Blog entry

Facts // a story by Lauren Bryan

Posted on May 4, 2017 in Blog entry

Facts // a story by Lauren Bryan

The average human being walks a total distance of three times around the earth by the time they die. This is something Isla Naomi Griffin has always remembered. Other facts her brain retains: the quadratic formula, the capital of Canada, exactly how many prime numbers there are from one to one hundred. Facts her brain can not retain: her name, her age, her parents, her life. On the outside, she looks normal. In fact, with her borderline almond eyes the color of a storm cloud, her raven colored mane drying in ringlets, her round face with a prominent chin, she looks more like a boxer than a “memory challenged” teenage girl. People told her so. Not that she remembered. Every morning follows the same schedule of events. The following is a description of how her morning’s commence: Isla wakes up, her eyesight muffled by her gray plaid sheets, crumpled into a ball. She has no idea exactly where she is, or how she came to get there, but she does know to shift onto her back, so she can stare up at the ceiling. She reads what stains it in scrawling blue ink. “Your name is Isla Naomi Griffin. This is your home. Your parents are going to come get you.” After she reads this note that her previous self has written her, she’ll move her eyes a fraction of an inch to the left and soak in the name that takes over the rest of her ceiling. Ari Gray Loften. Then she’ll speak it out loud, and a sense of happiness will make her heart jump into a perfect toe touch. At precisely six, the doors to her bedroom will open, her parents will enter, and, with words that have long ago been memorized, they will tell her what is wrong with her. They’ll assure her they aren’t aliens trying to brainwash her, and that, no, they haven’t kidnapped her from her actual parents. Then they’ll help her out of bed on unsteady feet, lead her to the bathroom and turn on the heated tile flooring, and remind her of the day’s events. She’ll shower. Eat breakfast. Get ready. Go to school. Then she’ll sink into utter and complete embarrassment. This morning is no different. The only deviation from the normal routine is the command her mother states, business-like. “Shave your legs. You have a dance recital today.” Then she is driven to Grand Castle Private School and dropped off before the school’s impressive brick visage and soaring buttresses. As she stands blinking unhappily into the morning sun, shouldering her backpack so it does not slip off, her phone begins to fall. It plummets towards the earth at 9.81 meters per second squared. She notices its absence, though, and whirls around to try and catch it. Instead, she comes face to face with the most beautiful creature she has ever seen. Ari Gray Loften effortlessly spins the phone to face her, right side up, and smiles. His green eyes dance beneath quirked eyebrows. “You dropped this,” he tells her. Isla does not move, and in the awkward silence, he nervously runs his free hand through his short blonde hair. He does not behave this way with any other girl in Grand Castle, and sometimes he curses himself for choosing the only human being that actually intimidates him as his girlfriend. “Thanks,” Isla finally stammers, accepting the proffered phone. Then she smiles, and it clotheslines Ari’s heart. Oh, yes. That’s why he chose her. “Of course, my queen. Anything for you,” he jokes, bowing. When he straightens, Isla isn’t...

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The Insoluble Pancake

Posted on Aug 30, 2016 in Blog entry, News, Testimonials

“It is nearly an insoluble pancake, a conundrum of inscrutable potentialities, a snorter.” —Flann O’Brien, The Third Policeman I commence my search in the bookstore titled “Prairie Lights.” It is not situated in a prairie. At the entrance there is a sign that decrees “World Famous Bookstore & Poke Stop.” A mingling materializes in my mind. Maybe I’ll remember what I’m looking for. A hardcover volume? A Pokemon? If so, I am quite undeniably certain that this is the right place to start. I cannot go in immediately because there are two doors. I have already encountered a tricky problem, a nearly insoluble pancake. Is one healthier than the other? Is one an exit only? Perhaps both are exits, and the entrance is inscribed on a different face of the building. My brain is already scrambled, I pancake eat just to want my now. At that moment a melodious voice says-sings “excuse me” and a girl swings open the door on the right. She disappears behind the oak. I stare at the slab of wood, slowly rotating clockwise around its hinge…at the last second I wedge my hand in the narrow crevice and wrench the door open. I walk inside with a dignified air. I consider asking the woman at the desk the following question: What am I looking for, and can I find it in here? She will probably ask me a question as a reply, such as: I don’t know. Are you looking for a book? It is certainly possible that I am looking for a book; however it is equally likely that I am looking for something else entirely. So I decide not to stress her out until I figure out what I am looking for. I wander through the store, my gaze sprinting left to right along the spines of books, occasionally hurdling over a few that look boring. None of the titles ring a bell, though I do see the name Flann O’Brien. I knew a Flann O’Brien once. After I finish the fiction section I walk over to the next shelf but I realize that I am wasting my time; maybe it is a book that isn’t in this store, maybe it is a book that hasn’t yet been published. So I am quite sure it is not a book. Because I know I will find what I’m looking for in this town. But I might as well look around a bit more; this is a nice bookstore, and I may never come again. As I am wandering I see a girl picking books off a shelf and tasting them. I believe it is the same one with the mellifluous voice. She is doing this with a big smile. There is one book that she does not put back; eventually she takes this one to the front. She wears a sky blue lanyard with a key and card hanging from it. I have bumped into some blue lanyards today already. They seem to be very significant—does the lanyard represent wealth and distinction, like a toga praetexta? A mingling once again materializes in my mind; this time, though, it feels almost epiphanic, and with it comes a memory; not a memory, really, but a feeling, a feeling of superb happiness at the sight of so many books. A faint smile emerges on my face. I buy the book by my friend Flann O’Brien. The synopsis on the back is very weird (a book inside of a book, it says), but he’s a weird person, I remember. After the cashier bags my book, I ask,...

