Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump, and the Department of Education: Why Public Education is Broken in America by Peter LaBerge


  “ Satire ”  by Nayeon Clara Hong, from  Issue Twenty-Four .

Satire by Nayeon Clara Hong, from Issue Twenty-Four.

For 13 years of our lives, we spend seven hours a day and 180 days a year in schools. We’re not allowed to complain, either, since every state has compulsory education laws that require some sort of schooling until the age of 16. I was lucky enough to attend public school in a district where the Board of Education encountered little trouble in securing funding. Test scores were high and outcomes were generally good. Even parents who could afford to send their children to private school chose the local public high school because of its reputation and rating. But not all Americans identify with such a rosy image of public school and instead find a broken system mired with inequality and ineffectiveness.

About 90 percent of students are enrolled in one of the 98,200 public schools across the country that served over 50 million students last school year. The other 10 percent enroll in private elementary, middle, and high schools, which are still subject to some curricular and logistical regulation by local boards of education and state governing agencies. But what separates the United States from other countries with compulsory education is the lack of federal oversight. The Constitution does not guarantee a right to education, and only Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) sets a legal framework for educational rights in the United States.

Because of the Constitution’s 10th Amendment delegation of educational control, state and local governments hold the primary responsibility for public education in the United States. The first Department of Education (DoE) was designed to only collect information on public schools across the country. In its current iteration, the Cabinet-level DoE provides about 10 percent of funding to state education systems through grants from taxpayer dollars, coordinates Federal programs while complementing state and local efforts, and aims to strengthen the Federal commitment to equality of opportunity.

The Federal Government, and specifically the Executive Branch, garners the authority to supervise education through the Constitution’s Article II provisions for international relations and the 14th Amendment that guarantees equal rights. Education is an important element for international relations not only because of the international law requirement of the UDHR, but also because a well-educated population maintains and increases the United States’ competitiveness. Education boosts global competitiveness and occurs in two main ways: economic growth and technological innovation. Higher educational quality builds a stronger economy by increasing the human capital available in a society, leading to higher labor productivity. The additional effect of increasing innovation through fostering new inventions and processes adds to economic growth and ensures national security. A pipeline of newfound technologies like drones and updated missiles helps our military maintain its dominance.

Another key reason for education lies at the heart of our government: democracy. Thomas Jefferson first upheld the necessity for an educated citizenry, writing in a personal letter that a public trusted with electing its leaders must be well-educated. Later, public school reformers such as Horace Mann and John Dewey followed suit, capitalizing on the ability of education to equalize conditions and train citizens to fully apply their talents for society’s benefit. Although indicators of civic participation such as voter turnout are currently low, basic and equal education builds a deliberative democracy that increases representation and informed voting. As the Washington Post’s subtitle subtly explains, “Democracy dies in Darkness.”

The “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment provides students the right of equal access to education. Historically, the equal protection clause was crucial for integrating public schools after the Jim Crow Era. For instance, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) outlawed the “separate but equal” doctrine, and subsequent cases, including Keyes v. School District No. 1 (1973), applied a stringent requirement for desegregation. The Federal Government’s role in following the 14th Amendment is relatively clear-cut: the Executive Branch, including the DoE, must enforce equal access to public education and execute the Supreme Court’s decisions on the matter. Yet, even six decades after Brown v. Board, education remains highly unequal. A 2018 forthcoming study from the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis investigates the geographic inequality from a data set of 200 million standardized tests, concluding that correlates of race, socioeconomic status, and school characteristics still play an outsize role in determining achievement.

The United States has many improvements to make in both educational equality and educational competitiveness. Educational outcomes are still deeply tied to race, class and disability, starting from differences in early childhood education—richer children can afford daycare and preschool, while poorer children are more likely to stay at home with extended family. Disadvantaged children score two grades behind their classmates, according to a study from the University of Michigan. School districts just miles apart can spend thousands more per student, based on funding allocation.

Compared to leaders in education such as Finland and Singapore, the United States scores poorly on international tests. No matter how researchers spin the data, American students belong squarely in the middle of the pack on the Program for International Student Assessment—15th in reading, 37th in math, and 19th in science. The responsibility for ensuring proper and equitable education falls to the U.S. Department of Education and specifically Secretary Betsy DeVos, but little is being done to rectify the situation.

The most obvious problem at the federal level is an abdication of responsibility to public school students. President Trump has made it incredibly clear that education is not his priority, even threatening to eliminate the Department of Education and combine it with the Department of Labor. The FY 2018 budget cut over $9 billion with large-scale effects on federal appropriations for early childhood education and elementary schools, and the FY 2019 budget proposal reduces the DoE’s funds by another 11 percent. Crucially, the 2019 budget slashes $2.3 billion from the Supporting Effective Instruction state grants for teacher training and $1.2 billion from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program that pays for after-school and summer enrichment opportunities. Instead, President Trump wants to re-allocate this funding to school choice programs that have increased support for charter schools.

The nomination and subsequent confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education reinforces the irresponsibility of President Trump when it comes to education. In light of the hullabaloo over her confirmation hearing, the President’s and Vice President’s support of such an unqualified and unpopular nominee signals a commitment to increased elitist interests in education. As a public servant, Secretary DeVos should be responsible for increasing educational outcomes in public schools, but her experience only deals with private schools. She has demonstrated “a sketchy understanding” of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, an unwillingness to defend equal accountability for public schools, and a scary detachment from the reality of federal financial aid for higher education.

Thus far, both the President and Secretary of Education have focused on increasing school choice through building charter schools and paying for private school vouchers. Charter schools receive public funding but are privately run; the schools typically enjoy less regulation from the government, having developed their own curriculum and certification policies. Although charter schools may better serve gifted and talented students while allowing parents freedom over their child’s educational trajectory based on lackluster public school ratings, the results are mixed. Non-profit charter schools seem to do better than for-profit ones, and new charter schools tend to perform poorly.

The problem isn’t necessarily with the charter school model; rather, organizations like the NAACP and Network for Public Education worry that charter schools replicate inequality and steal funding from already cash-strapped public schools. Many charter schools are de facto segregated by race: 70 percent of black charter school students attend a charter school with nearly all black students. In addition, more charter school students are expelled than public school students, especially those in minority neighborhoods.

Vouchers for private schools signal the loss of faith in public education among the nation’s elite. Once upon a time, public education was the nation’s pride and joy. A public high school diploma provided a stepping stone to success, and public schools made many gains in equality and educational quality. Now, the elite are afforded their choice of schools, and Secretary DeVos wants to extend that privilege to low-income students. In principle, this sounds like a wonderful idea; in practice, many students can only afford cheaper private schools with the voucher, limiting the effect.

Vouchers aren’t available for every student, and even in states where eligibility requirements are lax, only some students take the vouchers, leaving the rest of the disadvantaged students to continue in already disadvantaged public schools. Moreover, a slew of studies cited by Mark Dynarski at the Center on Children and Families at Brookings Institution conclude that private school vouchers result in worse outcomes, based on math and reading test scores. The current federal commitment to choice-based education at best provides mixed improvements while at worst replicates past inequalities.

