The Wild Inside
By Mai Listokin
My project is a compilation of several of my poems narrated alongside many photographs from my nature collection. I find that there are endless possibilities when depicting the natural world and its challenges: stories, music, light and shade, color, and poetry, to name a few. I enjoy experimenting with exciting combinations, as if to let the universe speak for itself. I was searching for methods with which to convey this miracle to others. I discovered that our oceans, for example, hold equal beauty in the sound of the crashing waves above as much as the silence of the abyss right below the surface.
For me, poetry is like breathing. I express myself through exhaling my thoughts onto the page, recounting my daily experiences, travels, scuba diving excursions, and emotions. With a pen in my hand, I am able to release any stress or worries I have—it is a silent tool that I have with me in my pocket wherever I go. To enhance my writing and add a dash of color to my words, I created a video of my photographs, taken of nature and the subsiding beauty of the natural world, especially amidst an urban jungle. I cherish my ability to walk out in the park on a sunny spring day, and gather inspiration from the budding cherry blossom or the way the sunlight streams through the tree branches at just the right angle. My mentor and I worked on integrating my passion and deep concern for the environment with my poetry in an attempt to capture a world that is ebbing with diminishing grandeur.
Meet the Pair
MENTEE MAI LISTOKIN & MENTOR EMILY NEUBERGER
Mai’s Anecdote: My mentor Emily and I have been contemplating some exciting manifestations of my emerging voice through the exploration of historical fiction and poetry. Emily is a constant inspiration to me, and one of the reasons we clicked right from the start is her incredible ability to unearth and refine my message with her experience as a published author. We navigate through a vast ocean of abstract and visual concepts, humor and pathos, hope and despair, and the ability to traverse between safe ground and literary courage. I am so glad that we have found a creative shore where we can sit and dream together.
Emily’s Anecdote: Mai and I meet every week at Girls Write Now, and she consistently inspires me as she balances a heavy school workload, a job, her family, and many friendships—all while turning out beautiful work every time she writes. She has such a kind demeanor and, despite lots of stressful obligations, approaches her challenges with positivity. We both enjoy writing and reading historical fiction, which has been a great way to connect through our writing. She has an incredible instinct for details. I remember once during a workshop, when we had ten minutes to write and no time to edit, she wrote a story about two people having a conversation at a cafe. Once the conversation turned sour, she noted that the woman focused her eyes on the wilted leaf of the flower on the table beside them. I remember thinking that she already understood something about fiction that’s so difficult to learn.
Mai Listokin is a senior in high school, and always finds inspirational NYC minutes. She regularly writes poetry and short stories, and enjoys reading other writers’ works. An active person and environmentally conscientious individual, Mai documents her experiences through scuba diving, Riverside Park volunteering, and urban wildlife photography. Quarantine didn’t stop her creative process, as she paints, writes, and publishes her work in several online editorials, while industriously working on her college applications. She now eagerly awaits to begin her next chapter, where she plans to perfect her literary skills, and find her unique voice as a rising author.
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