Tag Archives: high school

The Exquisite Corpse of the Way We Were

14 Aug

Surrealists invented the technique of Exquisite Corpse in 1918, though the game bears similarity to an even older parlor game called Consequences. Participants take turns writing sentences down on a piece of paper, folding the paper so as to conceal everything but the latest addition, and passing the paper around the room until a collective poem or story is formed. Beatnik poets brought this art form back to life in the 1960s. In the 1990s, the Surrealist exercise spread further in popularity: cartoonists and novelists used Exquisite Corpse to create their works, and musicians like David Bowie and Kurt Cobain constructed lyrics using the technique. High school students at Badgerdog’s summer camp at The Girls’ School of Austin wrote at least two of these poems every day for three weeks. It gave them a greater understanding of the writer’s collective by trusting in each other and their own instincts. The following poems are proof that even without a specific topic, we are all connected when we write together.

Jena Kirkpatrick
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Sprouts Ideas

-an Exquisite Corpse poem

Where did it go? My world?
The land was dry and broken
A small piece of paper sitting on a table
The world slows down, and time speeds up
Sirens echo in a dark hallway
With that the daggers of ice hit the ground with a resounding crack
Earth’s surface like Grandma’s apple pie crust seemed to crumble away
The wind blowing without direction
The soft touch of graphite sprouts ideas
The carrots are coming
Does it all even matter?
None of it matters now.
It is all resolved; the only thing remaining is the witching hour’s sky

Dhruv Ruttala, Anya Van Arnam, Lauren Tourish, Keziah Myers, Camille Pfister, and Zoe Slade. Composed June 21, 2017.

Time

-an Exquisite Corpse poem

Time is but a relative concept
A million clocks on a million walls telling me a million different things from midnight to noon
Time, what are you? Who are you? You are fast and slow, can be light and dark, I am beginning to think no one knows.…
What if the past never existed, and we were simply placed in the present with these memories?
Hours race like seconds, minutes crawl like days
Every decision you’ve ever made leads you here
Tick tock the hands move along
What time was it when I began to fade away?
Time is at a standstill as the world whirls into eternity
Sometimes I wonder if our current life is just a dream, and death would just be waking up

Dhruv Ruttala, Anya Van Arnam, Lauren Tourish, Keziah Myers, Camille Pfister, and Zoe Slade. Composed June 22, 2017.

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They Call Themselves John

11 Jul
During one amazing, writing-filled week, “John”(as our group dubbed itself) created work that ventured boldly across the wide range of storytelling. These bold, young writers (all high-schoolers) invented their own cities, wrote poetry, horror stories, romances, tales of sibling rivalry, and the beginnings of what could be their first novels.  While their body of work is diverse, they are all united by their devotion to and exploration of the character “John,” who took many different forms in their writing. This group of writers crafts tales with precision and passion. They are undaunted by the hard work and courage it takes to sit down and put pen to paper, and they are also willing to constantly revise in the name of creating a better experience for their readers.
Over the course of our week together, we explored the “Seven Cs” system of story structure, read Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and learned how the elements of motion, status, and time can be used to create living, breathing characters. The students also embraced unstructured writing time and were free to use their own writing templates. Oftentimes, they would bring their notebooks on breaks to hone their latest work. It was a pleasure to teach them, even though it was only for a short while. I know every member of John will be writing great things well into the future.

William Glick
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

 

My Latest Invention

My latest invention is to fix the mess I already made, but it might be too little too late. We will find out sooner rather than later.

I see a dark cloud. Now the man is approaching. I scoop up my tools and break into a run. Just two more bolts, and the invention will be done. I collapse behind a tree, panting, and try to screw in the bolts as fast as I can, the dull rumbling getting louder as I work. Then there’s a small whirring, and my invention slowly lights up a dim electric glow, illuminating my face as it slowly starts to spread, encapsulating my body.

The vitality of my youth comes flooding back in a raging torrent, and now I know I can win.

A loud, audible bang and a flash of bright light. My first invention finally works, but as my second invention slowly melts and scalds my skin, I know it’s too little too late.

