TEEN SEQUINS 2018! Day 3: Sophie Paquette, Age 16

What is an exclamation point? An action. What are many exclamation points? A revolution. Sophie Paquette’s poem is a refusal, a feminist text, where exclamation points fly after every almost thought and phrase. In short, Paquette uses the exclamation point to punch the patriarchy in the throat. She uses it as a middle finger, a protest sign. But the exclamation point is also a cut here, a strain, taking the grammar of online marketing and struggling to bend it.  “o shattering prism of clicks!” writes Paquette, “o country of hands!” If we are to do right by Paquette, we will share, re-post, and re-tweet this poem, a sign to the patriarchy that says “teenage girls! know! what you’re trying to pull!” We will work to help clearing a path for any teenager being patronized, even if we just begin by hitting “like.”  — Sophie Klahr

 

for the ad on my browser reading tragic girl’s life could have been saved by this new safety device!

 

tragic girl clickbait!

catfish!

receives dick pic with a smile!

spits in a bottle for you to wear round your neck! so this thirstiest part of her always hang close to your chest!

tragic girl cartoned milk! best used 7 days after opening! best used to wash down something else sweeter! sits in your mouth to silence the aftertaste of another! suckle tragic girl for strength! while she refills herself! again & again!

tragic girl marketing scheme! paid display advertising! purchase with a single click! tragic girl wants to help get you off! the couch to buy something!

tragic girl shapes her body into any role she is given! tragic pixie wet dream! plays love interest! plays some kind of instrument! only so you can lay naked & beg! tragic girl play me like your—!

tragic girl grew up ugly! tragic girl grew! once! not anymore!

tragic girl exactly how you like her! not child! not woman! not alive! not dead! could have been saved! but the body still warm enough to touch! tragic girl could have been! an artist! a writer! a person! but what makes her tragic then! how could you swallow her! without spitting out! could you! could have! could have tragic girl! preserved forever! while you sit with this new safety! device & its saved lives! the flood of voices still trailing behind! tragic girl & all her undead sisters! so you feel holy for hearing them! gracious for wanting them! hero for imagining their revival! divine for sculpting all of their hypothetical lives from soft clay! or software! somewhere tragic girl sings her praise & I wonder

if she feels it! o shattering prism of clicks! o country of hands! these many glowing screens! a million fingers! pressing down

 

 

 

Sophie Paquette is a poet and essayist from Bloomington, Indiana. She attends Interlochen Arts Academy, where she serves as an editor for The Interlochen Review. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Heavy Feather Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Midwestern Gothic, The Offing, and others.

 
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Olivia Bigboy (St.Huberts HS, Philadelphia, PA); Olivia Campbell (Methuen HS, Methuen, MA); Laila Hamer (Woddbridge Senior HS, Woddbridge, VA); Madison Vogt (Bentonville HS, Rogers, AR); Ian Jacome (Miami Arts Charter, Doral, FL); Ashlyn Langford (Timber Creek HS, Keller, TX); Katerina Drogojevic (Rome Free Academy, Rome, NY); Haley Fisher (Woodlands Secondary School, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada); Foster Hudson (Little Red Elizabeth Irwin, New York, NY); Eliza Durbin (Newton Country Day School, Boston, MA); Ellis McGinley (Capitol Theater Magnet HS, Millimantic, CT); Lily Krug (NYC iSchool, New York, NY); Sylvan Lebrun (The American School in Japan, Tokyo, Japan); Yoonjin Lim (Northfield Mount Hermon School, Mount Hermon, MA); Matthew Capone (Westwood HS, Westwood, MA); Lacie Minton (Hibriten HS, Lenoir, NC); Alison Child (Mountain Vista HS Highlands Ranch, CO); Claire Shang (Hunter College HS, NYC, NY); Stephanie Chang (Richmond Christian Secondary School, Richmond, BC, Canada); Helen Graham (Harvard-Westlake, Los Angeles, CA); Helen Quian (Richard Montgomery HS, Rockville, MD); Anjini Grover (Adlai E. Stevenson HS, Buffalo Grove, IL); Allison Armijo (El Segundo HS, El Segundo, CA); Adam Zhou (International School Manila, Taguig, the Philippines); Priya Rinkus (Rumson-Fair Haven Regional HS, Rumson, NJ); Akhila Bandlora (BASIS Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ); Rebecca Oet (Hathaway Brown, Shaker Heights, OH); Jessica XU (Haynes Academy, Metairie, LA); Grace Wang (Columbus North HS, Columbus, IN); Sandra Chen (Amador Valley HS, Pleasanton, CA); Margaret Balich (Winchester Thurston, Pittsburgh, PA); Hannah Crowley (Marblehead HS, Marblehead, MA); Star Bullen Crowe (Brooklyn HS of The Arts, Brooklyn, NY); Samantha Grace Dell’Imperio (Eastchester HS, Scarsdale, NY); Yerin Chang (Lower Moreland HS, Huntingdon Valley, PA)

