All the girls,
By Isabel Marks
I wrote this piece about growing up and being surrounded by other girls based on my Notes app.
All the girls, in their different dusty pinks, coloring their shirts and their cheeks. How real everything feels. Lost, forgotten things, all of it. Just sneakers, fish and flowers. Different humor, how that makes them all downright invisible weapons. You build your ships for yourself. Do better things. Refill your water bottle.
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.
I started this piece in a workshop on blackout poetry, and experimented with some thoughts written about Tillie Walden’s “On a Sunbeam” in my Notes app. I really liked a lot of the words and images I had used, and I liked the idea of taking phrases and playing with their formatting rather than writing entirely new phrases. I tend to write a lot of poems in the same format—short lines, one stanza, nothing extra in terms of spacing—so a format like blackout poetry ended up being really useful in terms of making the most basic form of the poem something I wouldn’t have written on my own. Once I had a draft, I broke from the mold of blackout poetry and edited it normally, reorganizing the poem to make it more cohesive and adding a few new lines.
I really wanted to return to some older pieces and think about them in a new way. The watercolor really did that for me—I used watercolor pencils, and found that the poems really informed my color choices. “All the girls,” is a softer poem, one with bittersweet memories, so I found myself gravitating towards blending and light pinks and sweeping lines. As I get less into memories and more into physical observation, the colors go from light pink to something more purple.
Isabel Marks (she/her) is a high school freshman from New York City. Her Scholastic-award winning work can be found in notebooks and laptop folders. She edits for Polyphony Lit, where she serves as a member of the Junior Executive Board. Outside of writing, she likes yogurt, politics and art of all kinds.