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

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

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


The following piece is an “experimental nesting story” written by F. Sebastian Baker. Like its Russian doll namesake, “Matryoshka” contains several similar layers, each a little more revealing than the last. Read it below.


F. Sebastian Baker


“Fool’s Luck?” The cashier arched a skeptical eyebrow.

“It’s my wife’s favorite.” Sharon Hayashi placed her money on the counter. “Today’s our anniversary.” After waiting for the man to ring it up, she tucked the bottle carefully in her purse and walked out of the store, smiling up at the sky. It was a beautiful day. Sharon whistled along with the singing birds as she strolled home at a pace with no hurry in the world, savoring the early September foliage. The jade-green leaves were just beginning to show signs of gold, and though the sun shone brightly there was a cool, refreshing breeze in the air.

She decided ‘breeze’ was too gentle a term, when it snatched the wide-brimmed black fedora right off her head. “Hey!” Forgetting the trees and the birds, she ran after her hat as it danced through the air, teasing her with every dip and swerve, always just barely out of reach. Continue reading


The following poem was written by Clark Writes editor Bruno Lieto. Inspired by the oppressive effects of seasonal depression and the healing power of sunlight, “Moonsilver” uses enjambment to allow ideas to flow through multiple lines, and personification of natural elements to convey their emotional associations. Read it below.


Bruno Lieto


Gentle sunlight doesn’t hide tear-streaked
Cheeks as brilliant reds spill over the sky.
Illumination calls to attention every
Thought that chased sleep away
Throughout the night;
Every last hesitation, every lost lover ever
Held within, every stroke of soft fingers
Against softer skin; all tainted blue by
Overbearing moonlight that binds
Them in ghostly shadows. Continue reading