Response Poetry Unit by Leela Sriram

I have never been particularly excited about writing poetry. I felt as if my work wasn’t “poetic” enough and I would spend hours deleting and rewriting the same line trying to tweak it into perfection. On the first day in Creative writing, I knew that our performance poetry unit was going to be our first, which stressed me out a little bit because I didn’t have much confidence in what I wrote. As the school year has been progressing, my poetry has been improving slightly each time I write and compared to my summer work I believe I have improved drastically.

Currently, Creative Writing is split into two classes, CW I (a class for the freshmen and sophomores) and CW II (a college-style seminar for the upperclassmen.) In CW I, we are learning about responding to poetry in our new unit, which I like to call our “Response Poetry unit.” Initially, I was a bit daunted by this idea of mimicking the form and style of other poems, mainly because I didn’t really know how to properly use certain literary devices, but after giving these “response poems” a try, I feel more confident in my ability to respond to poems and share out in class. One of my favorite things about our “Response Poetry unit” is that we have a lot of freedom regarding what we can write about, but the poems have to be in a certain format, such as four three-line stanzas and a couplet. So there is a lot to work with within the format, which gives some guidance.

For our “Response Poetry unit,” we have been writing a poem a night, for our project where we make a book filled with all these poems. When first learning about this assignment, the making of a book filled with poetry that we have written in response to other poetry really interested me. Here is a poem I wrote and turned in for this unit, inspired by “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”

13 Different Ways of Looking at the Moon

I

Within darkness,

The only thing disturbing

The void, was the glow of the crescent moon

 

II

Wind blew idly by,

As crevices

Creeped up upon the surface

 

III

The Moon Lady is solitary, they say

But she has the sun, for an eternity.

 

IV

The ocean bleeds onto sand

As the First Quarter moon hovers, heavily

 

V

Seven hungry men

Run through every crater

Searching for

The mythic moon cheese

 

VI

Sometimes,

If you look close enough

The moon

Has three eyes

 

VII

The full moon

Enchants the earth

With its melted-silver glow

 

VIII

What is it like to be the moon

To look out at a sea of stars,

Yet the only thing sparkling is you

 

IX

In Between the trees

And the waning gibbous moon

Another twinkle appears

But its just a plane

 

X

Maybe the moon’s

Not just a fan of the dark

But also enjoys time with the sun

 

XI

Drenched in rainwater,

And the moon is still

Shining

 

XII

A tear rolls down

Its rocky crevised face

But the tear never falls off the surface

 

XIII

We fly from coast to coast

In a pitch black sky

The waning crescent moon,

Is always with us.

 

-Leela Sriram, class of 2023

Witchcraft and Creepy Statues: a Freshman’s First Reading by Gemma Collins

Never before I got into Creative Writing did I actively go to readings. It was a foreign concept until about last week when I pulled up Green Apple Book’s website and picked the soonest reading. It didn’t matter to me the book or the author, I simply intended to go, watch, and go home.

It was 6:30 pm after school on a Tuesday, and I pushed away my sleepiness and headed to Green Apple. The book Initiated: Memoir of a Witch by Amanda Yates Garcia was displayed all over the store. Ready to take notes, I pulled out my notebook and pencil. When the author came out and sat on the little stool in front of a microphone, I realized I wouldn’t be taking notes. I would be watching intently. She brought with her a small altar, on it was an age stained doily, a pomegranate, a few crystals, a statue of the goddess of Crete, and elusive essential oils.

Fascinated and slightly confused, I couldn’t help but ask what the items were. She looked curious about my question, possibly because everyone else at the reading was an adult, but then told me the items were passed down from her ancestors and brought peace and balance. The author then asked the audience to hum and clap to the rhythm of our heartbeats. This, she said, was an exercise to show how humans are connected by our hearts.

I was surprised at how interactive the reading was, and I was slightly unsettled. Witchcraft, similar to readings, is another unexplored realm to me. The room vibrated with the audience’s humming, and I too, attempted to join after the shock of the cult-like exercise settled in and I had violently scribbled out some notes.

When I returned home afterward, I no longer thought of readings as chores and dreaded tasks. The interactive style gave me excitement for my next reading. Inspired by the witchy and Halloween theme, I wrote a short poem:

Halloween

When the sun sinks into the horizon along the tops of city building

We swiftly grab bags and head out the door,

Elaborate costumes on our backs.

