The Rapidian

Creative Youth Center to launch fifth edition of yearly young authors' anthology

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CYC students will release Bloom Cherry Bloom Tree: The Book of Explosions V, their fifth anthology in a public reading on June 1st at Wealthy Theatre
Students waiting to read at the 2015 launch at Wealthy Theatre

Students waiting to read at the 2015 launch at Wealthy Theatre /SideCar Studios

Upcoming CYC Programs & Books About Town

There's still time to enroll in a Wednesday Workshop!  To wrap up the series, the CYC will offer Writing by Erasure for middle school students and Hybrid Languages for high school students. (Check back for a full school year of offerings for all ages and interests this fall!)


Looking for a summer opportunity? Check out a 3-day session of Urban Legends. Learn about Grand Rapids myths and write your own urban legend. Students who complete the program will see their work published in a chapbook. Older students will do a public reading at The Sparrows.


Can’t make the book launch but geeked to get your hands on the latest anthology? CYC books currently are available for purchase at Schuler Books & Music, Bombadil Books, The Sparrows, and Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge.

Students doing stand up at a joke writing Wednesday Workshop

Students doing stand up at a joke writing Wednesday Workshop /CYC

Student signing last year's book

Student signing last year's book /SideCar Studios

Fans of Creative Youth Center (CYC) young authors will find it hard to believe that the fifth edition of their yearly anthology is already skimming off the press. In a few short weeks, Bloom Cherry Bloom Tree: The Book of Explosions V will find its way into the world.

Bloom Cherry Bloom Tree--a compendium of poems, vignettes, stories, and sketches--reflects a school year of learning and creating in the CYC’s afterschool programs

First grade student Bryan, who can sometimes be found dismantling and reconstructing the old-fashioned typewriter, is eager to see his work in print for the first time.

"I'm excited for The Book of Explosions,” he says, “because I miss my great-grandma and I wrote a poem for her in the book."

On Wednesday, June 1st at Wealthy Theatre, Bryan and his fellow CYC students will read excerpts from Bloom Cherry Bloom Tree in a celebratory event that is free and open to the public. Fans are encouraged to arrive when doors open at 5:00pm to purchase a copy of the book for authors to sign after the reading, which begins promptly at 5:30pm.

“The process of making this book has been an exciting one,” says Brianne Carpenter, CYC Program Manager. “Students spent time reading everything they had written this year and chose the three pieces they were most proud of. They edited their work, chose titles, and wrote their own Mad Lib style author bios. I’m exceedingly proud of what they’ve produced this year!”

The new book brims with humor, originality, and wisdom. It was designed by artist Jenny Hearns and introduced by middle grade author and beloved CYC workshop leader Matthew Baker

The original The Book of Explosions was published in the CYC’s early days, when the nonprofit worked out of area organizations and schools. The second and third editions of the book came to life in the CYC’s first physical location, now home to the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters (GLCL). For the past two years, CYC students have gathered in their new space next door to participate in afterschool programs focusing on writing, creativity, and academic support.

"The best thing about the CYC is that I get to make-believe stuff,” says Libanesa, a second grade student in Afterschool Adventure.

“If I had a magical window I will see a forest,” Libanesa writes in ‘If I…,’ one of her pieces in the new book. “I will see a fox chasing a mouse.”

Carpenter speaks to the imaginative atmosphere and activities that captivate CYC students: “What if all the paper maché animals in the CYC came to life at night? If you found a treasure map, what adventure would it take you on? In addition to responding to journal prompts like these, students have also worked hard on writing short plays, identity vignettes, poems, and zines.”

According to 8th grade poet Smilee, "You can express your feelings and find your inner voice from your heart through poetry."

He adds, "The CYC is a place where you can make really good relationships and new friends."

As its seats fill up and books squeeze tighter on the shelves, the CYC will be on the lookout for a new space that will allow it to reach more youth. While programs serve all students living in Grand Rapids or attending Grand Rapids Public schools, the Center will remain within walking distance of neighborhood schools and intentionally recruit students from the Baxter Community/Madison Area where it is located.

Inspired by 826 National, the future Center will showcase student publications year-round in the revamped Captain H. Tanny Adventure Supply Store, a storefront whose proceeds will directly support programming.

“As the CYC grows, we’ll call on the support of the whole community to help keep programming possible for current students, their younger siblings, their friends, and other young writers,” says Executive Director Kristin Brace. “Supporting the organization starts by supporting our students and celebrating their voices. We’re looking forward to a big turnout at this year’s book launch to do just that.”

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