Everybody’s favorite literary journal is now online at theumlaut.org
Being a freshman, this entire “Umlaut” making process is new to me. Well, this year it’s new to everyone because we’re trying something new: we’re making it a zine. For those who don’t know what Umlaut or a zine is, let me explain. Umlaut is SOTA’s literary journal. The Creative Writing department is the staff, meaning that we review submissions, edit, lay it out, etc. But the submissions come from all over the school. Normally it is professionally printed, but for this issue we’re making a zine.
A zine is a small, handmade, more free-style magazine. In fact we’re making not one, not two, not three, but FIVE mini zines that will be (literally) tied together to make a set. Each of the mini zines have a theme. They are as follows: Symbiosis, Abandoned Homes, Apocalypse WOW, Guilty Pleasures, and Complaints. The problem with the old Umlaut was that because it looked so professional, it was expensive to make and therefore expensive for people to buy. Now with us making our little heartfelt school literary journals by hand, they’re FREE!
It’s pretty interesting to watch and be a part of the Umlaut process. I remember how when I toured I bought a copy of the latest journal. I still have it, I re read it from time to time. All the work in it is very high quality and intriguing, and it’s even cooler to connect the names to the faces. When getting accepted into the department was still only a dream and not a reality I (obviously) didn’t know the writers published in the journal. I remember reading Umlaut and thinking “God, they’re really talented.” Now that I’m a part of this department, I know and work with many of those incredibly talented people. These amazing people who were once only a name on a page are now my friends, supporters, and most of all, my Creative Writing family. And I have the honor of seeing them every day.
Solange Baker, class of 2019
In CW these past few weeks we’ve been preparing for the release of our zines, of which there are five differently-themed issues. On top of scouting for cool submissions, we were asked to conduct one interview. First we learned the basics of interviewing: how to stay cool and professional, how to engage, how to sound casual, how to get to the point, etc. Then we took a look at some examples via You Tube. The first one was an example of what to do. We saw a short exchange between Howard Stern and Jay Z, in which they talked about the rapper’s new book. Stern was very comforting and welcoming and the very obviously nervous Jay Z quickly became relaxed and confident.
Then we took a look at what not to do. A grainy video of an interview of Mark Zuckerberg was probably the most depressing thing I’ve seen in a long time. If you can imagine standing on stage and interviewing the most famous technology celebrity on the planet and have EVERYTHING go wrong, this would be that interview. The woman interviewing began off talking quietly to him and giggling, almost like she was flirting with the poor guy. Then, she started telling a story, leaving him nothing to say or do other than nod his head and confirm the story’s truth. Eventually, he got fed up with that and decided it would be best to stare blankly into the woman’s eyes, leaving her blushing and flustered. The following two minutes were an explosion of squabbling and mob-like audience responses that overall left the place in an extreme state of awkwardness. I went home that day and proceeded to watch one million bad interviews.
After days of practice, I felt comfortable with conducting my interview. My subject was a classmate named Floyd, who is famous at school for his eccentricity and creativity (this past Halloween he wore a rag and a mop of hair on his face and went as Jesus.) We talked about the apocalypse for a good twenty minutes and, using our new note-taking techniques, I was able to take good notes and transcribe it into a proper interview. The finished product, along with many other entertaining conversations, will be published in our zines next week.
Liam Miyar-Mullan, class of 2018
Last week in Creative Writing we started the process of making zines (replacements for our beloved but occasionally overambitious literary journal, Umlaut). We were broken up into groups of four and tasked with coming up with an original idea for a zine. I tried to look contemplative and scribbled a few notes on my paper, but my mind was elsewhere; On the huge stack of English work I had waiting for me at home, the fact that I was scheduled to babysit for the entire weekend, and a hundred other minor problems that somehow felt like the most reprehensible injustices the world had ever seen.
Recently I have been complaining to anyone who’ll listen. I realize that this isn’t exactly an endearing characteristic, but I can’t shut it off. My relatively normal life has suddenly and inexplicably become a source of constant frustration. I’m out of it all the time and feel stuck on autopilot, as if my daily life is just a boring short film on a never-ending loop. Obviously this is a normal thing for a 16-year-old to be going through, and people tolerate it to a point, but after, say, a week, you’re expected to suck it up and feel better.
What usually gets me out a funk like this is doing something productive or focused on self-improvement, like exercise. But this time around I haven’t been able to redirect my feelings into the sort of productive energy that might help solve my problems. Attempts to sweat them out always end in sore muscles and frustration, and trying to write about them yields at most a half-page of repetitive whining. And without an outlet, the negativity festers until I feel compelled to unload it on my friends again. It’s a vicious cycle.
After brainstorming aimlessly for a while, one of our group members (I want to say it was me but I honestly can’t remember) came up with an ingenious idea: Complaints. Our zine will be a compilation of multimedia grievances from students all over the school. We’ll be accepting anything from angry anarcho-punk playlists to letters to the editor to straight up bellyaching. After all, doesn’t everyone need to vent about something?
As a junior, I’m the head of my zine group, and I’ll be the first to admit that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing- submission guidelines, deadlines and design ideas are all up in the air. God knows if our zine will come together or not. But I’m excited to get started; Whether it ends up being a hit or a miss, at least I’ll finally be channeling that negativity into something productive.
