Saturday, June 30, 2007

Literary Landmarks of New York: The Algonquin Hotel

Communities like WritopiaLabs show us just how much New York can--and does--inspire writers and artists of all ages and all interests. With its vibrancy, diversity and unpredictability, New York has been the birthplace of so much creative expression that it's almost impossible to quantify it; Arthur Miller, Mel Brooks, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Madeleine L'Engle, Herman Melville, and Chaim Potok all spent significant parts of their careers living here, to name just a few. As a result, New York is filled with "literary landmarks"--places where writers lived, worked, met to share ideas, or simply found inspiration. Some are better known than others: children's-book character Eloise famously wreaked havoc in the Plaza, and Henry James' Washington Square was set in the downtown New York neighborhood of the same name. However, many places have slipped out of New York's collective memory, despite the fact that they were instrumental in the development of our city's cultural history.

The first place that I found out about in my quest to uncover New York's literary landmarks is the Algonquin Hotel.

Located on West 44th St. in Manhattan, the Algonquin is an unassuming, albeit luxurious hotel, with very little to outwardly distinguish it from the many such hotels in the neighborhood. However, what sets it apart is not any singular characteristic, but rather, the history that occurred within its walls. In 1919, a series of lunchtime meetings began in the hotel, which were called the "Algonquin Round Table." The Round Table, which later came to be known as the "Vicious Circle" for its members' biting wit, was a meeting-place for New York journalists, authors, actors and publishers, such as John Barrymore, George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woollcott and Dorothy Parker; such lunches occurred pretty much daily between 1919 and 1929. The ideas, tastes, and themes of that booming decade--one which would prove among the most culturally prolific in American history--were created and dissected in Round Table meetings. Ultimately, all of the literary greats of the Roaring Twenties, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, would spend some time at the Algonquin, exchanging "bon mots" about society, literature, and anything they saw fit. In fact, Fitzgerald had a family portrait taken in the lobby of the Algonquin near the end of his life. He could not have chosen a more appropriate place.

I am a sixteen-year-old high school student, about to enter my final year of high school, looking to improve my writing and to meet and learn from people who are trying to do the same. I have loved books--and loved writing--ever since I was quite wee, and find in Writopia the kind of warm, welcoming writers' community that I think is vital to keeping that love of words and that creativity alive and thriving.
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Friday, June 29, 2007

Book of the Week

Find something exciting in a magazine, newspaper, or perhaps an entire book? Well write about it here in the Book of the Week. Change the name of the column, flip it around and do whatever makes you happy. This column is a way to share what interests you in different forms of writing. Take some time, read some more, write.

Fueled by my current listening of Bollywood singer, Lata Mangeshkar, I decided to recommend a book I finished reading a couple of months ago. Taking place in multiple time periods but connected by a common thread, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake is a novel worth spending time with.
The Namesake begins with the birth of the main character of the story, Gogol Ganguli. Immediately Jhumpa Lahiri’s detailed and emotional writing transports the reader into the lives of the Ganguli’s. The Gangulis are a Bengaline family from Calcutta, India. We learn not only the life and struggles of Gogol, a child of immigrants, as he makes his way into the world, but also the events in his parent’s lives that helped shape who they are.
The story can be seen as an immigrant tale showing the constant hardships for not only immigrants in America, but for their American born children. Often native born American citizens forget the struggles that immigrants are forced to experience. The Namesake shows the fortunes gained as well as the extreme loneliness and isolation felt in becoming an American. Are immigrants ever truly "Americanized?"
The story has an even stronger theme of family. Family in Bengali culture is a core component in everyday life. As children grow, they never fully leave their family although often it is this constant reliance on the family that may hinder them later on.
Gogol is a character that gets beneath the readers skin and causes them to want to scream some sense in his head. Jhumpa Lahiri thoroughly develops each character to the point where both their actions and words are understood, even if not agreed with. What I truly enjoyed in The Namesake were the family relations. The Gangulis try to continue raising their family in a traditional Bengali way, and their children become the ones to break out of that mold.
I could relate to Gogol's problems as a teenager, not being fully understood by adults and trying to realize his place in the world outside of his family. The realistic portrayal of the Ganguli's remind me of people I know and of a life that I never had to lead, as an immigrant and having two homelands, the one of your people and the one of your family.

