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Anthologies Back to Top
Color is everywhere even if we don’t actually see it. It takes its shape in the heat of emotions, the music we blast into our ears, the signals and signs that save lives, and the stories that prance off black-and-white pages. Color is how we interpret light, in the frequencies and intensities that define our visual perception. As you embark on the following poems and stories, we invite you to explore the color waves of your own existence, and afterward, share these young voices with other readers and writers.
WHAT CREATES SPARKS? What produces those flashes of light, the jolt of energy up your spine and through your fingertips when you are faced with the unexpected? In this 2017 anthology, sixty Telling Room authors explore encounters—the chance meetings and moments of connection that supply the sparks to ignite a story. Within these pages of poems, flash fiction, short stories, journalism, and personal essays you will meet a pocket-sized dinosaur at a birthday party and a bull moose in the forest, confront prejudice and worst enemies, and face the loss of home and the birth of a new sibling. The magic that passes between and beyond those brief points of contact is kindling for the fire roaring in this book.
In the Telling Room's tenth anthology, Once, thirty-eight young authors ponder the concept of TIME and record riveting stories and poems about beginnings, endings, and moments in between. Their words freeze, crunch, and suspend time. A man from eternal fog, a boy who followed the wind home, a girl who battled the night: these and other characters populate introspective writings that all play with time at the end of a string. As you sit down to read, listen to the clock tick and watch the stories wind together the many dimensions of TIME.
The thirty pieces of poetry and prose in A Season for Building Houses open a window onto today’s immigrant and refugee experience. Along their journeys to new homes in the United States, the teenage writers in this collection explore what it is to belong and to lose, to experience danger and safety, to remember and forget, and to build home after home. We produced this anthology to celebrate our Young Writers & Leaders program which won a 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the White House.
This water-infused collection of forty stories and poems by young writers has heart, humor, depth, and drama. It represents the voices of many hundreds of Telling Room students who wrote about a wide range of “bodies of water” in a year dedicated to this theme. When the Sea Spoke is about a spring river flood, a disappearing island nation, a cannonball, a dog’s water, a steaming cup of tea, a web-slinging turtle, and a bathing suit that smells like medicine. It’s about fear and courage, anticipation and redemption, loss and identity. This book hopes to entice the young writers who come after these authors to grab a pen and write back to the sea with equal grace and fluidity.
The Story I Want to Tell is a celebration of The Telling Room’s first ten years and its enduring belief in the power of storytelling. To mark this milestone, the book pairs twenty of the best pieces written by The Telling Room's young writers with brand-new, answering pieces from award-winning writers. This wonderful collection includes contributions from Richard Russo, Monica Wood, Elizabeth Gilbert, Richard Blanco, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Lethem, Lily King, and other masters of the craft, as well as twenty works of writers ranging in age from 13 to 18 whose stories are as diverse as their backgrounds.
*Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance 2015 Maine Literary Awards Winner - Anthology Category
In today’s world, where are the wild places that young people go to discover who they are and what their place in the world will be? Where do they find a haven to define themselves? What is their inner wild? During the 2013-2014 school year, our theme was WILD. With this theme, we hoped to engage young people in multiple writing projects that explore havens and refuges from society, forbidden places in urban neighborhoods, the abundant wilderness of Maine’s forests and coasts, and more. This anthology is proof that today's kids aren't as sheltered as we might think.
When you sit down to build an encyclopedia from scratch, you think a lot about how to do it. It seems a daunting task—after all, can’t anything go into an encyclopedia? Can’t entries be short or long? Can’t they be organized alphabetically or sorted by theme? Early on, we decided that this encyclopedia would include poetry and prose, and it would be literary rather than a compendium of facts. We hoped that the volume could teach us what today’s youth value in objects, people, places, and events. Please take your time and read these pieces in many settings, in the early morning and late at night. Absorb them slowly. Let them sink into you and haunt you later or raise a chuckle. After you read this book, pass it along, just as many of our ancestors bequeathed their own beautifully crafted encyclopedias to their younger generations, and as we are meant to do with good writing.
