Posted in Inspiration, Poems

How to be a Person

Poetry explains the unexplainable.

My father, Peter Ryder

First week of my second semester of senior year, and my english class is assigned to write a poem. I’m not a hater of poetry, in fact, I admire it and encourage my friends to trust in its mending of the mind. However, analyzing and writing it holds a bit of a challenge for me.

I have a bit more of a psychoanalytic affinity for the sciences of the mind, which is why I love to write directly on the subject rather than creating an obscure (mind you, brilliant) extended metaphor or palace of symbolism. Of course, I enjoy reading it, but I struggle to create the ideas of such gifted literary elements to incorporate in a poem.

However, my english teacher, being a passionate advocate for open minds, inspired our class toward a more approachable template of poetry: she presented poet Shane Koyczan that wrote and videoed a ten step poem titled “How to be a person.” In it, he elaborates on his moral values and their importance toward humanity. As a result, she encouraged us to artistically express the morals and important objects of humanity that are meaningful to each of us, personally.

We were required to write three stanzas, each starting with a directive and incorporate eleven lines of poetry emphasizing the values that we believe guide us toward a happier and healthier life. Like Koyczan, she had us record our voices reading our work while including the text as we read it, and additionally include an artistic element (music, art, etc).

I appreciated the way Koyczan carried out his art utilizing a solid colored background and a simple text font, so I did the same. I’d like to share my work here to showcase just some of the elements of humanity that I find to be most valuable. Of course, I have many other thoughts in regards to morality but I expounded on these three for certain reasons: clarity, mindfulness, and above all, perspective.

How to be a person.

For reference: here is the original, “How to be a person” poem by Shane Koyczan.

Posted in Inspiration, My Own Experiences, Thoughts

My Six-Word Memoirs

Six-Word Memoirs

“Can you tell your life story in six words?”

Well, many often sum up the year 2020 in two words: dumpster fire. So, why wouldn’t we be able to?

I watched the video above during my Yearbook/Independent Study class where we learned about an organization that created a project called “Six-Word Memoirs.”

The video began with an anecdote about Ernest Hemingway and his encounter to a challenge in which he could only write a story in six words. He replied, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Well, gosh, I honestly couldn’t think of a more interesting story within an entire book. Just by reading those six words, there are obvious hints of layers to them. Why are the shoes for sale? What baby did wore them? Does selling the shoes symbolize a loss, a gain? “Never worn” opens my mind to the possibility of a tragedy in the story. Moreover, the fact that they are now selling these shoes could mean a potential overcoming of grief.

Larry Smith, the founder of SMITH magazine asked his community to sum up their lives in six words. Basically, to tell their story in a six-word memoir. Eventually, the project grew increasingly popular on a global scale, publishing a best-selling book series and featuring memoirs and projects in NPR and The New Yorker.

Six words that can sum up your identity, humor, purpose, or annoyances in life – I thought it was brilliant. Short, to the point, but so cuttingly clear and full of interesting hypotheticals. As my class browsed through memoirs from students, teachers, authors, comedians, actors, even tweets, we all witnessed a plethora of stories with so much personal traction and meaning, where no two grew on the same vine. As we dove deeper toward more meaningful and genuine memoirs, my admiration for this project grew; no two memoirs were the same and each sentence procured unalike backgrounds of a variety of circumstance; in other words, behind each word was a realm of a vividly distinct imaginations and variety of defining stories… and in only six words!

Unsurprisingly, my teacher had us all write one six-word memoirs with a list of themes to choose from:

  • The year 2020
  • Your life at this moment
  • The pandemic
  • Something meaningful that happened to you
  • A telling anecdote

I’d like to share my personal six-word memoirs to help my audience understand the power that such a minuscule element of literature can have on one’s own imagination and inspiration. As always, I encourage you to get creative and embark on your own projects such as this one, but I strongly recommend writing, thinking, or simply telling your story with six words. I can’t tell you invigorating it feels to have put so much power into so little a medium.

I will disclose that in light of recent events that occurred in D.C today, I included more comic relief than a poetic and complicated strain to look toward a brighter side of life, rather than the political upheaval that has imbued so much personal anxiety and hate.

The Year 2020

Expected less from a barnyard explosion.

Your Life at this Moment

Watching “The Crown” involves less anxiety.

The Pandemic

Yeah, I forgot how to drive.

Something Meaningful that happened to You

Thank the gods for Jane Austen.

A Telling Anecdote

I carry spider- repellent in my purse.

Smith, L. (2005). Six Word Memoirs Home. Retrieved January 07, 2021, from