By Marcy Stamper
There is no obvious venue — no theater or stadium — for poetry and short fiction or self-portraits and drawings, like there is for physical pursuits like sports and musical theater.
But there is no shortage of noteworthy literature and visual art being created by junior and senior high school students. Enter Yawp, a literature and arts magazine published by Liberty Bell High School seniors Patricia Watson and Amalia Webber to make sure their classmates have a chance to share their artistry with people outside the school.
“One of the reasons I really wanted to take on this project is because people can name great athletes, actors, singers and other event artists, but not a lot of poets and writers at the school,” said Watson, who is focusing on the literary component of the magazine.
Webber had been thinking independently about ways to increase exposure for young visual artists and writers. “A lot of our classmates are really talented, but only their classmates saw that,” she said.
When the two asked people in the community about their awareness of the full range of students’ creative endeavors, they learned that people were most familiar with the performing arts and music.
After brainstorming separately and talking to English teacher Adam Kaufman, Watson and Webber decided to publish a journal of the arts for the school as part of their senior project, said Watson.
Webber had contributed to a similar magazine during her junior year in Italy, and enjoyed reading it. “Seeing creative writing and poems was an interesting way to get to know my classmates and learn more about their interests outside class,” she said.
The premier issue of Yawp came out in the third week of December, an eight-page folio with poems, creative writing, drawings and photography. Some of the writing takes its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe and Cormac McCarthy; all is original. Both the writing and art range from funny to touching to personal.
Watson and Webber solicited submissions from fellow students by making presentations to classes, publicizing Yawp on social media, and approaching students directly. “We want high-quality work, things people worked hard on and are proud of,” said Watson.
They also put up posters around the school with prompts to spark creativity. “The prompts were fun, not so serious,” said Watson. For example: “Would you rather look like or talk like Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars?” “What if you woke up one day as a llama — now what?” Students are also free to riff on any theme they want.
Watson is the literary director and Webber is the artistic director, but they are sharing many responsibilities, including reviewing submissions. Webber designed and laid out the first issue and Watson plans to do the next one.
“I’m proud of how ‘our own’ it is — we’ve made something that really expresses us,” said Watson.
Inspired by Whitman
The intriguing name comes from Walt Whitman’s epic poem “Song of Myself,” a meditation on creative expression: “It too am not bit tamed, I too am untranslatable. I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.”
The first Yawp includes ideas for future submissions, including “romanticize something you hate,” “use bacteria or fungus as an extended metaphor” and think about “gender roles in public high school.”
The initial issue is black and white, and the creators hope to have a color insert for future issues. Part of producing Yawp includes staying within a budget. They have a grant from the Public School Funding Alliance for paper and an agreement from the school to be able to use its printer and ink.
Watson and Webber contemplated producing an online version, but concluded more people would read Yawp if they saw it at a coffee shop, rather than just finding a link in their in-box, said Webber.
They plan three or four issues before the school year ends, the next in late February. They also hope Yawp will be an ongoing journal of the arts, for other students to publish as their senior project or through a club.
The response to Yawp has been enthusiastic, and many copies left in local stores and restaurants have already been snapped up, said Webber. They expect to do a second printing when they return to school after the winter break.
Webber is also conducting a survey about ways to connect student art and creativity with the world outside the school. The survey is available at www.surveymonkey.com/s/MZ3LMKR, or by calling Methow Arts at 997-4004, where Webber is an intern.
Students can submit work for Yawp to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find your Yawp
Yawp is available at the following locations (some may have run out, but the students will be restocking the supply in January):
Trail’s End Bookstore
Rocking Horse Bakery