 

Throughout the night,

Our bags are weighed down with candy,

Snickers and gummy bears and Twix and lollypops.

Littered among them

Empty wrappers of the sweets we eat while walking.

 

When we get back home

We sit cross-legged on the floor and dump each bag over the hardwood,

Hard candies clinking together.

Hours later, piles of our sorted candies make tripping hazards around the house.

We lie,

Costumes crushed under us

The sugar crash has struck.

 

-Gemma Collins, class of 2023

[DR]: 11/7

by Amina (’17)

Today in C-Dub I, we were joined by the delightful company of shadows (in case any of them are reading this, thanks for visiting, and hopefully we didn’t scare you too much), as we continued workshopping poems we all wrote with a special attention to sound and texture. Basically, our whole poetry unit has been based on sound, because as Heather insists, “SOUND IS EVERYTHING!” So, it was interesting to revisit Josie’s, Noa’s, and Olivia’s poetry with that kind of critical eye. I think we had a pretty rewarding workshop experience this week, especially considering all our comments today. Amazingly, seeing as it’s nearly the end of the week, we managed to stay on topic, sans a small tangent on sleep paralysis brought up by Noa’s poem.

On an unrelated note, Justus and I wore the same shirt today. (We didn’t plan it, I promise.)

amina_justus

[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).

[DR]: Tuesday

by Sophie (’17)

IsaacCreative Writing is the last class of the day which means that by the time we get here many of us are exhausted and want nothing more than to sleep for a few hours. Sadly, that’s not possible because we still have an incredible amount of work to do for our upcoming show. Today we started things off with a pep talk slash lecture which seamlessly meshed reassurances about our capabilities as C-Dubs with the fact that we need to go deeper with our theme. It can’t just be the funny story of aliens on a cruise ship— it must be the meaningful funny story of aliens on a cruise ship. As Heather and Rachel said, the best humor is the kind that reflects the truth.

After this Heather took it upon herself to energize and inspire us by jumping around and impersonating various animals on the carpet (see the sotacw Instagram) while challenging us not to laugh, which to her credit seemed to bring stress levels way down. We also fretted about what decorations are absolutely necessary for the show (not to give away too much, but, portholes).

For the second half of CW we worked on tightening up our skits, which are admittedly all over the place in a fabulous sort of way. We developed characters, reviewed dialogue, and tried to bring a deeper meaning into the show. I don’t know about everyone else, but I think my group has definitely got the scriptwriting thing down to a science. Write something down, laugh about it for a while, then realize it’s the best we can come up with and move on.

We wrapped up the day by celebrating Giorgia’s birthday (apparently I was too early with the cupcake/cronut thing yesterday) in a suitably CW-ish manner, involving the rapid consumption of chocolate cake and lemonade.

In conclusion, if you aren’t already planning to attend this year’s Creative Writing show, I have one word for you. C’mon! CW ’13: Insane Alien Cruise Ship Skits With Deeper Universal Meaning is really not something you want to miss.

[DR]: In Process

by Emma E. (’17)

One of the most exciting parts of planning anything is watching it begin to come to life. During Creative Writing today, we began discussing details of what we want our fall show to look like. Although we are still in preliminary (and top secret) planning stages, the show already feels real and immediate. To help us begin working on the show itself, we had two artists, Tony and Rachel, come in. One of the nice things about enlisting outside help is you get the benefit of their ideas and opinions. Having Tony and Rachel in helped us make our plans more detailed and organized. It’s crazy how much can happen in a class period; at the beginning of the day, we hadn’t even decided on a theme and now our show is already taking shape! One of my favorite parts of the day was when we each said one thing we could bring to the show that was specific to us; the list included knife throwing and onstage cooking, so it’ll definitely be exciting. Today was both productive and enjoyable and I can’t wait to keep planning our show and seeing the new directions it takes!

[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.