TEEN SEQUINS 2018! Day 2: “After the Funeral” by Taylor Fang, Age 15

In Taylor Fang’s “After the Funeral,” grief is objectified. The poem’s first line, “I bring back everything I find,” is an apt descriptor for the work of the piece, only Fang goes deeper. Does taking things from the meadow, the outer world, endow responsibility? “How little I knew then/about the bitter destruction/I kept in my hands.” Maybe aging is learning of this tendency, this will, to destroy. Maybe part of loss, grief, is the desire to counteract destruction. “I pick out her ring/and slip it onto my finger.” The desire to protect our memories, and the objects that hold them. – Robert Auld

 

After the Funeral

I bring back everything I find
in the meadow by the house
that I grew up in
and pour it on the table.
The coffee cake, shoved sideways,
dangles over an edge.

Once, I stuck a steak knife
between two slats
on the shiplap siding of this place.
How little I knew then
about the bitter destruction
I kept in my hands.
I try to forget the days
when I wanted to die,
or become blonde, or pour flour
from the skies, covering my mouth
like dust. I press my wildflower
wounds between pages.

Last summer blooms
through the cover—
the open window, mother saying
someday you’ll thank me
and all the surrenders that came out of my mouth.
I nod. The room grows cold
around me, around this place
that will soon carry new people
and new hands
to grease the doorknobs
with their leaving.

Keys and shards of glass glitter
against wood. I pick out her ring
and slip it onto my finger. The rest
lays in waiting—
shining, beautiful,
an open field of waste.

 

Taylor Fang lives in Utah. Her poetry appears in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Cargoes, and Rookie Magazine, among others, and has been recognized by the Poetry Society UK. She enjoys playing the piano and spending time outdoors

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Quest B (South Spencer HS, Rockport, IN); Donald Berg (Kirksville HS, Kirksville, MO); Olivia Bramante (Methuen HS, Methuen, MA); Teddi Haynes (Orange County School of the Arts, Santa Ana, CA); Jeremy Hsiao (California School of the Arts, Duarte, CA); Sarah Lao (Westminster School, Atlanta, GA); Lia Marisol Portillo (South Lafourche HS, Cut Off, LA); Sarah Street (Westminster School, Atlanta, GA); Violet Tabacco (Montpelier HS, Montpelier, VT); Anna Wang (Adlai E. Stevenson HS, Lincolnshire, IL); Stephanie Yen (Beachwood HS, Beachwood, OH); Katia Camargo, Zoey Ruzic, Serena Lozandi (Miami Arts Charter School, Miami, FL)

TEEN SEQUINS 2018! DAY 1: “Moses split the red sea, but still, there was no path” by Ottavia Paluch, Age 14

In “Moses split the red sea, but still, there was no path,” we are drawn in by a murmuring voice. An old story, but Ottavia Paluch makes it new. The poem’s voice almost seems private, half-thoughts folding in on one another, occasionally surfacing to speak to us, then again, turning away. It is a voice that lives at a bus stop, quoting Old Testament passages, sometimes audibly, sometimes not. “…I was–/ no miracle. At least I tried,” says the poem, and we are drawn in, to see just why, and how. “I thought of myself / as one of those daughter plants” writes Paluch,” Quenched. Believed.” And indeed, we believe.