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Not the Typical Cliquey Pods

Posted on Aug 23, 2016 in Blog entry, News, Testimonials

One thing I found in Iowa City, besides the sweltering days that occupy most of summer in Iowa, was a vast network of friends.

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To Iowa City (I left something there) by Mansee Khurana

Posted on Aug 12, 2016 in Blog entry, News, Testimonials

“My classmates were eager to learn and share ideas, everyone’s love for art came out in different ways, and I felt like I had a place among people who didn’t disregard art, but created it.”

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Congratulations to all those who will attend the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio 2016!

Posted on Apr 18, 2016 in Blog entry, Testimonials

The only day my iPad was on mail alert, I felt excruciatingly nervous on my way back home. My mother was driving the car and we had just crossed Bittan Market. My iPad beeped and I jumped to check my email. It was April 1, 2015 and I had been accepted to attend the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. Few people knew what it meant for me. The months preceding my acceptance to IYWS were extremely painful. Due to various reasons, mostly stress regarding my academic performance, I had begun to lose faith in myself and my writing.  In fact, this lack of self-confidence made me hate myself. Whenever I was alone, it didn’t take me two seconds to sit somewhere and start crying or disparaging myself. I sometimes went to bed, wishing time would stop. But after April 1, I had something to look forward to. I had first heard of IYWS in my freshman year and I knew I had to attend the workshop. It seemed as though someone was calling me, something was waiting for me 7,890 miles away from my hometown, Bhopal, India. Actually, a lot was waiting for me. If you go through the journal I maintained at Iowa, you will see one sentence written on almost every page: “I feel more alive.” How absolutely true it was! I woke up, walked, talked, ate, sat, stood as a writer. For me, each day in Iowa was a day spent in paradise. Deep within I used to think of myself as an unworthy person. I believed I wasn’t as talented as the other writers who I was going to be with. Truth be told, I was on the verge of breaking down one day when I told my teacher, Dan, that my acceptance was probably an error. I still can’t figure out what magic happened last summer that helped me grow into a better, positive and confident human being. Perhaps I failed to tell my roommate, Chloe, and my friend, Jazz, how empowering and exhilarating their friendship had been. Perhaps I never told my teacher and the fellow poets in my class that they gave me a place where I knew I belonged. Perhaps I never told Stephen Lovely, the teachers and the wonderful counselors how their smiles simply made my day. Perhaps I never told the other campers that without them, I would never have felt so unafraid. Perhaps I never told that wonderful person who once complimented me for ‘having a smile like sunshine,’ that I no longer felt ashamed when I looked at myself or that I had started laughing heartily. Despite all of this, I must say, I have no regrets. The Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, indubitably, has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Not a day goes by without longing to go back to the wonderful place that was Iowa City. Not only do I believe more in the future of writing, I believe in my own voice. I have learned to embrace my roots and know that my dreams are valid. I know that there are people out there who appreciate my poems for what they are. I know that I am the writer I want to be and I will and must continue to grow. I know that home is not the place you come from but where you belong. Congratulations to all those who will attend the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio 2016! Let the experience mold, surprise, inspire and change you!   Devanshi Khetarpal is an 11th grader at St. Joseph’s Convent Senior Secondary Girls’ School...

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The 2016 Application Period is coming!

Posted on Jan 15, 2016 in Blog entry, News

High school age creative writers, Hark, Hear Ye, Hey, Yo, Spread the word! The Application Period for the 2016 Iowa Young Writers’ Studio is approaching! We’ll start accepting applications via Submittable at 8 AM central time on Monday, February 1 and stop at 8 AM central time on Monday, February 8. Details about the application process here. These girls applied, and look how happy they...

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