Letting a Poem Breathe by Kaia Hobson

In September, Creative Writing was led by our assistant director, Ploi Pirapokin, in a two-week flash fiction unit. During the unit, I realized that flash fiction is what my poetry tends to imitate. During the workshopping sessions at the beginning of the year, I was often told that my poetry could also take the form of a piece of prose, but thought little of it, either expanding the poem I had written, or ignoring the comments altogether. When I do write poetry, sometimes I feel as though I’m cramming too many situations and ideas into a single piece. I try to stop myself, remembering to hone in on the small and to move the focus outwards as I write, but sitting down to write poetry is usually comprised of me frantically sifting through whatever I’ve thrown up onto the page, trying to find that one concise nugget of a poem. When asked to write a 500-1000 word flash fiction piece, I immediately saw it as an opportunity to drop the sifter and make use of the wiggle room I found in prose and flash fiction.

If I had ever accidentally written flash fiction before, I definitely did not know I was doing it at the time. I wasn’t aware that this writing style was its own entity, nor did I realize how much I would enjoy it. Writing my final piece for this unit felt like finally learning the name of a song that you’ve liked for some time. I was able to let all my ideas breathe, and sit comfortably with the knowledge that I could include everything I wanted to express without the piece feeling unfocused and scattered. Although I do sometimes appreciate the discipline that the structure of poetry requires, the greater freedom provided by the flash fiction genre allowed me to feel comfortable with expressing the volume of ideas that would otherwise detract from the essence of my poetry. I look forward to using flash fiction as a vehicle for those times when the brevity of a poem feels inadequate.

 

Kaia Hobson, Class of 2021

Humor! by Kaia Hobson

As per Creative Writing custom, after the first show of the year, the department invites an artist in residence to teach a week long unit before we begin studying poetry. This year, Daniel Handler came in and taught a mini unit on humor. We had a similar lesson last year, taught by Sam Hamm, though it was much shorter, consisting of only two days. Handler taught us how to create the basis of a comedic piece of writing, as well as how connect seemingly unrelated works through the use of a grounding narrator or topic.

Handler began the lesson by distinguishing “boring” sentences from ones with comedic potential. All 30 creative writers were instructed to come up with a boring sentence. Some examples included: “I don’t want to go go outside because it is raining,” or “I have no energy.” We then came up with “funny” words that either had comedic connotations, or that produced funny sounds. We then added these words to our boring sentences to make them slightly more intriguing: “I don’t want to go outside because it is raining falafels.” While not intended to evoke a outburst of laughter, the simple addition of “falafel” not only grabs the reader by surprise, but provides an opportunity to expand on the sentence in a comedic fashion, if one so desires.

Part of the unit was to write a 2-3 page culminating project that uses a specific narrator, or connecting subject to create a cohesive piece of comic writing. I decided to write a collection of a short articles that lack any significance in today’s world.

Here is an excerpt of one, titled “Three Designers Make Yet Another Whale Out Of Trash.”

The unraveling ceremony of the sculpture took place yesterday in Boca Raton, Florida. It is said to stand at an impressive 5 feet, and is reported to have taken almost 3 days to complete. One of the creators, Melanie Tumford stated: “I think this is something people are going to see and go, ‘Wow. That’s really big.’”

Another one of the designers, Ian Mousk described the process of making the sculpture, calling it, “A really cool behind the scenes experience.” He spoke to the hungry crowd of at least 3 reporters: “We all kind of just sat down and wanted to create something that was so unique, people would see it and go: “Wow. That’s really tall.”

Throughout the unit, I learned the importance of having a grounding subject for the audience to come back to, as simple as a specific collection title, in order to give the comedy found in the piece meaning. I hope to learn more on the craft of comedy as my high school career progresses.

Kaia Hobson, Class of 2021

 

Personalities by Kaia Hobson

As my first year in the Creative Writing department progresses, I am beginning to notice a change in the way I observe the world, and the way I interact with others. An artist takes what is meaningful from their observations, and translates that into a language of their own; some of these can be deciphered by a wide range of audiences, and some are left with the message undiscovered. There is beauty in both these forms of art.

As a writer, it is essential that I examine the traits that make someone unique, in order to create powerful, accurate descriptions of the impression one may leave. This is a skill I am developing here in Creative Writing. Once this ability is obtained, the fictional characters I generate in my writing will become stronger, and more developed, as I can draw from characteristics I notice in real life.

In observing others, I seem to be noticing more about myself, the way I do things, the ways I don’t. I get so lost in interpreting other people’s aura’s in my head, that I sometimes forget to make a sound myself. It’s funny, some people have found me to be quiet and composed recently (sometimes), but really, my mind is constantly flowing with thoughts and ideas. It always has been, but only recently have the thoughts accumulated inside my head; few even to emerge onto anything but paper. This sudden change of personality is most likely linked to the extensive amount of writing, observing, writing and observing I have been doing for the past couple of months.

By noticing what makes another unique, I am getting to know myself a bit better. My own writing style is becoming more developed as I learn more ways in which it can be strengthened. Whatever the rest of the year brings, I am excited to learn more about myself, and my writing.

Kaia Hobson, class of 2021

Kirby Cove by Kaia Hobson

When I first joined the Creative Writing department, many things stood out, the people, the work space, and of course the writing. But one thing the made itself clearly evident was the extensive amount of traditions. I recently participated in the most recent one, Kirby Cove. Kirby Cove is the place the Creative Writing department goes to camp every year; it is treated as a bonding experience for all the grades. We stay only for a night.

This year, we managed to get a spot during the three-day October weekend, providing an extra day for recovery.  There was one site for the whole twenty eight kids attending. It was cramped, but this heightened the bonding experience even more. The campground was beautiful, the green groves of trees creating a canopy over our heads, while the soft sound of crashing waves filled our ears.

Most people had arrived around noon, their presence kicking off the abounding mini traditions in the Kirby Cove experience. I could see the excitement in the upperclassmen eyes as they arrived, old memories reminiscing, new ones about to be made. Most of the events revolved around the recent additions to the department: the Freshmen. Me, being a freshman was expecting this, but I was unaware as to how intense the activities would get. The activities will go undescribed to add to the surprise for next year, but all I can say is how they may have seemed surreal at first, but they were definitely something to remember. I felt much closer to my peers, us now seeming as one.

Small groups of Creative Writers were constantly walking back and forth from the beach to the campsite. Those who didn’t have shoes, and who couldn’t handle the sharp rocks covering the path, were willingly carried by those who had shoes. I floated from group to to group, from other freshmen to upperclassmen, getting to know a little about everyone in the department.

A night some decided to sleep, while others vowed to stay up the whole night. I gave in to my body’s pleas for rest, and got perhaps three interrupted hours of sleep next to the fire pit. The next morning everyone was delirious, even including the people who did get a improved night’s sleep. We all packed up, eager to head home and rest, but sad to leave such an experience behind.

Although the trip is behind us, the connections I made will last me throughout my years of high school, perhaps even further. I can’t wait to return to the newly familiar Kirby Cove.

Kaia Hobson, class of 2021