[DR]: Monday

by Maya (’15)

We spent Creative Writing today presenting rough drafts of scripts we had written in small groups for the show. This took, surprisingly, the entire period, but we gave each other helpful feedback and will continue to develop our scripts and ideas. We presented in the order that the “interludes” will appear in the show. This was helpful because it gave us a better idea (or, an idea in the first place) of the cohesiveness of our scripts, and showed us how we can create more of a through-line. Also, we got necessary feedback on the content of our scripts from Tony and the rest of the class.

Another thing we did was start to cast the main characters in the “interludes,” which, without giving anything away, turned out to be exciting and efficient!

Letting Go

by Maya Litauer (’15)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

My writing practice is never what I want it to be. I constantly feel as though I could be doing more writing, more journaling, more editing, spending more time on my practice. I feel guilty all the time for not being my most-perfect self, for not putting in the time and the effort to improve. Because that’s what writing practice is, really – improving. Even ten minutes a day of free writing would help; I don’t have to write novels or complete poems. But for some reason, it doesn’t happen. I don’t improve as much as I hope to, I write less (and less profoundly) than I think I should, I make edits so small they can hardly be seen. I feel guilty for not sticking to my own standards even though I know I have the power to change.

But perhaps the problem is not in my inability to change, but the fact that if I am constantly striving for some enlightened practice, I can never fully practice my practice. In other words, I can only improve if I am present in my writing, and I cannot be present in my writing if I’m grading it on a scale of how much better it is than a day or two or a month before. Perhaps I need to let go in order to let my writing practice flourish, so it an be its fullest self and I can fully devote myself to it.

But then, maybe I’m not devoted enough to try to overcome these obstacles because I don’t know how there can be payoff for something undesired. It isn’t like I want to become a professional writer, or get published, or even earn a degree in creative writing, so is it even worth it to improve? I know that sounds lazy, and maybe it is. Maybe one of my obstacles is that I make excuses to let myself off the hook. The hook is feeling like I’m too self absorbed to be honest about anything in my writing other than my petty angst. The hook is feeling like I’m not worthy of improvement because I think of myself too much to be selfless but I don’t really care because I’m so busy worrying that I’m not experiencing life fully, and then that sounds selfish and unworthy. What I mean is that I question whether writing about my teenage problems constitutes as writing, and whether that kind of writing counts as improvement, and whether I even deserve to improve if that’s all I write about.

But maybe I over-think things (this is not a maybe, I know I do). It all comes back to letting go, letting the writing take me where it will, without judgement and without control. Self-censorship is the worst kind of censorship, but it’s also the hardest to get rid of. Maybe this will help: take a deep breath before writing, imagine my fears and expectations melting away, and put pen to paper in the most honest form of expression.

Congratulations Maya!

Congratulations to Maya Litauer (’15) for her publication in the About Place Journal:


I am a soft body,
wrap me in your glowing shroud
and watch me sing.
Bathe me in your salty sweat
as we fade into the forest
of skin.
Our edges are sunset,
out roots and our branches
connect what we see.
Lather me into
your dry cracks
and watch me come to life.
Close your eyes and graze
my tips with yours –
my bark is marked
with longings.
We have eyes,
in our leaves,
we know what warmth is –
take some from my
roots and bury it in your

Family Ties That Bind Through Art

by Maya (’15)

When asked whom they most admire, many people would talk about famous artists whom they revere. I could do the same and write about Sylvia Plath or Margaret Atwood, but the truth is, I cannot fully admire someone I do not know. Because of this, I choose my brother, Julian, as the artist and person I most admire. I admire Julian because he inspires me to do my best in the arts.

Julian pushes me never to give up in the arts, no matter how incapable I feel. He is constantly changing and improving his work, trying out new things, and immersing himself in his art. When he practices his monologues after school and on the weekend, I am inspired to lengthen and develop my writing practice. His passion transfers to me through the art that links us together. All art is connected through the art that is created in response to the lasting impression it stirs in people. My brother and I are both artists, so we are constantly inspiring each other to create and improve.

Sometimes, a line from his monologue sticks with me, and I use it as a prompt for a poem. He delivers it with such force that the clarity and truth of the words are unavoidable. This sparks in me an interest about the performance of poetry, which manifested in the poem I read for the first Creative Writing show. Writing this poem was such a powerful and engaging experience, that I knew it needed an equally strong delivery. Instead of reading it as a mere bystander, I became the speaker. I embodied her feelings and conveyed her message to the audience. I do not think this would have been possible without Julian. From the very start of the creation of this poem, his acting pushed me to deliver my poem to its fullest. I envisioned Julian performing a monologue without inhibitions, and I strived for the same. He gave me advice on how to strengthen my piece, and told me what to emphasize.

Julian’s complete selflessness in his art makes me wish I could write uninterrupted by thoughts of doubt. Such thoughts are common when I write, and keep me from a state of absorption (or total immersion in the poem). Although I struggle with this, thinking of Julian helps me to release these thoughts. I know he is not perfect, and I know he doubts himself at times, but I think of the moments when he is so involved in a monologue or a role that nothing can shake him; this is my goal.

I strive for Julian’s relationship with his art, and I know he can help me get there. I know this because watching him act, dance or sing actually pushes me a little closer. This is not only why I admire Julian, but also why I appreciate and love him as my brother.

