Creativity during COVID-19: Writers reflect on quarantine


Anna Vazhaeparambil

A collection of the winning submissions for the Creativity during COVID-19 writing contest.

by Anna Vazhaeparambil, Aquila Co-Sports Editor

Hopeful reflections. Brooding thoughts. Nostalgic memories. The upper school writing contest, Creativity during COVID-19, gave students the chance to record these feelings about living during a worldwide pandemic and responding to this new reality. Hosted by English teacher Jennifer Siraganian, the contest had over 30 submissions, ranging from poems to flash fictions, and recognized six writers: Sarah Mohammed (9), Sophia Gottfried (11), Eva Chang (12), Michelle Liu (10), Vivian Jin (11) and Andrea Thia (10).

For the winning submissions that Harker Aquila received permission to publish, a copy is included below, paired with a brief statement by the student on the inspiration behind their work. Additionally, listen to three of the writers recite their pieces by clicking on the images of their poems. 

First place: “Remember Ourselves through COVID-19” by Sarah Mohammed

Provided by Sarah Mohammed
“Remember Ourselves through COVID-19” by Sarah Mohammed (9). Click on the image to listen to the poem.

Sarah: “Since we’re in quarantine, I’ve been looking at my surroundings more and especially appreciating what has been the same. I think about what’s given me a lot of hope in this pandemic, just seeing my mom making idlis or seeing the sunrise. I’ve drawn inspiration from those little moments.” 

Second place: “CoVid Villanelle” by Sophia Gottfried

Provided by Sophia Gottfried
“CoVid Villanelle” by Sophia Gottfried (11).

Sophia: “When I went to Stanford Mall to pick up takeout, the mall was empty, it was super eerie. So I wanted to take some of that eeriness and that zombie-apocalypse feeling, and convey it in a poem. Being cooped up kind of makes you go a little crazy, we’re all getting a little restless, everyone is getting a little anxious — all that background noise, I wanted to put it into a poem and hopefully have people identify with it.” 

Third place: “Yo Tampoco” by Eva Chang

Eva: “My inspiration — this is going to sound so corny — is from my actual bedroom window, the stuff that I hear at night from there. This was sporadic, and I wasn’t super straightforward with what any of my story meant or what I wanted anyone to take away. [It] was really personal to me, so I guess if anyone can relate to it, that’s kind of what I was going for.” 

Third place: “Haiku” by Michelle Liu

Provided by Michelle Liu
“Haiku” by Michelle Liu (10). Click on the image to listen to the poem.

Michelle: “I was really intrigued by how [because of the quarantine] animals are making a comeback, wildlife is starting to appear in the streets more often. I know that there are a lot of deer in my neighborhood, and since people aren’t going out anymore, the deer are doing whatever they want, having fun while I’m glued to my computer screen. I notice a lot of other people are like this too, so I just wanted to make a fun little illustration about it.” 

Honorable Mention: “Something I Wrote During Quarantine, But Never Knew I Loved” by Andrea Thia 

Provided by Andrea Thia
“Something I Wrote During Quarantine, But I Never Knew I Loved” by Andrea Thia (10). Click on the image to listen to the poem.

Andrea: “When you’re stuck in your room all day, often with no one but yourself, you have so much time to think. These past few weeks have been a time of self discovery for me. I realized there was so much about myself even I had never known. I started writing this poem right after I had come back from a run while it had been raining. The cold rain on my face made my cheeks burn, and for some reason that made me smile. I never knew I liked running in the rain.”