University of Minnesota
minnesota writing project
center for writing

Minnesota Writing Project.Center for Writing's home page.

Young Writers Conference, 2011–Group F

link to cover

Nicole Brinza, leader
Eleanor Lieder, Ramsey Junior High
Sara Bordsen Bailey, Murray Junior High
Kenny Vang, Humboldt Junior High
Sierria Wills, Humboldt Junior High
Elliot Greenawald, Ramsey Junior High


By Eleanor Lieder
Ramsey Junior High

The dark winds whisper
In the grass
Snakes slither smoothly through crusty dirt
Little fawns hop and jump, their mothers

I sit
My feet in a running stream
I can feel the moon on my back
I smile
At the fish nibbling my toes
In their night

Author’s Statement:
I write about the limit of what I think I know.


Church Basements
By Sara Bordsen Bailey
Murray Junior High School

Every church in the Midwest has a basement
It’s to serve as a shelter
In case of severe weather,
Church basements are places to hide
When you’ve done something
Horribly wrong,
And all you can do is hope and pray
For forgiveness.
Church basements are places where
Joyful families celebrate the baptism
Of little ones.
Where people gather to see the baby
For the first time.
Church basements are happy places,
Places where excited couples
Spend their first meal
As a married couple.
Glasses clink,
Kids play tag and weave around legs
As adults wish the couple
“Good Luck.”
They’re going to need it.
Church basements are loud, creative spaces
Where women who have seen
Most of life,
Join together
And make things for
Their children,
Church basements are somber, quiet places,
A place where families come to
Mourn after a loved one has
Passed on.
Above the Church basement,
We sit in pews, wondering if we could have saved them.
Or were they too far gone?
Either way, you pray to God,
And hope he hears you.
A Church Basement is where I spend
Too much time.
Too many people die.
One, I could have saved.
If only I had said,
“I love you”
one ore time.
If only I had given her
One more hug.
If only I had been enough,
I wouldn’t be here, in this
Church Basement.

Author’s Statement:
The reason I wrote this poem is because, lately, I’ve been going to many funerals and weddings and spending lots of time in the church basement.

The World is in Pain
By Kenny Vang
Humboldt Junior High

Our world is in pain.
From destruction to chaos,
We are all to blame.
Smoke everywhere, in factories,
Kills our air.
Do you care about this place?
Will you change your ways?
Everyone ignores the words you say.
After a million years,
Our world will be destroyed.
No life, no water, no clean air.
Our world is in pain.
Change your ways.   

Author’s Statement:
I’ve never liked writing poetry—takes too much time.


The Mystery of Deepest, Darkest Secrets
By Sierria Wills
Humboldt Junior High

In a dark, lonely place lives a girl who wonders about where her mother is. She needs someone to save her, to get her out of the horror of her dead grandmother’s house. How is it possible that she hears her grandmother singing her favorite song when she was a child? As things crawl up the wall, she decides that she and her brother must find their lost mother and the answers to questions never asked.

Hi. My name is Tina. Me and my brother, Chris, live in a one-story apartment trying to care for ourselves. I’m 15 and my brother is 9 and we are trying to work around a house with no mother or father. When I was 5, my father died. Me and my mom had to move. Then, when my brother was born, my mom started to drink, and one night she left and never came home. I, as the oldest and most responsible, had to take care of Chris and take him and myself to school. After my dad died, my grandmother got really sick so we moved in with her so she wouldn’t feel alone. Two months later she died and now me and Chris can still hear the song Grandma used to sing to me. Scary.

Chris and I have different dads. He doesn’t know his dad because he’s in jail for doing something really stupid. But enough about me and Chris, let’s get this mystery solved.

Yesterday Chris found something really strange – a note from someone who knew our mom. Jake. Jake was our mom’s ex-boyfriend, and the note said in big letters:
WHAT WE HAD WAS SPECIAL SO WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME? Strange, huh? I know, but in order to figure this mystery out, we have to find out who Jake is.

The next morning, me and Chris looked at the note again and remembered Jake’s last name. We went immediately to the internet where we found his phone number. When we called, a weird man answered the phone sounding like he was drunk but of course the voice was Jake’s. We asked if he knew where our mother was, and he said he didn’t know.  Finally, after talking to him for hours, he gave us his address.

So, me and Chris hopped in the Toyota and drove off. We found Jake at a house that smelled of cigars and liquor, ewwww! Jake had on a muscle shirt with stains on it and pants with holes all over. We asked Jake about our mother’s relationship with him but when he started to explain, big baby tears came out of his eyes. “What a big baby,” Chris said as we left.

“Don’t say that, Chris. Well, he was no help. I guess we’ll have to keep searching until we find out what has happened to mom.” Luckily, before we left, Chris had found 2 tickets to South Africa, one for Jake and one for mom. On the back of the ticket was a pass code. We looked it up and it said one ticket had been used in 2002 and one had expired in 2002. So, if Jake is here, mom must have taken the other one.

So, we bought two tickets to South Africa and when we got there people thought that we were some kind of lost children. After that weird entrance, me and Chris went to go and talk to Mohamid who I’ve known my whole life. I asked if he knew where our mother was so he took us to a hotel where she was staying. When we got to her room, there was a note saying that she had checked out. Oh, no!

We left the hotel and then it shocked me when Mohamid pointed to a woman that was mom. OMG mom, we missed you!


