[DR]: 10/31, In terms of Halloween costumes

by Frances (’14)

Most people dressed up, sort of. Heather had a spider on her head. Molly wore a dress and a horse mask. Olivia A was the Common Application, which was pretty much the scariest costume I saw all day. She’d even written out her personal statement on her legs. Among the others, there were many animal ears and many wings. Maia dressed up as herself in high school, which meant a funny orange wig that I think was supposed to indicate that she’d had different hair at the time, though not necessarily orange hair. I did not even sort of dress up, but I guess I also did a pretty good job looking like myself in high school. Staying true to her costume, Maia played some of the popular dance music from back when she was in high school, and we had a department-wide dance party.

Later, in Creative Writing II, we continued the Halloween celebrations by watching a video of Salvador Dali—who was a friend Lorca, a poet we are studying—as a guest an old game show where blindfolded contestants asked questions to figure out the guest’s identity. Although Dali answered yes to practically all the questions, the contestants eventually asked whether or not he had a mustache and figured out who he was from there.

Then we played a Halloween-themed word game—which was actually in some ways similar to the game show—involving teams and trying to convey the name of a monster to your team without actually saying it. We took “monster” pretty broadly, as C-Dubs do with most things. Our monsters included: Miley Cyrus, Ronald McDonald, several Frankensteins, and the counting vampire from Sesame Street.

[DR]: 10/30, Facing Fears in Poetic Expression

by Clare (’18)

Two weeks into Creative Writing One’s poetry unit, with Halloween and the end of the marking period looming near, we have arrived at a point where few brave writers have ventured before: meter. Last week, a whole hour was spent trying to define stressed and unstressed syllables. Many terrifying terms were floating around the room today such as iambic, trochaic, and –gasp – rhyming.

You see, although rhyming poems are pleasing to the ear, they can be challenging to write and often result in a circle of tired students shouting out words that rhyme with ‘nest’. Nonetheless, the class made a valiant effort, everyone tackling their own pattern of meter, and although some students concluded their poem by smacking their head repeatedly into their notebook, a few gems emerged. These will be read tomorrow with great enthusiasm (in full costume).

Operative Word: Creative

There always has been lots of talk about how Creative Writing and our operations are vaguely cultish. This is completely untrue, if we understand the purpose of a cult to be veneration for a perceived idol. This is completely true if we base the label on actions alone— small, inclusive, apparently secluded. So for the sake of transparency, here’s a glimpse at one of my favorite aspects of CW:

Creative Writing, when the emphasis is on Creative.

Not in a bipartisan way where it means anti-writing (we try our hardest not to be “us and them,” here). Needless to say, I love writing— love it so much it seems completely inadequate to state it outright like that. I can write a full showing-not-telling discourse on my love for writing on a later date (maybe I’ll use it as a college essay, ooh), but for now, take my claim in good faith. Writing is so entrenched in me that I don’t even need to specifically mention it— it’s become part and parcel of me as a person.

(Consider cooking as an analogy. You get a new wooden spoon, a spatula, a panini press, whatever untensiland it’s the coolest thing ever. You explore all avenues of its use— the slight indents, the sleek metal that provide numerous functions, whatever you can think up. You do everything— stir fry, whisk, spread butter— with it. But once you get used to holding it in your hand, it becomes a tool, something to help you get to an end. What’s fresh and new become the ingredients, the recipes. It doesn’t mean you lose your love for the utensil, and it becomes so essential to your process that it’s completely unperceivable, the thought that you’d have to fry eggs without your spatula.)

So here in CW, Creative is as much of our content as the writing. My favorite example is that one time in freshman year when we went ice skating. For creativity. And it sounds like a nudge-nudge-wink joke (it most definitely 50% is), but we’re serious about it. To write takes knowledge in both its form and content, obviously, and we can’t write about or with knowledge we don’t have, obviously. So part of CW is supplying us with a large bank of knowledge we can draw from.

And here’s another thing that I absolutely love— the fact that we’re so judicial about what sticks and what doesn’t. We know that ice skating isn’t for everybody as much as we know that sonnets and rhyme schemes are not for everybody. We get that some people can do parkour or capoeira, and respect them as much as we respect us folks that lie on a sunny patch of carpet every chance we get (that is most definitely not just me). If our unit is on Beat poetry, no one will take it personally if that style doesn’t particularly resonate with you (appreciating the topic in context and seeing its value in its time is another story— one that I personally think should most definitely be a requirement). We get and respect that other people have opinions. Whoa.

This leaves us with a lot of freedom to pursue anything we wish. In case it hasn’t been hammer-over-the-head obvious yet, I’ve discovered a heavy fascination with the psychosocial effects of war. For other people, I know there are authors, styles they are enamoured with, or other topics of discussion (social welfare, the prison system) they explore and explore and always come up with something fresh for. It seems a bit counterintuitive, but honestly, in my experience, I think the more you write about a topic and the more you explore/research it, the more you have to write about. It’s all the different perspectives, see— the 7 billion in the entire world, and I’m not even counting the artsy interpretations of the POV of a molecule or something (but seriously, science poems are the best). And should you ever find yourself done with a topic… teach it, I guess. Impart that knowledge onto someone else who wants to know everything about the world (the entire CW department comes to mind).