Roan Alonzo

 

Northern Lights

I dreamt I saw the northern lights with you
and the moonlit sky was ours.
Your face lit up brighter than any star I’d seen
and you laughed.
In that moment, it wasn’t so bad to be human.
To be so, so small,
but to feel all too much.
Now I see it.
Everything.
The small things I didn’t pay any mind to are flooding my mind
and they feel like regrets.
The sunlight cutting through the trees over the stream.
That was a truly beautiful day, wasn’t it?
It was a shame I couldn’t quite see it.
It hits me in my reminiscing
I don’t want to leave this unlikely paradise or birdsongs and pain.
I can only hope I’ll be back someday.
I guess that’s what this world does best.
Hope.

Jordan Busby

 

The Woods

9:30 AM

Bill was packing his clothes into his suitcase, and his family was doing the same. He was getting ready for his family camp trip. Finally, they were on the road.

3:10 PM

Bill’s family finally arrived at the camp. They were just moving into their campsite when they met a stranger. He told them the campsite was haunted because an evil samurai master was buried there, but they decided not to listen.

3:30 PM

The family got everything into the campsite, and they started setting up their tents. Just when they finished the first tent, Bill’s dad, John, said that he could go run around and take a break.

4:05 PM

Bill was running around the open field when, all of a sudden, he caught a glimpse of what seemed to be a really faint person in heavy armor looking straight at him. He decided to go check it out, but when he got close, the person disappeared into thin air. He got a little bit spooked and decided to go back to camp and take a nap.

6:30 PM

Bill woke up to the sound of meat patties being grilled. He quickly got up and realized he was going to have hamburgers for dinner. After dinner, it was getting dark, so they decided to call it a day.

11:30 PM

Bill was sleeping when, all of a sudden, he heard the sound of footsteps outside of camp. He slowly got out and saw nothing. When he was just about to head back, he saw the same ghostly person again in the woods. He decided to go check it out again.

12:00 AM

Bill was running towards the person to investigate, but he disappeared again. He got really spooked and ran back, but a huge tree fell down, blocking his path.

12:45 AM

Bill tried to get over the tree, but then he heard the sound of a Japanese kurikata being taken out of its sheath.  He quickly turned around and saw nothing.

Justin He

 

My City

In this city, there are many houses, houses of all different shapes and sizes, houses with towers and spires, houses with thatch roofs and one window. There are modern houses with chic lighting and unique layouts, houses a kindergartener might draw with the triangle roof and the two windows. These houses are grouped together, layer upon layer, ascending the slopes of a giant pyramid.

These houses are all black. In fact, everything in this city is black. There is a giant canopy above this city that blocks out any sunlight. There are no parks, no forests, no lawns. Only houses, houses upon houses, in no particular order with no particular purpose. The people living in this city are the same. They wear black clothing, and hide their faces behind long black hair. They stay inside their houses all day, big and small, simple and complex. There is no sound of cars, nor traffic. No wind or rain. No sun or stars. In fact, the only color that is anywhere in this city is a bright, bright red rose planted next to a singular gravestone on the top of this pyramid. The only time of year anyone comes out of their house in this city is always in the beginning of the year, when the air is sweeter.

A lone girl with long, straight black hair down to her waist, wearing a black dress, comes out of her house.  The parents can usually be seen with their faces pressed against the window, grief and sorrow clouding their eyes. The lone girl slowly makes her way up the pyramid. As she goes, she sprinkles seeds onto the ground around her. When she reaches the top, she reaches down and uproots the rose, dark and wilted. She crushes the dried up petals in her hand and releases them into the wind. She then reaches down and plants a single seed that she has been saving for a long, long time.

Amy Huang

 

Papama

The city of Papama cannot be seen from above. Low-hanging clouds of smoke shield the withered land within the city. Oily canals sit static, breaking up the ground into a grid. Workers dressed in dull jumpsuits hack away systematically at the wilted trees along the water. The brittle, lifeless trunks are tossed into the sickly canal and bubble briefly before sinking out of sight.

One man, bones jutting against his pale skin and hair thinning at a rapid pace, stumbles around in the darkness. John, that’s his name. A name no one will remember after he falls into the water this very same day. His bones will meet all the rest that sit comfortably at the bottom of the canal. Short, square houses sit along the waterline, triple locked for fear of the skeletons that may crawl out of the depths.

A city covered in smoke and fear. That is Papama.

Adison Lampert

 

The City Underwater

The small submarine dived into the vast ocean. Radar on the ship had picked up a signal there, and the signal said it was huge. When the submarine dived down, they saw something. They saw a city. The city was sitting on the bumpy ocean floor with tall structures. But something didn’t seem right. It looked as though it had been abandoned.