Yet, the states are doing no better. Federalism has only increased inefficiency and an inability to provide equitable education. States are cutting education funding left and right, and with no federal money to fill in the gaps, public schools suffer even further. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), passed by President George W. Bush in 2001, pushed for standards-based reform and federal accountability through Title I grant earmarking. States were required to test students in the third through eighth grades in math and reading each year and demonstrate “adequate yearly progress” for each school.

But, the NCLB was replaced in 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which keeps intact the commitment to testing while granting any accountability checks back to state governments. For example, the Federal Government can no longer tie funding to adoption of Common Core standards. States rarely have fulfilled accountability requirements without federal supervision (see voting rights). The decreased federal power and increased power for state and local boards of education only transfer more choice and responsibility to parents and families, according to Cornell Law School Professor Michael Heise in the Columbia Law Review. Such action threatens student attendance in public schools along with curricular equality.

Federalism in education isn’t hopeless, however. After the 2008 Recession, President Obama and former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan adopted the Race to the Top Program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. States essentially competed with each other to adopt data-driven evaluation processes, including performance-based evaluation for teachers and better assessment for student outcomes. After the program’s expiration in 2015, both the Center for American Progress and EducationNext concluded that the “competition” had, by and large, increased public education quality. Of course, problems still arose with the Race to the Top policy: states that “won” the competition gained far larger benefits than states that “lost,” and Race to the Top still promoted charter schools at the expense of public schools.

The problems of the educational system today are striking, and solutions aren’t easily found, especially considering this administration’s crass treatment of education. But the responsibility to provide equitable education cannot fall squarely on the shoulders of states that already lack resources. The Federal Government should decrease its focus on school choice to instead properly fund public schools nationwide. Private school vouchers and charter schools should be more responsive to taxpayers’ concerns over outcome and be more transparent. Importantly, schools should be funded with the worst-performing public schools in mind. We know our country’s federalist model for education can work, but without a strong, federal guiding arm, educational (e)quality collapses, and democracy dies in darkness.


Darren Chang is an undergraduate student at Cornell University, where he participates in intercollegiate policy debate and devours large quantities of ice cream. Academically, he is interested by the intersection of different cultural perspectives, especially Asian American and disability scholarship. You can also catch him reading memoirs and autobiographies, playing ping pong, and laughing at memes of his home state of Indiana.

Remembering Rudrakshi Bhattacharjee by Peter LaBerge


Nothing makes us happier than witnessing growth and passion in emerging writers. When we came across a startlingly fresh, unique writing sample from a high school student named Rudrakshi Bhattacharjee in 2017, our jaws dropped, and we knew she had to claim a seat in the program.

We are heartbroken to share Rudrakshi’s unexpected passing at the end of last year, during her junior year at Greenwood High School in Bangalore, India. To pay tribute to Rudrakshi’s extraordinary promise and potential, we have asked her mentor, Andrew Gretes, to reflect on his time working with her, and are fortunate enough to share a short story of hers below.


On Rudrakshi’s Passion and Drive: A Brief Reflection


Working with Rudrakshi last summer was truly a joy. Her energy and passion for writing were contagious. She’d toss out a spry semantic observation—“I really like the word ‘human’ before ‘urgency’”—and I’d find myself mulling over the line and thinking to myself, Well no wonder that story I’m writing isn’t working; I’ve placed the human after the urgency!

There’s a wonderful maturity in so many of Rudrakshi’s sentences. When I read a line like, “Sometimes she used to think her parents were like characters from different plays who came to rest under the same roof,” the whole drama of being a child (half-offspring, half-spy)—our desperate quest to decode our parents—it all comes swirling back to me and gives me chills. Rudrakshiki’s fiction is littered with such lines.

Her imagination, her verve, and her ability to evoke such human mysteries will be deeply missed. In her writing statement, Rudrakshi spoke of an “intense belongingness” she found in reading the Adroit Journal. I smile at the thought of a young writer reading Rudrakshi’s fiction today and feeling that same jolt of intensity and belongingness.


This is How It Took Place



           This is how I remember Anthony.                                                                                                                                                             Sentient and aberrant. Curved chin, topaz jaw, hair sprouting out of his bottle-shaped head. Not beautiful, never that, but intriguing. Rising up from beneath the water, his arms on mine, the veins in his neck bulging, like thin green snakes trying to push their way out of his skin. Laughing sometimes; throat quivering, chapped lips and a mouth suddenly penetrable. His laugh has always been a quiet, rustling sound, you could hear it only if you tried. Then he is beneath the water again, absolved, as if he was never there at all.

           I don’t remember how I started cheating on Mark with Anthony but I remember it happened very fast.  I knew Anthony’s apartment address in a day, his allergies (pollen and tobacco sauce) in another, his relationship with his parents (non-existent) in a week. Somehow my life formed a routine. I spent my days with Mark and my nights with Anthony. Comedy shows and then Goddard films. Discussions about Central Park and then the Met. Loud buzzing groups with mimosas and then a solemn bottle of wine.                                                                                                                                                             Sometimes I liked to pretend that they were the same person and that he was just different in the morning and the evening. Two sides to the same person. I’ll never get bored, I told myself. Its like the perfect partner. A two in one deal. I repeated this to myself continuously, in cabs, on the subway, standing on pavements as I stared at the reflection of my face in rain puddles wondering when I had started looking as drained as a rotten grape. They were very similar thought, and this made it easier to pretend. Mark liked his coffee with no sugar, as did Anthony. Both of them loved the idea of winter but realized that a hot summer was easier to bear. They had both been on their school swimming team. Both of them worked in sales, although one was a cashier, the other a regional manager. They could have almost been best-friends. Meeting on the C Train, drinking chilled beers after work, kicking back their feet, and loosening their collar and discussing women and sports. I like to think of them that way: old friends fitting into each other comfortably, always laughing at a joke I had told.

           An example of a conversation with Anthony:

           “We spent our nights on the streets, just walking and looking at the guys selling their paintings. It was beautiful in a way I don’t think I’ll ever experience again.” Anthony pulled at my earlobes the way Mark pulled at my toes.

           “Did you ever buy a painting?”

            Anthony sighed, smoke blew into my face. “We were broke and in college. English majors. We still can’t afford paintings.”

            “You’re not a failure. And you can now.” “It’s almost as if you think I love you because you flatter me.”

“You were young and dumb then, I’m sure you bought some obscure painting. Half a breast, face of a lion.”

            “We were young.”

            We were young.

            Anthony said this often and only when I had not met him for a few days. It was a sore point for him. That he is forty five and I am twenty seven and Mark is twenty eight. I told him it’s scandalous. I told him age looks good on him. I told him I’ll love him when he’s grey. I told him all the things I’m supposed to tell him.

            His eyes gleamed, his fingers jokingly reaching for an aspirin lying on the table because he knew that I knew that later he would rummage for Benzedrine in his bathroom cupboards.

