By Ollie Mae
Leopold Baker had wasted most of this life locked in his study trying desperately to write something real. He often joked with his close friends that an author spends all of his life arranging and rearranging the twenty six letters of the alphabet over and over again. It was enough to make anyone insane. On the night that Leopold Baker died he had been sitting at his desk, staring at his typewriter and the blank page before him. At around 2:30 in the morning, surrounded by cigarette smoke, crumpled pages of forgotten first drafts, and half full mugs of lukewarm coffee, Mr. Baker had a heart attack and died peacefully. Or at least, that was what Mrs. Baker told the police.
Mrs. Baker often joked with her close friends that the only thing her husband had managed to accomplish in his forty two years of life were those first three pages of his novel back before they had been married. She had fallen in love with those first three pages, that love letter he had sworn was inspired by her. They were the most beautiful arrangement of words she had ever heard. But he couldn’t continue it. And years later, in a drunken daze, he had spilled liquor over it one night and the ink had all bled together into one great smear of gray. An entire life's work, gone in the amount of time it took for her self-righteous husband to knock a glass of brandy over. Mrs. Baker had taken it all with a rather dignified sense of amusement, as if she was observing some old fashioned sitcom. After all, it was funny. Wasn’t it? That she had devoted her life to this man, this poet in the attic, enveloped in smoke who smiled like he knew who she was, who she really was. That one could go from loving someone to despising them so fast. That she had stood at the altar with him and given him her future, given him everything she had just so he could have the chance to write something real. And he had thrown it all away in the amount of time it took for him to spill a glass of brandy.
At her husband's funeral, Mrs. Baker sat in the front row of the church pews and debated what people would say if she didn’t cry when they carried the casket away. Mrs. Baker had never been one to cry. That had been her husband’s job, to feel all these emotions, this insane spectrum of humanity, and then turn it into poetry. It had been her job to fold the laundry into two matching piles on their bed and collect the empty mugs of coffee off his desk each night. Mrs. Baker had spent most of her mornings standing over the sink, staring down at his dishes. Wishing so, so badly that she had been the one blessed with his gifts. Mr. Baker often talked about his gifts. He talked of how he had always known he was a writer, even as a young boy. He talked of how god had blessed him with this talent to bend and twist language to his will.
At the funeral, while she sat staring at the casket that concealed her husband’s dead body, Mrs. Baker wondered what her beloved Leopold would have written about his own death, if he had had the opportunity. He often wrote about Death. But he wrote about Death as if he was a person. A living feeling being who remembered every life he had taken. Mrs. Baker had always assumed this was a strange habit of her husband's that he had acquired as a young boy to cope with his own fear of death. But as Mrs. Baker had stood in her husband’s study the night that he died, staring at the back of his head as his fingers furiously flew across the keys, she could have sworn she felt him. Death, like a shadow dancing at the edge of her vision, waiting as if he already knew what was to come. The outcome of decades of abuse, spilled brandy, clouds of gray smoke, and dirty dishes. He stood, hands outstretched before her husband, reaching for the oblivious writer. And Mrs. Baker almost laughed at the thought, that even with all his gifts and blessings, Leopold Baker had no idea when Death stood over him.
Mrs. Baker thought she would live a happy life after she killed her husband. But instead she spent every day watching her back and her nights lying awake in bed, hands shaking, terrified that he would find her. It wasn’t the police she was running from. No she could handle them. It was her husband's old friend, Death. The one that had cursed her with this creeping paranoia, this crazed obsession, and this bitter disposition. Mrs. Baker never stayed in one place for too long. She had become familiar with hotel bedrooms and strangers’ living room floors and the cold wood of park benches. And every new place she saw, every new experience, she wondered how her late husband would have described it. How would he have described the light that filtered through the dirt stained window of the taxi cab, the floral wallpaper and moth eaten couch in that overly friendly bartender’s apartment, the condensation that swirled from her lips when she slept out in the cold, the frills of the maid’s cleaning uniforms as they bustled down hotel lobby hallways?
After a decade of this, her running turned to chasing. And she found herself chasing after the ghost of her husband. Mrs. Baker went to his childhood home, to the room he had been born in where God had blessed him with his gifts. And she went to the city, where he had spent his early twenties standing at bus stops wondering how all these strangers' lives connected and intertwined and overlapped. And she went to the Grand Canyon, where she stood on the cliff edge and imagined that she was flying. And when she finally made her way home to the cluttered office where her husband had wasted most of his life, Mrs. Baker sat down at his desk and, with shaking fingers, began to write.
