal.
I can’t even get your attention
when I do a cartwheel.

I’m quarantined,
and all I ever wanted was to be seen.

like a ghost in the dark.

I feel like a
fictional book.
Why can’t you just look?

I have an idea, a thought,
a plan.
I’ll chase you wherever you go, like

Until the day you
That’s the day it’ll strike
a nerve.

I’m hidden from everyone,
and only you know.

Am I a friend
or a foe?

When you finally notice,
that’s when I’ll show.

Just standing there
waiting for you to say “Hello.”

You walk over and
lay a hand on my shoulder.

My true colors start to
My heart and love are clear
like a windshield.

We are no longer foes, but lovers
with BIG hearts
that can be seen.

Julia, high school, Badgerdog alum