            I wish I could describe the pathos that Anthony’s tired figure evinced from me anytime I touched his pulsing warm body as he talked in a flurry of drunken murmurs even though he had not touched a drop of alcohol. Anthony’s guzzling brown iris dilated, the whites of his eyes disappearing. I was always rapacious with Anthony’s eyes, I imagined myself swallowing them while I lay with Mark.


            An afternoon I spent with Laura in a Fifth Avenue restaurant I could barely afford:

            My friend Laura called Anthony the Mysterious Musician even though I told her numerous times that Anthony had never played a music instrument. “That doesn’t matter,” she’d said, “he just has to be the type.” I told her she had been watching too many romantic comedies.

            Laura didn’t find the age thing strange as I thought she would have. But then again, her husband is six year younger than her; she cannot judge. Laura met Anthony once. She said he was gruff and smug and and she made me wonder when I had stopped seeing him in the way everyone else saw him. We argued.

            “But Mark’s so much better for you. He’s so nice.”

            “I think so too.”

            “Then why not drop Anthony.”

            She cupped my face. She thought I liked it when she treated me like her daughter, she thought I had never been shown affection without lust accompanying it. All this analysis from a psych class she had taken in community college more than three decades back. I called her Grizzly Bear in my head and not only because she never shaved properly so she pricked my skin anytime she brushed her legs against mine. “And stay with Mark. I understand the need to break out and try a dangerous thing but its been a year now. I mean I gettit, the literature thing. But he has the personality of a brush.”

            “I’m just enjoying myself.” She petted me disconcertedly before licking the large brownie on her plate and gulping it down.

            As I stared at the thin wrinkles on her face that made it look like she was always squinting and the alarming whiteness of her hair, I wondered why I continually surrounded myself with people who were at least ten years older than me.

            “Just don’t get too attached. What happens if Mark doesn't forgive you?” I didn’t see her much after that.


            Places I Have Visited With Mark:

A deli in a street in Chelsea that we found by accident

Coney Island

a Youtube Space Gordo’s Bar

An open mic night at an LGBTQ friendly bar where Mark sang “My Heart Will Go On”

The Strand

Mark’s parent’s house on the Upper East side Staten Island

            Places I Have Visited With Anthony:

His apartment


            When I first told Mark I loved him it was because of how he smelt that day. He smelt like detergent and smoked ham. He reminded me of the liveliness of a Sunday brunch and the openness of cafés with rooftop seating. He reminded me of houses with long hallways and mirrors running from end to the other. He reminded me of baby blue walls and bright orange curtains and white fruit bowls and marble kitchen islands.                                                                                                                                                              When I first told Mark I loved him, he bought me a gold pendant. When we fought I gave it back. When we made up, he gave me a new one. This is how it was with Mark. Endless chances and charity donations. A life of two kids, country clubs and a tennis court on which he would let me win if I asked.

            Anthony, I knew I would never marry. It wasn’t even because we rarely agreed or because there were always aching silences between us or because he was always so angry that he needed to chew Benzedrine to sit upright. It wasn’t even because anytime I kissed him I had to pretend I could not taste the sour bite of a previous cigarette or because I never knew what he was going to do until he did it. It wasn’t even the age thing, although I had wondered about that at first. It was because when I told him I was with Mark, he scowled and then laughed and said, “I’m sorry that this has happened. And I’m sorry that I love you as well.”

            Towards the end of my relationship with Anthony and the start of my marriage with Mark, Anthony finally began to share his poems with me. He was like a more callous Allen Ginsberg and sometimes I found him dry and witless. But I liked the idea of having my very own beat poet, tightened and caged and leashed to me. I only seemed to live for the idea of things, I was slowly realizing, I never had any time to give to the reality of situations.


            The reason I broke up with Anthony and spent three weeks in misery while Mark rubbed my back, and applied ointment and combed my hair before finally proposing to me was because of what Anthony said once when I told him I didn’t want to choose between him and Mark.

            He said, “And that’s another thing I hate about women. A woman finds a million ways to tell a man he’s useless without having to say it out loud.”

            I told him I always knew he hated women. He chuckled. It was a really ugly, throaty sound. I only thought it was a chuckle because it was easier to think that than think of it as something harsher, like the clearing of his throat. “Even my barber knows that.”

            I told him he was a homosexual. Then I told him I didn’t mind if he was but that I’d known all along.

            “I’m not gay,” he said. “I’ve let you into my house for so long, haven't I?”

            I asked him why he was so angry about Mark. He’d never said anything before. Why was he asking about Mark now?

            “Because I didn’t realize I could until today.” Then I left his apartment, not even turning around once.

            Within three months I was back. It was eleven, I took a cab even though the fare was 60 dollars but with my new name and bank account of Mrs. Mark, I had been promised that money did not matter. We would have to save, yes, but not in the way I had been when I had lived in Brooklyn.

            “You can withdraw and withdraw," Mark had said to me in the way you tell a child he can have as many red toy truck as he wants. “Anything you need,” Mark smiled, and his teeth suddenly seemed alarmingly white to me, as if he had had them removed and replaced with a shinier ivory set he thought would look much better.

            When I spoke to Anthony, he scowled at me the entire time I talked. The hollows of his cheeks gaped at me, his dark eye circles glowered. I wanted to touch his face and feel its bristly edges. I wanted to kiss him right above his chin where he had cut himself shaving. I wanted to scream at him that it wasn't fair that the reasons I had fallen in love with him were the reasons I couldn’t stay.    

            He said, “I did miss you.”

            I said, “I was in Paris. Love and all that.” He said, “My subscription to the Leopard’s Review got over.”

            I said, “I’ll buy you a new one.”

            He said, “Buy me a new fridge too while you’re at it.”

            Sometimes I thought about poisoning Mark while I sat at my desk in the library, making no justice to the managerial position he had got for me. I thought of slipping some antifreeze in the cranberry juice I would give him while we would sit on our terrace, watching the building opposite where Mark wanted to live because it had bigger rooms and a bigger terrace and more floors. I would love him then, I decided, I would be so kind to him that day. I would purr at every joke he told, I would rub his back, I would do all the things he had done for me. I would feel sad, maybe even cry a little once he was dead but the thrill of taking away his life, of being so powerful lit a sort of burning desire in me. My body suddenly felt alive and jocular: it was like I had been reminded that my body was my own and my life was my own and I could do whatever I wanted. It seemed like a tremendous finding to me, this simple thought that I could do what I wanted, that tomorrow I could run away to Bali or throw myself off a cliff because my life was mine. I had forgotten that I had a pulse for so long that now when it became apparent to me once again, I felt it with a such a deep and powerful throbbing that it seemed impossible to ignore it. It became more and more clear to me that I could only love Mark if I was going to leave him.

