Making Metaphors in the Mission by Rae Kim

Recently, Eva Whitney and I were invited to teach a lesson at 826 Valencia in the San Francisco Mission district. The building is well-known as a pirate-themed gift shop, but that is only a front: tucked away in the back room is a student outreach and tutoring program. The goal was to pack the young attendees full of poetry over a two-day period, and therefore make poetry more accessible and less daunting. We began a feverish hunt online, looking for poems that would clearly demonstrate one of six crucial literary devices: metaphor, simile, personification, form, repetition, alliteration, and rhyme. The irresistible allure of our lesson lay in the theme of San Francisco, which tied all the poems together. We hoped this would help the students identify with the content of the pieces, which we then hoped would lead to interest in the devices used therein.

As we crawled through countless poetry websites like starving men across a desert, it became apparent that very few poets write a poem with a literary device as their inspiration, as we planned to have the students do. When we got to the lesson with our jumbled bag of poems in hand, shifting from one foot to the other, it was easy to believe nothing we said would make any sense at all. In Creative Writing, much of the learning we do is analytical, zooming in on each word. I wondered: would any of my yammering make sense to people who are not exposed to this three hours a day and five days a week?

Whether or not the students will take the literary devices we introduced to their graves, I believe we reached our objective: everyone wrote an interesting poem or prompt. It was captivating to hear writing that was pristine, that just spilled out of the tops of the students’ heads, written very quickly and with little warning. The students were not huge talkers, but I found that I could learn more about each person through the prompts that we forced them to share. Even if the technicalities of poetry did not impress the students, I think that writing it left them with confidence about poetry, and maybe they’ll even come knocking at the door of Creative Writing during high-school application time.

Rae Kim, class of 2020


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.


Umläut Release Party 2013

by Abigail (’14)

On Friday the third, Umläut had a successful (and profitable) release party for the 2014 issue, dubbed Plastic Knives! We pity everyone who wasn’t there, and we’re sure those who came didn’t regret spending the night before Prom with us.

While the prime attraction was, obviously, this year’s Umläut— as professional and polished as ever, but with a new matte cover this time— there was also great music by Rin Tin Tiger and Mayya Feygina, food donated by Arizmendi and CW parents, and a raffle. It was probably one of the balmiest days we’ll see this year, but most people managed to stay inside long enough to listen to several of the published authors read their work.

We couldn’t have done it without 826 Valencia’s generosity in offering us the space for the night, free! Thanks to the parents who contributed to covering what 826 usually charges.

If you missed the party, we trust you won’t make the same mistake again next year, but you can get your new Umläut at SOTA at lunch (we’re selling outside of the CW room) or by emailing Soon it should be available to purchase online at