Welcome to day four of Teen Sequins. Today we’re  featuring “Bedside” by Jordan Cutler-Tietjen.

“Bedside” begins with a striking and intriguing comparison; a bed of fruitless fingernails and peaches from a willow tree. Cutler-Tietjen maintains this eccentric imagery throughout the poem with a unique and vivid intimacy. All is romanticized. Fingernails and the springs of “our mattress” and “the twist of loose water spigots” compile to form an image of a life, only strengthening the resonance of the poem’s conclusion, of the speaker’s desire. The reader may pray with the poem for the seedlings, potentially their own, the confession becoming communal. – Robby Auld

If we are to believe, as T.S. Eliot (nodding to Coleridge) suggested, in the idea that “making the familiar strange and the strange familiar” is a quality of good poetry, what we have in  “Bedside” is a very good poem. The title would lead us to an expectation of gentleness or care, but within the first line there is a sharp disruption of an intimate space. Physical detritus that might cause revulsion for the reader is never such for the speaker: torn fingernails of a lover are slices of fruit, “pale seedlings.” There is a startling sweetness to Cutler-Tietjen’s poem, and by the end, we see that the title of the poem does in fact contain the truth of it. This is a love poem, a poem of the body, attentive and shot through with longing. Strange familiar, familiar strange. – Sophie Klahr


Screen shot 2015-08-20 at 10.06.54 AM

Jordan Cutler-Tietjen is possibly the least tan SoCal teen you’ll ever meet. He attends La Cañada High School, and will stumble awkwardly into adulthood with the rest of the Class of 2016. Jordan also sings with his choir, runs his school’s Newspaper & Literary Arts Magazine, and wishes he spent more time eating samosas.

Honorable mentions: Dana Acosta (The Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, White Plains, NY); Ahmir Allen (Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, Pittsburgh, PA); Amelia Berg (Williamston High School, Williamston Michigan); Kate Bollinger (Tandem Friends School, Charlottesville, VA); Serena Devi (Lafayette High School, Lexington, Kentucky); Samantha Eppinger (Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, Pittsburgh, PA); Taylor Fife (Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, Pittsburgh, PA); Andrea Giugni (University of Chicago, Chicago, IL); Otto Junior (Smithtown High School West, Smithtown, NY); Micaela Macagnone (Grace Church School High School Division, Manhattan, New York City); Rena Medow (Laurel Charter High School, Viroqua, Wisconsin); Priscilla Munoz (Booker T. Washington HSPVA, Dallas, Texas); Meghana Mysore (Lake Oswego High School, Lake Oswego, OR); Alexis Payne (Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, Pittsburgh, PA); Anya Ptacek (Poughkeepsie Day School, Poughkeepsie, NY); Tiéra Reann Guereña (Blue Hands Art Academy, Globe, AZ); Ron Thatcher (Oak HIlls High School, Cincinnati, OH); Kizer Shelton (High School for Performing and Visual Arts, Houston, TX); Lucy Wainger (Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY); Audrey Zhao (Marin Academy, San Rafael, CA)


  1. Aside from the poem’s subject matter – the most intriguing component of this poem to me is how Cutler-Tietjen plays with dimension, building the three-dimensional plane by its end. The poem begins one-dimensionally: the two lie on a bed – he sweeps “left-to-right” – “twisting” (a spigot) – actions all constrained to the flat plane. The Y-dimension is created first down by means of the nails “burrowing through our mattress” – and then upwards by “climbing”, “coiling” and a prayer for “sprouting” – and once this X-Y plane is established, the Z (in this case, foreward) is created by the narrator’s self-acknowledgement – “to touch me.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s