The scientists found a docking bay, and got off into the skyscraper-like building. Water was dripping everywhere. Chunks of stone cracked off the wall, and even some scorch marks were visible. They did some searching and found a guide to the city.  Every year, the so-called “citizens” would modify their DNA and mutate themselves into something that was described as an evolution. When the scientists looked at the picture, evolution didn’t come to mind. It was more like a monster. This got them worried. The picture seemed to show a creature that looked like the devil with brown goat-like horns, the feet of a horse, and yellow shining eyes that looked like it came straight from the abyss of hell.

The scientists were sweating all over, and hugging each other to stop their trembling. They grabbed the guide and started heading back to the ship. That’s when they saw a red hot fireball flying through the dark, blue abyss. It hit the submarine straight in its fuel tank and created a massive orange-white explosion. The scientists stared in fear and awe. Then a citizen’s head popped up from the middle of the explosion. It looked like the one in the book. It spoke in a language the scientists had never heard before. The scientists were now confused and scared, the worst combination of feelings. Then the creature charged forward, raised his hand and said a terrible word in his language. A ritual-like circle of energy popped into his palm, and the scientists blacked out. Before that, a scientist named John saw a sign. It said Xylophen.

Austin He

 

Love Triangle

Meet three best friends — Dylan, Robert, and John.  Robert is tall, dark, and handsome. Dylan is the quarterback for the football team. He is smoking hot and has hair like Fabio. John is the cool guy who looks like Dally from The Outsiders. 

Three best friends who tell each other everything. But Robert has a secret. Robert is gay and has feelings for Dylan. He can’t tell John because John has a big mouth. John is also gay and has feelings for Dylan. Dylan is not gay though. One day, Dylan borrowed notes from Robert. As he was flipping through the pages, it made him sick to his stomach. It said Robert + Dylan = Love.

He didn’t know what to do, so he went to John’s house and told him. John told him to stay away from Robert. A few days later, John confessed he liked Dylan. Dylan was shocked. He thought about everything and realized he liked him too, so he went to John’s house and, without saying a word, he kissed him. However, Robert was watching. As he watched, tears fell from his face.

Tina Elizondo

 

The End of a Friendship

Once upon a time, there were two brothers named Rutherford and Samuel who lived in Detroit, Michigan. The two brothers were friends the first years of their lives. They would play hide-and-seek, they would play board games, and they enjoyed each other’s company. However, when Rutherford was eight and Samuel was six, Rutherford came home with a new friend named John. John was impolite and rude. He went into Samuel’s room and destroyed his toys. When Samuel complained, John punched him in the face and ran out of the house. When Rutherford was trying to find John, Samuel punched him in the face.

When Rutherford was thirteen and Samuel was eleven, they would not look at each other anymore. Their rooms were on separate floors and separate sides. Each had set up locks to their doors plus booby traps along the halls to keep the other away. Each of the boys ate their own breakfast and went to different schools. Their parents had the boys put locks on their doors, but when they would come out, one would punch the other and shove them into their room and board the door shut.

After five years of fighting and yelling, the parents eventually had company over. Dinner started very pleasantly with good conversation and peaceful understanding. However, when their mother mentioned their darkest secret, fighting, the brothers were outraged and ran away from home in two directions. They had nowhere to go. They only wanted to be free of their horrific home life.

They never met again, not for fifteen years, until they each spotted each other on the Brooklyn Bridge. Samuel tried to say childhood was over and that it was only one day that ruined it. Rutherford was saying it was Samuel’s fault that he punched back. Rutherford tried to shove Samuel off the bridge, but Samuel tripped him with his left leg, and Rutherford, unable to swim, plunged into the dark, cold water, never to resurface again. Samuel was so horrified that he had killed his only brother that he kissed the world goodbye, plunging into the water. His hand stretched out to the last light of the world until it vanished, and his life, as well, vanished into the water.

Dashiell Kostka

All American Concerns

13 Apr

Last fall, we (at Badgerdog) had the pleasure of partnering with Ms. Minde and her students at KIPP Austin Collegiate to explore the novel All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. The novel explores how an urban community is affected in the wake of the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer. Teaching Artist Eva Suter helped students articulate their responses to the novel’s difficult and tragic story using various art forms–visual, auditory, and written.  Students created this collection of thoughtful interpretations and reflections about the story and what it means to fight for equal justice and protection.

