Invoking Freedom by Gabriel Flores Bernard

I never gave much thought to fairy tales, apart from the Disney interpretations I grew up with. I thought fairy tales were no more than children’s stories. I did not think about their adaptations, histories, reflections on humanity, and freedom of expression. I would gain an appreciation for fairy tales in the first unit of the school year. Led by published poet Fatima Kola, the unit was a lesson on what constitutes a fairy tale and how writers use and develop stories to promote social awareness and change. The unit culminated in a final project, where all students wrote their fairy tale, limits are damned. I did not expect to have as much fun writing a fairy tale as I did.

As a writer who loves to world-build fantastical realms and lore, fairy tales are a drastic change from my usual writing style. Events occur because why not? Magic is all but grounded in explanation. One does not question how the magic came to be, just that the magic pushes the story along. Magical surrealism in fairy tales has more freedom compared to other story types. Magic is integral to fairy tales, whether subtle or upfront. For me, to create another reality without explanation was weirdly foreign and frightening. To write extensive reasoning for my world is essential, a way for an overthinker to organize his chaotic imagination. I was unsure how to feel or approach my final project, written in a medium that embraced chaos.

However, as I put my worries aside and allowed words to flow, the chaos I resented became freedom. As much as I enjoy writing lore for my worlds, the process can be time-consuming and tiring. Fairy tales are lighter than other stories and carry less stress. Writing is always difficult, no matter the format, but fairy tales felt casual while incorporating the magical elements that add spice to stories. At the end of the unit, I felt confident in my final project, and most importantly, I enjoyed putting the work together. Fairy tales are a spectacular medium for writers who want to escape reality without the shackles of reality.

My Little Brother and Our Generation of Artists by Anna Geiger

I knew that I wanted to attend SOTA for creative writing after I seeing “The Nature of Offense,” the department’s 2013 poetry and fiction show. I was in the seventh grade. I know that for many people, their creative writing dream began years earlier. It seemed strange to me then, when I was meticulously planning my portfolio to audition for CW before most of my middle school peers had stopped to consider where they would move onto when those three years came to an end. I assumed that it was only me who planned so far ahead, but I have since come to realize that this is not at all uncommon for students who go on to attend SOTA.

Now I have a six year ­old brother who is taking lessons in swimming, dancing, art, and guitar practically since he could walk. He is incredibly creative, always bubbling over with enthusiasm to show me his latest projects and drawings and stories. He has already decided that he wants to go to SOTA, to be in the class of 2027, although he hasn’t decided what art he is most passionate about. To me, this sounds incredibly unusual, and yet if my brother is thinking about high school already, other children his age must be too. That being said, I have never met anyone below the age of 13 who has one school that they are already passionate about, unless that school is SOTA. So what is it about the School of the Arts that’s got little kids excited for secondary education? Really, it’s not complicated. What creative young kid wouldn’t be excited about getting to spend 2+ hours a day just doing what they love? For kids like my brother, who thrive in artistic settings, I can imagine that it would sound like tons of fun.

However, I think it’s important for everyone who wants to apply to SOTA, especially for creative writing, to remember that while every art department is fun, it also requires passion and determination. It’s easy to dream about going to SOTA and getting to explore an art form, but loving that art enough to practice it more than you ever will have before, and to find a balance between rigorous academic classes and that art is a challenge. Any student can thrive at SOTA with real motivation and love for what they do, but every department requires commitment.

Since I began at SOTA, I have known that this school was special. There is an artistic and lively atmosphere here that I never tire of, and opportunities that you can’t find anywhere else. I have not once regretted the workload that I took on in coming here to pursue writing, or that I was so quick to decide where I wanted to attend high school. Any school that inspires excitement in children as young as my brother is rare and unique, and I know what whether or not he ends up here, or any of the other kids his age who are already decided on it, SOTA will continue to have some of the most inspired and inspiring artists around.

Anna Geiger, class of 2018


Shanna, a senior in the Creative Writing Department,  will be going to University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington next year – figuring out what she wants to do with the rest of her life while simultaneously trying not to drown in all the rain. After that, who knows what she’ll be doing. She’d like to move around and go abroad at some point. But at the ripe age of 18, she’s just gonna wherever the wind takes her.



24 Creative Writers

12 Plays

120 minutes of pure entertainment

1 night only

“Work Hard Play Harder

Friday April 12, 2013

7:30 Showtime

$10 for Students, $15 for Adults

The Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Creative Writing Department is pleased to present “Work Hard Play Harder” our tenth annual play writing showcase event. The twelve plays are not only written, but performed by Creative Writing students: who says writers should be cloistered, chained to their keyboards? Misfits, mutants, monsters, and a wide range of other characters will populate the stage of the Dan Kryston Memorial Theatre.  Join us at 6:30 for a reception with special guest San Francisco playwright Christopher Chen, best known for THE HUNDRED FLOWERS PROJECT.