If you went searching for the real Maine, not "the Pine Tree State," or "Vacationland," or "The Way Life Should Be," or "Dirigo," where would you find it? And where would you find yourself as part of the journey? We asked real Mainers–our kids–this question, hoping their answers could form the guts of a real guide to Maine. Here it is, for the taking. Exit 13 is a new kind of guidebook, a compilation of sixty stories and poems by the kids who live here and know what Maine really is.
*Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance 2013 Maine Literary Awards Winner - Anthology Category
In our 2011 anthology, you'll find a group of stories and poems that will transport you through childhood imagination, to a time when you didn't know the rules, through teenage mind games, to the ways we handle our losses and triumphs. Culled from hundreds of submissions sent by students statewide, this book is built on the theme of 'play' in its many forms. Younger writers imagine the inhabitants of a fairy house village and play bike tag, while high schoolers make eyes across a room, play guitar in their basement and reminisce about childhood adventures.
Our 2010 anthology is a collection of 35 stories and poems about food. The product of our "At the Table" workshops, a yearlong project that reached hundreds of Portland-area students, the book is an lively tour through the culinary and cultural geographies of its writers. Some reminisce about specific foods that bind them to their heritage, while others describe a single dish rich with the memory of the people with whom it was shared.
A collection of Portland neighborhood stories and photographs, our 2009 anthology is the end result of year's worth of hard work by hundreds of young area writers. Students' collected words and images create a vivid neighborhood of their own in its pages, documenting every sidewalk and stoop, every basement and backyard, every cut-through and cornerstone to be found in Portland. Let our young guides lead you - we promise you'll never see your streets, your neighbors, or your playgrounds the same way again.
Our 2008 anthology poses this question: If you had only one story to tell about what matters most to you, what would it be? For Halima, a student at Portland High School, that story begins and ends with her hijab, her head scarf. She is joined by seventeen other local students as authors of stories and poems about what matters most to them. Also included in these pages are photographs of high school students holding single statements, many of them distilled from stories they wrote.
Fifteen students, from countries such as Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, and Iran are represented in our first anthology. In it, you meet Ali killing hyenas and Aruna speaking to his father by phone after ten years of believing he is dead. You meet Kahiye, revealing his first experience of snow, and Stella doing something once forbidden to her, playing a game she loves: soccer. 15 young storytellers bravely tell their tales of leaving home in hopes of finding a new one in America.
Books Back to Top
In this beautiful and whimsical picture book for children ages 4-8, Little Bird learns that her flock has left her behind on her first day of migration! Can she catch up to her family? She has help from animals she meets around the world-Tall Giraffe, Tiny Whale, Mother Crocodile, and Old Squirrel-in this happy, colorful adventure about inclusion, friendship, and migration. Created and co-written by The Telling Room's Publishing Workshop, and illustrated by Ashley Halsey.
Rathka is a grief-hardened orphan leading a band of runaways-turned-thieves in an ancient desert oasis. For years, she has suppressed nightmares of her mother's murder in order to take care of her adopted siblings, but the invasion of a murderous mage and his army threatens to undo the life she has built for herself.
The Band is the only family that Dar knows. As Rathka's Second, he tasks himself with tempering her fiery nature. However, as war on their small corner of the world becomes unavoidable, he starts to fear that none of them will make it out unbroken, let alone alive.
Aidan and Nadia Carter share many things. A last name, a birthday, a gift. The twins possess parallel psychic abilities, one seeing into the future and the other the past, talents that have aided and condemned them throughout their lives.
As children they were naive heroes, courageous to a fault. But after an adventure gone wrong, they find themselves struggling to cope with the things they've seen, the trauma they've endured, and the people they've lost.
Half a decade later, they return to the small New England town where their lives were forever altered, hoping to learn something from their past. While there, they attempt to reconnect with their estranged father, track down old friends, and solve a few long-standing mysteries along the way.