Although I wouldn't call this book light and airy, why not have a little depth in your summer reading or your reading in general? If you happen to be the Goldilocks in your literary choosing, then here's a book for you. It's not too dark and not too light but just right.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Here’s to a different sort of article about Iraq…

Earlier today I typed in “Iraq” on to Google News, the Google function which spans across the world wide web providing access to a great number of news sources. I got 151,287 articles – not bad. Then I searched “Iraqi culture” – 1,386. That’s a little less than 1%, to put figures into perspective. Today, in the graduated stages of the Iraq War, we are attempting to understand ways to reconstruct the country with the help of the populace. It’s a little ironic then, that there are so few articles about what makes an Iraqi an Iraqi – the culture, history, music, which define an Iraqi. Only through greater understanding can we understand better how to fix the broken land.
After searching “Iraqi culture,” I decided to be more specific, though to unsuccessful ends. “Kurdish song and dance” yields exactly one (that’s a percentage of .0065, if we are to be consistent). This is a pretty shabby number, and so, with this first column, I intend to double the results.

The Kurds are an ethnic group primarily found in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, though they can be located in several other states in the region. There has never been an official “Kurdistan,” though the Treaty of Sevres, signed at the end of World War I, as the Ottoman Empire dissolved, provided for it. The Kurds were not to enjoy Wilson’s “self-determination” principles – after Kemal Ataturk modernized and militarized Turkey, it never signed the treaty, and eventually “Kurdistan” was delegated to Iraq. This proved deadly to many Kurds when, by the hand of Saddam Hussein, chemical weapons were used on them during the Iraq-Iran war.
Nevertheless, the Kurds find something to celebrate. The “dobke” is one of the most popular dances – it can go on for hours on end (who knew the Kurds were such wild partiers?) A single-file line is formed behind a leader who waves a handkerchief and hisses every time he changes a step. Accompanying the dance is usually a singer or two, singing in falsetto Kurdish, usually about love, war, and hardship. Some classic Kurdish songs are the “Lawk” and the “Hairan.” The crowd many times joins in with claps, snaps, and a “lu-lu-lu-lu” cry of joy.
Snapping and clapping are not so different from what we Americans do at our concerts and dance performances at home. The lyrics of traditional Kurdish tunes only further illustrate the similarities between the two social groups.
Truth be told, these lyrics [“Sing for me just a little more/ Open your heart for just a few days/ I cannot live without you/ Come let me have a kiss/ It is not winter but spring/ But alas! I cannot speak to her, not even a hello/ Because of her mother who watches her day and night”] are not disparately different from these [“All you people can't you see, can't you see/How your love's affecting our reality/Every time we're down/You can make it right/And that makes you larger than (that make you larger than)/That makes you larger/That makes you larger than life”]. The resemblance is striking.
The truth is, in this type of situation, we need to think creatively for solutions. Partition, withdrawal, and a police state are all highly contested, and will likely prove devastating. We need to focus on the cultural aspects of Iraq more. Who knows…Nick Carter may very well be the first step towards rebuilding Arab trust in America.

Ruthie is a New York City high school junior.
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Pick of the Week 6/28/07

Selected by Sara
This memoir is immensely moving and very, very real to the reader. The author uses the everyday object of a piano to reflect not just his changes in mood, but the way he grows and progresses. As his family and friends change, so does he, and the piano is a clear and reliable anchor and source of pride that connects him to his past and the people in it. The writer uses imagery and vibrant dialogue to relay the events retold in this memoir, and having been written by a 13 year old, this is pretty much brilliant.

