Attention NYU undergrads! The deadline to submit your poetry, prose, and art to West 10th‘s 2017-2018 issue is on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15! To learn more about what we are looking for, click HERE.
I don’t know when it started—when I realized that I wasn’t acting exactly like the person I felt that I ideally wanted to be, or how I even realized that I wanted to be someone else. I don’t know how I write, or what it even is that I’m doing, but I do know that it brings me closer to being that person. There has been a me, as if I’m standing at the end of a long hallway, staring back at myself, a me that is more sure, and I’ve been trying to reach her.. The words do certainly come from the pit of something somewhere inside me, a breath escaping me. As if they’ve been resting within the nooks of my joints before I even started writing. Or maybe they’re a warm ball resting right under my ribs, because that’s what it is that I write… somehow, it’s warm. I like to find the warmth in everything. Maybe that’s what I want to be, warm. But that’s just what it is, warm means so many different things to me, but perhaps to someone else it’s just an adjective, and that’s poetry.
Michelangelo once said that the art exists within the marble, and that he merely uncovers it from within, or something like that. I imagine myself as a block of that marble, and with every poem there’s a chip at my frame, bringing me closer to the person I want to be. And like I said, I don’t know whom that person is entirely, you can add my bad eyesight to the metaphor of the woman standing at the other end of the hallway, because she is definitely fuzzy… but I do know that everything is more beautiful since I started writing; that I feel things more, I stop and reflect, and see the warmth, the wonder in almost everything. I try to understand people, realize how complex they are in their individual quirks and preferences and peeves, and in that process I realized that anything could be poetry, and then my world flipped around.
I once read a journal arguing that philosophers should replace therapists, so, perhaps we should prescribe write three poetic lines after each meal too. God knows it helped me in a million different ways. But maybe, probably, I’m totally wrong and my work is a project. Just a project bringing me closer to understanding myself. Who cares? It doesn’t matter what it is, it’s working. Perhaps, I’ll be that ideal form of myself eighty years from now, when I’m white-haired and seated in a small nook, smiling at whatever I wrote 60 years prior. Or maybe I’ll never be. But it doesn’t matter what it is, because for now, it’s working.
Spread the word—West 10th is now accepting submissions of poetry, prose, and art for its 2017-2018 edition, coming out this spring!
Check out the guidelines for submitting here.
Applications are now open for the 2017-2018 Editorial Board!
We are seeking to fill positions on the poetry, prose, art, web, and copyediting boards.
Please direct all questions and completed applications to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are due by 5 pm on Friday, May 19.
Please download and complete the application below:
*Note: please do not apply to the board if you are graduating in December 2017. This is a full-year commitment.
it must be slowing
you down turtle
the immense design
must burden your back
it must be heavy so
you search for weightlessness
in a sea it must be so heavy
that you could snap
your back in two turtle
do you know
how lions stomp
on your plains or of how
infinite you really are
turtle you titan
you grew a shell
Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts
Arriving in America for the first time in freshman year, I read Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts without any knowledge of when it was published. It was, astonishingly for an Asian girl who had spent most of her life in another English-speaking country, the first time I had read an original English work by an Asian author. The Asian girl was told that no one would want to see her foreign name printed on books. There were shouts from strangers on the streets telling her to return to her own country, alluding to a land far away that she didn’t feel was more home than the place she stood in.
These things are actually from my own childhood, but it might as well be from Kingston’s.
In her attempt to understand her own identity as a Chinese American, Kingston describes feeling like living in a land of ghosts, is afraid to speak loudly after years of imposed silence, and becomes bullied and the bully. She is often an outcast, unable to fully commit to a binary label of either Chinese or American. Although her presence in America makes it easier for her to observe and assimilate to its culture herself, her physical detachment from China means the only connection to her Chinese heritage is the stories she is told by her mother as a young girl.
