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The Asian American Writers’ Workshop

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop

Picture shows poet Emily Jungmin Yoon, a young Korean woman wearing a white sweater, standing at a podium. She is speaking into a microphone, and behind her is a projected image of her book "A Cruelty Special to Our Species."

Emily Jungmin Yoon at speaking at Castilleja Library

This past Tuesday, the Class of 2019 was fortunate to hear poet and PhD candidate Emily Jungmin Yoon read some of her recent work. Yoon’s first full-length collection of poems, A Cruelty Special to Our Species, tells the complex stories of Korean “comfort women” during World War II. She is an inspiring writer who is open about the challenges she has faced as a young Korean Canadian poet trying to find her voice.

Yoon is part of Asian American Writers’ Workshop, a national nonprofit organization with the goal of helping Asian American stories be told. They “believe Asian American literature is vital to interpret our post-multicultural but not post-racial age,” and act on this belief with devotion “to the creating, publishing, developing and disseminating of creative writing by Asian Americans.” They want to start conversations about immigration, cultural pluralism, assimilation, and complex identities. As “one of the top five Asian American groups nationally,” they have the influence to empower and assist writers like Emily Jungmin Yoon.

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop began in 1991 when a group of Asian American friends and writers decided they wanted to be hearing more representations of their stories than just The Woman Warrior or The Joy Luck Club. They began the organization together, and within eight years their membership had quickly grown to a group of 600 operating out of a basement under a Gap store in New York City. They run their own bookstore, hold workshops for high school students interested in writing, and offer grants to writers in need. Most significantly, the organization helps writers publish their works.

These publications take the form of two literary magazines, The Margins and Open City. The Margins, their first magazine, is “dedicated to inventing the Asian American creative culture of tomorrow” and bringing Asian Americans out of the sidekick role and into the spotlight. Their literature includes essays, fiction, poetry, interviews, and more. Open City “takes the real-time pulse of metropolitan Asian America as it’s being lived on the streets of New York right now,” telling the stories “of the Asian and immigrant neighborhoods that comprise one million New Yorkers and 13 percent of the city, but that rarely find their way to mainstream media.” Both of these magazines are published on their website and are open for writing submissions. You can find The Margins here, and Open City here.

As America’s “melting pot” culture develops further, it becomes even more important to hear a variety of diverse voices represented. The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is working to make this true for Asian Americans pursuing literature. Although Asian American can mean a number of various identities, there’s a certain power in bringing them together in a community that has something in common: writing. Andrea Louie, a Chinese-American writer who is a part of the organization, is quoted in the New York Times: “I’ve enjoyed the diasporic experience of different groups. Even though it’s different, we’re very much the same.”

Sources:
https://aaww.org/about
https://www.nytimes.com/1999/12/25/arts/helping-asian-americans-into-print.html

-Lia S. ’18

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What is a zine, anyway?

Zines (rhymes with “beans”) are small circulation, self-published works created by a person (or small group) with a passion for a particular subject.  Zines can be educational, creative, wry, beautiful, political, whimsical, silly, sarcastic, dark, and even disturbing depending on the aim of the author.  APUSH fans may be interested to know that Thomas Paine’s self-published 1775 pamphlet, Common Sense, is considered by some to have been an early zine.  In the 20th century, the popular comic book hero, Superman, was based on a short story from the 1933 zine, Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization.

a photograph of several zines on a dark brown table

There are no limits on the variety and breadth of topics addressed in zines.  Are you aware of the characteristics of face blindness and its causes?  Did you ever wonder how morphine and heroin are chemically related?  Are you fascinated by the experience of young, second-generation Asian immigrants living in the Bay Area?  Are you just curious about many different things? The Castilleja Library has a large selection of zines – there is something for everyone. Please come ask your library team about what is available now!

-Emi S. ’19

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Author Visit: Nina LaCour

Author Visit: Nina LaCour

Picture of author Nina LaCour: a brunette white woman wearing a yellow velvet shirt, looking at the camera.

Coming to the Castilleja Library in late September is Nina LaCour, author of five young adult novels! LaCour seems to charm every reader with her stories of love, grief, and friendship. Her novels are a true and candid study of her characters’ identities and emotional journey to find themselves in the world around them. Her novel We Are Okay received the Michael L. Printz Award for Best Young Adult Novel of 2017, and all of her novels have been recognized by Publishers Weekly.

 

What is most striking about LaCour’s novels to young adult readers is her beautiful writing and narrative that truly allows readers to connect with her characters. She tells stories about all forms of love, and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community herself, LaCour’s novels are a testament to all young adults and their experiences with love and friendship by centralizing their character development and emotions rather than their queer identities. LaCour’s literature stands out for this as well as her outstanding quality of writing, earning LaCour her critically-acclaimed status.

a collage of Nina LaCour's books

Nina LaCour will visit our library and campus from September 24th-26th. She will speak at an Upper School assembly on the 24th, and will visit all the tenth grade English classes. She will also have lunch with student writers, hold office hours in the library, and host a writer’s workshop in the Ace Center during late start on Wednesday.

–Meher S., ’20

 

Ms. LaCour’s Schedule:

Monday, September 24th:
Assembly for grades 8 – 12, Chapel Theater: 2:35pm – 3:15pm
Book signing and informal Q & A, Library: 3:20pm – 4:00pm

Tuesday, September 25th:
Lunch with upper school student writers, ACE Project Room: 12:10pm – 12:55pm

Wednesday, September 26th:
Writing workshop during late start, Library: 8:00am – 9:00am
Office hours, Library: 9:00am – 11:00am
Lunch with middle school student writers, Room 9: 11:15am – 11:50am

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The Joy of Ebooks

The Joy of Ebooks

Text: The Joy of Ebooks over a picture of a rainbow and the link https://baislca.libraryreserve.com

Summer’s approaching, classes and final projects are wrapping up. We know that you’re worried how you’ll survive without the library this summer. But never fear! We have a huge ebook library online just waiting for you. You can access it online anywhere: at home, at camp, in the car. Ebooks are super easy to pack; you can pack 10+ ebooks in your suitcase, and the suitcase won’t get any heavier. You don’t need wifi to read an ebook; you can easily download ebooks onto your phone or computer and read them offline.