Ollie Mae is a 14 year old homeschooler who has been attending writers workshop since almost before she can remember. She loves reading and writing, cares deeply about climate justice, her best friend Morgan, and her two dogs. She knows that writing will always be a part of her life whether she goes on to become an investigative journalist, a forensic psychologist, an astrobiologist, or a poet.
By Moloaa Daterao
I walk while I think,
I think about a red fox I saw while at a skating rink,
The blueberries sit at the tip of my tongue,
While I remember the birds that had just sung,
A butterfly comes and sits on my nose,
While minnows in a stream tickle my toes,
I smell bittersweet pine needles while I walk,
And just feel the urge to talk,
To talk about the forest wonders,
At the same time rain come down and so does thunder,
Here I wait beneath a tree at night,
Waiting for the first sign of light,
Soon light filters in and I walk away,
Good bye I say,
And that’s what I remember to this day!
By Dash Merrill
I will remember the day this is all over
who cares if the Sun’s not shining
because it will be shining in my mind.
Who cares if it's wet and rainy
cause it will be the rain of freedom.
I will remember the day I will walk downtown again
I’ll get a big, sweet cookie at the café,
the kind that’s not too chewy but not too crunchy
the kind that will melt in my mouth
just the way I like it.
I will remember the day I can talk to the store clerk again
the day I get to hug my friends again
the day when I don’t have to stray from the strangers walking past
or wonder about the way the restaurants and benches are being cleaned
the day I can sit in the park and say hello to all the birds
who have been wondering where everyone has gone for so long.
But until that day comes, I will have to sit here and witness the destruction of time,
witness history that will one day be in the classes we are free from today.
Until that day comes, I will wave from a far
and give my wishes through pixels.
But I’ll let everyone know that
I will remember the day this is all over.
Dash Merrill is a 16 year old student at Amherst Regional High School who loves to write. Woven Word has been a part of Dash's life since 5th grade and he has enjoyed every second of it. He has met so many amazing people and had so many amazing experiences in Woven Word and wouldn't be the same without it. Woven Word has been a great artistic outlet for him to get out all the stories and thoughts crammed in his head which only sometimes make sense.
By Morgan Brown-McNeil
Trains on tracks,
Moving through dirt,
Rain making mud.
We once walked freely,
But now it's almost as if someone's put a damper on the Earth.
Oxygen seems scarce.
Shutters close over Windows,
Restaurants and other humanly objects criticized for trying to survive.
We line up six feet apart,
Afraid of a bug.
We wonder what cleaner the gas station uses a few miles down 91.
We search for the good in life on a screen,
Pixels guiding us through time.
Our dreams are filled with little Boxes,
All separately titled,
Covered in paper.
Smoke rising from lips scares us all more than sharks,
Seeing how far visible air from lips goes.
We run from our shadows,
Hoping they stay six feet away.
We gasp at the movies that have taken over our reality.
Wondering how so many people could be so stupid as to go without masks,
All an elbows length from one another.
Morgan Brown-McNeil has gone to Woven Word for three years. She's passionate about climate justice and loves spending time, barefoot, in nature. She loves to read and play music and she is very interested in outer space.
By Laszlo Hermann-Gwilliam
Delicious, salty, creamy, orange and white,
that's what I am.
Saltines and me.
Jam and bread under me.
Me melted into beans.
Me under slices of tomato on bread.
Those are my formats.
I'm... CABOT CHEDDAR CHEESE !!!!!!!!!
Laszlo Hermann-Gwilliam is 7 years old. He was born at 7 in the morning in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. When he was young, he enjoyed playing and having his parents read to him. Now, he enjoys pancakes, reading long books to himself, and imagining all sorts of worlds with his younger brother.
By Laszlo Hermann-Gwilliam
Slowly he walked forward, then he bowed a few feet away from me. I felt a burst of pride. I bowed, then he came close and I felt his warm palm as he patted my beak. Then he was hoisted up to my back, I began to flap my wings and galloping, soon we were in the air.
by Harper Ray Prudence Coady
The wind roaring like a tiger.
Rain falling making watery diamonds
on the green grass growing.
And the sun is a giant lemon
in the sky.
Snow melting, flowers coming
colors of yellow and purple
bursts of color!
Ode to Spring
Harper Coady is nine years old and lives in Florence MA with her mother, father and little brother. Harper goes to Leeds Elementary School and is in third grade. Harper loves getting a clear picture of stories she imagines when she writes them down.
By Bryan Perley
It is a Friday afternoon in the month of May and I pass through the doorway of the old farm house on the Food Bank Farm where my writers’ workshop meets. I am late, having just gotten out of a short cross country practice, but I am immediately received with a warm welcome from all those present in the kitchen. Danny, a complex and thoughtful poet, slaps his freckled hand on my shoulder and then proceeds to talk to me about the Eagle Scout process, as we are also both members of the same troop. I also manage to greet Joe, a long time member of the group and a talented debater for his school’s mock trial team. I sit down next to Lou, who often cannot make the workshop because of his sports practices, and joke about how short my cross country practices are compared to his. Margot plays with the household cat on the window seat, while Benny, the host of the workshop and son of our instructor, enters. I settle in for what is
always one of my favorite parts of the week.