Congrats Maya!

Congratulations to Maya Litauer (’15), who is being published in Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters. Look out for her poem  “The Peach Fuzz Above Her Lip” in their 2012 Fall issue. Congrats!

There Was a Child Went Forth

by Maya (’15)

The poem “There Was a Child Went Forth” by Walt Whitman is about a boy who becomes everything he sees. All the things in nature that he glances upon become part of him, and they shape him as a person. He is becoming open and understanding the world more because he is able to take it all in. This poem addresses the social issue that people are becoming too attached to material things, and not appreciating nature to its full potential. The boy in the poem shows that this can and should be overcome, and that humans need to change society so that we become more in-sync with each other and gain more knowledge. The boy is also being aware of his surroundings, which humans today do not do often enough. The “moral” of this poem is that humans should pay more attention to nature, because they will learn things from it, and that materialism is becoming a problem in modern day society.

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

There was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of
the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird,
And the Third-month lambs, and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and the mare’s foal, and the cow’s calf,
And the noisy brood of the barn-yard, or by the mire of the pond-side,
And the fish suspending themselves so curiously below there–and the beautiful curious liquid,
And the water-plants with their graceful flat heads–all became part of him.

The field-sprouts of Fourth-month and Fifth-month became part of him;
Winter-grain sprouts, and those of the light-yellow corn, and the esculent roots of the garden,
And the apple-trees cover’d with blossoms, and the fruit afterward,
and wood-berries, and the commonest weeds by the road;
And the old drunkard staggering home from the out-house of the tavern, whence he had lately risen,
And the school-mistress that pass’d on her way to the school,
And the friendly boys that pass’d–and the quarrelsome boys,
And the tidy and fresh-cheek’d girls–and the barefoot negro boy and girl,
And all the changes of city and country, wherever he went.

His own parents,
He that had father’d him, and she that had conceiv’d him in her womb, and birth’d him,
They gave this child more of themselves than that;
They gave him afterward every day–they became part of him.

The mother at home, quietly placing the dishes on the supper-table;
The mother with mild words–clean her cap and gown, a wholesome odor
falling off her person and clothes as she walks by;
The father, strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean, anger’d, unjust;
The blow, the quick loud word, the tight bargain, the crafty lure,
The family usages, the language, the company, the furniture–the yearning and swelling heart,
Affection that will not be gainsay’d–the sense of what is real–the thought if, after all, it should prove unreal,
The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time–the curious whether and how,
Whether that which appears so is so, or is it all flashes and specks?
Men and women crowding fast in the streets–if they are not flashes and specks, what are they?
The streets themselves, and the façades of houses, and goods in the windows,
Vehicles, teams, the heavy-plank’d wharves–the huge crossing at the ferries,
The village on the highland, seen from afar at sunset–the river between,
Shadows, aureola and mist, the light falling on roofs and gables of white or brown, three miles off,
The schooner near by, sleepily dropping down the tide–the little boat slack-tow’d astern,
The hurrying tumbling waves, quick-broken crests, slapping,
The strata of color’d clouds, the long bar of maroon-tint, away
solitary by itself–the spread of purity it lies motionless in,
The horizon’s edge, the flying sea-crow, the fragrance of salt marsh and shore mud;
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.

Mock Trial

by Maya (’15)

Last year, I was part of SOTA’s Mock Trial team. In Mock Trial, a group of students put on a trial and argue on the defense or prosecution side. We are provided with case materials which include a pre-trial argument, witness statements, stipulations, a list of objections, and a fact situation. Each Mock Trial team has a prosecution and a defense side, and in the competitions, one side from each team goes against each other. My role last year was a witness, who gets to play a character and is asked questions regarding the case. I played a coroner, who autopsied the victim, and I got to talk about the knife wound, some fibers found on the victim’s body, and when and how she died (it was a murder trial). A lawyer on my side (the prosecution) made up questions to ask me to prove that the defendant was guilty, and I got to practice answering as my character. This exchange is called a direct examination. Another part of my role in the trial was being asked questions by the other team’s lawyer, which I didn’t know in advance. This is called a cross examination, and allowed for some improvisation, which is always exciting, and gave me a chance to show the judges that I knew my facts. Other parts of the trial include and opening and closing statement (on both sides), objections (which are made if the other team says something they’re not allowed to that you don’t like), and a pre-trial argument (which happens before the trial on one of the amendments, and decides if a certain fact gets into the actual trial or not).

This may seem complicated, and it’s hard to explain, but I had a blast doing it last year. The whole team feels like a family, and it’s nice to have a community outside of Creative Writing. We have practices two times a week, and they are fun, informative, and interesting. I do not think I want to become a lawyer at any point, but I find it fascinating, and really enjoyed being a witness. When the time comes for competitions, the whole team has bonded. We put on a trial against different schools (one side of each team goes on one night), and are scored by actual lawyers. Last year, SOTA got 2nd in the city competition, which was a little disappointing, but totally worth it. Afterwards, all the teams get together and get awards, and I got the best witness in the city, which was an honor.

Anyway, Mock Trial was and is really fun, and even if this doesn’t make you want to join (which it should), I hope it gives you an understanding of what the only team-sport at SOTA looks like.