My Mirror, by Michael Gellman
Its sleek black wood shines like a midnight sky. Its graceful curving arms stretch to the floor, in a relaxed posture, almost resting. The headboard atop its integrated ivory and ebony keys read Steinway and Sons. It is a piano, the kindest in the world.
It’s a precious family heirloom, and has traveled through many different homes and was played by many hands; especially my grandma’s hands. It was my grandma’s piano. She was a music teacher, and she played me songs on the piano before… well, before she died.
I remember the night very well. It was almost my bed time, and Grandma Marcie was upstairs in her room. My sisters, Lily and Abby, and I wrote nice cards for her, hoping she would get better. I understood that she was sick but that was the extent of my knowledge. (Because we were triplets at the age of 4 and a half, we were naive and didn’t fully know what was happening.)
“If you give me your cards I will take them upstairs to her,” said Dad softly.
“Can we?” we asked.
“No, I’m sorry,” Dad said as he shook his head with his eyes searching my face for signs of emotions. “But don’t worry, I will.” My parents didn’t want my two sisters and I going up the carpeted stairs to her. We didn’t know why. For us, she was already out of reach, slowly becoming a distant memory. Much later, I knew that she had died that night, after my dad had read his mom, our grandma, our letters.
After she died, my family took the piano because I was already expressing interest in playing, as was my sister Abby. Because of that, the piano became ours, and I began to take lessons.

Almost immediately after I got the piano, I started taking lessons with Atsuko, a petite Japanese woman who looked to be in her 50’s. Over the course of three or four years, she was a constant presence. Even though I was young, we developed a warm relationship of smiles and laughter. Our relationship ended suddenly when she died of cancer. I was upset, but mostly shocked. I didn’t realize she was dying. I still remembered the last piano lesson I had, and wanted to complete my assignment so I could play for her. But she was gone as quickly as an unpracticed piece of music, just a vague memory of an occasional hug.
It was also impossibly similar to a third tragedy in my life: my parents’ divorce. I was only ten years old when it happened.
“Everybody gather round the breakfast table,” dad said as Abigail, Lily and I were laughing and teasing each other. “I have some bad news.”
“I know what it is!” I said with my mind meandering somewhere else entirely. I didn’t notice until looking back that at these words, that my father and mother looked worried. “Great Grandma Edna died, right?” She had been sick awhile and my dad was a little anxious, but she was ninety-five and I only saw her on occasional visits.
“No,” said dad in a hushed voice, his eyes downcast. “Mommy and I are getting divorced.”
Those words rang in my head for many sleepless nights to follow. The memory will always be there, will always be a part of me in a way. I remember I was more than really upset. I felt devastated.
“This can’t be happening!” Lily said with defiance as she stood up and pounded her little fist on the table.
“Ya!” Abby and I chorused behind her. Then I remembered a car ride we had six months before. The subject of divorce had sprung up, and my dad and mom promised us that would never happen to our family. I believed them. How foolish I was.
“You said you guys would never get divorced!” I said with a giant lump in my throat. Tears started to trickle down my cheeks. Small, sad tears rolling down my face. We all got on the couch and started crying. Mom, Dad, Abby, Lily, and me: the last time we would all be together.
Within a few hours, I found myself at the piano channeling my bad feelings. I don’t think I really realized that at the time, but the piano was there for me. My friends would ask me if I was upset about my parents’ divorce. When I told them I was okay about it, they were surprised. I had an unlikely friend to help me. Now, looking back on it, I can see that. The divorce was followed by several moves and the disposal of many things, including, in fact, the couch. The truth is, I haven’t cared much about throwing things away, and I don’t often have the need to keep something. But that is probably because the piano has always been there for me. In a way it has comforted me over the years, a constant figure among everything else.
But life went on and so did the world. I went to school, and I practiced piano. I got a new teacher, Kirsten. Over these last few years I’ve known her, she’s come to make a big impression on my life; she has a caring loving heart, a good sense of humor, and is always easy to talk to.
I remember one day when I went to her house for a piano lesson. I knocked on the door and immediately Conner, her loving friendly dog, ran out and started barking happily. I pet him for a while and then went inside her apartment.
“Hey Kirsten!” I said smiling. “I practiced well this week.”
“Oh good,” she said and started eating something that smelled and looked fantastic.
“Can I have some of that?” I asked sort of sheepishly. “It looks really good.”
“Sure.” She handed me a fork. One thing that blows me away about Kirsten is her food. It is always incredible and this definitely kept up the standards. “Come on. show me what you’ve been working on.” As we went to her bedroom to play on her piano I was very happy.
“Okay, so here it is!” I turned on the metronome and started to play the keys of Kirsten’s piano. Suddenly I felt something warm and furry by my legs, under the piano. “Conner,” I laughed. “You’re distracting me.” Kirsten tried to help by telling him to go—but he wouldn’t. It was okay. I really liked Conner.
Two years ago, doctors found a tumor in Conner’s liver and he went in for surgery. I could see the symptoms: He started slipping this way and that on the tiles of the floor. He couldn’t even walk up the stairs to get to the sidewalk. He only lived one more year. Even though I knew… it was sad. So I wrote a song on the piano. Kirsten loved it.
The piano has stood in my house for as long as I can remember, reminding me of the past. It reminds me of Atsuko, my parents’ divorce, and now Kirsten’s loss. When I am angry I play loudly. When sad, I play a piece in a minor key.
As I’m playing, it is usually Grandma Marcie that comes to mind, even more than Otsiko or Conner. When I play the grand piano’s ivory keys, I am reminded subconsciously of her and I draw strength from that. Sometimes I think about how she played it, too. I thought of her when I won a piano scholarship. I thought of her when I won an award just recently for my piano playing. I knew that she was watching me; watching my progress and my setbacks, watching my struggles and victories. Helping me through…
But most importantly, my piano is like my mirror, my reflection. It keeps me in check because whenever I look at it, I know how I’m feeling. My piano… it shows me an honest version of myself, not altered or edited by me, my family, or my friends. That helps me more than anything else in the world.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday post.... Books that are popular....

