Young Writers Project: Rebecca Orten, Joanna Toy, Kassidy Quinlan and Phin Holzhammer

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve, and connects them with authentic audiences in newspapers, before live audiences, and online. YWP also publishes an annual anthology and “The Voice,” a digital magazine with YWP’s best writing, images, and features. More info available at or contact YWP at [email protected] or (802) 324-9538.
This month, we present responses to the following challenges:
•  CJP: COVID-19. The coronavirus has seized the world, attacking our health, our economies, our everyday life. Write about this new invader and how it’s changing our lives.
•  Shelter. Where is home for you? What physical or emotional space makes you feel sheltered, safe, “at home”?
•  General Writing

Prompt: Monthly CJP Feature
The Community Journalism Project (CJP) is a new initiative established by Young Writers Project to help share the voices of young Vermonters on issues shaping their lives and their future, through writing and photo challenges, journalism skill-building, workshops, and newspaper publication.
You know what it’s about
Dry knuckles, the aggressive scent of Clorox;
empty soap dispensers, Row Row Row Your Boat 
sung over the loudspeaker for the first time since kindergarten. 
It’s not about personal preference.
I counter “your generation isn’t even affected by it” with:
It’s about social responsibility.
Frequent absences, email 
$8 plane tickets to Italy are worth it, right?
“Oh, okay, I get it,” a girl snarks in response to “you young people are putting others at risk with your recklessness.”
It’s like reverse climate change.
— Rebecca Orten, 15

Prompt: Shelter
The love of a home
Welcoming you with open arms,
a home can change your life.
Love and support are a shelter’s charms,
for it lacks hurtfulness and strife:
a perfect atmosphere in which to be cared for, 
comforting you in the darkest of times.
As the greatest friend you will ever adore,
a home takes you in after the hardest mental climbs.
— Joanna Toy, 14

Prompt: General
Dancing plastic bag
She dances up and down the streets, and up among the trees.
Without a tether she prolongs, corrupting every silent beauty she meets.
Dancing plastic bag, oh how you so elegantly violate all that you touch.
You multiply so violently, as do the insipid creatures who created you.
 Dancing plastic bag, it’s not your fault – all you wish is for the thrusting wind to convey your rhythmic body to a place your thin exterior has never touched.
No, dancing plastic bag, it’s not your fault.
It’s not your fault.
— Kassidy Quinlan, 14
As you fall into the tides of her sleeping,
you play out the slices of pen on paper.
To kiss the scars beneath her hands
is to put lips to ink and ink to sheets,
sheets and scars blending alike
and curving into letters
you would send to her through her trance—
But she doesn’t dream.
Rather, she traces her fingers through stars,
her feet dipped in galaxies 
as she drinks from the planets and moons 
around her head 
in her celestial rest.
— Phin Holzhammer, 16

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