Here’s Some Cash for the Break

As we gear up for the final stretch of the semester (following Spring Break), we’re always on the lookout for new and fresh writing. It’s always astounding to me how much the students improve over the course of the year, and as such, it’s nearly impossible to showcase every student’s work the way we’d like to on the blog But we do our best. Check out some of the latest:

Emily and Eric

Rabbit” by Keith
Money Line: He form waves like jelly and soft like slush. / The wife falls down and turns to dust. / May the ground eat the roadkill so the blood will not dry.

The Lies I Tell” by Emily
Money Line: I go anywhere I want. / I can ride snow leopards in the Appalachian Mountains. / I can make skyscrapers appear from thin air.

SIlence” by Jammonica
Money Line: But, how are my roars louder than my silences? / My cries speak louder than my sins.

The Future” by Andre
Money Line: There will be no future. Everything will be over. Nobody would be left. The world will blow up. It would be taken over by cyborgs.

I Want to Tell You” by Elyzabeth
Money Line: You are too busy, / running from the tide to see the waves that want to kiss you like an ambulance. / The way you have been dying / for a long time



Money Lines Week 4-6

The writing is heating up at Shortridge, but the weather just doesn’t seem to want to keep up. The students these past few weeks have delved into some deep poems and extremely creative stories. From the writing-and-guessing game “Two Truths and a Lie” to writing “How To…” poems and guides, the students have branched out of their shells and moved into complex works.

It’s fun to see the confidence of the students grow in their abilities to write… here’s some excerpts from some veteran and rookie writers.

The Lies I Tell” by Emily
Money Line: I can help everyone & stop pain in its tracks. 
I can save the world & be remembered for something great.

Just Fine” by Paula
Money Line: This time/ 
I’m gonna be just fine
/ felt like the end of the world.
Turns out/ 
it was the start of a new life.

Untitled” by Eric S.
Money Line: Fans do not blow air/ 
Heaters don’t give heat/ Stories do not give…something

How To Listen” by Kyla
Money Line: Hear the finch’s symphonies he reinvents Mozart.

Don’t Cut, Cut This” by Jammonica
Money Line: And I’ll write you a letter.
 And I would say, darling, you’re okay. 
I smile when you smile. The whole room 
lights up. Turn that smile upside. 

Spell Trap” by Jaymison
Money Line: Equality/Not ever hearing the word that you/ 
are unique, 
just hearing you are all the same/ 
You’ll never be different.

Money Lines, Weeks 1-3

We’ve fallen a bit behind on posting these, but we’ve had so many submissions to the website from our students that it sometimes becomes hard to pick some lines that we think best reflect the work we’ve been producing together at Shortridge. This time is no different. With all the snow delays and closings, it appears that all of our students are writing on their own time, and writing a lot. And some of our brand-new students this semester are getting in on the action. Enjoy some excerpts from the first couple weeks of the Spring 2014 edition of Exclusive Ink:

“I Don’t Believe in Death” by Daizjha
Money Line: Spending time with the ones you love became a task and now you have to ask yourself why you let us bend.

“The Family Tree” by Kyla
Money Line: Fire in the eyes, and say your goodbyes. The scythe is swinging, you’re in for a reaping. The metal is hot, the warmth is sweet, forgive and forget or die and retreat.

“I See” by Quanzell
Money Line: I see a half-done hairline / I see a jar full of wine

“Concerto” by Paula
Money Line: All / caught up in my concerto / sweltering beneath stage lights / you don’t get to cheer at the end / It’s not your show anymore.

A New Word” by Zuri and Porche
Money Line: The / ballistic words sang in / a monotone voice, Neologism / comes into play as we / find a new word for / love.

“After ‘Train in the Snow’ by Claude Monet – 1875, Oil on Canvas” by Mickael
Money Line: The train looked like it was / going to run somebody over and / people were trying to get on it before / it leaves.

Shortridge, In Brief

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Anyone who has ever wondered what goes on during Exclusive Ink — all the stuff before the big readings at the end, all the stuff that we try to bring to you in the student work and the blog updates — this is for you. Thanks to Bob Barrick, a senior English major at Butler (and one of our Fall 2013 volunteers) for putting this together to capture, in brief, a day at Exclusive Ink.

Ice Breaker

This week we began to create ice breakers for the students at Shortridge to do before they started writing. Ice breakers usually get students to get to know each other a little better. It encourages the students to read their poetry out loud for others to enjoy their work as well. This activity let the students relax and write what they wanted without feeling pressured.

“This is My Life” by Jammonica
Money Line: I finished what I started when the day I became a daydreamin’ hero.

“Breathing, Hero” by Katrina
Money Line: I like to say “my life is a puzzle, I fall apart but in the end someone picks up my pieces and puts me back together.” That person who picks me up in the end is my mom.

“Fishing” by Garrell
Money Line: The same way I feel. That’s what I’m trying to do in this business. I’m about being single, seeing double, and making triple.

“Thirteen Ways of Looking at Food” by Jamyila
Money Line: That is not yo nacho cheese, so hurry up and bring it to me please!

Contributed by Dessirae Turner

Writing Exercises Really Work…Most of the Time

Both Butler and Shortridge are currently on Fall break until the start of next week. While all of us probably needed some rest, I know that our team is ready to get back to Shortridge. And despite the fact that the most meaningful thing we do there is develop relationships with the students, we all also look forward to hearing the work that the students (and sometimes the mentors) produce at the end of the day. But how do they do it? Surely they can’t all just have amazing amounts of creativity just oozing from their overactive adolescent imaginations all the time, right?