I don’t know; I don’t really have a thesis. I just love to be around people who love to learn, I guess. That candle-lighting analogy might work here— that lighting another candle is not a detriment to your own, that the more candles there are, the more light there is.

[DR] Monday, Oct. 28th

by Giorgia (’14)

On Monday we returned to the classroom from our annual camping camping trip at Kirby Cove sleepy and smoke-smelling with fresh faces and new stories. Among which Heather learned to play snaps, Giorgia (’14) tried to teach samba, Justus (’15) was a sexy bookcase, the freshmen underwent forceful (and ultimately unsuccessful) segregation, the Schott-Rosenfield (’14, ’17) sibling rivalry went crashing into the sea, and Colin (’16) finally took down Jules (’14), our own departmental kraken, during our traditional beach romp. Mostly, it was just, as the young ones say “cold as balls.”

Obviously, we had a lot to discuss on Monday. We did this eating delicious peanut butter chocolate cookies Noa (’16) made for her writing buddy, Lizzie (’14) (happy 17th birthday lizz!), and leftover croissants, potato chips, and izzes from the trip. We talked about our favorite moments, what went well and what didn’t.

After our Kirby Cove debrief, the freshmen went off to the dark cavern they call “Freshmen Seminar” with Maia, and the rest of CW settled down with Sarah Fontaine (<3) for umläut. It’s early on in the year, so we are currently lying out preliminary framework, along with rebooting umläut‘s online presence and overall mission statement.

That evening, five seniors– Midori Chen, Mykel Mogg, Giorgia Peckman, Frances Saux, and Abigail Schott-Rosenfield —read at the Book Club of California (of which Abigail is a member). We were asked to the Book Club by Abigail’s grandmother, Kathy, earlier this year. Each of us read through a section of the Club’s collection (the club specializes in fine print press), mostly Tangram books, and each selected one or two works from which to write from. Our response poems focused on California history, and the relation of landscape and the individual. It was quite exciting to read our work outside of the school community, especially in such a rich and resonant environment full of so many monumental works.

We also sold a full set of umläut to the Book Club!

[DR]: Lit Critiques

by Molly (’15)

we practiced critiquing on this painting and its ekphratic poem

we practiced critiquing on this painting and its ekphratic poem

Once a marking period, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are required to write a review on a piece of published writing, focusing mostly on the craft. I doubt anybody really looks forward to writing these lit critiques, but by now it’s a bit of a rite of passage within creative writing, and this practice improves our essay-skills drastically. Recently, Maia Ipp has redesigned the way lit critiques (formerly lit reviews) are to be written; instead of focusing on the work inside an issue of a literary magazine, we can now choose any work of creative writing, and have the chance to study it in-depth and write a longer, more comprehensive essay.

Today in Creative Writing, Maia, after noting the despairing looks on our faces after being confronted with this new assignment, had us workshop our first lit critique drafts with our writing buddies. She even kindly extended the due-date toMonday so that we can be sure to have greatly improved our essays with the help of peer-editing. Thank you, Maia!

[DR]: The Fall Show Legacy

by Emma B. (’17)

Today in CW we watched Bohemian Rhapsody and The Nature of Offense, fall shows of past years, and then talked a little about our own show, which is coming up soon now. As I watched The Nature of Offense, I couldnʼt help but notice how young everyone looked only a year ago! As a freshman, there were many unfamiliar faces in Bohemian Rhapsody and a few in The Nature of Offense. It was funny to watch the upperclassmen shout out when they saw one of their now-graduated friends, although I donʼt personally know them. I think weʼre all very excited to plan our show, especially the seniors.

Day [5]

I do the “I can’t believe it’s already/only been the first week of school!” thing only ’cause it’s true. Both ways.

It’s already been the first week of school: five whole days passed, memories of it were not a blur and can be willed easily into definition, my relative time has changed.

It’s only been the first week of school: what?? Have I not already been here for five whole days? Whaddaya mean only five days? How many more to go??

Warning! Warning! It’s not a binary! They are not opposites, do not have to exist with or without each other, my feelings of relief and longing are in no way contradictory. Trust me. Please.

I don’t know– it’s been so strange. It’s not like I stopped thinking over the summer or anything, but now I’m back I have to make the conscious effort to flip my brain back on. Maybe it’s more like switching tabs on your choice of internet browser– I’ve got to function through a different scope.

Allow me to pull another cliché and share a word of wisdom. Not my word of wisdom, which either makes it better or worse. It’s the words of my Psych and Human Geo teacher, the ever-wise Ms. Coghlan:

Coghlan

Yes it’s on my wall.

