It's summer again, which means two things – it's hot as hell outside, and the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship is back in session! We had our three lovely journalism mentees – Jordan Cutler-Tietjen, Jane Levy, and Eli Winter – ask a poetry and a prose mentee about themselves. Meet Walker Caplan (Seattle, WA) and Aidan Forster (Taylors, SC), and stay tuned for more Meet the Mentees!
Introduce yourself with your favorite movie quote.
Walker Caplan, Prose Mentee: “Careful man, there’s a beverage here!”
Aidan Forster, Poetry Mentee: My favorite movie quote is either Nick Carraway at the end of The Great Gatsby saying, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter— tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms out further… And one fine morning— so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” or Sam from Moonrise Kingdom saying “That sounds like poetry. Poems don’t always have to rhyme, you know. They’re just supposed to be creative.”
Why do you write?
WC: To connect seemingly disparate occurrences, for myself and others; to find truth through articulation.
AF: A base-level (but true) answer is because I’m passionate about it. Writing is one of the only things I can see myself doing as a career, and one of the only things that brings me genuine pleasure. I think that if you’re a writer, you have to write. I think writing can be a type of therapy, but I try not to let it become therapy for me, because while that’s a valid thing for writing to be, it isn’t art. I do often base my poetry off of personal experiences, but in the way that I know the most about my own life so that’s one thing I should write about, not in a therapeutic way. I like the feeling of creation that is intrinsic in writing. When I write, I’m creating something that exists outside of myself that allows others to better understand me. I think that writing (poetry in particular) creates an extreme level of connectivity between the reader and the author. The author is baring themselves (or not— I can choose how much of myself/whatever I’m writing about to reveal) to the reader, and the reader is privy to some internal part of the author that they have made external. A lot of people have said poetry and writing are dead— I talked to a guy who said poets aren’t real anymore because we have Google now and don’t need poets (I ended things with him shortly after that statement)— but I think they’re more alive than ever. Writing and poetry can be used in so many different ways, and I think they’re being called upon in the tumultuous age we live in for political, social, expressive, communicative, and more purposes.
WC: I was initially drawn to Adroit because of its dedication to showcasing youth voices – both through the Adroit Prizes and through the makeup of the journal’s editorial team. I’m also constantly thrilled by the unconventionality of the pieces Adroit publishes – bold and risk-taking work (of the ilk I’d love to create!).
AF: I first learned about the mentorship from my teacher, Sarah Blackman, after she read our creative writing class an email Peter LaBerge [Editor-in-Chief] sent her about the mentorship. I looked into the journal and really liked what I saw. I had already looked at it for our publication project, but the submission period was over. I liked the quality, style, and range of work there, and I thought this would be such an amazing thing to take part in.
What’s your ideal location in which to write?
WC: I don’t consistently write in one location – I do appreciate quiet and a wall to sit against while writing, though.
AF: Right now, anywhere but my house. I feel so weird trying to write in my house because it’s way too easy for me to rationalize getting something from the kitchen or watching television for a bit because I’m too comfortable there. I like writing in bookstores or coffee shops (so hipster, I know) because I am making the excursion there for the purpose to write, so it’s much harder to distract myself because I don’t allow myself to be comfortable doing anything else. I kind of like the unsettled feeling I get when I write somewhere else, because I think it makes my mind more active. I will write at home, but it’s not my ideal location.
Write your six-word story up to this point.
WC: Kid digs up fossils, sees flesh.
AF: Sad little gay writes hella poetry.
If you could do anything with your writing, what would you do?
WC: Jar someone into understanding; cause reevaluation or affirmation of self.
AF: I would probably send it to every magazine/journal it was eligible for and see what happened, or get a chapbook or book of poems published.
What character from a novel are you most like and why?
WC: Like Franny from Franny and Zooey, I like to lie on my sofa.
AF: I feel like I am most like Geryon from Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red because of our emotional tendencies. He has a tendency to be awkward and distant from most people, but to almost over commit in relationships and then have anxiety about it. He also creates a lot of anxiety for himself, and I feel that very hard. Also, he’s gay and a red winged monster, and I can relate to one of those things.
Name 3 writers who have inspired you.
WC: 1. Re: versatility, insight & world-building – David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Haruki Murakami.
2. As someone who tends towards flash fiction (Get the arc fast! Capture a moment of catharsis!), I’m especially inspired by the dialogue and faithful rendering of relationships over time in (among others) Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries, Annie Baker’s The Flick, and Bert V. Royal’s Dog Sees God.
3. I’m constantly amazed by how much power can be packed into short pieces through visceral imagery and swift character creation – breaking from genre, alt-rocker St. Vincent’s ability to craft story and atmosphere with very economical lyrics is inspiring.
AF: Mark Doty, Anne Carson, and Zbigniew Herbert.
What are you interested in besides writing?
WC: I’m interested in art as means of connection and community-building and providing arts access and educational equity. I’m also really into thinkpieces about millennials.
AF: I’m interested in reading, singing, and musical theatre, but acting and singing are just hobbies. I want to make a career out of writing, but I’m also interested in pharmacy, art history, sociology, and law.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
WC: Writing incredibly lo-fi tunes for voice and ukulele.
AF: I kind of don’t like the idea of a guilty pleasure because it implies that we should feel guilt over indulging ourselves, but something that makes me pleased and guilty at the same time is eating exorbitant amounts of ice cream and watching Keeping up with the Kardashians or whatever’s on TLC.
If you had to live the rest of your life in a fictional universe, which one would you choose?
WC: Alternate Earth, where everything is the same but the arts are consistently recognized as a measurable need, institutions that uphold inequality are reversed, and I am a skateboarding whiz.
AF: I would choose Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red because of its seamless blend of mythology and history, it’s setting in a time in which people are actively aware of history being made, and the way people are so receptive of homosexual relationships. Geryon is a red winged demon, but it’s commonplace in the universe he lives in. It’s interesting because the reader is never told exactly when the book takes place, but I’d imagine it’s between World War I and World War II, which is a time period rife with historical happenings and one where people are aware of how historical the happenings are. This time period combined with the nonchalance about homosexuality interests me because people in that time were not very receptive of homosexuality. I think it’s such a stark blend of cultures and ideologies that it would be interesting to live in.
What breakfast cereal would you be and why?
WC: Cheerios – “wholesome goodness, a family favorite.”
AF: I’d either be Reese’s Puffs because I eat so many Reese’s products that I probably am legitimately that cereal already, or I’d be Froot Loops because I resonate with their fruity vibes.
Aidan Forster lives in Taylors, South Carolina, and is a sophomore at the Fine Arts Center for creative writing. He has been awarded 7 regional awards and one national gold medal from Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, all in poetry. He is a 2015 recipient of the Anthony Quinn Foundation Scholarship, and will be using that scholarship to attend an intensive summer writing program at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities. He is an avid fan of Reese's cups, Mark Doty, gemstone necklaces, and overpriced poetry books.
Walker Caplan lives in Seattle, Washington. Her writing has been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation, Young Playwrights Inc., the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, Polyphony H.S., and The Adroit Journal, and her original plays have been performed in New York and Seattle. When not writing, she can be found acting around Seattle at Lungfish Productions, the 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Musical Theatre, and more; promoting youth arts access at TeenTix; or producing 14/48:HS (The World’s Quickest Student Theatre Festival).