Announcing the Winners of our Nature Poetry Contest

Thank you to all who submitted to our Spring 2018 contest, and congratulations to our winners:

First Place: “Harvest” by Mahi Taban

Mahi is a first-year English/Political Science major from San Francisco. In her spare time she enjoys reading and writing, doodling, and watching The Office on loop.

Second Place: “Summer Night of Crickets” by Tracy Graham

Tracy Graham is a junior at Clark University currently studying abroad in Seville, Spain. In her poetry, she loves to write about her own observations of and experiences in the world.

Third Place: “Gaia” by Owen Connell

Owen Connell is a senior English major. After graduation, he is moving to California to teach and seek publishers for his manuscript.

Find the winning submissions below.


Mahi Taban


She stands tall in bitter soil
and stretches to meet
sun’s warm embrace.

Grows heavy with peaches,
soft, fleshy to the touch
drooling sweet nectar.

Tongues sit heavy
in mouths without the
taste of ripe fruit. Continue reading



Congratulations to senior Sam Marlinga for receiving first place in this year’s Betty & Stanley Sultan Short Story Contest! “I” is a philosophical piece that was inspired primarily by Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the film Snowpiercer, and the work of existentialists like Jean-Paul Sartre. Read it below.


Sam Marlinga


In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
– Albert Camus

“One day all these books will be yours, you know.”

“They will?”

“They will. Everything else will be yours too.”

“But why?”

“I’m not going to be around forever, and when I’m gone you’ll be the only one left.” Continue reading

The Way it Goes

Have you ever been so engrossed by a philosophical idea that you struggle to even place an order at a restaurant? If so, check out this laughable yet profound piece written by senior Owen Connell. Read “The Way it Goes” below.


The Way it Goes

Owen Connell


“Do you ever think about how we’re all just cosmic dust? Floating around in an endless void of chaos and happenstance?”

“I think you’re taking too long figuring out what kind of fajitas you want.” Blake and Shelly sat in their favorite booth at Border Bills Mexican Cantina. Colorful piñatas and Calaveras were strung up along the ceiling. A lanky waiter was at the table, patiently waiting for Blake to decide.

“I don’t know it’s just that we’re all so small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Like, how does anyone just get up and go to work in the morning?”

Shelly turned to the waiter. “Yeah, sorry, he gets like this sometimes. I’ll have an order of the beef fajitas and a large beer, he’ll have the chicken fajitas and a margarita.” Continue reading

Everyone Came But No One Was There

Congratulations to senior Henry Lynch for receiving second place in this year’s Betty & Stanley Sultan Short Story Contest! His entry, “Everyone Came But No One Was There,” provides the contextual basis for a novel that Henry is currently working on. Read it below.

Content warning: suicide/self-harm

gingham_red1_i3Everyone Came But No One Was There

Henry Lynch


I hated wearing ties more than anything in the world, and yet there I was trying to tie one in my dark, disheveled room, hoping to not be shamed by my family again for struggling so hard to force it around my neck. Granted, it might have made it easier to tell what was going on if I had turned the light on, but not only do I have a certain inexorable disdain for overhead lighting, the sun was already extending it ethereal fingers across the few patches of hardwood floor that were still visible along the floor of my room.

To make matters worse, it was a red and white checkered tie that barely reached my waist when it was on correctly, and yet my mother insisted that I wear it because of the “significance to the family,” AKA it was my grandfather’s. Other than that, it had no other significance, other that being the main source of my formal torture. I’d blame my friend Wally for making me have to wear it today, but I caught myself. Then again, he always shit on me when I wore this tie, so I secretly hoped I wouldn’t see him today. Continue reading

Letter to Khyber

Congratulations to Mahi Taban for receiving third place in this year’s Prentiss Cheney Hoyt Poetry Contest! “Letter to Khyber” was inspired by themes from the work of Emily Dickinson (nature, loss, etc.) and Mahi’s own process of leaving behind her childhood home. Read it below.

indus-riverLetter to Khyber

Mahi Taban


I left you under Afghan skies,
buried in the dirt.
While I tried to romanticize,
a life without hurt.

I had your pieces broken up,
tossed along the way.
Wished so bad to leave you behind,
tried all night and day.

