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Intern’s Report: Young Writers’ Camp

Ed. note: Our trusty intern Laurel Smith is back, reporting on the events of last week’s camp, run by the supersonic Amanda Rea. Here’s what Laurel had to say.

One of our young writers on the town

One of our young writers on the town

For five days young writers sailed the seas of creativity. They wrote their way through brainstorms of poetry and survived the resulting flash fiction. On Friday the Lighthouse guided them to the shores of the Platte River where they disembarked their crazy adventure at the Tattered Cover, reunited with their parents and stood up to tell a packed room of curious onlookers about their voyage. But before they could tell us about the fruits of the Sea of Creativity they had a bit more writing to do.

            Around forty kids went out into the heart of Downtown Denver looking for what inspires them. I was lucky enough to be taken aboard by the fifth and six graders. They watched people walking their dogs, noted the alarming amount of black spots on the sidewalk from chewing gum, and investigated the simmering smell of hotdogs. They turned these observations into poetry and stories, most of which I swear are better than the stuff I’ve read in intro to creative writing classes that I took in college. 

The inspiration for Laurel's nautical metaphors?

The inspiration for Laurel's nautical metaphors?

            They wrote and read their stories to each other. They even begged for more when a writer stopped short of the end. They would huddle around as she scribbled a few more words on a page, taking note of every waft of the hand and scrunch of the nose, like they were watching a sporting event.

            When their time to speak came, they took the microphone and the room came to a hush as everyone tried to grasp onto every word of their thrilling stories. Parents looked at their children proudly and instructors beamed with satisfaction and I realized the tables had turned. They were the ones teaching us. They showed us the endless possibility of young minds and what it means to be inspired. Shari Caudron, who worked with the high school students, even sent along a message that her students restored her faith in teenagers.

At the end of the event, they beamed with pride holding onto their writing framed and behind glass and left with their parents.

Young writers read at Tattered Cover in front of an audience of over 100

Young writers read at Tattered Cover in front of an audience of over 100

 Do all good things have to come to an end? I asked myself. I saw students clutching onto notebooks packed with blank pages waiting to be filled. Students lined up to hug their instructors and say goodbye. I saw a fifth-grader give cheeky wink followed by a wave. “See you next year,” she said.

End? No, this is only the beginning. I bet in a few years we will even see some of our high students back to sail the seas of creativity and teach young writers just like them what it means to love writing.


Laurel Janeen Smith

2 comments on “Intern’s Report: Young Writers’ Camp

  1. Cara Lopez Lee
    August 5, 2009

    I popped in Friday to listen to some of the readings, and was surprised at the grownup talent exploding from so many young minds. A few times I felt embarrassed, hearing combinations of words that moved me more than my own writing does.

    They were all wonderful, but one of the most memorable images for me, came from the girl who read a poem about doors. She reminded me that a door is just a door until you walk through it, and then it becomes a friend inviting you into other worlds. A door in the street seemed somehow threatening, while another door seemed to have survived a fire. My favorite moment was when she came across a door that seemed unloved and unnoticed: it had a sign that simply stated “Staircase A.” I apologize to her for my re-interpretation, which is probably not dead-on. But, my goodness, I still remember it 5 days later!

    I giggled until my eyes watered, while listening to the kid who read a thank you note to his grandma and grandpa – because, as he said, one of his real thank you notes would be boring. He thanked his grandma & grandpa for the fishing harpoon. He went on to say that he’d prepared to harpoon a fish, but that he’d worried maybe the fish might have a family, like in “Finding Nemo” (at this point, as if people weren’t already laughing enough, some little kid in the audience cried out “Nemo!”) He went on to say that he’d accidentally harpooned his dad’s leg, and that it had to be amputated. But he still expressed his appreciation for the thoughtful gift. Again, I’m mangling his work a bit, but I just want you to know that this kid was hilarious. I fully expect to see his name on a book jacket someday.

    There were many other wonderful words that afternoon. The kids deserve credit… but so do the teachers who helped light the way.
    Thanks for working with young writers at Lighthouse. If only someone had mentored me at that age, I might have finished a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing during the 7 years it took me to get a Bachelor’s in Journalism.

  2. andreadupree
    August 12, 2009

    Thanks, Cara, for your kind report. You’re right — these kids are amazing, and A-Rea and the stellar faculty deserve all sorts of kudos. Thanks again!

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This entry was posted on August 3, 2009 by in Cool Events, Member dispatches, The Scoop.

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