We come from different places, schools and backgrounds. We are actors, mathematicians, runners, debaters, computer whizzes, hockey and frisbee players, Jews, Christians, atheists, vegetarians, nature lovers, boy scouts, fencers and duct tape enthusiasts. However, there is one constant across our diverse lives, and that is a love of writing. This shared passion for writing is at the core of what has kept our eclectic group of aspiring poets, essayists, novelists and authors together, somehow carving out time from our hectic schedules to keep coming to the farmhouse for regular meetings for almost ten years now. And while writing remains central, our workshop experience has evolved over time into something that has come to mean so much more.
We gather in a circle as the workshop begins. We are given an abundance of magazine cut outs from Ms. Bowmaster, the instructor of our group, and we write in whatever manner we wish in relation to the picture that we choose. Danny’s story is deep and moving; his older brother William executes a philosophical poem about his wilderness picture. Lou prepares a hilarious piece, while his classmate, Cory, concocts a science fiction short story. I, like others
in the group, find a way to intertwine the concepts and emotions of my photograph into the novel I am writing. One by one we share what we have written with the rest of the circle and the others offer constructive criticism and encouragement. Every time we share, we learn from one another and we often try different methods and styles to advance ourselves as writers. The group is supportive, encouraging each of us to take risks and “put ourselves out there” with no fear of falling flat, which of course we sometimes do. That we voluntarily spend Friday afternoons, at the end of a very demanding school week, coming to this old farm house to work on our writing is sometimes a bit puzzling even to us. However, we all agree that in the midst of all of the fun and the crazy exercises we have actually learned as much here -- not only about creative writing but also about public speaking, self-confidence, expression, listening and tolerance -- as we have in any class that any of us has ever taken.
The workshop is over for another week. The photographs are put away and our latest literary creations are stuffed into backpacks or pockets. Some have gone home, some of us linger and talk. As it often does these days, the conversation turns to college plans. Amid the mundane recitations of interview schedules, application deadlines and the relative merits of early decision, we share our hopes and fears and try to put into words the sense of excitement and anticipation, and the nervousness and anxiety, over what lies ahead. Benny speaks of wanting to find a college that will prepare him well for law school, while Lou emphasizes his desire keep up with his sports. Cory mentions his search for the right university where he can hone his computer science skills. I listen to all of this and reflect on my time with this group of friends and kindred spirits, and my larger experiences at the Food Bank Farm. I realize that this community which has come to be such an important part of who I am is really a microcosm of all that I hope to find in the “right college.” I imagine an environment full of interesting, bright and talented people, one that nurtures creative thought, encourages and values diversity of opinion, and fosters a true sense of charitable purpose and service to the larger community. While I am not so naïve as to fail to realize that this a fairly idealistic vision of what college life may be, and one that no school can realistically be expected to attain in full, my experience with the Food Bank Farm and writers’ workshop communities has shown me that such environments do exist and that I can thrive in them and contribute greatly to them. I can only hope I am fortunate enough to find a similar environment in which to spend the next chapter of my life.
by Quinn Allen-Brezsnyak
The mountain high, the ocean low
the peak above, the sea below
but nature keeps the balance though
from birds to worm, from fish to fox
from great tall oaks, to little rocks
the dull gray one, the gem so rare
that when you see, you always stare.
Life is all around us, though.
found in the fire, and in the snow.
Life is all around us, see?
We stand as one in harmony.
Quinn Allen-Brezsnyak is 10 years old, and lives in Northampton, Mass. He goes to Jackson Street School and loves writing. He especially loves poetry, because he loves how the lines fit smoothly together and the puzzle of finding different rhymes to match.
By Morgan Brown McNeil
we all reach for them in the dark and emptiness of blank space.
The orchestras of all our forgotten forgotten thoughts must resonate into oblivion on the dark side of the moon.
The false pretense into which insipid trouts must wander.
Memories of things you don’t remember,
Ideas strung together on a thin tight rope, 100 feet in the air, only to fall into the pit of unremembered memories,
scars of hope,
blood sucked from the open wound,
Pounding on the door to freedom till blood drips from sore knuckles when no one has a key.
We all reach for them,
Morgan Brown McNeil is 13 years old. She has been writing in Woven Word Writers Workshop for three years. She is a level seven gymnast, a homeschooler, and she loves climbing trees.