This blog is supposed to focus on what books are popular. Each week the new blogger will concentrate on a particular
book that and help to uncover why it is popular and whether it is rightfully so.

The book that I chose was The Perks of being a WallFlower By Stephen Chbosky. I delayed reading this book for sometime because i thought it would be cliche i.e. just another book about teenage problems but after only a few pages i was proven wrong. I was instantly drawn to the main character, charlie who's quirks became really endearing and suprisingly refreshing. This book was unexpectedly moving and had much more depth to it than I would have expected. Unlike other books of this genre, the book proved to be incredibly bitter sweet and real. This can be seen as the book progresses and his character grows. This book's format was easy to read which was another plus. I would highly recommend this book to everyone but especially to those in highschool. Read more!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pick of the Week 6/26/07

Selected by Sara
Calypso is the first story to be posted on the Writopia blog because it is a perfect reflection of what this blog stands for. While intense and moving, it is a wonderfully written and very readable story for tweens and teens alike. The poetic sentences flow with an emotional energy that everyone can relate to and appreciate, and the plot combines boldly expressive scenes with lines of highly evocative description. Calypso is an excellent representation of writing by a New York City teen, and I'm honored to have it as the first post on our blog.


by Clio C.

I can see him now, a tall, beautiful man, tossed by the waves. His black hair and beard tangled and his body bruised, but his fierce grey eyes reflected none of the trials and pain he had been through, no sign of a broken spirit. They were mesmerizing as the sun shone down on his brow and lightened their color. Those two identical gleams were all I saw as he lifted his exhausted body and the waves slid away from him.

I loved him.
Whatever you may hear, that is true. And it is all that matters. They may tell you I imprisoned him. That I kept him from his wife for seven years. But what claim had she on his life? What right that was more than mine?
What love could she have for him greater than the love I bore him? I, who lost him. Who lost everything when a solitary raft disappeared into the horizon, leaving Calypso alone to weep and wish for the day her life would end, and she and misery would be parted forever.

