Birdlings and Other Young Poets

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Via Longreads, a Michigan Quarterly Review essay by Miah Arnold about teaching creative writing to children hospitalized with (often terminal) cancer.

Reading it feels like having your heart thrown off a skyscraper, but it’s so good you have to read it through a second time.

Here’s a preview:

I grow too close. I say: if Khalil dies, I won’t be able to continue working here. Since I have known him since he was seven and he’s twelve now, his death is the line over which my presence in this institution cannot cross. Khalil is too full of life. He has written half a stream-of-conscious novel full of food fights and basketball games, has written one hundred and fifty poems. He is too crazy to die…


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →