Summer Homework Revisions by Sequoia Hack

There’s no way to say it nicely. Assigned summer homework is not something all CW students enjoy. Summer is the only extended period time over two weeks in length where we aren’t sitting through classes lasting an hour and twenty minutes. It’s when we do not have to wake up at ungodly times of day to get to the climate-indecisive Glen Canyon where SOTA is located.

I am so fortunate to be a part of the uniquely Bay Area SFSOTA Creative Writing department. Throughout my year and three months here, I have become a much more responsible and aware person. Heather has not only guided and strengthened my writing passion, but has introduced me to perspectives I had no experience with prior to high school. But summer work was not my motivation to apply to this department, nor is it my favorite thing to do now. During the three months we have off of school, I’d prefer to escape to sleepaway camp without any looming deadlines.

However, one of Heather’s many insights is about how to improve one’s writing skills. It is centered around the cliche phrase, “practice makes perfect” (but of course as a writer, Heather introduced this concept without using any cliches). Her reason for assigning summer work is something like this: if one would like to strengthen their writing abilities, one must constantly write. I have taken this mindset to heart during the two times I have been assigned summer work, and I appreciate her firm belief for I have been able to explore my specific strengths in writing outside of the class environment.

Upon arriving back in school during August, CW revises their summer work based off of Heather’s comments. This has been an unpleasant process for me, as revisiting work done months in the past has been like looking at my application portfolio for this department after a year of being immersed in sophisticated writing — cringe-inducing. Regrets come forth about the piece, for example word choices or chosen formatting. Heather counsels us individually after reviewing our summer work, and has jokingly dubbed me the “thousand-poems-in-three-poems” girl after commenting that I wrote a poem with many concrete images but didn’t particularly blend cohesively.

These are some selected stanzas from a poem I had written this past summer and recently revised. I’ve centralized the theme, unified the imagery, and excluded extra words.

Excerpt from Coyote Bones

The bones flow and grow and sway,
suspended from cloud toes,
blown away with a fist of air
carried into Yosemite valley
by millions
of thousand year-old trees,
roots plunged to Earth’s core.
The trees remain there,
forever anchored in an ocean of
lush soil.

Robins greet blue jays
atop speckled boulders,
iridescent wings intertwine.
Slugs the hue of sunflower petals
mingle on slabs of granite.
Raccoons sulk in the heat,
claws clicking on rock,
paw pads lurching forward
to the dining birds.

And the bones keep moving,
around Glacier Point
where young couples marry,
out to fields enveloped in
sunset and lupine blooms.

Thank you so much for your comments and care, Heather! I truly appreciate the confidence you’ve instilled in me.

Sequoia Hack
Class of 2021

Velvet Jumpsuits by Sequoia Hack

I think the peak of fashion for many people is when they are toddlers or in their teens. So far, I think my peak was when I was about three years old. My parents recall me insisting on wearing an outfit resembling a Goodwill’s changing room to preschool. Many a time this wonderful outfit was composed of a (now iconic) velvet, leopard-print jumpsuit (with large holes worn in the butt, of course), purple sparkly sunglasses that barely covered the whites of my eyeballs, shimmery silver jelly high heels (always too large), and a mop of messy hair. They say I refused to take it off, and would throw a tantrum anytime they tried to get me to shower. If they succeeded, the whole outfit would get thrown back on following the shower, even if water was still dripping off of my body. I wore this outfit to school, I wore it to the park, I wore it clomping around the house. My parents were often amused by my lack of willingness to wear something relatively “normal.” I was stubborn and opinionated, and not afraid to show my feelings.

That flare exists in me today, but much less flaunted through my clothing choices. I have been kindly informed by friends on many accounts that my unhappiness with people shows too much by my scrunched eyebrows and narrowed eyes. I am working on improving my patience and have been trying to do a better job of hiding my displeasement with others, however annoyed looks are an integral part of me. My clothing choices were representative of my bold opinions, as I did not yet have the skills to tangle my face into knots of frustration. Occasionally, I still add denim jeans with orange flares at the cuffs, my father’s corduroy blazer, or Betsey Johnson flowered pants to an outfit, but for right now, my face is the most effective way of expressing myself.

Sequoia Hack, class of 2021

Funicular by Sequoia Hack

Lately, I have been thoroughly enjoying playing with form in poetry. Our current six-week unit, poetry, has enabled me to freely experiment with the shape of the work I produce. We were recently instructed to write a piece about a vehicle of our choosing. The form of our work must correlate with the vehicle of choice. My poem describes a funicular’s ascent to the summit of a mountain. I wrote twelve rhyming couplets and placed them to depict the steady upward direction in which it travels.

Take one last breath of sea-level air
I promise you will need it to stay aware

Place a cautious foot on wooden planks
now is the time to give your thanks

Don’t look down, please just trust me this time
we are only beginning this climb

Once doors close there is no turning back
zone out to the rhythmic click and clack

Snow covered meadows glisten to your left
heartbeats seem absurdly fast, are you stressed?

Why do your clever eyes appear forlorn
for you should not be feeling such scorn

This is a once-in- a-lifetime experience
do not furrow your brows and appear so furious

Atop the summit, you may sigh
but to the village below, wave goodbye

Hold in your nausea for one more second
the end of the track is nearing, I recon

Look! We made it to the mountain top
wait to get off, your pulse will surely stop

Go on, take a step through the door
I cannot wait to dash off and explore

Emptying its riders atop the peak
trusty funiculars prove not weak

Sequoia Hack, class of 2021