Senior Year by Harmony Wicker

Finally, after a great and laborious four years, rife with chronic sleep deprivation, emotional turmoil, and the purchase of thousands upon thousands of pens that were immediately lost—either at the bottom of my backpack, my room floor, or to the grimy hands of my classmates, I, Harmony Sweetwater Johnson-Wicker have made it to senior year.

Feel free to applaud. It’s been amazing to be able to chant “last year here!” in the halls with your friends and to terrorize freshmen, however, while I have the finish line just in sight, there is this scary thing called college applications that is casting a shadow over my joy(que ominous thunderclap).

Along with college applications comes the terrifying personal statement. The personal statement is a dangerous beast that resists all efforts to be tamed through tireless efforts. It’s an odd creature, really, consisting of the egotistical words of self praise depicting how, “last summer I saved a group of drowning children and the ruler of the universe awarded me with the honor of being the most valuable human being ever born, and therefore you should accept me, me, ME into your college for a low price of fifty-thousand dollars a year, free of shipping and handling to which I will so generously pay.” As a senior, you are expected to master the art of highlight your best qualities without making it seem blatantly obvious. In a way, one takes on the appearance of packaged meat— all organic, free range, non-GMO, and SAT scores above 1200. And honestly, this has all become increasingly terrifying.

I am constantly trying to think of what makes me such an indispensable commodity that is absolutely necessary in the greater context of the world around us. Recently, in Creative Writing, a former CW student taught a week- long unit. During her unit, she had us write artist statements. These pieces functioned as an in-depth exploration of why we write. Afterwards, we shared our responses, and I was truly impressed by how no one’s work sounded alike. Viewing the exercise through the lens of being a senior and having to produce personal statements, I realized how beautiful it was that we were able to tell such a diverse range of stories that demonstrated how we use our writing to process and understand our own beliefs, our school, and the environment we all live in. The experience simultaneously made me feel so small, because I realized that I am just a single piece of an ever- expanding puzzle and yet, at the same time, it too made me feel so large because my own puzzle piece, along with everyone else, is so uniquely shaped and colored..

And while the personal statement still remains an odd creature (and remains to be written), working on artist statements has overall helped me approach my own story in a more forgiving manner and, unexpectedly, has made me wonder about how many statements have gone unheard and are just waiting to leap into the quilt made up of our species history.

Harmony Wicker, class of 2020

Consider by Harmony Wicker

Over the past few days, I’ve been pondering what it means to be a good American. Before I can unpack that thought, I have to backtrack and ask myself, what does it mean to be a good human? To answer my original question, to be a good human, one must be compassionate, care about important issues, be trustworthy, consider the world and the impact of their actions, and so on. As one person on this Earth, however, I don’t think that I can truly answer this question. To define what it means to be a good human, it would have to be a collective effort so that, at the very least, multiple perspectives are considered and respected. The list will never stop growing as our species continues to transform.

In reaching my tentative conclusion, I asked another question, does it even matter? The world is bursting with kind people who are taking action against real issues such as starvation, abuse, war, bullying, and everything else that has ever hurt anyone, if only for a microsecond. Yet, when I look at the news, these issues seem unaffected by the valiant efforts and appear to only get worse. It’s extremely discouraging and even with the anger poetry I write, my words and voice never feel like enough to create change. However, I’ve come to a point in my life where I’ve decided not to give up. I want to make everything matter, to answer my second question.

A couple of days ago, in Creative Writing Two, we read a interview of Mauro Javier Cardenas, the author of the recently published novel, The Revolutionaries Try Again. In this interview, done by Charlotte Whittle, Cardenas remarked that he wrote the novel “moment by moment.” I believe that this can be applied to all aspects of life. At this crazy time of complete uncertain, which I think is strongly felt across the entire world, we have to take life in moment by moment, step by step, breath by breath. We then can face the change that is currently happening and, hopefully, come out on the other side as better people. I still haven’t answered my original question what it means to be a good American and at this point—I don’t know if I can. Instead, I’ve tried to make sense of my current reality by considering other perspectives to help cultivate the correct answer for myself. In doing this, for now, I must live moment by moment, if only to stay sane.

Harmony Wicker, class of 2018

Read A Book, by Harmony Wicker

Before I was accepted into the Creative Writing Department, I often did not read literature outside of young adult novels. I had felt as though I had found my home in-between the lines of badly-written romances. My knowledge of how to develop my writing was, therefore, limited to stories that often existed in the Twilight universe. It seemed to me, in my pre-high school days, that I could learn everything I needed know by sticking to what I already knew. I never imagined that I could find pleasure in the words of old English novels, contemporary poetry, personal narrative, autobiographies, translated stories, and culturally diverse work. (The list goes on.) In this way, I am thankful for the Creative Writing Department because it pushed me to overcome my fear of venturing beyond teenage pulp fiction.