And, for such a simple thought, it’s surprisingly esoteric. Procrastination has always been the norm for me, and there’s always a reason why– I’m in the middle of a page in the middle of a book, I’m knitting a scarf for my father’s birthday, I was just about to cook pasta. It’s never really occurred to me to actually consider my actions in a more objective perspective, where there’s this set amount of time in which I can get things done, I am in that block of time, why not do it?

Why do it? is a loaded question. Why not do it? is a flippant one. I like my attitude flippant, the operational definition of “flippant” being completely positive and not rude in any way.

And do the things you put off because it actually doesn’t make sense not to.

The first week has passed and is settling slowly around me, and I must sleep it off. More next time on senior-ism. Man that’ll be a long post.

School End Wisdom

by Avi (’15)

As the school dwindles to the last weeks, I can sense a feeling of despair in the eyes of my classmates. It’s funny how when the end is so close, it seems so far away. With this despair can come the lack of enthusiasm, or the feeling that “class doesn’t matter anymore, I only have two more actual weeks anyways.” This is not true. These last few weeks are what can bring that B to either an A, or a C.  These weeks are the time to put in the most effort.

Right now, I am right alongside my classmates. In some subjects, I straight up don’t care anymore. I tell myself, “When am I going to need to know what kind of bonding occurs between hydrogen and fluorine?  Probably never.” I tell myself, “Why do I care about (excuse my language, but it’s the correct term) bullshitting my way to a higher grade with more WebQuests and cookies.”  These mantras  do not help my enthusiasm for school.

What I need to tell myself is that I should try hard because I want to finish strong. In the words of Molly Bond, “[You should]… do… well…[in school because] Flannery O’Connor… [and grades].”  Besides Flannery O’Connor wanting me to do well, I’ll admit I’m doing most of my work now just to get good grades. This is a bad work ethic. It turns noble assignments into busy work.

Grades are no longer a result of doing good work, but the only incentive that keeps me from not doing it at all. I tell myself to look ahead into the foggy summer that San Francisco has to offer. However, this is hard to do but in the words of Kacey Musgraves, “If you’re gonna find a silver linin’/ It’s gotta be a cloudy day.”

My silver lining for the rest of school is Creative Writing. Creative Writing is what keeps me from completely giving up on school. So, you might see me with dull eyes, drooling over papers in all my other classes, but for the rest of the year in Creative Writing I’m going to try my best at showing enthusiasm. Besides, we are one very lucky group of kids to get to spend time with high quality artists-in-residence, and eating great food (Maia, I loved your tempeh!)

So, the moral of this post is, in the words of Andy Grammer, “[to] keep your head up, oh, and you can let your hair down, eh..”  Let’s finish this school year strong!  The finish line is just over the mountain!

Internship

by Frances (’14)

Sometimes it takes a while to figure things out. I learned this in my internship this year. Because of the self-governed, self-created nature of the Community Internship, I had chances in class to reflect on the direction I think we should take the project. However, I quickly realized that I do not have very much experience in outreach or volunteer-work, which were the two initial ideas from which we constructed the internship. In class, I could easily identify the problems we needed to fix—not enough diversity in Creative Writing being one of them—but I couldn’t think of any good way to stop it.

We spent most of our internship classes discussing the problems, as well as possible solutions, before we all agreed as a group that it was a problem too big for us to really tackle. Instead, through the conversations, we found a new window open to us, which still had to do with work in the community, and by extension, outreach; we decided we wanted to volunteer, write about, and learn about various people and organizations in our community.

I found this to be a positive experience. Although outreach did not succeed this year, Giorgia and I will renew our efforts next year, running a portfolio workshop at 826. Now I know the problems and obstacles in organization and leadership, and I feel prepared to tackle them.

826

This Isn’t A Dog And Pony Show!

by Mykel (’14)

There’s a feeling I like to call “end of the year nihilism,” and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. For someone as lazy and evasive as yours truly, heaps of final projects and tests often result in what the experts like to call a “fuck-it-all coma.”

I’m trying to avoid that scary place in my brain this year. And you know what’s really helping out with that right now? Our awesome artist in residence, Sarah Fontaine.

Oh yes, this is one of those posts.

Her combination of flexibility and structure, experimentation and “engagement with discipline” reminds me how meaningful school can be. I am personally having a great time with the genre-bending texts she has us reading, but our unit gives me more than texts to think about. It reminds me what a huge privilege it is to spend all my days learning. In other words, even if some of my experience with school is annoying and uncomfortable, it’s still not “a dog and pony show.” (Sarah Fontaine’s words.) It still has things to offer me.

Just because Creative Writing is in the middle of a really cool unit doesn’t mean that school is fun all of a sudden. But doing things like listening to an entire album without distractions, holding silent conversations, and reading confusing literature make me more willing to sit through things that may be boring or uncomfortable. And more than that, the kinds of homework we are being assigned remind me to be more open to what my “boring” experiences have to offer me.