Month: March 2017

[Love Letter]

Dear consistent voice,
You might have not helped me get into the summer writing program at Kenyon*, but, you know what, that’s okay. It’s OK because I’m stuck with you. I know that I will never be without you, and that, no matter how hard I try, you’ll be there. We’re trapped together although we may go everywhere. But it’s always everywhere together. What can I say. You’re my thoughts, my feelings (and) my dreams. I may have ideas separate from you, but that doesn’t matter because my ideas are always thought through you. Like a language. 

Pero, las otras lenguas no son escapas desde ti. Cuando escribo en español, estás aquí también. Tú tienes una voz distintiva, mi maestra de español me dice. Ella no sabe que muchas personas me dicen esta oración. 

You see? It all sounds the same, even in Spanish. I suppose it’s a good thing, though, really. Even if I didn’t get into Kenyon. If I ever write anything and anyone else reads it, it’ll have a watermark. Your watermark. Our watermark. © Madeline Dean. I don’t even need to say it because it’s already there. 

Besides, they say everyone sounds like themselves. Then, they say that I sound especially like myself. Although, I’m not sure that’s true. My stories aren’t (usually) full of. Sentence. Fragments. One. Word. Per. Sentence.

Nor are they full of crazy gimmicks, or exasperatingly sesquipedalian prose. I’m not sure if that second one would help me, but I know the first one would.

No matter. I’m stuck with you. Cool. No matter what I wrote, it sounds like I wrote it. I guess no one’ll accuse me of plagiarism. Except they do. Sigh.

Anyway.

*Editor’s note: Two days after writing this, Madeline learned she was accepted into the summer 2017 Iowa Young Writer’s Studio program. Congratulations, Madeline!

[Dear Story Number 559,]

By Madison Hart

Image of the number 559I regret to inform you…no…that sounds too business like, doesn’t it? Okay, well, Story 559, the truth is, I just don’t have time for you right now. I don’t have time or energy to deal with your indecisiveness, I mean for heaven’s sake pick a plot and go with it already! And, besides, your characters keep yelling at me. Come on! This is just getting ridiculous. You are too unpredictable and disloyal. Yeah, that’s right, I saw you looking at damsel number 207 the other day. Um, not ok, keep your eyes on me, not the words next to you. So, if you haven’t figured it out already, I’m breaking up with you. You see this cursor right here…ya that one. It’s going to drag your pitifullness into the trash folder. Uh huh! I said it. You are going in the trash. And when I have time to address all your little plot holes and put all your characters into time out for five minutes, I will. Wel,l maybe. It all depends on whether I fall in love with story idea number 480 before then. Ok, yes, I’ve been eyeing that rugged archer for months, but what do you care, you have damsels 207-220 eyeballing you all the time and vice versa. So, goodbye, adios, au revoir, sayonara! I will see you when I see you. Have a nice life in the writer dump pile. Maybe you’ll run into the rugged archer’s younger sister while you’re there cause I threw her out too! You deserve each other!

[Love-Breakup: To my Imagination]

By Katy McDonald

To my imagination,

Although the times have not alway been easy for us, I can say with every part of me: without you I would be nothing. You coax the words from my mind to flow from my fingertips onto my computer screen. I will never forget the long, late nights you have kept me company, fighting way my fears and worries because, with you at my side, nothing can touch me. You make the world something new and beautiful. The bare walls of my mind are suddenly filled with life and power. I know that you will not always be with me but that does not mean that you will ever leave me for good. You know when to come home and when to stay away, most of the time. But even when you come to me unbidden I know it is for the best. The history homework can be pushed aside as you take me down another winding road. You have made my life an adventure. You take me to neverland, down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass, to Oz and so many other places. Most of our places will be just that, ours forever hidden from the world, but not all of them and that’s what I really love you for. Not only do you make the world a better place for me but also for those around me. You make the light shine on the dark. You give me hope. Without you, I would be truly lost and that is how I know you aren’t really far away. You stay close enough to keep me safe on the nights when there is no one else. I love you with all my heart. Without you, I am only a fraction of myself.  

Yours forever,
Katy

 

To my imagination,

I know that times haven’t always been that easy for us, so I think it is time for me to finally say: without you I would be so much better. You stop my fingers from writing with paralyzing fears of imagining someone one day reading the atrocity I have had the gall to write down. It would be hard to forget the images you conjure of giant spiders and the world being torn apart by any number of disasters. You make the world seem frightening and empty. The empty chambers of my mind are ripped open with death and decay. We both know that you will not be with me forever and that there are times when you leave and it is better for everyone. You go and come back at the most inopportune times. You will distract me from important work pertaining to school when I simply do not have time for you. I’m sorry, I know that this seems harsh, but I think it’s for the best that I finally say this. You will pull me away and into Hades, the dragon’s lair and any number of torture chambers. The worst part is that this doesn’t always affect me, but those around me because some of the places we go can stay between us, but some of them leak out into the world. You scare me, and that’s how I know you are never really gone: my fear is always with me. You will come upon me in the dead of night like some kind of ghoush. Please, I think it would be best for you to leave and return me to myself.