            This is the way in which Anthony becomes angry:

            First he will shake his head slightly and scoff, releasing a sudden whoosh of air from his mouth. Then he will sit down on whatever is near him, be it a table, a chair, sometimes even the ground. Then he will stare at me, threatening me to continue. I will continue. Then he will look down and close his eyes, and I will imagine that when he opens his eyes again they will glow a violent shade of red and he will sprout out fingers like Edward Scissorhands and slice me into thin creamy pieces of flesh so he can keep me cooped up in some jar he has forgotten to clean in his kitchen.                                       

  But he will not do any of this. Instead: he will laugh, and take me into his arms and I will apologize and he will say, “you do like me, dont you,” and I will say, “not always, not now, maybe yesterday” and he will smile because he finds me funny and I will stay there sprawled out on his chest, chin up, watching his rubbery purple lips murmur something in Latin, and I will say, “why did you learn a dead language” and he will say, “to impress you” and I will not say anything because now in this moment we are in a movie, in a romantic comedy and I can feel nothing except this sort of bubbling happiness because to love and to know that you are loved is enough, its enough for me, and we will stay like this till Anthony’s skin withers away and flakes of his dead skin fall to the floor, and I will stay there buried in his skeleton until that too breaks and I am left with only this memory of him and then I will mourn, mourn, mourn.                                                                                                                  


            This is the way in which Anthony tells me he's leaving:

            “I’m going back to Kansas.” He’s eating the maple sugar and honey oats I bought him from CVS, and is picking out the dried raisins because he thinks they look like dead insects. “My mother’s dead.”

            “I thought you lived in Missouri.” “Kansas City,” he growls. “Anyway, I’m leaving soon, my brother wants me there for the funeral to say a few words. And I haven't seen my nephew in a while, so I’ve bought a bike for him. This is pretty much my last day with you. I’ll be home for a while.”                                                                                                                                                              I watch him. He looks as haggard as always with his ruffled hair and his untucked shirt and his blue Under Armor boxers which he has worn every time I’ve met him. But there’s something different, something so out of place it’s disconcerting. He’s grinning. His face looks like those lopsided colorful smiley faces children make with play doh. He looks like Mark. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I’m sorry to put you through all this. Don’t forget me.”

            “How could I forget a poet as famous as you,” I say and I am supposed to sound bitter but I just sound pathetic. Like I’m begging him to stay.

            He laughs. It is settled.

            When I get back home to Mark, I tell him I have been having an affair for the entirety of our relationship. I tell Mark about Anthony’s retarded brother, his alcoholic sister, his dead mother, his broken cobblestone home, his favorite yogurt shop where he was kissed by a senior girl and the park nearby where his friend was shot. But then I am crying, because I am getting mixed up, because Anthony’s brother might have been a construction worker, he may not have a sister, he might have lived on a farm, and his friend might as well be alive and well and working in Goldman Sachs. I can believe anything I want because I will never know the truth again.

            “Why did you marry me?” Mark says. He is making a sandwich with only lettuce and chunky pieces of cream cheese between the bread.

            “I love you,” I say. It’s like another way of saying sorry. “I love you.”

            “Why did you marry me?” he says again and takes out taco shells from the cupboard. Mark once told me he loves Mexican food because the best days of his life were the holidays he spent with his aunt in Tijuana. He helped her sew when she couldn’t anymore because of her arthritis and in return she would give him Cochinita pibil which he would give the boys near his aunt’s house so that they would agree to playing soccer with him. When he told me this I suggested we go to Chipotle.

            “I am not particularly rich, or handsome, or clever. Why did you marry me?” Mark does not get angry in the way Anthony gets angry. When Mark gets angry he bites his nails, or peels off his scabs or cooks sporadically. When Mark gets angry he does not shout, he discusses.                                                                                                                                                              “Oww!” he yelps suddenly, his fingers have brushed the pan inside which he is making tomato sauce. His iPhone beeps and he flinches in surprise. I cannot think of a life without him.

            Weeks Later:

            Anthony emails me pictures of him with his family. He looks like a child in all of them. He is eating corndogs and making silly faces with his sister. I email him back and ask him if he has found a writing job there yet. He tells me his brother got him a job in construction.

            Your mother is dead, I want to remind his smiling face. But I don’t say anything and I delete his contact from my phone.

            What Mark and I do on Saturdays when we are both home:

            When Mark asks me why I did it, why I hurt him like I did, I am not sure how to respond. He is looks at me expectantly, waits for me to say something like i have so much love that I cant contain it but I disappoint him. I say ‘I’m sorry’ and he says, “I know you are but what am I” and he laughs but he rarely comes home now, he spends all his time in his office or at the gym. Sometimes I go through his phone when he is in the shower, quickly skimming through his messages. So far I am safe, Mark only texts his friends things like account numbers and questions about holidays, there are no women. There is one other text he sends every Friday, where he asks ‘how much’ and the response comes ‘$250 for an ounce of MJ’ and Mark says ‘meet at the location’ but I don’t mind. Mark and I are happy.


Rudrakshi Bhattacharjee was a student at Greenwood High School in Bangalore, India, and she studied with Andrew Gretes in the The Adroit Journal 2017 Summer Mentorship Program.

Fifteen Adroit Moments of 2015 by Peter LaBerge

1: The Adroit Journal transitioned from a biannual publication to a quarterly publication. 


And featured a stronger contributor batch than ever before—Dennis Hinrichsen, Alex Dimitrov, Tyler Mills, sam sax, Alexandra Teague, Joseph Fasano, Nick Narbutas, Meghan Privitello, Brian Tierney, Zach VandeZande, Claudia Cortese, Ocean Vuong, and so many more. 



2: The journal's network of staff readers, contributors, and summer mentorship students hit a collective home-run at the YoungArts Awards. They filled an astounding fourteen—out of twenty-four—Finalist seats, three Honorable Mention seats, and five Merit Award seats. 

Special congratulations to the 2015 journal-affiliated finalists—Bindu Bansinath (Short Story), Walker Caplan (Short Story), Carissa Chen (Poetry), Noah Dversdall (Poetry), Julia Falkner (Poetry), Nancy Huang (Short Story), Hannah Knowles (Short Story), Adina Lasser (Creative Nonfiction), Aaron Orbey (Creative Nonfiction), Maia Rosenfeld (Short Story), Audrey Spensley (Poetry), Talin Tahajian (Poetry), and Oriana Tang (Poetry & Short Story). 



3: For the first time in its history, The Adroit Journal was represented in the Best of the Net 2014 anthology. Twice. 

Richie Hofmann's poem "Midwinter" was selected by Kathy Fagan for inclusion, while Madeleine Cravens' essay "Girls and Boys: Growing Up in Four Parts" was selected by Michael Martone for inclusion. As an eighteen-year-old college freshman, Cravens is the youngest inclusion in the Best of the Net series to date. 



4: Another first in the journal's history: the staff and contributor network of The Adroit Journal met and united at the 2015 Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Minneapolis, MN. 

Poetry Editor Talin Tahajian & Founder and Editor-in-Chief Peter LaBerge recounted the most priceless moments here in their collaborative post "Overheard @ AWP 2015." 