"There is love here," says the speaker of the poem "Solstice Song." And there is love in this kaleidoscopic collection, a meditation on the beauty and the traps of modern-day "girl"-hood. There is also anger and sadness, nostalgia and nonchalance. After all, how does the "Us born of acrylic paint, pressing our bellies to the neighbors' fence / To snatch the fat, juicy fruits on the other side" come to be the "We" who "shall pretend to be totally full / Of strawberries and flaming gasoline"?
Inspired by the poet's own encounters with politicized femininity, Raina Sparks's debut collection is about growth through human relationships of all kinds, about the interaction with and between the internal masculine and feminine, and about ripening through experience. With empathy, honesty, and wisdom, she writes,
"I feel more like a woman than the last time I saw you.
Sometimes, I still wear my hair in braids."
One fateful night in May 1957, fourteen-year-old Clara Rollins loses her father, Andrew, in a tragic house fire. Heartbroken, Clara takes a vow of silence. But when a mysterious stranger comes to Deep River, Iowa, carrying a letter written by Andrew, Clara's image of her father is suddenly shattered.
As Christopher and Clara work together to untangle an intricate web of past secrets involving two small-town brothers, an infamous bootlegger, and his beguiling wife, they realize everyone keeps secrets, and most of the time it's to protect someone we love very much. A tale of love, loss, and loyalty from debut author Elizabeth Flanagan.
When bones from a small hand are found in Elliot Collins’ backyard, he doesn’t know what to think. His home on Reading Island has always been safe and secure and the cleanest place in all of Maine. But when his little brother’s best friend Joe goes missing, Elliot begins to wonder if Reading Island might not be as perfect as everyone makes it out to be. In this spine-tingling mystery by debut author Olivia Peelen, Elliot and his friends join together to ask: Where did Joe go, and what about the bones?
Oliver Curtis, a junior at Baxter Academy, spent a year in our Young Emerging Authors program writing and sketching a cookbook of invasive species. How to Eat Green Crab is packed with scientific information and recipes involving some of Maine's most invasive marine species, told in Oliver's humorous and personal manner. Oliver has his commercial green crab fisherman’s license, and he and his mom have been busily testing recipes for Green Crab, Common Periwinkle, and European Flat Oyster in their kitchen. This book was featured in an article by Mary Pols in the Portland Press Herald and has garnered early attention from local foodies and national scientists alike.
Lana Mustafa was eight years old when her father was killed by sectarian violence in Baghdad, Iraq. At twelve, she immigrated to Portland, Maine, a lonely outsider covered in a hijab and Goodwill snowboots. Now a strong-willed and fiercely independent high school senior, Lana struggles to define herself amid conflicting cultural expectations. Should she study to be the engineer her family wants her to be or the artist she feels she is? Does her relationship with an American male classmate get in the way of her future or help her build it? Lana learns that no matter what sky she lives under, she must fight for that which matters most—her family, education, friendship, and dreams. Maryam Abdullah's semi-autobiographical illustrated novel is a must read!
Trait takes place in a world where personality is a commodity. In the 2070s, individuality and distinctive personalities are sacrificed in favor of the instantaneous ability to install personality traits into the brain as a simple medical procedure. Many Trait users suffer from numerous problems with their minds and memories.
A nameless protagonist narrates Aidan Trotter’s debut novel–a simple sales worker trying to make sense of the world around her after her long-time roommate Chris has completely forgotten about her. Meanwhile, an anonymous teen, a high-achieving student from the wealthiest part of the city, reaches out to It Takes All Kinds, a nonprofit organization against Traits, via Ingrid, a hotline worker.
Kyle has forever felt like a wanderer, unsure of where “home” actually is. His father left for the Navy when he was six. At age sixteen, Kyle leaves for the raucous Alum Brook boarding school in Arkansas, entering a new world. There, he finally starts to feel like his life is falling into place. But after his dad comes home one weekend for a surprise visit, Kyle’s world gets flipped upside down and his idealized version of his father begins to unravel. Kyle’s life had been based on the sky, ever since his father first left him. Would it lead him home once again?