But that day is never to come, for I have the curse of the immortal life. My immortality, which I would have shared with him! There is not one day when I do not curse the Olympians for what they took from me.
Before he came, I was content to live my life with no companions but the wind and waves. But he taught me to care for the company of one other, to enjoy the sound of a voice other than my own.
Now I am alone again, and though I still sing to the air, my voice is hollow in my hollow ears. The Olympians are to blame.
For how can I blame him? What was he to do but go on loving his wife and child? And do everything in his power to get back to them?
And yet, we could have been so happy together! She would have died in time, and he would have forgotten about her in time.

I stood, letting the threads from my loom slip from my fingers.
The wind caught my hair, obscuring my view of him, but I gathered it at the nape of my neck. He swayed, and his shoulders sagged. My feet lifted, and left barely any traces of footprints in the sand as I ran to his side just as his strength gave way and his body collapsed into my arms.
I knelt, cradling his head against me. The water foamed around us, soaking my gown, but I closed my eyes and held him close to me, not feeling the chill that was seeping into me through the water.

That was my one moment of full happiness, holding his unconscious body to my chest, not knowing who he was, or where he came from, or how he would come to hate me when he woke. I only knew I loved him and held him in my arms. I could want nothing else. I never wondered if he had a wife.

I laid him in my bed, his head on my own pillow. I had no guest's room to give to him, for who visited me on my island but the wind and the waves? Who did Calypso see year after year but her own reflection looking back at her from the mirror, untouched by time?
But he was here now.

He did not wake for three days. I dressed his wounds, applying salve to his parched skin, and fed him water, which he swallowed without waking.
For hours at a time, I would sit on the edge of the bed, by his side, simply looking at his face, or stroking his black curls away from his forehead. We were in this position when he awoke, my hand still upon his brow.
As he stirred, I pulled my hand back toward my lap, but the expression on his face halted its flight. He smiled at me. How can I describe what filled my heart when those brilliant grey eyes softened, even lit up, as they beheld my face? I must have looked at him then with all the love I felt radiating from my face.
But there was no return of such affection. How was I to know, in my brief second of overwhelming joy, that his confused eyes had taken me for Penelope?
How could I know that his smile was for her, a woman so far away, whom I had no chance of replacing in his heart?

As he recognized me as a stranger, his eyes hardened, and he frowned at me, suspiciously. I was surprised as I felt my breath catch in my throat as this dreadful expression took over his face.
What did his opinion matter to me? I was a goddess, and he a human. But against my reasoning, I felt my chest tighten.
He demanded to know where he was.

"You are on my Island," I told him, my voice strong despite the pain I felt. "I am Calypso, the nymph who owns this Island. You were washed ashore here, and I took you into my home, and have cared for you these past three days as you lay unconscious."

"I am very grateful to you, Nymph." His voice was sincere. Though gratitude was not what I wanted from him, it eased some of my pain. "But I must leave this island."
All the relief that I had from his thanks was gone. A hole greater than Tartarus itself opened inside me. "I have to get home. To my wife."
His wife. That one word killed whatever hope had been left struggling inside me. But I could not let him go.

"No!" I cried as he stood. I fell at his feet, begging him to stay with me.

"I am sorry," he replied. "But I have been away from my country too long already."

An idea came to me.

"At least tell me your story," I pleaded. "That is the least you owe me, after all I have done for you."

"It is a long one, and full of sorrows. There is nothing in it that you could wish to hear."

"But I do! Every word! Anything that speaks of you must be divine ambrosia to me.
I beg of you, tell me how you came here. Omit nothing, for I will drink your words up as if I had been parched from thirst for years.
Tell me!"

"Very well," he submitted. "But then you must promise to help me off this island, and to my home."

"That will come when you have finished your story," I said, hating myself for the Hermes-like trick I was playing on him. He must have believed I would help him, but since I had not lied directly, nothing bound me to do so.