5: India Carney, interviewed by Peter LaBerge for the Beat Converses blog series, placed fifth on the eighth season of The Voice

Click here for the interview, and click here for our favorite bits of India's time on The Voice



6: Summer mentorship students Oriana Tang and Christina Qiu were named 2015 United States Presidential Scholars in the Arts....

...and became the first two students to ever be simultaneously named Presidential Scholars from the same non-arts public high school for the same genre and sub-genre. Oriana, who studied poetry with founder and editor-in-chief Peter LaBerge in the 2015 summer mentorship program, was named a Presidential Scholar in Writing (Poetry & Short Story). Christina, who studied fiction with then prose editor Kaitlin Jennrich in the 2014 summer mentorship program, was named a Presidential Scholar in Writing (Short Story). Click here for the announcement of the designations. 



7: Prose Reader Julia Falkner successfully completed her time as a National Student Poet for the Western Region of the United States. 

We're so proud of Julia, and especially love her emphasis on LGBT poetry and poetics. She joins Adroit-affiliated National Student Poet Program (NSPP) alums Michaela Coplen, Nathan Cummings, Aline Dolinh, Luisa Banchoff, Miles Hewitt, and Claire Lee. 



8: The Adroit Journal completed another successful online mentorship program, which paired 42 high school poets, fiction writers, and journalists from around the world with mentors for the summer. 

Truly an unforgettable, fantastically talented bunch! For more information, visit the mentorship program online here. If you are an adult poet or writer, check out our call for mentors for the summer of 2016 here. 



9: The Adroit Journal's 2015 Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose, designed to recognize the best student (secondary or undergraduate) writers, were selected from thousands of merited submissions by Tarfia Faizullah and Alexander Maksik. 

Congratulations to poet Ian Burnette (of Kenyon College, selected by Richie Hofmann as the runner-up for the 2014 Adroit Prize for Poetry) and prose writer Lydia Weintraub (of Princeton University). Read Ian's prize-winning poem "dear radio" here, and read Lydia Weintraub's prize-winning fiction work "Feelies" here. And click here for submission guidelines for the 2016 Adroit Prizes, which are open to submissions until February 1st! 



10: And speaking of the best, staff readers, contributors, and summer mentorship students took The Best Teen Writing of 2015 by storm. 

And—of course—it was guest edited by Issue Eleven critical reviewer Michaela Coplen. Congratulations to the following journal-affiliated inclusions: Sophie Evans, Aidan Forster, Henry Heidger, Emily Mack, Isabella Nilsson, Rachel Page, Maia Rosenfeld, Audrey Spensley, Caroline Tsai, and Emily Zhang. To even be considered for  the anthology, contributors had to receive national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, so congratulations to them for that, as well. Special congratulations to Grant McClure, recipient of the top honor—a $10,000 Writing Portfolio Gold Medal from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Click here for the journal's original announcement. 



11: In addition to being named a United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Adroit's very own Oriana Tang was named a 2015 Davidson Fellow in Literature for her writing thesis Writing Tears from the Stars: A Linguistic Revitalization of Human Empathy

After being selected by Richie Hofmann as an Honorable Mention for the 2014 Adroit Prize for Poetry, Oriana studied (as previously stated) with Peter LaBerge in the 2014 summer mentorship program, and subsequently joined the journal's prose staff and body of summer mentorship prose mentors. As a 2015 Davidson Fellow, Oriana received $25,000, and was honored in Washington, DC. Currently, she is a Yale University freshman, and needless to say, we're fans. Click here to visit her project online—you'll be a fan, too. 



12: The Adroit Journal shared work from four contributors at the New York City Poetry Festival for the third year in a row.

 From left to right: Laura Romeyn, Keegan Lester, Jeanann Verlee, Peter LaBerge, & Joseph Fasano.

From left to right: Laura Romeyn, Keegan Lester, Jeanann Verlee, Peter LaBerge, & Joseph Fasano.

Despite nerve-wracking reports of rainfall for the day, we're happy to report that our reading was a success! Click here to watch recordings of the reading, which featured poets Joseph Fasano, Laura Romeyn, Keegan Lester, and Jeanann Verlee. 



13: Last year, The Poetry Society of the United Kingdom recognized ten Adroit-affiliated students in its 2014 Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards. And this year, we matched it. 

Congratulations to Ben Read, of Spokane, Wash., whose poem "Mario Kart: Brain Circuit"—published in The Guardian, and penned while studying poetry with poetry editor Jackson Holbert in the 2015 summer mentorship program!—was selected by judges Liz Berry and Michael Symmons Roberts as one of 15 Overall Winners for the 2015 Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. Further congratulations to the staff readers, contributors, and summer mentorship students commended in the 2015 FYP Awards: Rebecca Alifimoff, Ava Goga, Alex Greenberg, Kathryn Hargett, Mia Nelson, Audrey Spensley, Caroline Tsai, Lucy Wainger, and Chelsy Jiayi Wu. For more, visit the announcement here

14: Ian Burnette's poem "Harvests," originally published in The Adroit Journal, was selected by guest judge Tracy K. Smith for inclusion in the Best New Poets 2015 anthology

"Harvests" was also selected by Richie Hofmann as the runner-up for the 2014 Adroit Prize for Poetry, and was selected for inclusion in plain china: Best Undergraduate Writing of 2014. Joining him in BNP 2015 are eleven other journal staff readers and contributors: Mary Angelino, Leila Chatti, Tiana Clark, J. Jerome Cruz, Jaydn DeWald, Cody Ernst, J.P. Grasser, Trevor Ketner, Eduardo Martinez-Leyva, Elizabeth Onusko, and sam sax, whose Adroit poem "fraternity" was nominated for inclusion. 



15: You might remember that in 2013, when we geeked out over receiving 8,000 cumulative submissions. You may remember that in 2014, we geeked out over receiving 16,000 cumulative submissions. Well, we've done it again—we're proud to have once more doubled the amount of cumulative submissions received. 

As a plus, we're thrilled to have snagged the #2 spot on Duotrope's Most Response Times Reported list. Thanks, Duotrope!

And thanks to our loyal readers, staff members, contributors, summer mentorship students—thanks to all in the Adroit family—for more than four years (!) of happiness, connection, and (if we may say so ourselves) some damn good writing

Stay tuned for Issue Fourteen, comin' at ya next week. Don't miss it; join our mailing list below. 

CALL FOR MENTORS: The Adroit Journal's Summer 2016 Mentorship Program by Peter LaBerge


            Though writing can be a solitary experience—necessarily one so, at times—communities of mutual support can grow, shape, and sustain artists and artistic creation. Through dialogue and feedback, writers can hone their visions and voices. These ideas are fundamental to The Adroit Journal’s Annual 2016 Summer Mentorship Program.