The Sky at 5 A.M. is a realistic fictional novel by Liam Swift that explores loss, relationships, family, and finding oneself. This title was published as part of our 2015-16 Young Emerging Authors fellowship. It won the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers 2017 Scholastic Arts & Writing Award for novel writing. National recognition of this kind is awarded to less than 1% of the annual 330,000 Scholastic submissions.
Untranslatable Honeyed Bruises, a poetry collection by Amanda Dettmann, reveals the things we are afraid of deep inside, whether it be unveiling harsh truths at a midnight party, grasping failure in an art museum, letting go of childhood in a psychiatrist’s tub, or finally finding oneself onstage.
Through pomegranate teeth, abandoned platters of damaged latchkeys, broken restaurant eggshells, and marigolds pulled from pockets, these poems’ hurl untamable questions but also uncover beauty where it’s least expected, exposing vulnerability across our limitless and unstoppable selves. This title was published as part of our 2015-16 Young Emerging Authors fellowship.
Yellow Apocalypse is a collection of short stories by Madeline Curtis, most of which focus on young protagonists who wander through the wonder and heartbreak of growing up. These fourteen tales swerve between the mundane and the mystical, often veering into the unabashedly weird. They feature a reincarnated goldfish, an ailing dragon, and a boy undergoing a terrible transformation. They are dark, sad, and brimming with hope. They marvel at the bigness of the world. This title was published as part of our 2015-16 Young Emerging Authors fellowship.
This book won the 2017 Maine Literary Award for youth fiction.
Cameron Jury's debut book serves as a guide for any writer lacking ideas or caught with a bad case of writer's block. Flip to any page in the book to find inspiration, writing prompts, or new ideas for stories and poems. Through prose, poetry, and photography, Cam's book will help any young writer unlock his or her potential. This book was written as part of our 2014-2015 Young Emerging Authors Fellowship.
Aruna Kenyi was five when his village was lit on fire, the day he heard the screaming. Unable to reach his parents, he ran to the plantain fields, where he lay on his stomach for a day, unmoving, and then he got up and ran again. So began his epic journey of escape—walking by night across the great expanse of Southern Sudan with his brothers, hiding by day, haunted all the while by crocodiles, bombs, and hunger. Between Two Rivers is the story of Aruna Kenyi's improbable journey from East Africa to Southern Maine - a story, still in progress, of the events, people and places that have helped to define him.
Martin Varlie is a young New York journalist sent to Abu Dhabi for his first big news story: the trial of a shady Saudi banker. While trying, with little direction, to figure out how to get an interview with a strange man in a strange country, Martin meets a beautiful, puzzling young woman named Simona. She soon dominates Martin’s thoughts and his time as she convinces him to forget convention and instead explore the city with her. Simona is a story of loneliness, of friendship, and adventure in an alien world. Samantha Jones’ debut novel will leave you captivated. This title was written as part of our 2014-2015 Young Emerging Authors Fellowship.
In this collection of poems by Lizzy Lemieux, themes of identity and place emerge from a small town in Maine, where the number of churches exceeds the number of traffic lights. Lizzy's work has also been published in Maine Teen Writing of 2015 and been recognized by the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards. She won The Telling Room's statewide writing contest in 2015 and wrote this collection as part of the 2014-2015 Young Emerging Authors Fellowship.
Kristina Taylor adopted her son Nate nine years before she had heard anything from his birth mother. When a letter requesting a visit back to the sinking Marshall Islands appears one day in the mail, their quiet life in the small city of Portland, Maine is turned upside down. As mother and son travel back to his remote birthplace, both are on edge. What will it be like for Nate to meet his birth mother for the first time? Wilson Haims wrote this debut novel while a fellow in the Telling Room's 2014-15 Young Emerging Authors program.