And so he told me of the Trojan War. That he was King of Ithaca, and had been called to win back the beautiful Helen and capture the great city of Illion.
He spoke of the deeds of all his comrades and foes. I took joy in his every word and smiled in wonder as I saw him building the Trojan horse with the Greek army. I felt his rage of battle and desire for death course through my veins as he told me of the fall of Troy.
And, though I was glad in his accomplishments, I felt sorrow at the death of so wondrous a city.
He told me how he had left Troy after ten years of fighting. Of how he met hardship after hardship, losing men from his crew to deaths more horrible than I could imagine.
I only loved him more as I heard how he had survived. He concluded, saying he had despaired of ever reaching his beautiful home again.

"But I must go! I have delayed here far too long."
It had taken him days to tell me his story, and now he grew restless, anxious to get away from me and on his way again. I was desperate to keep him.

"Oh, but think of what your journey will be!
Did not Polyphemus ask that you would never return home? How can you think that Poseidon will be lenient and only bring you to your beloved shore after long suffering?
Noble Odysseus, you will wander around the world for the rest of your life. Or you could stay here with me.
We will be happy together. I have the power to make you immortal like myself, and we will live without cares until the end of the world!
I can give you as much love, more even, than Penelope can, for what can the passions of a mortal be in comparison to mine? My love will grow through the ages, never ceasing.
Which would you rather, a life of uncertainty and pain, ending in a lonely death, or an everlasting one of pleasure and love with me?"

I could see the indecision in his eyes. However powerful his desire for home was, my attractions held some little power over him.
I prayed that he would give in to the temptation.

"I must choose the uncertain path," he replied at length, and though I heard the regret in his voice, I knew his decision was final. "Whatever you feel for me, Nymph, I cannot return it. My wife has my love; and my son, though he was only an infant when I left him. He is growing into a man now, and I have missed his growth. I must resume my journey back to them. However it ends, I have no choice but to follow that path."

How could he speak so coldly, when I had formed my words with such love? How could he look at me and not change his purpose? What attractions had Penelope that I did not? I must have surpassed her in beauty; her mind could have been no equal to mine, mine that had grown over centuries rather than mere mortal decades.
What did he want? My loyalty to him would have been that of a dog to his master. My love for him would always grow.
I had so much to give; so much more than her. And yet he spurned me. What right had he to turn me away?

"Gracious Nymph," he said, and the unloving tone with which he said 'Nymph' went like a spear to my heart.
He refused to use my name, while my tongue had caressed his. "Help me to leave this island. I need a boat of some sort, or anything that will float."
He moved to go, and I stepped in front of him.

"Move aside," he asked. "I do not want to have to hurt you." Hurt me? I could have laughed. As if he hadn't already hurt me more deeply than I could have imagined.
I had no fear of him now; even my love had vanished in the heat of my anger.

"You think to hurt me, Odysseus? None of your rough handling can hurt me any more than your harsh words already have.
Though you hate me and seek to leave, I will not let you. You cannot leave this island without my permission!"

He reached out and took hold of my arm. His grip tightened on my arm like a vice and I could not break free. He pulled me around and I swung behind him.

"You shall not leave, Odysseus!" I screamed. "No man can leave the Isle of Ogygia against my will!"

He whirled around to look at me. I laughed.
"Yes, you cannot leave unless I will it. Even if you could, where would you go? You have no ship, no provisions, and you do not know in which direction your beloved Ithaca lies."

I watched as the truth of my words sank into him.
Pain filled his beautiful eyes, and the face that had borne up under so much suddenly showed the marks of his suffering. Pity for him filled me and I remembered my love for him.

"I am sorry," I said, turning away from him.

"Do not think on it. I will stay with you until the rains cease."

I felt joy and did not think of when he would leave, only the time he would be with me.
For the rainy season was just beginning, and it would be many months before the first signs of spring peeked through the gloom.

