We kicked off this morning with a birthday celebration! The young writers wrote Tolu, one of our instructors, well wishes and drew on his virtual birthday card in place of our usual morning question. We also celebrated Mira and Allie’s birthday in the afternoon. See Tolu’s birthday card and us singing a belated “Happy Birthday” to Allie and Mira below!
Today’s first writing prompt asked the young writers to free write about their alter ego or evil twin. The writers were encouraged to flesh out their alter ego or evil twin in 2-3 words, decide what their biggest motivation is, and think about their hobbies and interests. This exercise ended with the writers choosing one song that represents their alter ego or evil twin; each song was then put on a Spotify playlist. The alter egos and evil twin personalities of the young writers ranged from a jousting cowgirl to a party girl to a cynical, bitter rival and more.
Today’s visiting writer, Jacque Boucher, is an educator and social worker who lives and writes in Alaska, where she serves as the poetry editor for Lammergeier Magazine. Winner of the K-State World Food Day Poetry Contest, she has also been nominated for several awards, including a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets. Her work has appeared in The Journal, Drunk Monkeys, The Rupture, Smokelong Quarterly, and other magazines. She hopes to one day convince her cats to pay rent.
Jacque started her visit by asking the young writers what they could give a fifteen-minute speech about unprompted. The writers shared they could give speeches about topics such as Jane Austen, Netflix’s show Merlin, pretzels, and 80’s movies.
Next, Jacque read three poems about three of her life’s passions: Animal Crossing, Kenny McCormick’s alter ego from South Park, and whales. Jacque shared with the writers poetry is born from our life’s passions and obsessions. She also shared her writing process, which includes rest, self-kindness, and peace with the development of her poetry. As Jacque said, “The companion to peace is rest.”
After sharing her poetry and writing process with the young writers, Jacque encouraged them to write about one of their passions. Specifically, the young writers were asked to describe how their passion tastes, sounds, looks, feels, and smells; they were also encouraged to think about how their passion has changed them, where the love for their passion lives in their body, and the moment they knew they loved this passion. When the young writers shared their poetry, they did not disappoint!
Maizie reading her poem about Jane Austen: “Jane Austen was not the prim, rigid spinster.”
Jacque ended her visit by asking the young writers to write an exquisite corpse poem. Each writer contributed one line to create the poem, “The Autumn Wood”. Read “The Autumn Wood” below:
The Autumn Wood
Slipping, sliding, mud beneath my feet.
The rain washed over my face and my breath
was showing in the crisp autumn
air as I run between the branches.
You are as fragile as Cinderella’s glass
slipper; I could nearly lose you to a wet,
slippery fall or the sycamore branches, the same
color as the sky caving in above me, a broken crystal
ball. Moss slippers my footfalls as I reach
for the thermos, hot chocolate sloshing.
I lose you like the bun of a spring roll
disappearing into my mouth.
But how do I tell you what I saw in that catastrophe
of color in the underbrush? Life is an uncharted forest
that fills the map. The mystery of the beyond,
an empty page, we cannot see, waiting
for the words of our life to fill up.
I take a step towards the darkness,
towards what lays beyond the line of trees.
I will explore this world even if I can’t breathe.
After lunch, the instructors asked the students to think about a story’s beginning, middle, and end by charting their own experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, the young writers reminisced about their experiences cancelling trips, sewing masks, and not returning to school after spring break. During the middle of the pandemic, the young writers talked about toilet paper shortages, misinformation surrounding Covid, and social distancing. The young writers also shared their favorite parts of the pandemic: growing closer to loved ones, roaming around empty sidewalks, and discovering hobbies (such as playing video games, watching anime, raising chickens, and reading). Finally, the young writers wrapped up the conversation by discussing what they considered the end of the pandemic; examples the writers shared included not wearing a mask anymore, reuniting with friends, and getting vaccinated.
This exercise inspired the young writers to write a story in pairs and create playlists that represent the exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution of their plots. The writers chose their songs based on the emotion, pace, and lyrics expressed in them.
Before the Workshop ended for the day, the young writers shared stories and poems they’ve been working on in their small groups. They also answered the final question of the day: “What was an unexpected joy of the past year?” Checkout their responses below!
See you tomorrow!
YWW Program Assistant