People & Places

YWP: Lemons

Young Writers Project, an independent nonprofit based in Burlington, engages young people to write and use digital media to express themselves with clarity and power, and to gain confidence and skills for school, the workplace and life.

Check out the most recent issue of The Voice, Young Writers Project’s monthly digital magazine. Click here.

Each week, VTDigger features a writing submission – an essay, poem, fiction or nonfiction – accompanied by a photo or illustration from Young Writers Project.

YWP publishes about 1,000 students’ work each year here, in newspapers across Vermont, on Vermont Public Radio and in YWP’s monthly digital magazine, The Voice. Since 2006, it has offered young people a place to write, share their photos, art, audio and video, and to explore and connect online at For more information, please contact Susan Reid at [email protected].

Illustration by Anjali Rai from the Young Writers Project media library.

Is there a difference between an adage and a cliché? A good barometer is whether you find yourself rolling your eyes at the phrase, and the false positivity associated with often-unattainable “lemonade” is a prime example. This week’s featured poet, Maddie Thibault of Duxbury, breaks down every step (or barrier) in the juicing process to demonstrate why it’s necessary to consider everyone’s story through an equitable lens. 


By Maddie Thibault, 17, of Duxbury

I have often heard people say,
"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"
And I was thinking about it today,
when I realized it isn't as simple as they say.

To make lemonade, you need more than the fruit:
You need sugar and water to make the juice.
Then you need a knife, a jug, and some cups, too.

If you want all that, you must go to the store.
Often you'll have to travel a mile, or more.
So a bike would be nice, or time to kill.
You'll also need money, or to steal.

All that, just to make the lemonade!
So it's not all easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy,
as many people believe.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't try
to make the best of a bad day.
I believe it just means we shouldn't expect everyone to be able to take
the lemons life gives them and make lemonade.

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