Cecily Sailer
Badgerdog Programs Director

Solidarity

I just heard him reading out loud those meaningful words that speak to everyone who has been bothered before. Many others started to join in. The teacher was crying. She looked up with puffy, red eyes. She had the biggest owl eyes, and she looked really shocked. We haven’t be able to do anything during class since… Well, no need to mention it. It’s split the school into three parts — no longer a community but a war against each other. But no. We’re not going to take this anymore. There has been a rumor about a march to stand up to police brutality. This has made a huge impact in the school. It made me think and see how this event made many people join forces, and how, as high school students, we can take a step and improve the world for ourselves. Slowly, I stand up and start reading and make my voice as clear and loud as I can and make sure that they know I am with them.

Mariela Bueno

If You Don’t Stand for Something…

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Hillary and Christian

If a Book Were a Song

In this inventive response to All American Boys, Ricardo creates an instrumental song that captures the emotional tone of the novel.

Ricardo Perez Gonzalez

Rashad and Reality

Safety is an issue causing shock and fear within communities. Rashad gets brutally beaten by Officer Paul, just like most teens are constantly getting attacked by officers. Rashad knew how to react when being attacked by an officer; however, most kids don’t know how. When Rashad was being attacked by Officer Paul, he felt hopeless and alone. There was nobody there who was willing to help him. In reality, teenagers tend to feel more pain and fright when being attacked, since they know nobody will have the courage to stand up and help.

Rashad was falsely accused of robbery and resisting arrest. To make matters worse, he was sent to the hospital with severe injuries. Although Rashad started to feel hopeless, like he might not survive, that didn’t stop him from fighting for his life. Since he was bodyslammed to the ground multiple times, he was lucky to survive such a brutal attack. So many bodyslams like those can cause severe internal bleeding in the brain or a concussion, which can sadly lead to death. Teenagers fight for survival when being harshly attacked by officers. Many teens risks their lives every time they step out of their homes, and many families get heartbroken by loss of a family member.

Gisel Hdz

Character Study

Axel Ramirez

A Collapse of Justice

Jennifer Castillo and Yolanda Morales

What Reality Is It?

I can’t believe what’s happening. I knew Paul. Well, kind of. I always saw him with that white kid, Quin? He seemed like a nice guy, but what they’re saying is way different than what his looks makes me think. I couldn’t believe what the people were saying. My parents say Paul is a respectable white man who was helping out his community and the black kid, Rashaad, was in the wrong. I believed them until I saw the video. It looked too real to be faked, and the hits he took in the video do line up with what his friends are saying. But why? I asked my parents, but they responded with the same thing. My mom said that she had talked with Paul’s mom and she said that all of this was a misunderstanding, that her Paul could not be capable of something like that. My mom says I shouldn’t be around the colored kids because they’re trouble. Something is still gnawing at me, and I can’t shake it off. I’m starting to question a lot of the things I’m being told. Most are the same things: “Those black kids are to no good. Paul had a reason to do what he did.” I do not believe what the people around me are saying because what I have seen and heard in school is making me see that what my parents are saying is not true. But that means I’m going against what my parents are saying. What should I do? Do what I feel is right, or do what everyone else is saying?

Samantha Amaya

Shots Ring Out

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Bryan Osorio

Traveling Back in Time

This story takes place in Virginia during the Civil War (near the end). Cameron is a sixteen-year-old black male who has been living in the south for most of his life. Now that the Thirteenth Amendment has been ratified, he is now considered a free man. But the white folks still control and limit the movements of the freedmen.

Cameron is excited to use his new freedoms and decides to put them into action. His close family and friends tell him to be cautious, but he doesn’t think it’s going to be a big issue and he leaves. In the streets, white people give him nasty looks and keep their distance from him. This doesn’t come as a surprise to him; he’s always been treated that way.

A week after the Thirteenth Amendment has been put in place, everything starts to fall apart. African Americans are being treated with so much disrespect, it’s like they are slaves again. Cameron doesn’t like this at all and decides to stand up for his people. It’s time for someone to step up and earn the rights they deserve. His family doesn’t like the idea. They prefer to stay down and go with the flow until something happens. But Cameron is sick and tired of being treated differently just because of his skin color. He’s going to do something no matter what happens to him.

