Young Writers: A Dollhouse and the Shadows

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve and connects them with audiences through the Newspaper Series (and and the Schools Project ( YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing.

YWP News and Events

YWP-ACLU Constitution Day Writing Challenge: Students across Vermont are encouraged to enter a writing challenge sponsored by Young Writers Project and the American Civil Liberties Union to honor Constitution Day (Sept. 17). There is a total of $750 in cash prizes — $250 for the top essay. Students are asked to write in response to one of three prompts that can be found — along with all details about the contest — at Deadline: Oct. 4.

Just a sad tear

dripping down a window pane.

It’s a risky bet if it’s of 

sadness or of the rain.


A child’s wooden swing hangs from the 

tree; left to rot.

Child’s got their own children now,

swing’s just an afterthought.


A chill has blown in 

through the door left ajar.

Everyone shivers, remaining still in their beds; 

ignorance won’t get very far.


The milk wasn’t put away; 

guilt eats away at their stomachs as it turns sour,

curdling from inside out. 

It’s past the point of no return, finished within the hour.


Tripping on shattered bones and

scattered toys strewn upon the floor,

kicking them aside; they have

no more of a home than they did before.


Chipped paint off the walls

bears the blame for secrets revealed;

there’s no mystery remaining when 

the last of the wallpaper’s peeled. 


Careless efforts of a bristled broom

don’t sweep the dirt and dust away.

They may not notice, but it layers

upon the soles of their feet with each passing day.


Lovers once close 

now sleep in separate beds.

Mildewed sheets and worn out pillows

leave no comfort for their heads.


It’s just a ghost dollhouse

in desperate need of repair. 

The dead people live on,

pretending that happy memories were never there.

The sun vanished many years ago,

And put out the fire that lit the Earth.

The moon gives off a melancholy glow,

That drags on my ankles and weighs me down.

The stars have fled from their sky-high seats

To embark on the search for the long-lost sun.

The Shadows are weary of their unappreciated tasks,

And for now they have faded into the darkness.

But I’ve come to realize that the Shadows are not alone.

They sleep next to death, illness, and fear.

All which I pray I never have to wonder about,

Linger in the dusk of the silent night.

It offers no relief to know that there is a land,

Where my nightmares co-exist with reality.

It sends the sound of nails on a chalkboard,

Screaming up my spine,

When I realize that fear is a survival instinct.

Goodbyes echo from house to house,

And from window to window,

As the wives kiss their husbands farewell,

As the men depart to revive the sun’s fire.

Years passed the wives and the children,

Flying by on a freight train,

They were all too fast to count.

One day while the moon dismayed,

A child screamed and shouted.

A silhouette was following him,

Black and disproportioned,

And his mother cried tears of joy.

The light had returned,

Bringing with it the Shadows;

The Shadows that nobody earned.

Millennial Writers
On Stage in Burlington

Young Writers Project and VPR present the second annual Millennial Writers on Stage at the Burlington Book Festival on Saturday. Hear the next generation of Vermont writers — including Samantha van de Ven of Woodstock — present their work to a live audience. This is a free event, and runs from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Film House at Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center on the Burlington waterfront.