T.I., an incarcerated poet, brutally writes about one of the many nuanced pains of being behind bars as a young adult. His unique diction makes for a heartbreaking read.
Madeleine Quirk beautifully captures the essence of a woman in Varadero. Her unique use of imagery creates a reflection that will resonate with you.
At 15 I watch her buy Cuban cigars
and I can tell that she carries the taste of smoke
wherever she goes. Its richness hangs
about her like sleep,
a golden mist of many suns and hieroglyphs:
she reads hands and cocked hips
like they are a language that is not dead,
When she breathes tobacco dust,
it is not escaping but returning to the earth,
to the leaf and the burnt orange field.
I think for a moment,
I should cover myself in a blanket of fertile soil
and only ever bathe in rain,
but I remember I have heaped
my bags with some sea glass
I found alone on a murky beach
and held to my eye, looking inland from the shore.
Miles away a stone-carved saint
scowls at the skyline smog.
She smacks a stick of chewing gum
and cracks her teeth on concrete.
It comes from deep caverns
in subterranean whispers
and it comes on the breath of a woman:
By: Madeleine Quirk
Madeleine Quirk lives in Kingston, Ontario. She is in her senior year of high school. In her spare time, she enjoys reading poetry and singing with her choir.
Visual art by John Michael Dee
Win a $25,000 scholarship to attend Idyllwild Arts Academy as a Creative Writer, and possible publication in Parallax Online!
In “Liebchen” and “Noor”, Armaan Bamzai creates lyrical narratives constructed from folk lore and his own personal experience and homeland.
of woman walking through forest
redclothed, basketed, smiling
and inside the forest in Germany
from the black shadowfolds
of old trees / the sun is a chandelier
unpolished, growing yellower
& less yellow / fur coat sharp smile
and I must love this man?
and I must walk this mulch path
with his eyes my iron chains
i’ve heard it said that my body
is a renewable resource. what
that means is that it is infinite
it makes more of itself at every
touch. Dear, your resurrection
is old news / tell me about that
sofa you bought, PreLoved
white tartan cover / upholstery
bleeding medicine smell. springs
sticking out / like a brown boy
at a new school
oh, nevermind / we’re here, see
what a pretty cottage this is
in the middle of these blue woods
and what big teeth you have.
heiress of nothing
how many fires
in your wilderness
before you realize
your jeweled lines:
brow heavy gold
hand on window
cigarette, trailing smoke
between pink fingers
your eyes are black
like cherry pits,
like dark dripping wounds
the women of Kashmir have faces.
They are stepping out of,
our women are filled full
By: Armaan Bamzai
Armaan Bamzai is currently a high school at the International School Bangalore, in India, and has been unfailingly writing poetry (in whatever media he can) for the past four years now. The poem “Noor” is an homage to his Kashmiri heritage and “Liebchen” is a distorted narrative of the German folktale of Rotkaeppchen.
Visual art by Frankie Song
In “The Sky Apnea Collection”, Ariel Serene uniquely paints picturesque scenes of nature. Her surprising terminology creates a masterful description.
Spasm of noontime yellow
Atop aching valley of strawberry root.
The wafting of pumpkin sun
across dimpled doughy green.
To collapse here,
To become just a thing
Compressed under heavy
brilliance of air.
The heart balloons as does
Here also lays wing, broken.
Bumbling oramagmied bird hungry
For carbonated sky,
for a hushed god
In this kneeling.
This building again
Amongst red bulb berries
Dangling from shrub
Swallowing the scent of sunset.
Cartilage cocoon spools
Through and out,
Wing mends as does the
Drunken maid and
The ivory’s obsidian counterpart:
Minor exhale twinges to
splinter compressing grey
Dripping down a spine;
Matted fur in a ruffled song.
Do we dance slower now
Or speak underwater,
Where time slips
And gurgles through a palm.
is it the heart allowing it,
A caven cry and leap
In love, I do
The birdwatcher and stargazer
Find mirrors under athick curdling sky
In adeafening dance with liberty,
beheading of gravity
30 feet above
A blistering suburb
Plagued and shredded into sun
Waiting for return of yesterday.
Everything new under a young
Cracks under rubber boot. an
October lays her head heavy
Upon sharp wet road,
The brittle dead
Succumb to weight,
Gasped into swirling
Rust and orange.
Fold into the
courtesy after summer.
A quieter bomb, shaggy
And burrowing. the
Licks bare arms.
Night bites further into afternoon and
sun yolk drips quicker,
Heavy and crumbling with submission.
Ariel Serene is a 17 year old aspiring poet and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. Although new to the poetry scene, this determined young writer quickly fell in love with the art and is currently applying to major in English at UCLA.
Visual art piece titled “Looking Through The” by Meicen Deng.
Delany Burk takes a look at Adultolescence, and why the poetry collection isn’t worth picking up.
Gabbie Hanna, Adultolescence, $16.99, ISBN 978-5011-7832-0
Adultolescence by Gabbie Hanna is a playful and childish book of poetry, paired with Hanna’s own simple and beautiful artwork. It explores the mentality and struggles of the new adult generation, as well as the influence of social media on mental health and real life relationships.
