By Elizabeth Shvarts
Fusing intricate, yet gritty imagery and allusions to Greek mythology, “Adonis” is a reimagining of beauty as a birthright and burden of the first-gen gifted American kid as they reclaim their narrative with humanity.
the first crime is breath. a soft shuddered thing a burbling river a promise so pretty we call this accident. call this abstract painting is the second crime. plaster smile bolted blush like the nettles myrrha and theias first touched every root every leaf save yours if only just for show nothing more than less more laurel than hyssop meaning third crime meaning scrub harder. meaning wring meaning leave to dry meaning take up anything a scalpel a dagger a brush anything. shape sandpaper rust-bolt smile solid silk ribbon. people turn a blind cheek to a good mirror and beauty is a fickle god but at least venus knocked on the temple. this body is a temple then your footsteps are crusade tread light don’t forget the laurel trees are bittering and it’s not your fault. prepare offering just in case when you are born a sin you sing of miracles until your throat rusts ochre and wheat-field gold we remind ourselves this is how you get them through the drought pretty boy smothered slick with olive oil boy you are our indulgence last.
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
To be an artist is to gamble on the promise that your todays will envy your tomorrows. However, before we amble into a light where our sunrises smile upon we need to ground ourselves in our yesterdays. As a queer first-generation Russian-Jewish American, I feel like I have to compensate for the contradictions of my identity with accolades or future success. I wanted to subvert the trope of the first-gen gifted kid as a poster child for the American dream into something ethereal: a demigod, specifically the offspring of Aphrodite with a legacy marred with crimes he never asked to answer for (Adonis’s parents Myrrha and Theias bore a child out of wedlock, he is revered as long as he remains of use—either to boost mortal’s morale or for them to lose themselves in his otherworldliness). Excellence and ruin; immortality and the impermanence of the sculpture clay that will be his legacy; Adonis (both the poem and the figure) is a love letter to my own roots: to be the daughter of an immigrant is to be a saint and martyr; her mother is the war.
Elizabeth Shvarts is a 16-year-old writer hailing from Staten Island. An avid spoken word poet, Elizabeth is an NYC Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador and finalist in Climate Speaks, a climate-themed youth spoken word program, highlighted by PBS, the Apollo, the New York Times and more. An advocate/entrepreneur as well as an artist, Elizabeth is the co-founder of the nonprofit Bridge to Literacy, which fosters a love for language through literacy in underserved kids from around the world. On the writing side, she's the co-founder of the international literary journal and youth community Aster Lit and its companion podcast Ad Aster.