It’s all a Blur: Lake Erie Ink’s teen writers reflect on life today in new anthology

"Blur" entries

The following are two entries from the “Blur” anthology:

When I Was

By Maya Webb

When I was in 3rd grade I wanted to be in 5th grade
I wanted to have extra lunch and recess time
Wanted to be the kings and queens of the school
Wanted to be a grown-up.

When I was in 5th grade I wanted to be in middle school
I wanted a big metal locker to put my backpack in
I wanted to walk through the halls with my books and binders
in my arms laughing with friends while the bell yelled at us to get to class

When I was in 8th grade I wanted to be in high school
I wanted away from the insignificant 6th graders that wandered
the halls and crowded the stairs
I wanted to get away from the adults that hovered around us
and the drama that never seemed to stop

When I was a freshman I wanted to be a senior
I wanted to finally understand where all my classes were and
wanted to stop feeling scared of the upperclassmen
I wanted to get my license and drive off with my friends
I wanted the freedom that I had never gotten before

Now I am a senior in high school and I want time to stop
I want the earth to stop rotating around the sun and I want the
world to reverse and bring me back to a time where
The months weren't a countdown till move-in day
And my last game wasn't the worst heartbreak of my life

I want to go back to the time when cops and robbers
would carry on for weeks and heads up seven up
was where we all learned to cheat

I want to go back to the time where the most stress in our life was
reading that one summer reading book on time
And not preparing for finals each year

I want to go back to the time where the rest of my life
Wasn't impacted by a yes or a no
A time where I didn't know what being a grown-up
Actually meant
A time where my life wasn't just a blur

Purple ICEE

By Christina Bencin

Cherry and blue raspberry,
Their origins worlds apart
Only coming together
In an ICEE cup
When you mix this concoction of Perfection
Purple is born.
Purple will always fit in
With either red or blue.
But she’ll never truly fit in
With either.
Purple is the happy, sweet
Chain that connects
Red and blue
Yet, purple herself is empty,
Don’t ask purple
If she feels more red or blue.
She lies to herself, to everyone around her Always swaying to one side,
depending on who asks and who she’s with. But in truth, she basks
in her fierce red and cool blue,
Feeling both but neither.
Purple doesn’t understand uniformity. She tells herself she despises it,
But really
She envies it.

This year’s Lake Erie Ink Teen Editorial Board last Thursday, June 23 released its
it’s sixth annual anthology of teen writers, “Blur”—a title perhaps fitting as the writers express themselves on topics like being a teenager today, to coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, to just living life.

<span class="content-image-text">Writer, Jordan Kilgo (Heights High)</span>Writer, Jordan Kilgo (Heights High)“What is ‘Blur,’” states the eight-member teen editorial board. “There is no definitive answer, but our anthology gathers the voices of authors across our region, each with their own definition.”

Editorial board member, 14-year-old Elk Kikel, has a similar take on the anthology and its meaning. “I think that’s an accurate [title] because life is all a blur and it passes by so fast,” she says. “I feel like a lot of people wrote stories about good times and bad times and it got mixed together. It would be joyful and intense, but never one thing.”

As blurry as the world was this past year, the teens working on the book were quite clear in their focus and commitment, meeting weekly since last August to complete this year’s anthology. More than 50 contributors from 10 different school districts and home schools worked on the project—working virtually together but also emphasizing their sense of community and opportunity for creativity throughout the past 10 months.

“There are slightly different perspectives, because we’re all from sort of the same place, but we have different experiences,” says Kikel.

Despite their different experiences, the editorial board members say composing entries for the anthology made them realize what a wonderful outlet for expression writing can be.

<span class="content-image-text">Teacher/Advisor: Aaron Babcock with editors, Jackie and Karley</span>Teacher/Advisor: Aaron Babcock with editors, Jackie and Karley“’Blur’ shows where we are now in the world, and where are we in their world,” says Lake Erie Ink executive director Amy Rosenbluth. “If we need to get a pulse on where we are in the world, we need to listen to teens.”

This year’s anthology opens with a forward by Laura Maylene Walter, author of the novel “Body of Stars” and founding editor of Literary Cleveland’s Gordon Square Review.

The writers, Lake Erie Ink staff, and community members gathered last Thursday, June 23 at Lake Erie Ink in Cleveland Heights for readings by the authors and a chance to pick up a copy of “Blur,” which is now available at local bookstores around the city.

“Blur” is $12 and available at the following local bookstores: Mac's Backs Books, Loganberry Books, Visible Voice Bookstore, Appletree Books, Heights Arts Collaborative, and Made Cleveland.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.