The book depicts grueling subjects such as breakups, the struggle to find oneself, and even depression and suicide. However, despite the subjects, Adultolescence remains sarcastic and immature. The childishness of Hanna’s poetry has its charm, and follows the newly developed “Twitter-speak” form of poetry which derives its language and audience from the short, cynical style of the new social-media-crazed population. However, this style does not serve the subject matter in an effective way.
Some of the poems follow a rhyme scheme, yet are too short to fully carry it out. The poem HIDE (15) for example, follows an AA rhyme scheme, and explores the effects of hiding depression and other mental health issues. But this poem is too short to have an important or influential message of any kind. It seems that these subjects, which are common topics among teens and young adults today, are only there for the reader to relate to. In addition to falling short in the linguistic department, the shorter poems deal with heavier topics like mental health issues, even addressing death and the desire to die, or wanting someone else to die; yet the poems seem to trivialize these issues. For example, POUT examines these issues in an immature way, saying, “life sucks. be grateful, you woke up this morning. that’s the worst part.” (8-9) This type of language is often used by teenagers today; they joke about these feelings in conversation in order to mask them, using humor as a coping mechanism, which is not often a positive message for someone to be promoting. These short anecdotes are paralleled by longer poems and anecdotes which seem repetitive and dry, devoid of the sarcasm and wit that is present, albeit misused, in the shorter poems.
The art is interactive, often incorporating the poem into the drawing in one way or another. At times the art pairs well with the pieces, but ultimately does not help readers obtain a meaningful takeaway. Hanna is clearly artistically inclined, as her drawings are impressively detailed, while still sticking to a line art style. The realism of the drawings may take readers by surprise, as the people in them are easily recognisable, and often appear with Gabbie in her YouTube videos. All of these positive traits, however, do not make up for the writing, some of which is worked into the drawings in rather disappointing ways. One example of this is a poem titled “K,” which is an blank page, except for a text bubble with the letter “K” inside and a read receipt underneath.
Adultolescence follows a common thread, which seems to have stemmed from the Milk and Honey phenomenon, and follows the same pattern of good artwork paired with–at best–mediocre writing. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur was one of the highest grossing poetry books of 2017, and was Number Two on Amazon’s Best Seller list. It is widely loved and cited as an aesthetically pleasing and relatable work by many teen readers. That being said, Milk and Honey shows a pop-culture side of poetry, rather than the traditional style which uses beautiful language, and images found in the work of poets like Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson. This new and vulgar style is now simply being accepted by readers without much thought, due to its easily interpreted, relatable content.
Adultolescence–along with Milk and Honey–represents a new idea of “money grab” poetry, which stems from social media influencers, and the new Internet-focused generation. These influencers write books in the anecdotal style of Twitter and other word-space-limited social media platforms, and then claim them to be artistic and poetic, when really it is a way for an already well known celebrity to make even more money. People like Gabbie Hanna, who could be considered second tier influencers, and have a smaller audience than other big-name YouTubers, often share their financial situation with their fans and may have a lower income than larger influencers. This somewhat justifies the “easy money” of writing and selling books, as it pulls in readers from a smaller fan base, and expands the writer’s brand.
However, this does not justify the claim of “art.” Adultolescence does not represent what poetry really is to most published poets. The claim of poetry and art should be reserved for beautiful, intelligent, and playful works, and should not be applied to collections of on-trend, relatable, and sarcastic content, which sells more copies than authentic art, due to the popularity of the writer rather than the quality of the work.
By Delany Burk
In “Baptized in Fire” Cole Kissam contemplates the self through religion and music.
In “Solitude”, Lu Yuan uses images of nature to explore the solitude of the self.
Waves strike against cement of solemn water.
One solitary seagull pierces through the clouds,
Slices sky from the sea without bound,
Watching it rise and rise out of sight
Like a balloon from a careless child’s hand.
Will the sky, too, pop,
If it climbs too high?
Sunlight crawls on snowflakes so purely warm.
One solitary nightingale sings among thorns of ice
And shatters the clear crystal with voice alone,
Its image flickering in ice shards,
As they dive into deep snow
Like dandelion seeds taking root.
Would the ice, too, grow,
Into a snow-draped forest?
Shadows retreat from the burning candle in haste.
One solitary raven trips over a bottle of ink,
Dips its wings in a pool of spreading black,
And drags the feathers across the parchment,
Composing poetry with such grace, an instinct –
How like a coffee mug rushes towards the ground.
Would the ink, too, drip so fiercely
That it wounds the floor?
In “Dinner” and “Blue,” Asha Marie uses powerful imagery to explore family and the self.
Lily Sickles provides the reader a rush of images and movements centered around the word “Akimbo.”
You onomatopoeic multisyllabic beat
I wax akimbo out of my bathroom door
—Post shower, clogged with pores and hair and
Pledge! Glasses a top my face (and wait)
To see them clearing—a test of endurance
Some dilapidated trust,
Waiting for an occurrence
A feat of seeing! or, unexpectedly,
Akimbo? When one day I finally trip
Extraterrestrial bathroom tryst of
Innumerable, my limbs that flail interminable
Lily Sickles is a junior at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey. She is an editor at her school’s literary magazine, Guildscript, and attended the Between the Lines writing program at the University of Iowa.