Turns out that the answer is yes. Whether it’s a short story, a poem, an essay, or even a collaborative rap, these students always manage to produce some really astounding work. Sometimes, however, they just need a little jumpstart. That’s where we come in.

Every day one of our graduate assistants brings an exercise to help get some ideas flowing. Although most of them focus on poetry, they are all generally meant to be used for all genres of writing. What comes out of the prompts ranges from the profoundly heartbreaking to the intensely cerebral and from lyrical wordplay to just pure hilarity.


And most of the time, the work is a result of the prompt; a lot of the results of the prompts can be seen at the Exclusive Ink website. If you’re interested in a collection of writing prompts and exercises, check out our new Writing Exercises tab, where you can find a bank of some of the prompts we’ve used in the past. Try them yourself or with others – a lot leave room for collaboration.

Inevitably, however, some of our students already have ideas of their own and want to work independently on their own projects, and of course, we don’t mind at all. We encourage them to pursue their endeavors in any way that gets them to express themselves while at the same time learning valuable skills in communication and creative thinking.

Here’s are a couple results of some more independent projects from a couple of our veteran students – and poetry contest winners – Zuri and Paula:

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We love all of the student work, and we love coming up with new exercises to help create a spirit of community in writing, and yet we also know that exercises aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Even if the exercise doesn’t necessarily fit their taste, I guess there are always sandwiches.


Contributed by Luke Wortley

Poetry for Days

The students are working on expressing their poems and stories by using their creative abilities. Many chose to write their thoughts down and it ends up being a great starter of a poem. Each idea they have brings their work to new heights as they strengthen their word choice. We have had such a high output here during the first part of the semester, especially from some of our “rookies” that have just joined Exclusive Ink for the first time. Here’s just a taste of the first round of “Money Lines” for the semester.

“Fantastic Dream, New York Living” by Jammonica
Money Line: Strangers faces, lovebirds feathered.

“Can you remember” by Zuri
Money Line: She’s searching for real in the abyss of lies that lay down with her before bed and wake with her every day.

“The One” by Demonte
Money Line: We’re together like blue stripes.

“Fire Drill” by Karetta
Money Line: It was a total catastrophe and cacophony.

“In The Mist” by Brandon
Money Line: Fundamental principles enter an abyss self synopsis. To find oneself if in mist.

Contributed by Dessirae Turner

Outspoken at Butler ArtsFest

take a bowAs part of a busy April for the Writing in the Schools program, Exclusive Ink took center stage on Butler’s campus for the university’s ArtsFest series on Saturday, April 20. Reflecting on the topic of revolution, Shortridge students and their Butler mentors delivered powerful group performances for the audience of nearly 50 spectators at the Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall.

eric readsAfter months of preparation and practice, it was beyond satisfying to see our students, including Eric (above), conjure up their finest readings to date, especially considering the bright lights and new eyes. But they earned their turns as stars, and we couldn’t have been any prouder.

Although the video and audio isn’t up to the usual caliber because of our set-up in the theater, the following footage of Darlene and Zuri performing “Two Sides of the Coin” illustrates the strength and confidence that were on display all afternoon.

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Fresh Ink

eric and keith

A new batch of poems is up on the Exclusive Ink website, many of which are definitely being considered for publication in our print journal that will be out before the end of the semester. Although we’ve gotten to hear each student’s individual voice develop throughout this year, it’s been really impressive to see the shift in content and see evidence of refinement of their writing technique. Here’s a teaser of what’s to come.

“Water’s Symphony” by Kyla
Money Line: Soul soothing like a harp. Hypnotic like a violin. Extravagant like a cello. Prius like an organ. Rhythmic like a loved one’s heartbeat. Sweet like the bass drum in a dream.

“New York” by Fernando
Money Line: We didn’t have many toys so the street was our playground.

“Music” by Curtis
Money Line: Music is a part of me; without it I don’t exist. / It’s always by my side and in my head as I reminisce.

“Puzzled (Shattered)” by Keith
Money Line: Blood tackling the floor with a loud echo like / a jackhammer’s banging voice pierces his ear.

“Sleeping in the Slide Tunnel” by Paula
Money Line: What if they have nothing else / to cling to but the / rusted steel links that discolor / their sweaty palms?

Contributed by Luke Wortley

Performance Ink

As those who have volunteered at Shortridge can attest, the student performances that punctuate each Exclusive Ink session are often the most gratifying and entertaining part of our Tuesdays and Thursdays. Due to the miracle of modern technology and the generosity of our donors, the day has come that we are able to share these performances on this blog, in full HD and high-quality sound.

Our writing prompt on Tuesday asked students to look through the eyes of someone they see in the community, to imagine the life of a person they’ve only observed in passing. Paula envisioned what it would be like to be one of the latchkey playground kids for her poem, “Sleeping in the Slide Tunnel.”

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Landan went his own way and wrote about a difficult and intense relationship. The result was “No Love Lost.”

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With his usual verbal dexterity, Eric chronicled the life of a homeless man from his block with the poem, “The Box.”

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Again, we’re so happy to have the capacity to share some of our favorite performances from Shortridge. Look for even more videos in the coming weeks.