He stayed with me through the fall and the winter, eating at my table, sleeping in my bed, and most precious of all, talking to me throughout the days.
As I sat at my loom, weaving beautiful clothing for him to wear, he told me stories of his many adventures after the fall of Troy. I was filled with adoration of his bravery and intelligence, and sorrow for all he had endured. When he had exhausted these tales, he spoke to me of his wife and son in Ithaca.
Though I was jealous of them for the life they had shared with him, these tales caused me little pain, for he spoke without regret. He expected to see them as soon as the seas were safe again, and in the meantime was content to stay with me.
I saw that he cared for me, and I rejoiced. I saw, too, that I could not compare with Penelope in his eyes, but I did not dwell on that.

I was forced to, though, when winter reached its end, and he talked of setting out upon his journey once more.
He had enjoyed his stay with me, but the time had come for him to go where he belonged. I begged him to stay longer, but, although he pitied me, he remained firm.
He protested that his love for me, though real, was nothing compared to his love for them.

"You have no consideration for me!" I sobbed ungraciously. "As soon as you came here you wanted to leave.
You have never cared for me. All your thoughts have been on getting away from me."

"Dear Nymph, you know that is not true." I looked away, for I did. "I have stayed on this Island with you for many months, and have enjoyed it all.
But now I must ask you to let me go. Will you?" He spoke softly.

I did not reply.

That night, as he lay sleeping, I stood over him, and though I hated myself for practicing such deceit on him, I wove a magic over his eyes so that when he woke he would love me and forget his homeland.
For years, I kept him with me in this way. Each night, I renewed the magic, but as I held him in my arms, I wept. The love he showed for me gave me happiness greater than a mortal woman could have felt.
But I knew if I neglected to renew the magic, he would push me away, all his love for her returned in an instant. My guilt tormented me. I knew that he would be happier away from me, for though he loved me now, some part of him knew something was wrong.
I wanted desperately to set him free. Perhaps it was the sympathy a caged bird feels for another bird in the same situation.
Being entrapped by him myself, I knew his desire to be free, but could not grant him this freedom, and so I wept, for my own unrequited love, and for my weakness in keeping him prisoner.

While he stayed, Athena, Odysseus's friend and protector, became anxious for him to return home.
She begged the other Olympians to compel me to release him, and at last, Hermes was sent. He came to me one night as I sat at my loom.
I was waiting for him, and submitted to his will, and that of the Olympians. I promised to set Odysseus free, and Hermes was gone, leaping into the air and dancing away on his winged sandals.

The next morning, with a numb heart, I went to where Odysseus slept.
I stood watching him for as long as I could bear it. Then I woke him.

"Odysseus," I said. "Cast away your sorrows, for the time has come for you to return to your home.
Come quickly and I will show you how to get off this island."

His eyes brimmed with tears of joy, and he laughed aloud. In the midst of my misery, I felt a prick of happiness for him. I let it grow, filling me with better feeling than I had had for seven long years.
The selfishness of my love fell away, and I was glad to release him, glad that after so much cruelty, I was at last the cause of his joy.

I took him to a place where trees grew, and had him cut the wood he needed to build a boat.
I helped him with my magic, and we both worked with so much desire to see the task finished, that the boat was completed within a week. I filled it with provisions and warm clothing to protect him from the harsh winds of the sea.
We set it upon the waves. At last, the time for his departure was upon us. He took my face between his hands.

"Though you kept me here against my will for seven long years, I forgive you. You have set me free, and helped me on my way.
Thank you, Calypso."

I stared at him in astonishment.
He had called me 'Calypso.' I opened my mouth, but he was gone, sailing away into his uncertain future.
I stood alone on the beach, the water lapping at my toes as the wind whipped around me, tearing the tears from my eyes and blowing them after him.
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Monday, June 25, 2007

My Favorite Writing Exercise and my favorite place in NYC

My favorite writing exercise, is that in the morning when I wake up, the first person I see I have to turn them into a character in the story that I am writing

My favorite place in NYC is the botanical Garden.


I am thirteen years old and am going into the ninth grade. Read more!