I’m sorry,
Katy

[Black Moon]

by Madison Hart

I once said I swallowed the sun. But as I sit on my porch I can clearly see it stands in the sky. However, at that time, I wouldn’t have bothered with reality and the fact that I really hadn’t swallowed the sun. Although I knew it in my brain, my heart was filled with its warm rays. You may notice I’m using past tense. You see, since that little girl was running around barefoot in her front yard, she grew up. Growing up is a terrible thing. Everyone argues it’s not. Just take a glance at me and observe my pale cheeks and lifeless eyes and you’ll start to understand. Who I once was, who I long to still be, has been robbed. My story thus ends in woe, but take note of this: Seal the cracks where lies can leak in, or before you know it, your whole life with be flooded. I once said I swallowed the sun. Now the moon is dark.

[BOOK REFLECTION ON A BOOK (SURPRISING, I KNOW): LUCY ON THE HATE U GIVE]

By Lucy Earl

The Hate U Give was overall a very intriguing and unputdownable book (yes, that is a word, Merriam Webster said so). Although it was difficult to fully immerse myself into this book when I started out, by the time I reached the middle, it was as if my nose was permanently glued into the spine of the book and would not be released from its clutches until I had read the very last word on page 450 (which is the last page for those who don’t know). The title set me on edge at first, The Hate U Give. The letter “U” instead of the word “you” made me uncomfortable due to the grammar inaccuracy, but more on that later.

Lucy Earl of Young Authors CollectiveReading The Hate U Give was like looking down upon a moment in someone’s life while simultaneously sitting behind their eyes, hearing their thoughts, and marching alongside them as if you had been doing it for their entire life. Yet, the narrative is wrapped up in a tidy novel that manages to contain sentence structures and understandable content despite the aforementioned complications. The narrator, Starr, forces many different perspectives upon you that leaves you on edge while explaining why she’s doing it and making you more comfortable.

Much like “The Hate U Give”  references Tupac’s song “Thug Life” and the deep philosophy around “The Hate U Give” standing for the word “thug,” it allows you to understand your discomfort while still being uncomfortable and also gaining comfortableness, and I mean that in the best way possible. The Hate U Give was a very hard read; it was not that the words were difficult to chew through as they swallowed up the familiar world of punctuation, it was the fact that it was emotionally draining to any human who feels even a tiny ounce of compassion every once and awhile, even to a robot who is programed with a miniscule amount of empathy to fill up space on its hardrive, this book is emotionally draining.

The Hate U Give follows a few moments in Starr’s life that are organized in a chronological structure. The first being when her best friend, Khalil, is shot by a white cop and the couple of days that follow. This section is the hardest to get through because the author, Angie Thomas, expertly portrays the raw and painful emotions that are unimaginable to anyone who is lucky and privileged enough to not have to experience such an awful thing. In this part, a lot about Starr is revealed: she lives in “the ghetto” and when she was ten, her other best friend, Natasha, was killed. After that, her parents decided to move her to a private school where she learned to balance her two lives, “the ghetto” life and the private school life. The second part is the beginning of Starr’s journey to speak out against what happened, and without going into much detail for fear of getting into “spoiler territory,” the third is about Khalil’s trial and the aftermath.  (more…)

[Book Review: Aiyana on The Hate U Give]

By Aiyana Spear

In my opinion, the sign of an incredible book is when I read it and it sticks with me for days after. I finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas almost two weeks ago, and there has not been a day where I didn’t think about it. I believe that I will continue to think about this book for the rest of my life.The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Reading about current social and political issues can be difficult; often when reading I want a book that will distract me from our current US problems. Writing about these issues can also be difficult due to the challenge of maintaining a balance between not wanting to go too far and be too political but still wanting to get your message across. Angie Thomas successfully and skillfully finds that balance, and her book, The Hate U Give, is a book that all Americans should read- especially white americans like me. When picking up this book for the first time, I assumed that it would be solely the gruesome, gut-wrenching details of a young black boy who was killed by a police officer. I assumed that it would only make me more exhausted that the issues so evident around me keep happening. I thought that it would leave me hanging only feeling more hopeless about the state of our world today. And in a way, it did, but not in the way I thought it would, and it did not exhaust me.

“A hairbrush is not a gun”

Starr faces many difficulties in this book, such as: witnessing her friend being killed, dealing with ptsd and  struggling with “simple” things such as arguments with her parents and her white boyfriend. These difficulties made Starr feel like a real person who I could connect with.  Often I wanted to take her and wrap her up in a blanket and protect her from the world, but Starr does not need my or anyone else’s protection- she is a badass who has gone through way too much for a 16 year old.

The main characters in YA novels have steadily become younger than me, both because I am getting older and these protagonists are getting younger; Starr is a year younger than me and she has gone through more than any teenager should ever have to go through. But the thing is, there is a Starr out there in this world, there are black teens and children in this world who have gone through more than I can ever imagine going through. And that is the value of this book this book makes the struggles of all of those children out there real- it gives them a voice and maybe, just maybe, it’ll change one person’s mind out there.

This book does not sugarcoat our world, it does not paint a rosy picture and, no spoilers or anything, it does not give the reader a hollywood ending where everything turns out perfectly. And after reading it, I wouldn’t want it to. It is searingly raw and honest and it not only tells of the story of a boy shot by the police and the aftermath of it, but it tells the story of a young black girl straddling two different worlds, the one of her black neighborhood and the other of her white rich school.

This book gives the human stories of people who are deeply impacted by the Black Lives Matter movement, who were incredibly affected by the many people who died. After reading this book, Black Lives Matter became more than a hashtag on twitter or a protest on the news, it became a real issue that is impacting teenagers just like me. This book is a searing portrayal of a heart wrenching movement.

“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice.”