I let the Indus wash you out,
soften all your lines.
Till you were as smooth as the stones,
the icy water brines. Continue reading

Mountain Mama

Congratulations to senior Naomi Shmueli for receiving first place in this year’s Prentiss Cheney Hoyt Poetry Contest! Her poem “Mountain Mama” was initially written for Professor Joan Houlihan’s Advanced Poetry course, and is influenced by the style of Allen Ginsberg. Read it below.

mountain mamaMountain Mama

Naomi Shmueli


Sister Oh Sister, hand over the bubblegum—
The dog’s face is long and it scares us like the dead bodies
He could be carrying in that bag for all I know
I am with my Danish mermaid, my sandwich-switching beloved
She will leave me in the forest, she will too see the dog’s face

I had a vision of how we once started, reincarnating over and over and over
until we reach Nirvana
And now I believe in everything
Because Jesus and Krishna were the same man
Because the owl turns into a dark shadow of a man
Because He tells me I don’t need to be scared of men anymore
Because I saw Steve, and she saw him too Continue reading

Interview with Faie S. Baker

Faie Sebastian Baker (’19) is a frequent contributor to the Clark Writes creative writing forums and blog, sharing pieces such as A Bug’s Life (a personal favorite of the interviewer) and The R Word. His work takes a unique perspective on situations and contains witty word play. Read editor Mehr Gunawardena’s interview with him, and check out some of his work below.

MG: What is your favorite piece of writing?

FSB: That’s really hard, there are so many.

MG: That is fair, you can list a few if you want?

FSB: Umm, well, probably one that has been a really huge influence on me is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. That’s one of my favorite stories. It has been for long time.

MG: Okay, any reason why?

FSB: For one thing, it’s just a really fun adventure. It’s also one of the first stories I encountered that has a moral complexity that is more interesting than just black and white/good and bad, and that intrigued me. Continue reading

Breakfast Beer

Isaac Nemetz (’18) is an English Major and political science minor who is an aspiring fiction writer. He believes absurdity has as much to offer the reader as a conventional, grounded plot line. In this story, he tries to normalize the absurd and make his audience question the absurdity of reality. Read “Breakfast Beer” below.

redsolocups (2)Breakfast Beer

Isaac Nemetz


Joel is walking down the street with a box of Cheerios under his arm, his right hand firmly wrapped around the bottom of the box. Joel steps on a crack in the sidewalk and feels the soles of his shoes absorb the pressure of uneven pavement. He takes a deep breath. Glancing down into the cereal box, Joel smiles. Six beer cans are neatly stacked in the cardboard box. Joel is pleased.

A group of four students walk towards Joel on the other side of the street, babbling loudly about which party was better than the other. The boy closest to the street sees Joel. He stops talking and his eyes widen. The boy’s friends keep conversing, unaware of the reduced rabble, while the boy cranes his neck to watch Joel plod down the dark street. Continue reading

Greetings from Ghana

Clark Writes editor Armely Pichardo is having a wonderful time studying abroad in Ghana this semester. Read about some of her “OMG/WTF culture shock moments” in the journal entry below.

ghanaGreetings from Ghana

Armely Pichardo


Greetings from an Obroni* in Ghana

Today marks day sixty in Ghana! I honestly wasn’t counting until I decided it would be good to note how long I have been here before I bring you all into this amazing adventure with me. I am loving it here, and though an American citizenship brings many privileges, I wouldn’t mind trading it for a Ghanaian one.

I have learned a lot during my time here, and would like to begin by sharing some of my OMG/WTF culture shock moments below. Continue reading

These are the black days

The following poem was written by Holly Bauer, a junior at Clark who is majoring in psychology. Although it takes place in a familiar setting, “These are the black days” uses sinister diction and lively animal metaphors to create an atmosphere of darkness and surrealism. Read it below.

Woman in Tiger

These are the black days

Holly Bauer


These are the black days for I have arrived.
It appears no one was informed
of my current condition. Stygian silences spew from choked throats
and seep through bloated eyes.
The air is thick with it. A pin drops in the distance.
The dance party grinds to a halt.

It pulses back to life as I step inside.
Nervous energy bounces from lips
to feet to fingers. The young lady to my left trembles
like a violin string, incandescent with rage.
Mr. Stockbroker good prospects, lovely home, secret wife in Georgia
has dropped her attention in all the commotion. It may never be recovered.
His eyes are black holes, his skin paper. His thunder is spent and he knows it.
Lady tigress does not. She growls ineffectually,
unwilling to give up such a catch. I bow to the lady, as is proper,
and nod at the stockbroker. He nods back warily.
Our kind rarely meet in such a fashion. Continue reading