[DR]: Today in the World of Creative Writing…

by Amina (’17)

CW BrainstormThere comes a time every year (at least, I assume every year—this will be my first actual Creative Writing show as a Creative Writer!) where the entire department must take on the imperative task of coming up with a theme for our fall variety show, one of our best performances in the school year. Today Creative Writing consisted of pure brainstorming, filling up the whiteboard with ideas and brief phrases that would make no sense to anyone other than a Creative Writer (see: “nature of a fence”), and discussing the most entertaining, stimulating, and alluring ideas for our show. Splitting off into small groups, we all expanded on several ideas and proposed them to the rest of the class, then voted on our favorites. We are well on our way to uncovering that perfect theme and, obviously, I can’t spoil anything… but Creative Writing mermen? Definitely a possibility. Be excited, though, because this show will be a great way to kick off this year, and certainly something you won’t want to miss

Dance Class Distress

by Noa (’16)

I have always enjoyed to dance, but I have never been a good dancer. This combination is absolutely lethal, as demonstrated by my consistent Bs in my PE dance class, taught by the wonderfully intimidating head of the Dance Department, Elvia, and her sidekick (student teacher), Bruce. I know what you’re thinking—a B is not in any way a bad grade. And yes, I may be a bit of an overachiever. But I consider these Bs, taunting me with their nimble, curvy hips (these Bs would be able to dance the Salsa) to be a mark of failure in a class in which one is seemingly graded solely on their natural ability to move their feet in complicated patterns and not trip over themselves in the process. The Dancers, with their twirling, shiny hair and ability to pull off leggings and tiny tank tops, stand at the front of the class and perform every movement with an enviable languid, “god-this-is-so-easy” grace, while I (I can’t speak for anybody else, they all seem to be good at dancing and/or not stress about it as much as I do) make awkward, robot movements in the back row. That isn’t to say that I don’t try. I try really, really hard—I even do all of the sit ups that we always do before class, instead of lying there like a floppy starfish. But for some reason, my consistent efforts always seem to manifest themselves into a “you-will-never-be-good-enough-no-matter-how-hard-you-try-just-give-up-you-failure” B, which will forever haunt me much too deeply.

Pft, easy

Art: the Map of Maturation

by Olivia W. (’16)

I’m the only freshman in my Spanish 5/6 class. I’m not entirely sure how that worked out, but it’s one of my favorite classes, probably for that reason. A few weeks ago, my teacher told me that I had matured. I asked her what she meant, and she replied that I’d been acting less like a freshman and more like a sophomore.

I didn’t notice the change. Well, at least not like I noticed the change from 6th grade or 7th grade. It’s hard for us as human beings to notice change within ourselves unless it’s quite drastic, but there are subtle clues from things we leave behind. I can map my growth from my art. I’m talking about my visual art, the little sketches I ink on the corners of school papers and homework. I can tell just from looking at some small creature doodled in the cranny of some paper what era of my life it came from. This most definitely is true with adult artists as well, but not as quickly.

So much happens in middle school. You are transported to a new world, one you were dimply aware of but not coherently understanding. I learned so much in those three years. I experienced a lot of things for the first time, and because of them I grew. As we get older, there are fewer things for us to newly experience, and we don’t grow as quickly. We may wise up or realize important things, but slowly, gradually. Human beings are always growing, always maturing, but I believe that teenagers and tweens are on a sharp curve of some sort, where everything is going terribly fast. It’s not a roller coaster of ups and downs; it is a roller coaster going the same direction as all life, just a hell of a lot steeper then the rest of the track.

I am a different person than the person I was last week. Something happened, something changed during that time that changed me. I’m not talking about a big thing, I’m talking about something that’s probably ordinary that’s happening to me for the first time. Maybe somebody said something, maybe something ripped or bloomed. I’ve watched my peers change into completely different people since the year started. Unfortunately, it’s not always for the better.

I’m so grateful for my art. I use art the way that people now use cave paintings, to see how far we’ve come. Without art, my younger self would be a complete stranger, a different person, an unrelated species. I can look at photographs from a year ago, and suddenly I remember what I was thinking then, what I was feeling as the camera froze that expression forever, and I can see how far I’ve gone form there. I can read old letters to people, postcards, essays, secret diaries or whatever, and I am amazed by what has changed. I can leaf through old sketchbooks, and sometimes I try to draw an updated version of whatever I find. I thank my art for letting me not lose the bets parts of myself.