            The idea of Mentorship is as ancient as writing. Now in its fourth year, The Adroit Journal’s Summer 2016 Mentorship Program will take this ancient idea of Mentorship and weave it through a 21st century platform, where experienced writers work with high school writers online via tools in a structured, supported format. This year, the journal is open to Mentor applications in one or more of the following genres: poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, which may optionally include journalism

            The Adroit Journal is pleased to invite experienced writers with strong publication records to apply to be Mentors for the summer 2016 program. Mentors will work with the Program Director (Douglas Ray), Editor-in-Chief (Peter LaBerge), and Managing Editor (Lucia LoTempio) in selecting two high school students with whom to work over a span of six weeks, from late June to early August.

  "Hearing Color" by Olga Belyanina (  The Adroit Journal,   Issue 11)

"Hearing Color" by Olga Belyanina (The Adroit Journal, Issue 11)

            Mentors must be at least eighteen years of age, and may be previously affiliated or unaffiliated with The Adroit Journal. The ideal Mentor is organized, knowledgeable about either contemporary poetry or prose, and able to work well with others, and plans to be reachable for the duration of the program. The ideal Mentor has experience in the classroom with creative writing, whether as a student, as a teacher/professor, or as both. If selected to participate in the program, Mentors may create an original syllabus, use one of three syllabus models provided by the Program Director, or use an outside syllabus. 

            To apply to be a Mentor, submit a current curriculum vitae and a statement of interest detailing why you’re interested in this program. Applications should be uploaded here:

            The deadline for Mentor applications is Tuesday, January 19th at 11:59 p.m EST. Mentors will be selected by mid-February at the latest.


            The Mentees will go through a competitive application process; applications for Mentees will open in February. Here’s what past previous summer Mentees have said about the program:


"This mentorship program was truly a remarkable experience. Not only were the mentors and mentees professional and thorough, they were open-minded to my ideas and ideologies, my beliefs and personal predilections. They didn’t rewrite my work for me but pushed me towards discovery and revision through their thought-provoking questions about imagery, form, and syntax." 

-Alex Greenberg, New York (USA), 2015 Mentee 


"Besides learning to experiment with the technical elements of poetry, I also learned to find inspiration for writing all around me. It wasn’t too hard to find some in the work of my peers and mentors, who constantly amazed me with their passion and skill. ... This summer, I learned that life is imbued with poetry — you just have to see it."

-Jamie Uy, Singapore, 2015 Mentee 


For more information:

Visit the Summer Mentorship Program.

Learn More about The Adroit Journal.

Please direct any additional questions to the Editors at


Adroit Visits the 2015 New York City Poetry Festival, in Review by Peter LaBerge

        By Peter LaBerge, Founder & Editor-in-Chief 

 From left to right: Laura Romeyn, Keegan Lester, Jeanann Verlee, Peter LaBerge, & Joseph Fasano.

From left to right: Laura Romeyn, Keegan Lester, Jeanann Verlee, Peter LaBerge, & Joseph Fasano.

Yesterday, in the sunny nook of a Sunday afternoon, The Adroit Journal shared work from four contributors at the New York City Poetry Festival for the third year in a row. Despite nerve-wracking reports of rainfall for the day, we're happy to report that our reading was a success! Thanks so much to everyone who came out to the reading, and of course, to the wonderful folk at the Festival. We hope to return in 2016! 

If you couldn't make the festival, don't fret. We've managed to bring the reading to you, courtesy of prose mentee Shannon Sommers' iPhone (Thanks, Shannon!). 

Joseph Fasano

The moon, who has been away so long now, the lost moon with her silver lips and whisper, her body half in winter, half in wool. Look at her. Look at her, that drifter. And if no one, if nothing comes to know you, if no song comes to prove it isn't over, tell yourself, in the moon's arms, she is no one. 

 -- Joseph Fasano, from "Testimony" 


Laura Romeyn

It rained once / they say, not a flood, but a bucketing. / I think of how my body takes on water, / how my body leaks it out and off. / How I’ll reach for a glass when I need it, / when I want it.

 -- Laura Romeyn, from "Slab City


Keegan Lester

If we continue with what we should, / we all stand to lose / getting naked and swimming in lakes. / Everyone will be doing it then. / They will name it something paradoxical / like natural hibernianism.

 -- Keegan Lester, from "The Topography of Woody Allen


Jeanann Verlee

Maybe it was the tequila, / the salt licked off a neck. Or the way / the first boy in Juarez slid under my skirt in a back room. / The way the point guard unbuttoned my shirt / in the stairwell after practice. Or how the kid / with the teardrop tattoo beneath his left eye / gripped my hips, how he never uttered a word. 

 -- Jeanann Verlee, from "Grime

Fourteen Adroit Moments of 2014 by Peter LaBerge

By Peter LaBerge, Editor-in-Chief

1: We released our Winter 2014 Issue. 

Featuring cover art by Alexander Zhang, and contributions from Lauren Berry, James Grinwis, Jacques J. Rancourt, Erin Entrada Kelly, and Matthew Wimberley, among other brilliant writers and artists.



2: Adroit represented four Finalists, three Honorable Mentions, eleven Merit Award recipients, and two United States Presidential Scholars in the Arts at the 2014 YoungArts Awards. 

Special congratulations to journal-affiliated 2014 Presidential Scholars Alicia Lai (Writing – Poetry) and Amanda Prager (Cinematic Arts).



3: We had our Winter 2014 Release Reading at the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House

 From left to right: Luisa Banchoff (Princeton, '17), Alina Grabowski (Penn, '16), Camara Brown (Penn, '17), Peter LaBerge (Penn, '17), Lydia Weintraub (Princeton, '18), Richie Hofmann, and Emily Sheera Cutler (Penn, '15).

From left to right: Luisa Banchoff (Princeton, '17), Alina Grabowski (Penn, '16), Camara Brown (Penn, '17), Peter LaBerge (Penn, '17), Lydia Weintraub (Princeton, '18), Richie Hofmann, and Emily Sheera Cutler (Penn, '15).

And it’s been immortalized for your enjoyment! Featuring Penn and Princeton-affiliated staff members and contributors, as well as contributor & 2014 Adroit Prize for Poetry judge Richie Hofmann.



4: Adroit snagged thirteen national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards medalists, including Prose Reader Nathan Cummings: named the National Student Poet for the Western Region in 2013, and named one of eight Gold Medals for Writing Portfolio in 2014. 

  From left to right:  2013-2014 National Student Poets Aline Dolinh, Sojourner Ahebee, Nathan Cummings, Michaela Coplen, and Louis Lafair.

From left to right: 2013-2014 National Student Poets Aline Dolinh, Sojourner Ahebee, Nathan Cummings, Michaela Coplen, and Louis Lafair.

And Prose Reader Julia Falkner filled in as 2014-2015 National Student Poet for the West! Yeah, pretty cool.



5: Our 2014 Graduating Class of staff readers and editors graduated from high school, and went to college. (*Insert gif's of proud parents*) 

Oh, there they are. Hearty congratulations to the Class of 2014, who began in the fall at the following institutions: Columbia University, Georgetown University, Harvard University (2), Pomona College, Princeton University (2), Stanford University, University of Cambridge (UK), University of Chicago, University of Miami, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, and Yale University (3).



