March 2017: Audrey Lee
Audrey Lee is an 18-year-old senior at the Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania and will be attending Franklin and Marshall College this coming fall. She is a 30-time regional winner of the Scholastic Art and Writing awards and the winner of the 2016 DeSales University Poetry Contest. She edits her school literary magazine, The Epolitan, and has attended the University of Virginia Young Writers Workshop and Ithaca College Writers Institute. You can read her writing in The Claremont Review, Rookie Magazine, and to be forthcoming on YARN: The Young Adult Review Network and in Canvas Literary Journal.
In the open palms of my hands:
life lines that peel apart at the edges
of torn envelopes:
a small bird with all the pregnancy of a spinal column
finds a nesting ground in the webbing
between index finger and thumb:
dampened down, water seeping
from the remnants of an eggshell.
With a hoarse sigh:
a beak that was beaten open
for: worm-eaten, flea-bitten scrappage
of car motors, pipelines, clothes hangers,
a hollow bone too light to fly
anymore. Someone tells me:
to put it out of its misery, one day
I would consider an end to what I cling to
with torn nails in the same way
it feeds off of me.
A Conversation with Audrey Lee
Richa: You've attended a few writing workshops. Could you tell us more about your experiences there?
Audrey: Absolutely! I have attended the second session of the University of Virginia Young Writers’ Workshop in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, and the Ithaca Writers’ Institute between my junior and senior years. I have had invaluable and memorable experiences at both programs at very different stages in my maturity and writing; in both cases, having two or three weeks completely devoted to exercising and perfecting my craft has given me the chance to make some of the largest advances in my writing skill. Not to mention, being around other serious writers has created lasting friendships and connections. Ithaca was a different experience in that it was taught by professors and creative writing students at Ithaca College, instead of skilled teachers outside of the University of Virginia at YWW. I think this was good for me, personally, as I will be a creative writing major at Franklin and Marshall College this fall and being able to experience what a college class is like will give me some insight for what’s to come!
Richa: What do you consider to be your best poem? Could you share an excerpt of it with us?
Audrey: I think this is a difficult question for any writer to answer. I’ve always been called a “prolific” writer, and I basically go at a rate of writing a new poem every day or two, sometimes returning to edit older poems. So basically, whatever the most recent poem I’ve written or edited is the one I consider the “best,” because it reflects my current style and voice and can also be related to recent events in my own life or in the world conversation.
The following is an excerpt of a poem I wrote only a day ago! It deals with a carrying theme of the simultaneous love and envy that is experienced within sisterhood.
contra / quia / femina (excerpt)
girls who have nettle growing / in their veins / - i envy their salvation army attitudes that peel back / like floral wallpaper, florida orange slices from the tree growing on the side of the stucco home / home? / i envy their bangs / gypsy scissors passed haircut to haircut / a travelling roadshow of / sun kissed split ends and grease. / i give a girl a rose / she takes a sip of her diet coke and puts the flower in the can / it dies in two days and i am a girl / with no sisterhood, no / clique no / red car to drive cross-country in / like girls: / blue sky girls, blue-eyed girls, blue jean jacket / boys / the girls i envy have / love / each other / the girls i envy tattoo each other's / lips / kisses / they peel away to reveal / thick skinned calloused veins / rosemary plants where a heart should be / stinging nettle needles / in their veins. /
Richa: If you had the opportunity to be taught by any writer in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
Audrey: My immediate answer is Sylvia Plath. Her poetry has heavily affected me as someone who struggles with mental illness, specifically bipolar II disorder - a disorder I have, and Plath was thought to of had. As she wrote about her illness, “It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative—whichever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it.” Channeling the adversaries I have faced into my poetry has always been therapeutic to me, and Plath’s work is not only inspirational poetically, but also in dealing with my day-to-day struggles.
But the poetry that speaks to me the most is that of young poets; poetry from my friends, writers I admire from afar, and anyone who can channel being a teen into prose. I am so inspired and in awe by the powerful voices I’m seeing in the writing circuit today. Programs such as summer writing workshops bring these voices together, and I think anyone who contributes to this movement is someone I’d like to be taught by because we all have different styles to share.