— Sophie Klahr

 

Moses split the red sea, but still, there was no path

 

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

—Exodus 14:14

 

I’m not sure who I would’ve belonged to. There’s

the army. The ones who crossed. The

 

skeptic, because perhaps it all was—and I was—

no miracle. At least I tried. At least

 

I could drag myself through desert roads, through propagation.

But when the tide rises, I help little but the schools of fish, so that

 

they can survive. Instead, I prayed–there was a saint in my view,

and I wanted to look holy enough to be worthy of death.

 

I asked for obedience. I colonized. I thought of myself

as one of those daughter plants. Quenched. Believed. My

 

thoughts soon rested in no oasis, but rather a place where they may have

never been seen before. So that I would be no sea;

 

so that Moses might not raise his staff

above me.

 

 

Ottavia Paluch is a 14 year old HS student who attends Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. In her spare time, she tries to look intellectual by listening to Radiohead, U2, My Chemical Romance, and other lovely alternative rock bands, among other things. Her work is forthcoming or published in Alexandria Quarterly, The Daphne Review, Body Without Organs, in Navigating The Maze’s 2018 anthology, and Bitter Melon.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Ashleigh Elden (Mamaroneck HS, Mamaroneck, NY); Liliana Greyf (Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY); Esther Kim (Holton-Arms School, Bethesda, MD); Katherine Lee (Conestoga HS, Berwyn, PA); Eva Murillo (Walter Payton College Prep, Chicago, IL); Juliana Pratofiorito (Marymount School, New York City, NY); Saniah Wilson (North HS, Torrance, CA); Kaitlyn Zhou (Neuqua Valley HS, Naperville, IL); Vincent Gomez, Maia Tasker, Elyse Thomas, Emmanuel Ortiz-Ochoa (Miami Arts Charter School, Miami, FL)

Starting tomorrow: TEEN SEQUINS 2018

A dead deer, a dick pic, obedience; girlhood, sainthood; plastic flamingos and shattered language: Welcome to the 4th Annual TEEN SEQUINS celebration! We are honored this week to present another galaxy of poems.

This year, poems flew to us from all over the U.S., from Canada, Indonesia, France, Japan – from all over the world. One hundred and fifty-one teen writers (yes, you!) bravely sent us your voices , and as always, we ardently wish that we could feature more than just one poet in each age category! 

Our 2018 Teen Sequins featured poets are Ottavia Paluch (14), Taylor Fang (15), Sophie Paquette (16), Vidhima Shetty (17), Morgan Levine (18), and Annabelle Crowe (19). The work offered by these writers is exemplary of what we see teenage writing is in 2018: full of wonder and watchfulness, furious and self-aware.

As we put together this feature, it was a pleasure to realize that all of our 2018 poems are written by women, some of who are people of color, some of who are disabled. We don’t look for any particular kind of voice or background when we read work – we choose poems that chime with us most deeply- but we are proud to find that we are holding up voices which often must struggle to be heard.  

On a similar note: We read somewhere recently that women are much less likely than men to re-submit to literary journals, but our 19 year old featured poet, Annabelle, has been submitting to TEEN SEQUINS for three years, and it wasn’t until we accepted her poem this year that we realized this fact! We hope that Annabelle’s story can serve as an example to all of our teens who submitted this year, and to anyone who might read this feature – a rejection from a publication doesn’t always mean no. Sometimes it means, not yet. As Rainer Maria Rilke wrote: Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Enjoy this week of poetry, follow along with all the Gigantic Sequins social media, and share share share this wonderful work with everyone you can! Until tomorrow…

 

Happy reading and writing,

Robby Auld and Sophie Klahr

Teen Sequins co-editors

What if not this?: Reflections from Teen Sequins co-editor Sophie Klahr

Years ago during a workshop at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Gregory Orr had us each map out our poetic lineage, our family trees.  What he was asking really was a question about time. My tree truly started to grow in high school, spring all kinds of crazy blooms. A poet in those bursts was Olena Kalytiak Davis – here’s a poem of hers I’ve kept close, something that influenced me deeply when I found it in my senior year of high school:

 

The Panic of Birds

The moon is sick
of pulling at the river, and the river
fed up with swallowing the rain,
So, in my lukewarm coffee, in the bathroom
mirror, there’s a restlessness
as black as a raven.
Landing heavily on the quiet lines of this house.
Again, the sun takes cover
and the morning is dead
tired of itself, already, it’s pelting and windy
as I lean into the pane
that proves this world is a cold smooth place.