6: Adroit Prize judges Richie Hofmann and Wendy Rawlings selected Nathan Durham (Kenyon College, ’17) and Isabel DeBre (Brown University, ’18) for the 2014 Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose respectively. 

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 7.29.54 PM.png

Read Nathan’s poem “Chevrolet” here, read Isabel’s story “Digging” here, and check out all other young writers recognized here!



7: We hosted the annual Adroit Journal Reading at the 2014 New York City Poetry Festival. 

 From left to right: contributor J. Scott Brownlee, Founder & Editor-in-Chief Peter LaBerge, Poetry Editor Talin Tahajian, contributor Sam Ross, and Poetry Reader Caleb Kaiser.

From left to right: contributor J. Scott Brownlee, Founder & Editor-in-Chief Peter LaBerge, Poetry Editor Talin Tahajian, contributor Sam Ross, and Poetry Reader Caleb Kaiser.

Featuring contributors Sam Ross and J. Scott Brownlee, and poetry readers Caleb Kaiser and Talin Tahajian. Missed it? Click here! (Shout-out to summer mentee Erica Lin for recording!)



8: We nominated contributors Amorak Huey and Jacques J. Rancourt for inclusion in Best New Poets 2014. 

And Adroit-affiliated poets took the anthology (which was just released!) by storm. Congrats to Benjamin Goldberg, Richie Hofmann, Peter LaBerge, Jenny Molberg, Jacques J. Rancourt, Nicole Rollender, Talin Tahajian, Anna Rose Welch, and Phillip B. Williams, as well as all other inclusions! And thanks to anthology guest editor (and previous Adroit contributor) Dorianne Laux.



9: We released our Summer 2014 Issue. 

Featuring cover art by Brian Oldham, and contributions from Terrance Hayes, Richie Hofmann, Jill McDonough, Michael Chaney, and Joe Wilkins, among other lovely writers and artists.



10: Z.Z. Boone’s “The Buddy System” and Elizabeth Martin’s “Too Small Yet” were named Notables for The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014, edited by Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket).

And were joined on the 2014 Notables list by Managing Editor Alexa Derman’s “Variations on Ophelia,” originally published in Word Riot.



11: Adroit met the 2014 Foyle Young Poet of the Year Awards with three Overall Winners and four Commended Winners.

So proud of contributor Isla Anderson and summer mentees Audrey Spensley and Rebecca Alifimoff (recorded above, chatting on the BBC – casual – about her winning poem, which she penned during the Adroit program!).



12: We supercharged our online blogosphere with tons of exhilarating and relevant youth-generated content.

Featuring elephants, Hollywood, feminism, The Voice, and UNIQLO. What more could you want to read about? (Okay, okay – that’s a rhetorical question. We’re writers, we get it.) Learn more about our blog pretties Amanda, Ariella, Derick, and Henry by clicking here.



13: Contributors Ellen Bass, Jennifer Givhan, and Brittany Cavallaro were named 2015 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellows.

 From left to right: Ellen Bass, Jennifer Givhan, and Brittany Cavallaro.

From left to right: Ellen Bass, Jennifer Givhan, and Brittany Cavallaro.

Congratulations to them, and quite well deserved! See the full list of recipients here.



14: We doubled the number of submissions received in the history of our little publication.

 From left to right: Elizabeth Ballou, Miles Hewitt, Talin Tahajian, Katherine Frain, Peter LaBerge, and Alexa Derman.

From left to right: Elizabeth Ballou, Miles Hewitt, Talin Tahajian, Katherine Frain, Peter LaBerge, and Alexa Derman.

Remember when we said something along the lines of, “We hit 8,000 culumative submissions of art and writing!” around this time last year? Well, we just hit 16,000 submissions, so: thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to our loyal readers and submitters for sending us the best work ever. Keep doing it!



(Honorable Mention: A record shattering twelve Adroit-affiliated young writers were recognized as Finalists for the 2015 YoungArts Awards. Be sure to tune into the 2015 Writers Reading in a few weeks, and you'll get a sneak peek of one of first entries for this list next year! Details here.)

All in all: a pretty solid year, no? Thank you, 2014, for all you’ve given each and every one of us – here’s to 2015!

Get Excited: the 2014 NEW YORK CITY POETRY FESTIVAL Approaches! by Peter LaBerge

...And what better way to celebrate it than by listening in on our blog editor Amanda Silberling asking a few of our readers some fun questions?! Check out the below fun answers our readers came up with, and be sure to visit the journal's reading this Saturday on the Chumley's stage at 4:30 pm!


AS: Describe what you plan to read at the festival in a rhymed couplet.
TT: Some words I'll pass off as poetry in attempt to be posh / and probably something about summer squash. 

AS: What are the best and worst things about poetry? 
TT: Its ability to entice/its ability to slaughter.


READER #2: SAM ROSS, Poetry Contributor.

AS: What's the coolest literary experience you've ever had?
SR: One of the coolest literary experiences I've had came after I wrote a poem inspired by a small Persian miniature I saw at the Morgan Library in New York City. The painting depicts a lion that is made up of a bunch of other animals, the lion's body as a menagerie. I worked on my poem for a long time, it was probably a year before I had a draft that I was happy with. I was reading Fragile Acts by the poet Allan Peterson, and I was totally gripped. Then on page 31, Peterson writes about the same small painting of the lion! My poem is titled "Sol in Leo" and his is "The Sun in Leo." It produced this amazing feeling of interconnection, like having the same uncommon tattoo. Poetry isn't as solitary as it's sometimes made out to be. You can have conversations you don't even know about, only to catch up much later.

AS: What do you think makes a poetry reading successful?
SR: I think really successful poetry readings create a rare feeling, the I'm-so-glad-I'm here-and-not-anywhere-else. I saw Jennifer Tamayo read in Seattle with Coconut Books and felt that way. She involved the audience, she swung some sort of animatronic hand around like it was a censer, but those moves didn't feel like gimmicks. They were fun and interesting, but they were also really connected to the work. But you don't have to be a performer to produce this feeling. I think intention and respect for the audience are the only essentials. Even the basic tenets of public speaking (eye contact, kempt hair) need not apply. Everybody listens differently, and not all poems need to be read in a particularly demonstrative way. That said, you do have to be legible, somehow, if you want to be understood.


READER #3: J. SCOTT BROWNLEE, Poetry Contributor.

AS: You have thirty seconds to explain to someone why poetry is important -- what do you say?
JSB: I'd recite Yusef Komuyakaa's poem "Rock Me, Mercy" to them.  It's short, powerful, and relevant to the events of our time.  "The river stones are listening," Yusef writes, "because we have something to say."  It's doesn't get more immediate or necessary than that.