He plans for days and still doesn’t know what to do. He decides to make a protest. He just needs people who are willing to join him on this dangerous mission. A few days later, everything is set up. Cameron and a few people go out into the streets and start protesting. White people everywhere are terrified. They think that African Americans are trying to take over, so they call the cops.

The cops are quick to take action. They immediately take out their batons and start beating the protesters. Everything happens so quickly that people don’t know how to react. African Americans have been powerless in the south. They know that if they intervene in the fighting, they will be beaten too and they don’t want to take that chance. The beatings still go on for long minutes and people don’t like it anymore.

Cameron goes home and his family tries to convince him to stay and end the protests. He denies the request and continues fighting. The next day, he organizes another protest that will take place near the sheriff’s station two weeks later. This time they manage to get a permit from a judge who supports their cause but is afraid what the others will say. The judge gives them the permit and decides he needs to go somewhere else so he can continue to help.

After the first protest, more people decide to join in because Cameron tells them about the permit. They protest the second time, but it gets worse. Someone tips off the police that the protest will be happening, and the police want to end it quickly. They dispatch a bunch of policemen all over the area and arrest anyone they think was in the protest, which means anyone who is African American. They create a bunch of false charges against them that are dropped the next day just to keep them away.

Cameron is distant after this because he can’t believe someone he thought was a fighter could betray them. He realizes then that the protests have little effect on the law unless they cause a problem with the sheriff. He decides that instead of being in the area where the sheriff is, he will just go to the sheriff’s office with the others and protest there. He thinks this will cause a problem in the city that will be too big for people to ignore.

The next day, they decide to make a bunch of mini protests all over town that will all meet at the sheriff’s office. They know  someone will tell the police, but the police can’t stop all of the protests. They plan it for a month later, but still have a meeting about who will be where and what they are risking. No one disagrees with the idea and all say they will go to their assigned spots.

Once the day of the protest arrives, they decide to go, but Cameron’s family once again tries to stop them. They are frightened for his life, and beg him to stop and listen to them. He ignores them again and goes to lead his part of the protest. They continue through the city for an hour until he reaches the sheriff’s office, and then they realize that someone has betrayed them because, surrounding the sheriff’s office are a bunch of policemen. They have dogs that growl and bark at anyone passing by, but still Cameron will not give up.

He goes up to the policemen and starts chanting by himself. People looked at him like he is crazy and wonder if he is going to be able to leave unharmed. A lot of people snicker and laugh at him, knowing that something is going to happen. In the distance, you can hear the chants of the other groups who make it to the station. Out of nowhere, the judge that gave Cameron the permit steps out of the building with the sheriff and walks towards Cameron.

“Cameron, I suggest you take your group of protesters to go celebrate because I’ve got an agreement with the sheriff,” says the Judge. “Any cop who is deemed untrustworthy or has had complaints of biased actions towards anyone was placed in lower positions until they changed.”

Cameron doesn’t think this will change anything and neither do any of the other protesters. He walks towards the protesters, and they start to march around the building until they are heard. The cops are told to stand down and only use force if the protesters start to get violent. The sheriff walks over to the protesters and shouts into the crowd, “Enough!”

Everyone stares at him and then he starts talking. “We have heard your cries and have decided to act. From now on, there will be no more beatings or acts of hate in this city. We will now be a border state between the North and the South.” Everyone is shocked by the words spoken by the sheriff.

The judge then speaks up: “While the protests have been going on, I have gone to the states above and below us and asked them to allow us to be a border state between them. They will now have more people moving here and will have more control over business, but I think that it is worth allowing people to live here freely. Anyone who thinks that is horrible can go to the state below us, and anyone who thinks that it is not enough can move to the north.”

People look around and someone yells, “When will this start?” The judge states that it is to start in six months.

These are the worst six months the state has ever seen. There are still protests and forced labor still occurs as the result of manipulating the law. After six months, there are fewer protests since there isn’t much they can do anymore. The citizens of the city feel proud they helped cause a change and start to unite more in different aspects. There is still segregation and hate towards those with different colored skin, but Cameron feels proud of his actions.

After the war, they find out who ratted them out about the protest. It was Cameron’s family, trying to keep him safe from the police in town. He eventually forgives them and finds the love of his life at one of the protests. He spends the rest of his days with her. He is remembered by the people of the city and becomes an honored person in the community.

Eduardo M. and Diana R.