Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Six-word Scary Stories: The Winners

So far, the only contest entries we've had are from our in-person group. But, they've written some might spooky entries for the six-word scary story contest. Here they are. Enjoy!

I died while drinking zombie wine. —Elly 

Full moon brings scary grim reaper. —Terrance

Dark alley. Frightened boy sees face. —Armon

Mall open tonight; buffet for zombies! —Zaivonn

I creep at night, wake flesh. —Trone

Me alone. Dark desert. Large dinosaur. —Anthony

Beautiful zombies. Looks really do kill. —Elisha 

Everyone dies when the devil strikes. —Elly 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Six-word Scary Stories by Elisha Branch

Last year we were asked to write a scary story with only six words. I know the first thing that comes to mind when I say that. It's an impossible task! But it is not. In fact, we came up with many wonderful stories about many scary things. Some stories were about entire towns vanishing mysteriously. Others were about slimy creepy crawlies coming to get you. If you just use your imagination, what seems impossible can become fun or, in this case, really scary!
—Dream Keeper Intern, Elisha Branch

Check out the contests page to see how you can enter your six-word scary story!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Urban Haiku

We haven't had many entries in our Urban Haiku contest. But several of our Dream Keepers have been writing Haiku over the past few weeks on Wednesday nights. One of the Dream Keepers wrote poems suitable for publication. Enjoy!

Wanted: Tom Jackson
Wanted since June, 2000
Worried about pollution?
—Elisha Branch

Bethel Baptist Church
Rummage Sale is this Friday
How much for Jesus?
—Elisha Branch

No child left behind
Have faith in education
I'm ten; I can't read.
—Elisha Branch

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Urban Haiku: Dream Keepers is BACK!

Dream Keepers is Back!
Dream Keepers has been on hiatus for the past six weeks. In that time, I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about what I want Dream Keepers to look like this year and in our future. I've become enchanted by the Young Writer's Project in Vermont and New Hampshire. Founder Geoff Gevalt started the project in his free time while working as a managing editor for The Burlington Free Press. In the beginning and still today, students from all over the two states write and submit in response to scheduled writing prompts. The submissions are then judged and the best are submitted to local newspapers for publication. 

For a long time, I have wanted my work with Dream Keepers to connect with the work teachers are doing in the classroom, students are doing online, and writers-in-residence are doing in schools. To that end, we're going to try adding writing contests this year. WInners will be published at the Dream Keepers blog. 

I'll still be doing an in-person gig—so if you are a student in grades 3-6—feel free to come to our program on Wednesdays from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM at All People's Church. Students will spend part of their time writing, part of it gardening, and part of it with Stepping Stones, a tutoring program. Register ahead of time by emailing me (rochelle@writenowcoach.com).

September-October Contest: Urban Haiku
Two weeks ago, I came across a story in The Guardian about a poet who took his poetry to the streets of Atlanta. Artist John Morse wrote haiku poetry using found phrases from ads. Here are two examples:

Build Personal Wealth!
In the Comfort of Your home!
Read to your children.

Lose ugly weight fast!
Feel Happier! Healthier!
Dump your bigotry.

Great stuff, eh? Morse's Haiku poems have great surprise endings. Even better, they make the reader think. Morse wrote ten of these haiku poems, made fifty copies of each, and posted them all over Atlanta. Now the citizens of Atlanta see poetry everywhere. And Morse's poems must give them a lot to think about!

Your assignment, Dream Keepers, is to write an Urban Haiku poem using at least one found phrase from a sign, billboard, or other advertisement that you see in public. Use the traditional Haiku form of 5-7-5 syllables or do what Haiku teacher Patricia Donegan suggests: write three lines that you can say in one breath. Choose words that help your readers see what you are describing.

The assignment is open to Wisconsin students K4-12th grade. Each student can submit up to five haiku poems. Poems must be submitted in an email document (no attachments, please) via email to rochelle@writenowcoach.com by midnight on October 8, 2010. Winners poems and names will be published on the Dream Keepers blog by the end of October. 

And keep an eye on this space. We'll have a new writing assignment coming for you in early October!

Happy writing!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dream Keepers @ Freedom Schools

This summer many children are becoming Dream Keepers at the Urban Roots Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools (r) Program. I've been teaching every Tuesday afternoon. We've made personal metaphors, written Haiku poems about gardens and animals, and tried our hand at writing about our neighborhood. Two weeks ago, the students read an inspiring story about Tasana Hardy titled, Teen's Award-Winning Poem Helps Rewrite Her Life. Hardy's poem, Where I'm From, was chosen for a class film project that has since won awards. The poem and the awards have changed the direction of Hardy's life. I invited the students to write their own, Where I'm From poems. Here are a few of them. When you're done reading, write your own!