The Rise of Ice
By Elliot Greenawald
Ramsey Junior High

The bitter cold of the north blew into the caverns of the great glacier, Arntain. Morde, the ice knight, was sitting silently at the edge of his third-story cave watching the hustle and bustle of the northland army preparing for war. Their leader the giant ice elemental himself, was supervising the preparations. Morde sighed. He knew he should be getting ready, too. He thought to himself, “I need a sword.”

He climbed down the ladder from his cave to the ground floor of the glacier. He hopped off at the bottom and turned around right into an ice golem. “Watch it.” It growled.

Morde sniffed, “ Bah,” he thought. “It’s not worth arguing with  golem.” He continued on his present course to the armory. On his way over, he saw other ice knights testing their swords on nearby ice. He put his mind back on the armory and began to speed up.

Morde walked right up to the large door (he is 8ft. tall) and pushed it open. It swung inward revealing a small room jam-packed with weapons of all sorts. Hearing a clanking in the distance, he called out, “Hello?” into the darkness. There was a rattling, then two pinpoints of blue light appeared moving in his direction. These lights were the eyes of Morde’s  skeleton friend, Incibus.

“Ah, hello, Morde!” he said happily as he came through the back door. “What are you here for today?”

“I need a sword,” Morde said. “the best you have.”

Incibus cackled and then said in his cold, rasping voice, “I just finished making one for you, Morde. Come with me.” Incibus lifted a lamp and beckoned to Morde to follow. They walked together down a long dark walkway and at the end there was a red glow. They exited the hallway and went into the forge room. Fires roared and hammers clashed on steel as the tireless skeletons worked.

Molten metal bubbled in furnaces and was poured into casts. Then Incibus stopped in front of a large bundle and unraveled it. It was a giant ice claymor studded with blue stones. “My roaster pile!” Incibus was practically glowing.

Morde took it and swung it down on an anvil. The anvil fell in half like hot butter. “Perfect,” Morde said.  He hefted it over his shoulder. He was ready.

Author’s Statement:
I found this in my closet, then I revised it!


By Morgan Riddle Kimm
Murray Junior High

“Ethan! Come back over here!” I yelled at my brother. One of these days he’s going to walk out into the ocean never to be seen again, I thought to myself.

“Megan! Look what I found!” He lifted up a rotting blue crab.

“Gross,” I said as I rolled my eyes. It was our third week of living in Charleston, South Carolina. We had moved here from the cold state of Minnesota for my dad’s work. He was still busy moving our things into the house so me and Ethan have walked to the beach, about a mile away, pretty much every day we’ve been here. Ethan is in kindergarten so he’s fine with moving, and I’m just happy to be somewhere warm.

I got up from my towel and brushed the sand off my bare legs. “Whatcha doin down there, kiddo?” I knelt down close to Ethan.

“Just building a sand castle.” He proudly presented his wimpy lump of sand.

“Haha…nice job, bud,” I said and kissed his forehead. I started to sit down into the sand next to him when something stopped me. A shrill scream pierced the air. I jumped up and spun around. The beach was so crowded I couldn’t find out where the scream came from. I wouldn’t have been so worried if it had been the kind of scream like when your friend splashes you with water, but, no, this was a horrified scream, filled with complete fear.

“Who was that, Morgan?” Ethan grabbed my leg.

“Um…I’m not sure…I was about to give up looking when I saw a woman on the ground about 50 feet down the beach, sobbing. “Get up! Come on! Stand up!” I yelled at Ethan and grabbed his arm and yanked him up.

“What?!” He stared at me startled and confused.

“On your marks…”

“Morgan, no!” Ethan grabbed my arm.

“Get set. Go!” We both took off, breathing in short gulps, bare feet slapping the sugary sand. I could feel thin shells cracking under my weight, piercing my feet. I didn’t care. I was too curious about the woman. Now there was a crowd of about 20 people around her, staring. I pushed through the,. She was in hysterics.

“What’s wrong?” I screamed at her. She couldn’t talk. Her breathing was labored and she was crying too hard fr me to make out any of  her muffled words. She was just pointing to the ocean. I knelt down to her level and then saw what she was screaming at. There was something floating in the water…a small body.

“Oh my gosh!” I screamed. “There’s a little girl out there! Someone go get her!” A big man ran out to get her while about 20 other people dialed 911. By now the crowd had increased to about 60 people.

The little girl was pulled out. She looked about 7 or 8 years old. She was blue. Her leg was twisted funny. I thought about what it would be like if she was one of my siblings. I looked over and saw that Ethan was just staring, motionless. I heard sirens as an ambulance pulled up to the beach. I stood away from the motionless little girl and what I assumed to be her hysterical mother. No one said anything. In the crowd of 60 people, all you could hear were the sobs of the woman.

The ambulance people calmly got out of the truck and put the little girl into the back of the ambulance. I remember my mom telling me that when an ambulance drives away fast, it’s good. That means the person has a chance and that they are trying to save them. When they drive away slow, the person’s already gone.

I crossed my fingers …and watched the ambulance slowly drive away. I squeezed my eyes shut and felt a small hand slide into mine. “She’s gonna be okay, right?” Ethan looked at me with sad eyes.

“She’ll be okay…” I swallowed hard. “She’ll be okay.”

Author’s Statement:
This story is a memory from spring break last year. I got my inspiration from a beach setting in the Bell Museum.