The Road to Reality

The following is the launch of true blogging here, and it would only be fitting and appropriate that I will be discussing difficulties that I face while writing. Hopefully, it will be relatable, and we can all agree that the craft we all care immensely for is one whose sheer existence should be commended.

It is no wonder that much of the world doesn't spend it's time writing. To write is to listen to an inner voice and share it with the world, and many cannot hear what that voice is saying. While the qualitative analysis of literary pieces is severely subjective, it is not a stretch to say that logistically, writing literary pieces well can be one of the most arduous creative tasks to be undertaken. This is why instead of putting the pen to the paper, many opt to simply curl up with a novel or short story, so that they don't have to seek inspiration within themselves, but instead, it is already tangible and within their grasp. Many leave it to the 'professionals', in every sense of the word. However, sometimes the professionals, those aspiring to become professionals, and perhaps even pure amateurs lose their way and can no longer hear that voice -- hopefully only temporarily. When writers -- professional or otherwise -- find the timbre of their inner voice fading, we have a choice. We can either continue writing while being uncertain of our voice, or we can discontinue our tenure of creating literature until we fully regain that magical tone.

Seeing as how there are such large amounts of types of literature and all authors have different ways of writing and thinking while they write, it would be ludicrous to imagine all of the world's problems when it comes to writing, however, I can share my own personal problems. Be warned that I am no professional -- just someone trying to feel their way through the intricate craft. Perhaps the most difficult thing about writing for me is creating dialogue. Earlier into my life as a writer, I shied away from large quantities of dialogue, but as I've grown older, I've realized that I have to face it. What is so difficult about dialogue stems back to character development -- another toughie. As a writer, you have to know what your character will and will not divulge to the specific character they are speaking with, or simply another person, in general. The writer should ideally whole-heartedly know the character and hence deduce what will or will not be emitted from their mouth. It can be argued that I am being over-calculating, but there should be a thoroughbred level of consistency in character development. Unfortunately, I have never fully known a character that I have developed. It is to my belief that a person can never fully know another, and that includes characters that I have created. It is arguable whether or not we fully know ourselves. I don't know -- I haven't figured out yet. While still in reality, as opposed to fiction, I don't believe that I, or any other writer for that matter, can truly transfer reality onto a page. Reality cannot be fabricated; people have to experience life through their own eyes. However harsh that may sound to all writers, including myself, it is the truth. Fiction can only simulate real life, and can hence only go so far. Even non-fiction and memoir pieces cannot truly mirror life. Books and poems may spur emotion in readers, but it cannot give them experience or physical feeling. It is our job as writers to continually come closer to reality -- while always knowing that it cannot truly happen. However, writers, do not be discouraged. The road to reality is a magnificent one. I urge you all to continue enjoying the search for inspiration, and enjoying the work of those who already have. Writing worthwhile literary pieces can be difficult, as writers, we must keep in mind that we are sharing a story with the world, and those tales can become very important to a person. It would be a disservice to all parties involved to not search desperately for a trace of a voice.


I am a fifteen year old high school student that is simply trying to find his way in complex modern society. I have acknowledged that we are all blind and in the dark, trying to get a minute glimpse of this room called the world. Frustration frequently arises along with the ins and outs of life, however it is my love of New York that smooths out any and all qualms held with the rest of the world and life, in general. While I do attend a school for mathematics, science, and engineering, liberal arts are what I'm most interested in. The fact that I am most comfortable with my more creative side is what prompted me to join Writopia Lab, and continues to drive my vitality.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bloggers, Start Your Engines!

Monday, June 25 is right around the corner. It's the 176th day of the year, George Orwell's birthday, the date Mozambique achieved independence, and also the day that WritopiaLab is officially launching its blog! This blog in fact!

WL held an informal gathering at our Upper West Side space tonight, where we hammered out many of the specifics of the blog. While we definitely want the blog to evolve based on our writers' interests and ideas, we found out tonight that we have a great idea of where we want to start!

So set your browsers to and your cell phone alarms to June 25! Read more!