Sophia Mazoschek, class of 2017
by Giorgia (’14)
On Monday we returned to the classroom from our annual camping camping trip at Kirby Cove sleepy and smoke-smelling with fresh faces and new stories. Among which Heather learned to play snaps, Giorgia (’14) tried to teach samba, Justus (’15) was a sexy bookcase, the freshmen underwent forceful (and ultimately unsuccessful) segregation, the Schott-Rosenfield (’14, ’17) sibling rivalry went crashing into the sea, and Colin (’16) finally took down Jules (’14), our own departmental kraken, during our traditional beach romp. Mostly, it was just, as the young ones say “cold as balls.”
Obviously, we had a lot to discuss on Monday. We did this eating delicious peanut butter chocolate cookies Noa (’16) made for her writing buddy, Lizzie (’14) (happy 17th birthday lizz!), and leftover croissants, potato chips, and izzes from the trip. We talked about our favorite moments, what went well and what didn’t.
After our Kirby Cove debrief, the freshmen went off to the dark cavern they call “Freshmen Seminar” with Maia, and the rest of CW settled down with Sarah Fontaine (<3) for umläut. It’s early on in the year, so we are currently lying out preliminary framework, along with rebooting umläut‘s online presence and overall mission statement.
That evening, five seniors– Midori Chen, Mykel Mogg, Giorgia Peckman, Frances Saux, and Abigail Schott-Rosenfield —read at the Book Club of California (of which Abigail is a member). We were asked to the Book Club by Abigail’s grandmother, Kathy, earlier this year. Each of us read through a section of the Club’s collection (the club specializes in fine print press), mostly Tangram books, and each selected one or two works from which to write from. Our response poems focused on California history, and the relation of landscape and the individual. It was quite exciting to read our work outside of the school community, especially in such a rich and resonant environment full of so many monumental works.
We also sold a full set of umläut to the Book Club!
Creative Writing student Abigail Schott-Rosenfield was recently featured in the “SOTA in the City” series on Facebook:
ABIGAIL SCHOTT-ROSENFIELD (CW 2014) very often does not have a clue– which apparently is exactly how it should be. According to W.H. Auden, the Anglo-American poet regarded by many as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century: “No poet can know what his poem is going to be like until he has written it.”
Abigail does however, have more than a clue about her obvious calling. She is spending her summer surrounded by people who believe in the power of poetry, working as an intern at California Poets in the Schools, one of the largest writers-in-the-schools programs in the nation.
California Poets in the Schools has cultivated children’s creativity through poetry for almost 50 years, serving 25,000 students in hundreds of public and private schools, juvenile halls, after-school programs, hospitals, and other community settings. CPITS also partners with the California Arts Council to broadcast the Poetry Out Loud recitation program, an annual national recitation contest, in which Abigail has competed and placed.
She is also participating in an online summer poetry workshop hosted by The Adroit Journal. Founded in 2010, by high school sophomore, Peter LaBerge, “the journal has been noticed and recognized around the world for its dedication to community service and emerging writers, but the largest impact of the journal … has been its devotion to the promotion of human rights causes.”
All of which should find Abigail in fine form come August, when she steps deftly into her role as editor-in-chief of ümlaut, the literary journal edited entirely by Creative Writing students, which features student art and writing from across all of the different arts disciplines at SOTA.
Poetry in motion, indeed.
by Abigail (’14)
On Friday the third, Umläut had a successful (and profitable) release party for the 2014 issue, dubbed Plastic Knives! We pity everyone who wasn’t there, and we’re sure those who came didn’t regret spending the night before Prom with us.
While the prime attraction was, obviously, this year’s Umläut— as professional and polished as ever, but with a new matte cover this time— there was also great music by Rin Tin Tiger and Mayya Feygina, food donated by Arizmendi and CW parents, and a raffle. It was probably one of the balmiest days we’ll see this year, but most people managed to stay inside long enough to listen to several of the published authors read their work.
We couldn’t have done it without 826 Valencia’s generosity in offering us the space for the night, free! Thanks to the parents who contributed to covering what 826 usually charges.
If you missed the party, we trust you won’t make the same mistake again next year, but you can get your new Umläut at SOTA at lunch (we’re selling outside of the CW room) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Soon it should be available to purchase online at http://sotashop.myshopify.com/products/umlautliterary-journal.
Thanks to the umläut staff who made this year’s umläut release party the best we’ve ever seen! Hosted at our dearly beloved 826 Valencia, party-goers were greeted with delightful decorations in deep sea theme under an ambiance lighting.
The 2012 release of umläut, Even-Toed Ungulate, is only one in a long line of many remarkable collections of a variety of art from students here at SOTA. From photography to paintings to, of course, writing, umläut’s got it all.
The crowd was filled with people– parents, students and wanderers alike– gathered as one attentive audience for the guest readers, reading poetry, short stories, and a script in this year’s publication.
And who can forget the delightful guest stars, local bands Rin Tin Tiger and Comodo Complex?
The raffle was a success, the charming prizes attesting to the staff’s creativity and spirit.
A fun social gathering of friends and family supporting our community of artists, the party was a tremendous success. Umläut staff, you guys were stupendous, providing and generous. This party will forever leave its mark in Creative Writing history and be commemorated for its achievements.
The year: 2009
The event: Umlaut Release Party at McSweeneys
photos by Willem Yarborough