Forced follows a girl named Abra who is facing the likelihood of an arranged marriage. Before Abra’s mother takes her last breath, she makes her daughter promise to obey her father. Abra knows that this means that whatever her father tells her to do, she must do. Her father makes her life a living hell as she tries to raise her little brother, go to school, and hold down a job. Abra struggles to find a solution in how to reconcile the promise she made to her mother, obedience to the father she dearly loves and respects, and her own personal beliefs. Zahro Hassan published this novella as part of the 2013-14 Young Emerging Authors fellowship.
Hemingway’s Ghost, a novella by Noah Williams, explores the struggles of men trying to connect with one another. When Ernest is born he is initiated in the obscurity of self when his parents disagree about his name—his father named him for his favorite writer while his mother was deep in the pain of childbirth. He soon dives into the complexity of relationships when his parents split up, and narrates his early life with a distracted yet deeply reflective father who is part-poet, part-farmer, and part-philosopher, and contemplates the struggles of coming of age. This title was published as part of the 2013-14 Young Emerging Authors program.
Sleeping Through Thunder follows the life of Utis Padley the year after her foster father died. Without him, Utis and her five foster siblings are unable to continue their homeschooling and are instead sent to public school in Seattle. While their sister is hospitalized for an illness, Utis navigates her way through her first year of school while avoiding the trouble that brews at home with her irresponsible foster mother and volatile siblings. Through it all, she learns that family isn’t defined by blood or legalities, but by who is there when the thunder wakes her. Grace Roberts wrote her debut novel as part of the 2013-14 Young Emerging Authors program.
Terrencefield is a quiet fishing town in which nothing ever happens. But when a stranger with swirling grey eyes and a shrouded past comes and shakes up the idyllic snow-globe lives of the residents–including a young boy, a homeless man, and a financially-ruined heir to a family fortune–the people of the town called Terrencefield learn how scared they are of change, and are forced to question their own strength of character. The Road to Terrencefield by Henry Spritz might leave you wondering just how much you know about the people around you, and how well you know yourself.
Our first children’s book, Fufu and Fresh Strawberries, is a story about a young Sudanese boy named Robert and his neighbor Joe. Together, the boys make their neighborhood a friendlier, more welcoming place by starting up a community garden, outwitting a pesky squirrel, and sharing a huge feast of fufu (cassava) and strawberries with everyone on their street. Caitlin and Charlotte wrote Fufu and Fresh Strawberries as part of a Telling Room program for young writers. For children ages 4 through 8.
Clothing Back to Top
Made exclusively for The Telling Room by Portland-based clothier Rogues Gallery, these limited-edition heavyweight tees feature bold lettering sourced from Portland’s maritime history. Limited sizes available
Made exclusively for The Telling Room by Portland-based clothier Rogues Gallery, these limited-edition heavyweight tees feature bold lettering sourced from Portland’s maritime history. Limited sizes available
Paraphernalia Back to Top
Teaching artist Sonya Tomlinson and filmmaker David Meiklejohn created the film The Whole World Waiting to showcase all fifteen students from The Telling Room's Young Writers & Leaders program (2011-2012) in three-minute segments. Each story tackles the myths of America from the perspective of immigrant and refugee youth. This product is a standard DVD.
This item is sold out! Until we restock, please click here to view the film.
Just the size for a laptop or bumper, this sticker will tell the world that you value youth voices and want them to be heard. (It looks pretty sharp too!)
Profess your love of writing and your appreciation of 80's hip-hop lingo by pasting our hip sticker to your car's backside. Word.
Bound with 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard and embossed with the TR logo, our journals are sure to inspire. Carry one in your bag to capture fleeting ideas. Write a novel. Doodle. We’ve supplied 100 lined pages, the rest is up to you.
Write with the Telling Room in hand. Our pens are made of bamboo and biodegradable plastic–the only mark they'll leave is on your page. Sold out!