This perhaps helps explain Kingston’s unique style of writing, of blending myth and autobiography together – it is because her Chinese identity is so helplessly dependent on what others tell her. With morals from such stories being imposed on her, Kingston explores the power of storytelling that can shape her identity. At first, it seems she is simply retelling stories as a listener who was shaped by what she was told. However, in the power of her own narrative we can see that the purpose of retelling these stories is something beyond reiterating the stories she heard. This time, unlike during her childhood, she is the one telling the stories. By the end of the collection this distinction becomes clearer—despite borrowing from other folktales, the stories she tells are very much her own. The book, a haunting mix of speculation, myth, and memoir champions storytelling as a mode of healing and establishing selfhood. It is also timeless and applicable even today in the light of continuing cultural turmoil as it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
Her book is a strongly recommended read—and luckily for us, NYU is to host an event with Kingston in celebration of its 40th anniversary in April. Keep a look out for further details closer to the date!
Couldn’t quite perfect your piece before our submissions deadline last night? You’re in luck! We are extending the deadline until Tuesday, December 20 at 11:59 pm. Take a break from finals studying this weekend and send us your poetry, prose, and art!
I profess: I often find myself ill-equipped to defend my political beliefs. This is mostly because I get all my political news from “The Simpsons” and satirical reports; I argue my points by saying things like “because it’s not nice” or—once—by crying.. My dad had tried to teach me and my sister political philosophy when we were kids; he asked us, a five-year-old and a seven-year-old, “In a totalitarian society, would you rather be a master or a slave?” I answered, and when he asked “Why?” I promptly burst into tears.
We have now placed a misogynist, baseless, pink-faced racist in charge of our nation and I again find myself near tears. Questions which were once offered as philosophical brainfood reveal themselves as crucial and troubling realities. As I grow older, I close the distance between me and my bureaucratic rulers by shedding layers of legality. I am gaining rights as I inch forever closer to the administrative flame and I’ve learned that it isn’t always going to be Barack Obama and that it isn’t always going to feel safe or pleasant or nice. In fact, it will hurt this time.
When my home state Pennsylvania voted red, I wondered which of my neighbors and former teachers and classmates voted with the majority of the country that agreed to value fantastical extremes over basic human decency. Is your name in my yearbook? Were you at that potluck dinner in 2009? Was I at your ten-year-old birthday party, did you teach chemistry, did I lend you my bow resin at orchestra, did we wait for the after school bus together? My paranoia is now manifold.
It was 7 a.m. in Paris when I found out the president would be someone who wanted to harm those I love and care about. That morning, I think I gave up for a couple hours. I texted exclamation points and sad emojis to my parents. Then I made the decision to wear sweatpants to class.I didn’t send any emails or check the weather and when I felt rain pouring outside, I didn’t open my umbrella. I felt sad and I showed it—but this is not good. When your enemy gains undeniable power, defend yourself: take out your super rusty purple umbrella, don your poncho, your rainboots, build dams, give damns!
There is no more “we” or “our.” Whatever unity existed before was a mask of manners which this election has violently stripped away. This victory of the hateful, ignorant, predominately white voter is one I will not claim as my own. But Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, her steady tone and spine-chilling optimism—that is all mine to cherish. That, and a regressive and noxious next four years.Smiling through gritted teeth, I am horribly happy that I can feel this Faustian range of emotion. At least I now know where I stand.
–Audrey Deng, West 10th Copy Editor
Cigarette : 10
(1) Finely chopped, toasted leaves.
(2) Tight packed, thin rolled
Miniature kindle, ignites on contact, brings that
(3) Slow alveoli burn.
(4) A chemical kicker, send tingles to your fingertips
(5) Composure with a touch – a deep inhale after
Bad news or rough sex. (6) Categorize:
Social / Solo / Habit / Trend –
(7) “I just buy them on the weekends” and “Not in front of the kids”
(8) Hand-held gas pump, tubular tar transmitter
Nestled in the hollows of four chambers,
Two pulsating balloons and millions of blue-red threads.
(9) Boxes 20 compulsive habits.
(10) Pockets (14 types of) cancer.