Recently, our ebook library merged with other Bay Area schools, so there are even more options than before, including books and audiobooks. Have you discovered the joy of audio books? They are a wonderful way to pass time on a long road trip or plane flight.

There are so many books available in the ebook library, you won’t know how to decide between the numerous possibilities. But we’ve got your back! The librarians are more than happy to give recommendations for good ebooks or audiobooks available.

-Ella H. ’19

 

Header picture: “Last Minute Rainbow” by Andrew is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Four to Read More: Sweet Treats!

Four to Read More: Sweet Treats!

Edible Book Festival is coming up soon! To get us in the mood, Sophia N. put together a Four to Read More all about those sweets we crave.

 

cover of Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

When she was younger, Hudson knew she was going to become a professional figure skater. However, her parents’ divorce when she was fourteen forced her to abandon the life she dreamed of and spend the rest of her life in sadness over what she could have achieved. After baking cupcakes for her mom’s diner for a few years, Hudson gets the opportunity of a lifetime to pursue her dream. She is excited but also terrified, and it’s up to her to decide how much she badly she wants her dream and how much she is willing to sacrifice for it.

Penny and her mother move from the bustling New York city to a small, quiet town called Hog’s Hollow. The worst part? Penny’s father doesn’t come with them and Penny is also tasked with balancing work at her mom’s new cupcake shop, making new friends, and avoiding Charity, the meanest girl in Hog’s Hollow who seems to have something against Penny. Just when Penny is starting to settle in and feel at home in her new town, her parents ask her to make a decision that will change her life forever.

cover of The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler

The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler

cover of Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

The third book in the Wayward Children series gives us new characters and old friends. Rini drops from a land called Confectionary into a pond at the home for Wayward Children, looking for her mother Sumi. But in this world, Sumi died years before Rini was even born. Rini must somehow find a way to bring Sumi back, so Sumi can fulfill her destiny to defeat the Queen of Cakes. Despite their rule of “No quests,” a few Wayward Children join Rini on a cross-dimension trip to Confectionary, where the sea is strawberry soda and candy corn grows in fields, to resurrect their old classmate.

Twelve year old Foster has a passion for baking and hopes to someday have her own baking show. After moving into the town of Culpepper with her mom, she is invited to bake for the local coffee shop and is able to receive help to overcome one of her weaknesses: learning how to read. However, just when she and her mother begin to feel at home in their new town, their tumultuous past catches up to them and it becomes difficult for Foster to imagine pursuing her dream. Will she be able to rise above and follow her dreams?

cover of Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

 

Come celebrate Edible Book Festival with the library on Monday, March 26th! We’ll have trivia, games, puzzles, a raffle with an amazing prize, and most importantly, CAKE! Click on over here for more information.

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Keshav Dhir, Literary Entrepreneur and Gunn Student

Keshav Dhir, Literary Entrepreneur and Gunn Student

TA Sophia N. ’19 spoke with Keshav Dhir, a Gunn student who founded an online literary journal for teens.

Keshav Dhir, a freshman at Gunn, is no ordinary high school student. At the age of 15, he created a free online literary journal to give middle and high school students a platform to share their writing and be inspired by the writing of other students around the country.

When he was very young, he discovered his passion for reading through J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and from then on would spend hours each day immersed in the fictional worlds of Rick Riordan, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and many more. When he got a bit older, he grew curious about how authors managed to write so descriptively and transport others to their fictional worlds. After asking himself these questions, he gave writing a shot and found that he not only loved consuming written works but also creating them with his own two hands. Inspired by his favorite authors, he currently loves to read and write fantasy and sci-fi. He has also forged his own path in journalism and has interviewed people such as Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, and Steve Rasmussen, the owner of Milk Pail Market in Mountain View.

Scribere, Winter 2017 Issue

He soon reached out to a children’s publishing company to see if his work could be published, but he never gota response as to whether they would consider publishing his work. Frustrated by his experience, Keshav made it his mission to create a platform for young writers to share their work and read short stories and poems from other talented students. He founded Scribere, an online literary journal, to promote creativity in students and give them the opportunity to submit their own work for publication and receive feedback from other student writers. Scribere is growing rapidly across the Bay Area and is now sponsored by Disney, ThinkFund, Youth Service for America, and the City of Palo Alto.

However, despite his success, Keshav is no stranger to criticism and writer’s block. When faced with writer’s block, he says, “I usually take a step back and think about what I’ve written, and see how I can improve it through description or dialogue or something else. Sometimes, I will just take a break completely and wait for something new to come to me. You can’t force the creative flow; it has to come to you.” When I asked him if he had any advice for young aspiring writers, he said “Writer’s block happens, rejection happens, criticism happens. Don’t let it get you down, just keep writing! Your writing is your own, so you decide when you’re finished or how much to add, not anyone else.”

Keshav encourages aspiring writers in the Castilleja community to submit their work to Scribere, following the guidelines outlined on their website (scribere.org). He and his editorial board, which only consists of middle and high school students, will review the submission and decide whether it should be published in their journal. If not, they’ll give the author feedback on how it can be improved and invite them to resubmit. If so, they’ll reach out to the author and let them know when their work will be published.

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