We know you work hard. Come play harder with us.


the sky smells pink and hard
when i walk through it in the mornings
the sulfuric dusts the dawn
a fruit-bowl
full rosy belly bent backwards
that loud gray groan inside the skin
pierced and peeling like a salty apple
swollen hot choleric
elderly clouds left over damp winds
scraggle across dimly like some
stale leftover scraps of canvas
just enough to swab up the strokes
i can hear the first few fistfuls of light
faint and wavering like timid bells
then with a clap, the sun heaves up
a heavy head
–Olivia Weaver


We grab the black binoculars
With the thick black strap
And the book about constellations
And a beach towel
We get into the car
Sit in the leather seats,
And you drive as I gaze out the window
At the city lights
And up at the starless purple sky,
That reflects the city lights back.
You drive until the concrete road
Turns to dusty dirt
and the city fades into the purple horizon
You drive to the open countryside
The grass grows knee high
The crickets chirp
The land seems to spread out around us
For miles, and miles
And there is one tall oak tree
We put the beach towel
On the grass, under the oak tree
And you slip the thick black strap
Around my neck
You point with your figure where I should look
And you read from the book
About Orion, Camelopardalis,
Cancer, Aries, Pegasus, and Pyxis
But I don’t see the outline of great gods
Or crabs or horses
I see little white dots
I see the lights of cities on distant planets

-by Josephine Weidner

The Passing

Pellucid winters show the raw brush,
Raw proof of an earlier time.
You wait, you wait. The chalky dust is cold.
There is no snow to take the edge
Off the dry log. You sit. The well-water
Is black, the rope is clasped
By what flowed through its fibers.
The water is black. It will not
Show you your face. It will only show
Winter, and not even snow to cover how
Dull is the ice: Reflection is the proof.
Somewhere beyond the hill where it is quiet
Is a grey ocean into which snow falls.
–Abigail Schott-Rosenfield

Big Brother Necklace

You could’ve left me in the drawer
weighed down with wooden wolves and carved peace
you could’ve let me lay by the bedside
my strings frayed
untying myself because I don’t know better
but you cut off my edges
tied a slipnot
and threaded your head through me
cause you feel naked now
without a noose round your neck
without me bumping against your collarbone like a
hammer on a rusty nail
You don’t take me off
except to shower and sleep
the 2 times when you’re not being a big brother
when you’re not drawn tight like piano wire
ready to hop on a bus at a phone call
with words made of thistledown
or fists made of wood
your teeth loaded
with buckshot or cottonballs
and you a shot or two or five cause you’ve got me round
your neck
cause you want a time where you aren’t worried
cause you want to be able to get a teary-eyed phone call
without seeing Katie’s grave in Technicolor
or hearing Ronnie
choking on anti-depressants
and for a few hours
you can’t answer your phone
you can’t run out the door and onto the 38
you can’t even be the life-sized teddy bear they need
and it’s bliss
that no-worries tunnel vision
but then you wake up with a hangover sitting on the
coffee table
and you run to the bathroom
and puke 7 times
you can still feel me tight on your neck
keeping time with your ragged heavy-eye breath
and you check your phone
for any missed calls

–Jules Cunningha

If We’re Playing Battleship, You’re Sunk

by Sophia Kumin (’13)

I know it scares you
to think about
my hands touching
the places on my body
that you’ve condemned
I’ll map out a smile
from belly button to breasts.

you say you can bench 120
so I should lose ten pounds
but if weight were measured
in words without meaning
you’d be sinking to the bottom
of your ocean of discrepancies.

I don’t answer to you or
your 3 AM phone calls
“baby, I want you back”
baby, you want my back
arched in your bed

and saying
“I love you”
but you can’t tell the difference
between my birthmarks and anyone else’s
it’s not me you want it’s
everything you couldn’t have
when you had me.

harbor hate in my hips
the same ones you squeezed
like a stress ball
don’t use me
with the same hands you use
to touch yourself
over pictures of people
with perceived perfection.

I want you to know
you don’t hurt me
when you look at
my arms and my waist and my legs
and snarl
because they’re stronger
than anything you could say.

I know it scares you to think about
me loving the places on my body
that you marked with x’s in your eyes
why don’t you follow my fingers
forming a
fuck you.

You feel like
never solid, you still want to be noticed
and the less we pay attention
the more you disappear
clinging to the cement
we blow from
cracked lips,
broken skin from all the
salty words we spit at you
when you said we’d
never be enough

but you can’t push me over
when you’re too busy
concentrating on the little things
instead of the sum of my parts
the part of me
that could easily
swing my fist back like a gavel
on your twisted expression

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury
this man is guilty as charged of
of your mother and your daughter
and the people in between,
knock-kneed and shivering
in front of him.

I’m done with
I’m not as good as
I could be without you
and we both know
you can’t deal with
how it was
that never lived up
to any expectations
that looks in the mirror and wants to see
someone better than what you turned out to be.

Read more poetry.

Household Spirits

by Justus Honda

This house has spirits living in mouse-holes,
The kinds you come across
Spinning through a gray-green daydream;
Spirits that live off the disembodied hum
From a refrigerator in the dark,
Spirits that swoop and catch dust motes
In copper waves of lamplight.

This house has disinterested spirits,
All-too-ancient things snoring
In cobweb rocking chairs,
Creatures that fold themselves clothing
From worm-eaten yellow book-leather.

This house has miniscule spirits,
Swimming in the window-dew;
Multitudes of tiny spirits,
Turning the gears of the grandfather clock.

This house has spirits living in mouse-holes,
Laughing in bent lamplight,
Drunk on music.

Read more poetry.