By being introduced to unfamiliar ways of storytelling, I was able to gain new insights into the art of writing. I learned how to comprehend complex writing, which helped me get a better understanding of what literature could accomplish. The world of complex literature had opened up to me. Somehow, I learned an amazing code that lets me join some bootleg version of The Breakfast Club where reading and writing is at the center of our lives. As I read a range of literary forms from the plays of Shakespeare, to the inclusive poetry of Walt Whitman, and the beautiful language of Audre Lorde, I became more comfortable in my ability to understand writing.

As I am guided toward new genres and literary forms by the curriculum and teachers of the Creative Writing Department, more and more of these stories surface, and I get to discover them. These discoveries make me excited to develop my own writing and ideas about life. And by doing so, I have become a more entertaining, intelligent, and engaging person. Hopefully, I will continue to venture into the large variety of unfamiliar genres so that I drive myself to be the most amazing version of me.

Harmony Wicker, class of 2018

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving by Harmony Wicker

As a high school student, it is easy to forget how much I depend on my parents. I rarely consider that they have lives outside of my own. Many may find this self-centered or selfish, but as a teenager, it is normal to believe that the world revolves around your whims. It only seems natural for my parents to fund my projects, drive me around, or wait for me to finish after-school activities. However, upon reflection, I’ve come to realize how hard it would be for me to live on my own and pursue a career in creative writing.

Writing is a career that is notorious for not being extremely lucrative. Unless you make it big, or sell some organs on the black market, it is hard to live a relatively nice life in the Bay Area. That isn’t to say it cannot be done. There are plenty of writers who are successful, well- known, and have made a lot of money. Sadly, however, that reality isn’t true for all aspiring writers. For these reasons, I am in the perfect place as a young writer to explore writing to its fullest. This is all because of my parents.

When I really think about this fact, I understand how much I need my parents’ support during these odd teenage years. They save me from the worries of the adult world and its issues. This could easily include having to take care of a child, utilities, food, or possibly another adult human being. My parents’ support allows for me to be able to focus solely on my passion and improve my writing so that I become better at my art. And sure, while parents in some ways can seem overbearing and slightly annoying at times, their effort in helping me with life is invaluable. This time of year forces you to think about all the things we have to be thankful for, and this was at the top of my list.

Writing Is— by Harmony Wicker

Writing is a wonderful, yet solitary art. Unlike ballet, opera, or any other performance-based art, you don’t need to train with others to hone your craft. In fact, one tends to learn more through reading established authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Isabel Allende, Stephenie Meyer, and so on. And, unless you want feedback, or planning on becoming the next J.K Rowling, you can write your entire life without having a single human being read your work. While all of this is true, none of it means that writing is not meant to be performed.

When our department began preparing for our first Creative Writing Show of the year I came to understand why writing is a performance-based art in its own right. At the time, the reality of having to read my work in front of an audience terrified me. I felt that my work would not be understood by the audience or worse yet, writers in my own department. I was wrong. We came together as a department, searched each other’s work for deeper meaning, and broke down walls of fear. During this time I was connected to everyone and understood why writing should be performed.  

Writers are storytellers, whether it be through poetry, fiction, or playwriting. As storytellers, writers have the ability to create familiar experiences, bring joy to experiences that are unfamiliar, and help connect people to each other through their words. When my name was called and I stepped onto the stage, I was connected to my story, my vision, and my passion. My passion, in turn, brought life to my performance and gave life to my audience and connected everyone to each other.

Harmony Wicker, class of 2018


First Drafts by Harmony Wicker

When I receive praise for my poetry, plays, and other works, it is easy to forget about the notebooks full of writing from my past years. When I do read my old writing, which I remember as the utmost incredible pieces of literature that I had ever written, I often wish that I hadn’t. There are even days when I want to burn them from physical existence in hopes that the incoherent sentences and serial killer handwriting will never be seen again. Unfortunately, I can’t always say that this has changed. Reading my former work is one of the most amusing and excruciating moments of being a writer.

When I am reading the work of Shakespeare, J.California Cooper, Anton Chekhov and even Dr. Seuss, the possibility that there was any other version of their well-chosen words and rhythmic syntax is unimaginable to me. Nevertheless, it is true that the work I admire, at some point had a first draft. For example, when I read “Traveling Through the Dark” by William Stafford, I was unable to fathom how Stafford created such a profound, sorrowful, and exquisite poem. However, as I researched the poem, I happened upon its multiple drafts. While I examined draft after draft, I felt a connection to Stafford. He and I, in a sense, were the same. In an odd and unique way, all writers are the same. We all go through the process of discovering and changing our work until we believe it is presentable.

To be able to grow as a writer, it requires hard work and willingness to revise your poems, nonfiction, plays, stories, or whatever else you’re working on. I must admit that sometimes it seems like it would be more satisfying to write the perfect draft in one go. Be that as it may, the late night frustrations, animosity, and eventual respect you develop for your writing is the most exciting part about the craft. So, don’t worry about where you are or where you are going. As long as you love writing and motivate yourself to grow, the final draft will no doubt be amazing.

Harmony Wicker, Class of 2018