Young Writers Project: Portraits and Self-Portraits

Age 16, Bradford, Vt.
Monday, October 08, 2018

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve and connects them with authentic audiences in newspapers, before live audiences and online. YWP also publishes an annual anthology and The Voice, a digital magazine with YWP’s best writing, images and features. More info: youngwritersproject.org or contact YWP at sreid@youngwritersproject.org or 802-324-9538.

This week, we present responses to the challenge of Portrait: Write a description of yourself or someone you love. Include as many details of appearance, personality, habits and behavior as you can. If you like, use figurative or metaphorical language along with more concrete details.

A Discreet Description

By Kelly Daigle

Age 16, Bradford, Vt.

The face that is in my dreams and

thoughts — squared and set,

eyes seeing things real and yet not —

is the one that I love without

claiming it. My mouth is yet to

utter the words I so long

to say. I long to watch those beautiful blue

eyes and sly, smirking mouth move

in surprise and delight at the

three tiny words that would slip past my lips

and reach your big, framing ears.

Everything that you are comprised of

is the definition of my love, from the

bouncing, blonde curls around your

boyish yet manly features; to the long

stride of your legs, so much farther than

mine; to the strong, callused hands that

steady and create wonders for the

world. If the sun could take on an earthly

form, it would be made into your smile —

for when you feel joy, the whole world lights

up. The whole world is mine,

just because you are in it.


By Emma Parkin

Age 14, Bradford, Vt.

She stands looking back at me. She looks about 5’5”. Her brown hair ends in the middle of her back; it looks like brown, frizzy waves going down her back.

She smiles at me. The dimple on her right cheek and the ones that go around her mouth all show. She has never liked her dimples. But she puts up with them because there is nothing she can do about it.

Her somewhat-big nose widens as she shows the silver brackets on her braces. She used to have a gap in between her two front teeth about eight months ago, and her bottom teeth were turned in all different directions. Now her teeth are as straight as can be, and the gaps are filled.

Her bony shoulders poke out of the white tank top that she put on when she got out of the shower. Her long arms stop just after her hip bones. She has her Christmas pajama pants on. Man, does she love Christmas.

She has long legs and a very short torso. Her skin is very dark in the dim light of the Christmas lights in her room. Normally she is pretty tan, though not too dark.

At least, that’s what I think. A lot of people these days only talk about their insecurities and bring themselves down. This girl doesn’t think about this kind of stuff. She moves on with her life and looks at the positive things, rather than the negative.

This girl is me.

There She Is

By Nora Fahey

Age 14, Bradford, Vt.

There she goes in the back of the pack. She has blonde hair that falls to just below her shoulders and has a face full of freckles. Her hair is blonde — not bleach-blonde, but blonde — with little curls that form around her ears when it gets humid out. Her hair is thick and frizzy. The freckles are all over her face and look like a dot-to-dot game. She has blue eyes with eyebrows that you can barely see, because they are blonde. And her eyelashes are long and thin. Her shoulders are an average size. She walks with a smile and when there isn’t a smile on her face — which is rare — then something is wrong.

She wears her daily jeans, sneakers, T-shirt and a sweatshirt. Her hair always in a ponytail. She wears a baggy T-shirt, uncomfortable with showing her body. All her friends and family around her think that her constant laughter and smiles are annoying and distracting. Yes, they may be, but it makes her feel better about who she is. So she keeps her head high and smiles. Smiles about the day, smiles about something that someone might have said a few days ago. She is always smiling.

She runs cross-country, although she hates it and really just likes to run when she is mad or upset about something. But she sticks with it until the end and tries to enjoy it. In the winter she plays basketball, which she enjoys the most. Although she might not be the greatest on her team, she still tries and gets to play. When spring comes, she is still playing basketball with her AAU team that she has been with for a few years now. They are all like one big family.

She sits in classes with her friends and walks the halls between classes with them. She is never alone. But sometimes she wonders if she is actually their friend or if she is just there for answers to the math homework. But she stills hangs out with her friends.

She goes home at the end of the day and thinks about the day and what she can do better tomorrow. But she will still be that girl in the back of the pack that is always smiling.


By Lauren Wright

Age 16, Bradford, Vt.

She stands 5’8” high on her soft, pink feet in front of the large window, watching the sun rise into the crisp air. Her hair falls just a few inches past her wide, broad shoulders. The sun peeks over the trees, a sliver of light peering through the window and enhancing a strand of caramel blonde to make it appear almost glowing. It reflects her feelings in this moment of simplicity and peace. She enjoys the little things that make life beautiful, like sunrises and the sounds of morning.

As the sun becomes completely visible over the trees, a smile spreads wide across her soft face. Dimples set deep into her lower cheeks. Her warm, freckled cheeks rise, making her eyes small. All you can see is the glow of her blue eyes peeking out the small breach, like the waves of the clearest ocean rolling over the sand.

In this moment she stands taller than usual, filled with simplicity, beauty, and peace — like she hasn't been touched by the world. Like she doesn't know the word stress. Like there are no expectations. She then turns to get ready for the day, to repeat another Wednesday… where she takes the weight of the world on her shoulders, with determination.

The Only World I Want Is My Own

By Cecilia Sweeney

Age 14, Piermont


14 years old and still lost in time.

Dark brown hair almost always in a high ponytail.

Blue eyes desperately avoiding the gaze of others.

Long, strong legs that belong in an ice rink.

Feet that curl in (even they look shy).


High-functioning autism, social anxiety

and a little bit of OCD to top it all off.

My world is numbers,

and spinning and ice and music,

and chaos, or order.


I probably won’t talk unless you talk to me first.

When I do talk, it might not make sense to you.

But it will to me.


The perfect moment is when I understand.

If I don’t, I’ll quietly go up in flames.

Don’t worry though.

Just pretend I’m not here,

and I’ll do the same to the rest of the world.

The only world I want is my own.