“This issue shows teens reckoning with perturbation, using words to map meaning through turbulence. Longing for orderly rhythms of family, friends, and place—and searching strangely unfamiliar landscapes for new directions.”
- David Weinstein, Founder, Write the World LLC. Read David's full letter here.
ZARA VALE (Australia)
You cringe as the door opens with a loud beep, but no one comes running.
KESSLER SHUMATE (US)
You listen for pleasure to some songs, for pain to others, Robin had said. Which was this?
RUTH PAZ (Sweden)
I don't even know if our sweet little lilac, right in the corner of the garden, still blooms in summer.
JONATHAN CHARLES STEPHENS (US)
Ingrain yourself in a wild honey;
flail a standing ovation with petaled hands
AASHNA PAWAR (US)
It was the boys' table at lunch. They were all in my grade, some of them I'd never talked to before.
IZRAHMAE SUICO (The Philippines)
A falling star taught her how to wish, but a falling star apple trunk taught her something else.
LINDA KONG (US)
moonlight kisses the clouds. It rings, the moonlight, like church bells striking.
SHAYNA LENG (Singapore)
Their shells pricked my fingers, the spikes digging tauntingly into my skin.
SASINDIE SUBASINGHE (Sri Lanka)
It began at the beginning in the middle of things; at the center of a galaxy
MARLEY SHEPHERD (US)
"What's with the buckets?" you ask.
"They're carrying something important."
EZIMADU UGORJI (Nigeria)
The children call it "Reverend Father" because of the flock of white feathers at its neck.
ELOISE DAVIS (UK)
My dad and I have come to the mutual realisation that he can't force me to help him in the garden.
Perturbation. That’s how astronomers explain disruptions in routine motions of celestial bodies. For example, when a planet’s circular orbit is thrown off course by a giant asteroid whizzing by. Here in Massachusetts, as I prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving on November 25th, “Empty Lunch Rooms” by Aashna Pawar (US) takes me back 622 days to March 13, 2020. Twenty-one full moons ago. The onset of pandemic perturbation. The day teenagers’ worlds began to tilt. When routines were disrupted, milestones missed, plans morphed into uncertainties, and adaptations required. When bedrooms became school rooms and blackboards remained unerased. The Write the World community was perturbed yet resilient. Isolated yet determined to connect through words. Committed to use the disrupted time to discern what’s important and define where they stand in a changed world. At Thanksgiving time, I’m grateful this community is a welcome place for writers to reflect and chart new paths forward.
The twelve pieces featured in this issue of Write the World Review show teenagers reckoning with perturbation, using words to map trails of meaning through the turbulence. Longing for orderly rhythms of family, friends, and place—and searching the strangely unfamiliar landscape for new directions.
Family and friends are forced apart. In “Prawn Shells,” Shayna Leng (Singapore) depicts the agony of separation from the unconditional and “unglamorous love” of her family and homeland in an ode to messy, joyful, and traditional prawn dinners. In only 100 words, Kessler Shumate’s (US) “The Ladies Stardust” portrays the bittersweet moment before a tender parting of ways.
Other pieces look back in time—to show that pandemic time is not lost time, but time to reflect and gain perspective. In “Four,” Izrahmae Suico (The Philippines) relates that her lasting memory of a childhood accident was not the bloody gash on her thigh—but her grandma’s caring response. Eloise Davis’s (UK) “Potatoes” shows how the routine of planting, harvesting, and eating this annual crop of tubers—as a salad with mayo or a side dish with garlic—unites her family across generations.
Writers also view this time of loss and change through the comforting lens of context. Some draw reassurance from long-term cycles of the natural world. The process of birth, contraction, and renewal of galaxies unfolds in the sestina “Spirals” by Sasindie Subasinghe (Sri Lanka). Perennial flowers grow unnoticed to complement perishable annuals in Jonathan Charles Stephens's (US) “Perennial Sweet Alyssum.” In Ezimadu Ugorji’s (Nigeria) “A Dying Land,” his once beautiful village is left pillaged and nearly unrecognizable following conflict, except for the palm trees that “still stand, pious guardians of a dying land.” In the science fiction genre, the unearthly blossom in “Flower (Verb)” by Zara Vale (Australia) becomes the enduring and inspirational fount of wisdom in a futuristic world.
Together, we tiptoe into this holiday season with words searching for meaning. Please make time to read these pieces and listen to the authors’ voices on the accompanying audio. If you’re an educator, our lesson plans offer activities related to these topics to guide and inspire your students’ writing. Finally, may the considered optimism expressed by Linda Kong (US) in her brilliantly footnoted “Annotations on《静夜思》” light the path ahead: “Wake up; the sun is coming, / my dear. The sun is finally coming / home.”
- David Weinstein, Founder, Write the World LLC