Where I'm From
by Luis

Where I'm from ...
     Moms keep house
     Dads tow cars.

Where I'm from
    Sisters work in stores
    Cats vomit and sneeze
    and I play on the computer.

Where I'm from,
     people eat rice,
     sea food,
     and fruit loops.

Where I'm from
     kids camp,
     and go to water parks.

Where I'm from,
     I'm planning to go to Puerto Rico
     to see family.

Where I Come From
by Anonymous

Where I come from
     there is no peace
     because there is too much fighting and loud music.

Parents are not watching their kids.

Where I come from
     people don't care anymore.
     because every time you look at the news,
     something bad has happened.

Where I Come From
by Marcus

Where I come from people
walk with their head down.
They shun the world out only
look within themselves.

Where I come from beautiful smiles
are hard to find but a rude stare
is always constant.

Where I come from love is just
a word thrown in the air, even if it's
family or friends.

Where I come from isn't actually
where I come from. it's a stage
I must pass in my life.

Where I Come From
by Zhane

Where I come from I like to make
people laugh because you barely
see people smiling, all you see is

Where I come from you have teenagers
turning to their own sex just to
find love.

Where I come from you barely see
young educated people because all
people really want is to fit in.

Where I come from fake is the
new country name because there is no
such thing as a true friend.
Just associates.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Icky Stuff!

Last night, the Dream Keepers wrote about icky stuff. The assignment came from Dawn DiPrince's wonderful book, Unjournaling: Daily Writing Exercises that are NOT Personal, NOT Introspective, NOT Boring. Here are a few examples I came up with:

Icky is sharing deodorant with your six brothers. Ickier is sharing a toothbrush.

Icky is cleaning out the couch, pocketing the change, and eating the dust-covered candy.

I challenged the Dream Keepers to come up with icky stuff that would make me cringe with disgust. They did. Here's a sample of their work:

Icky is picking up gum from the ground and eating it.

Icky is when someone pops out their leg bone.

Icky is chewing on your toenails.

—Tramonta Garner, age 10

Icky is frying chalk, dirt and rubber and eating it as steak.

Icky is eating fire extinguisher foam.

—Brandon, age 11

Icky is a dead bird in the house, surrounded by flies.


Icky is playing with your hair while you are in line to get your food.


Gross, huh? Write your own sentences about icky stuff. See if you can top these! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Long Titles, Short Poems

Tonight the Dream Keepers tried to write short poems with long titles, an assignment from Dawn DiPrince's wonderful book Yoga For the Brain. Here's the example I wrote:

What Happened when John decided to Do His Laundry the Old-Fashioned Way:
with a Bar of Soap, a Rock, and a River.

The assignment is harder than it sounds, and the Dream Keepers had a tough time with it. But they still came up with some good samples. Read their work, and then try writing your own!

By Elly:
What Elly Was Left with After She Ate A big Juicy Hamburger in Two Bites.

By Leroi:
What the Owner Said When He Took His Pet to Meet the New Vet, who Already Had Met
a Dog, a Frog, and a Bunch of Cats.

By Daquan:
What Happened When I Took A Bone from a Dog Who Had Had It a Long Time.

By Tierra:
The clock stopped at 11 O'Clock.
Tick Tock?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Urban Legend

You know what an urban legend is, right? You've probably even fallen for a few. Here are some I found while visiting Snopes, the go-to site for discovering if that warning email you got from your Auntie is true or a hoax. Here are some interesting legends I pulled off the site:
*Disposable chopsticks are loaded with carcinogens.
*Canola oil is toxic.
*Coca-cola was originally green.

Tonight's Dream Keepers had the opportunity to write their own urban legends—or at least the teasers to go with them. Here's what they came up with. When you're done reading, I hope you will be inspired to create your own!

Beware of crooks using video games to steal your pants. (I want your pants.com) --Terrance

Beware of crooks using the tooth fairy to steal teeth. --Terrance

Don't leave your house! Killer squirrels on the loose! --Elly

Beware of crooks taking coats. They're cold, and they're coming. --Shay

Beware of sticky fingered crooks. They're stealing honey! --Shay

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


At this week's writing group, I sent the young people to different corners of our writing space to think up sill warnings. You know the kind. When you see them, you want to shout, "Duh!" My new hair straightener came with the warning: Do not use while sleeping. Most peanut butter jars now have the warning: Contains nuts. I challenged the Dream Keepers to come up with their own warnings. Here are the best ones:

On a bathroom door: Warning: may contain smells.
On the library: Warning: contains books.
On jelly: Warning: May jiggle.
On book: Warning: May contain challenging words.
On boys: Warning: May giggle like a girl.
On bicycle: Warning: Do not sleep while riding.

Now it is your turn. Can you add some silly warnings to our list?