AS: If you were organizing a poetry reading and could feature any four readers, dead or alive, who would they be, and where would the reading take place?
JSB: Walt Whitman, Larry Levis, Tarfia Faizullah, and Jamaal May--and it would be on The Brooklyn Bridge (I love bridges almost as much as I love these four poets).  For me, Whitman and Levis represent the best poetry written during their respective generations, and I owe a great deal to the examples they set for me (they have big, generous hearts and aren't afraid of being vulnerable).  Tarfia and Jamaal's work, though, I think excites me more than the poets of the past I revere--because it's linked to what is happening now.  They've also mentored me and given live readings I've attended and will never forget... and are fabulous humans, in general.


So, there you have it! There's a glimpse at a few of our super-cool, super-talented New York City Poetry Festival readers this year. Be sure to attend the reading on Saturday at Governor's Island, NYC, to learn more! (Or, of course, follow this blog. Ahem.)

Adroit Meets the 2014 National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards! by Peter LaBerge

The Ancient Greeks had six words for love, and we're using them all to describe the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards! CONGRATULATIONS to all Adroit-affiliated high school students who received national recognition from the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards! Special congratulations to Prose Reader Nathan Cummings, who received one of eight 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Medals for Writing Portfolio!

Gold Medal – Writing Portfolio
Gold Medal – Flash Fiction

AARON ORBEY (Prose Reader)
Silver Medal – Writing Portfolio

ALEX ZHANG (Issue Eight Cover Artist)
Silver Medal – Poetry

ALEXA DERMAN (Managing Editor)
Gold Medal – Flash Fiction
Gold Medal – Dramatic Script
Gold Medal – Personal Essay/Memoir

Gold Medal – Short Story

CATHERINE MOSIER-MILLS (Prose Reader & Contributor)
Gold Medal – Short Story

CHRISTINA QIU (Summer Workshop Participant & Contributor)
Gold Medal – Short Story
Silver Medal – Flash Fiction

CLAIRE LEE (Poetry Reader)
Silver Medal – Writing Portfolio

FRANCES SAUX (Contributor)
Gold Medal – Short Story

JULIA ALLEN (Editorial Intern)
Silver Medal – Poetry

JACKIE YANG (Prose Reader)
Silver Medal – Short Story

Silver Medal – Short Story

Silver Medal – Writing Portfolio

YASMIN BELKYR (Summer Workshop Participant & Contributor)
Gold Medal – Poetry
Gold Medal – Flash Fiction

Thirteen Adroit Moments of 2013 by Peter LaBerge

By PETER LABERGEFounder/Editor-in-Chief

            This has been quite the year, no? Heroes have been born, heroes have been lost, and heroes have come and gone as stray cats on doorsteps.  I thought this year deserved a special commemorative post, so I’m very pleased to present these thirteen adroit moments. Some events have brought us long-lasting smiles, and some have pulled at our hearts, but each has had a direct and significant effect on who we are as a publication, and where we’re headed. So, without further ado…

1.    We released our Winter 2013 Issue.


Featuring cover art by Brannon Dorsey, and contributions from Michael Tyrell, D. Gilson, Francesca Bell, Claudia Cortese, Gregory Lawless, Kyle McCord, Garth Greenwell, Bruce Bond, and many, many more established and emerging writers.

2.   Eight Adroit staff members were named 2013 YoungArts Writing Finalists (out of 24 total writing finalists!), and countless more were named Honorable Mention and Merit Award Winners.

And they’re good.

Oh yes, they are.



3.    Adroit's very own Luisa Banchoff and Kathleen Radigan received two of seven 2013 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Medals for Writing Portfolio.


…and got to meet Sarah Jessica Parker (pictured above with Luisa) and Usher (pictured above with Kathleen). Yeah, we’re jealous.

4.    We nominated Summer 2013 Contributors Nora Almeida and Phillip B. Williams for inclusion in the 2013 Best New Poets Anthology.


…and ended up with Summer 2013 Contributor Rochelle Hurt selected!

5.    The Adroit Journal Staff High School Class of 2013 graduated.


Hearty congratulations to the Class of 2013, who chose to attend the following undergraduate institutions: American University, Connecticut College, Harvard University (2), Northwestern University, Princeton University (4), Rice University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania (2), University of South Carolina (2), University of Southern California, and Yale University.


6.    We released the Summer 2013 Issue.


Featuring cover art by Will Erwin, and contributions from Marlin Barton, Matthew Rohrer, Claudia Cortese, Ned Vizzini, Michael Chitwood, Bruce Holland Rogers, Ellen Bass, Jacob Oet, and many, many more established and emerging writers.

7.    Adroit visited the 2013 New York City Poetry Festival in July, and the Two Moon Art House & Café in August.


We featured the talents of Francesca Bell, Claudia Cortese, Russell Bogue, Elizabeth Ballou, and Jane Springer in July as part of the 2013 New York City Poetry Festival—online at our Youtube page. We featured Issue Seven contributors J. Scott Brownlee, Michael Tyrell, Denver Butson, and Yasmin Belkhyr at the August 2013 Adroit Journal Brooklyn, New York Reading (pictured above).

8.    Prose Reader Nathan Cummings was named a 2013 National Student Poet by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.


For more information on that spectacular designation, and Nathan’s achievement, click here.

9.    Issue Seven contributor and Best New Poets nominee Phillip B. Williams was named a 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellow.


We’re so proud to call him a member of the Adroit Journal family! More info here.



10.    Poetry Reader and Cinematic Correspondent Eliza Moley released “Wide Open Mic,” a documentary featuring exclusive Adroit footage.

Look out for Adroit NYCPF reader Jane Springer, and Prose Editors Elizabeth Ballou and Russell Bogue (pictured above)!


11.    Seven Adroit staff members were named commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year by the Poetry Society of London.


And countless more poetry, fiction, and photography contributors!


12.    Eight pieces from the Winter and Summer Issues were selected for plain china: Best Undergraduate Writing of 2013, edited by Bennington College.

It is with tremendous joy and pride that we congratulate the eight undergraduate students selected for this year’s anthology: Lily Fishman (Barnard College, ’16), Canese Jarboe (Pittsburg State University, ’14), Charles McCrory (University of Mississippi, ’16), Da’Shawn Mosley (University of Chicago, ’16), Jacob Oet (Swarthmore College, ’16), Amber Rambharose (Hollins University, ’13), and Lathan Vargason (Maryland Institute College of Art, ’16).


13.    We hit 8,000 submissions of art and writing received for consideration.


A true landmark, and a wonderful way to conclude the year. (Pictured above, from left to right: contributor Lydia Weintraub, prose reader Amelia Nierenberg, founder & editor-in-chief Peter LaBerge, contributor Yasmin Belkhyr, and poetry editor Talin Tahajian.)



Honorable Mention: Eight Adroit poetry and prose readers were nationally recognized at the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.


Best wishes from the Adroit Staff for a happy and healthy New Year holiday. Sayonara, 2013!

For more fun updates from the Adroit crew, be sure to follow us on Tumblr and like us on Facebook!