Wind against window—let the words fight it out—
as I try to remember: What is it
that’s so late in coming?
 What was it
I understood so well last night, so well it kissed me,
sweetly on the forehead?

Wind against window and my late flowering brain,
heavy, gone to seed. Pacing
from room to room and in each window
a different version of a framed woman
unable to rest, set against a sky
full of beating wings and abandoned
directions. Her five chambered heart
filling with the panic of birds, asking: What?

What if not this?

 

 

That poem appeared in an anthology called American Poetry, The Next Generation, and I dog-eared the hell out of that book. Underlines, marginalia, the works. Nobody pointed me to that poem, I just read, read and read voraciously. I think I read because I was lonely, and I wrote because I was stuck. Sometimes it is that simple, no matter how old you are. I was private with those poems for years, and that’s part of what makes me so astonished and so humbled to read submissions for Teen SequinsEvery teen who sends us their poem is brave, unquestionably. That’s part of why we give an honorable mention to all those who submit. I think as one turns into an older writer, the distinction of “honorable mention” can be sort of tossed off, in the the way that a silver medalist might be pissed and a bronze medalist might be elated. But when Robby and I give honorable mentions, it’s because we really see the action of sending out a poem into the world as honorable. We create a poetry world by sharing poetry, and by sharing their (your) poetry with us, these teens (you!) make our world better. There’s a ripple effect I think. And we don’t take it lightly either, the honor of reading what is sometimes a person’s (your) first submission, the first time a poem is sent to anyone outside of a classroom. We know that, and we’re terribly grateful to be trusted in such a way.

Isn’t it good and strange and difficult and wonderful to be in the world? What? / What if not this? 

Teens, send us your work.  If you submitted to us last year and you weren’t featured, submit again. We’ll hold your work in the best way we can, celebrate you to the fullest.

 

Sincerely and fondly and all that jazz,

Sophie 

 

 

Announcing… the GS 9.2 Roster!

Gigantic Sequins 9.2 debuts this summer, and we can’t wait. Meanwhile, here are all the writers & artists whose fantastic work will be appearing within its print pages! WHILE YOU’RE AT IT, check out our online store for a SNEAK PREVIEW of the 9.2 front cover (art by Fumi Mini Nakamura, design by meg willing)… and your first opportunity to pre-order this phenomenal issue. A full spread of the cover should go up on our official website within the next month or so.
Meriwether Clarke
Kelsey Gray
Mitchell King
Natalie Sharp
Sarah Thompson
plus, a book review of The Barbarous Century by Leah Umansky (Eyewear Press, March 2018) by Kim Jacobs-Beck

Results of the (occasional) 2018 Winter Contests!

FLASH CNF RESULTS

“31 – 4 – 25” by Doug Paul Case | WINNER, Selected by Paul Lisicky

“Essay in Which I’ve Borrowed my Boyfriend’s T-Shirt” by Doug Paul Case | Finalist

“Duck Duck” by Brooke Larson | Finalist

“Grief Studies” by Natalie Sharp| Finalist

“Landing” by Matt Stebbins | Finalist

 

POETRY COMICS FINALISTS

“Lightless” by Annalise Mabe | WINNER, Selected by Gabrielle Bates

“im dehydrated” by Zoë Blair-Schlagenhauf | Finalist

“my laptop is my lover” by Zoë Blair-Schlagenhauf | Finalist

“when im like, really depressed i have a lot of sex” by  Zoë Blair-Schlagenhauf | Finalist

“Dominion” by Mercer Hanau| Finalist

 

Thanks to the judges and all who entered! Special thanks, too, to Matthew Mahaney, whose cross-stitches are a part of the prize for each winner. A full list of all the writers & artists we’ll be publishing in GS 9.2, debuting this summer, along with these winning works, will be out soon.