Hanel Baveja and Madison Brownson both create to help bring a new level of awareness to our lives and our bodies. While Hanel’s “greatest hope for my work is that my poems strike a chord of shared existence” with her readers, Madison’s “hope is to make the viewer pause and realize the beautiful complexity of their own anatomy or the world around them.” Both artists aim to awaken their audience to the intricacies of the world we share.
In honor of National Poetry Month, here is a selection from Hanel’s Award-winning portfolio, comprised entirely of poetry! You can also see more of Madison’s plush organs below!
When Clark’s Ice Cream Parlor first opened
Combinations we’d never even dreamed of.
Names too long to remember:
Dark chocolate ice cream with raspberry
cheesecake pieces and caramel bonbons,
sweet cream ice cream with bumbleberry
compote and jordan almond fudge chunks.
After rinsing our mouths with toothpaste
and slicking lip gloss over our teeth like a
film of wax, we pounded the two miles of
sweating concrete every Wednesday at eight p.m,
an army of cheap earrings and thin ankles.
We didn’t ask our mothers if we could
shave our legs, but left shreds of bloody
toilet paper like one hundred tiny flames
in the trash can for them to clean up. We wore
our t-shirts low and swinging. We ogled at the
brass chins of boys too distracted to flirt back.
We filched twenties out of our mothers’ purses
and our fathers’ worn leather wallets and blew them
every week on portions of red velvet cheesecake
supreme so big they seemed impossible.
On Sundays, we went back after swimming
in the local pool, clad in the jean cut-offs our
mothers did not allow us to buy. We liked the way
our salted hair swung damp over one shoulder.
We liked the way this left wet spots on our
t-shirts, liked any mark we left on anything.
Workers clad in red aprons scooped ice cream
and poured caramel and bleeding maraschino
cherries over chocolates and thick sauces, mashing
them together with two silver spoons, then turning
and twisting this glob so loudly it made our teeth hurt.
It was a secret religion even we could not name.
All of us thirteen and shining in our new bodies.
Our hands, still pink and bruised from the
chlorine, clutching cardboard cups disintegrating
under the waning heat of the Midwest.
None of our mothers were dying of cancer. None
of us worried about our children perishing in motor-boat
crashes or freak accidents at bowling alleys.
The gangly workers used to go down the line
of plastic trays: sweaty gummy worms, cookie
crumbs big as pennies, red and white sprinkles,
dark and white chocolate chips, caramel sauce
glazed over from the air conditioning, and each
time they would ask us if we wanted the topping,
spoons already full and sloping.
We nodded, eyes bright and hungry.
We said yes to everything. We thought
what magnificent women we’d be.
Madison has aspirations outside of the arts, but can attest to the value of creative thinking when applied to all areas of life. “As I continue to grow, I plan on celebrating this passion for life with a career in medicine. This career choice goes back to my hope that I can not only make people truly see how amazing their anatomical structure is, but also help them to appreciate their health. I would love to educate people about these things so that they do not take their bodies for granted. I truly believe that all life is a precious gift and to take it for granted is a tragedy.”
Hanel explains that “Writing forms the lens through which I interact with the world. As a seventeen year old, I am constantly reminded of how little I know. When I began writing, I shied away from poetry, because I was afraid that I did not know enough to write poetry. Recently, I’ve realized that the real reason I write poetry is because I don’t know enough. Like the characters in many of my poems, I am hungry – for knowledge, for experience, and for understanding. I think that writing, much like learning a startling new fact, or looking up at a starry sky, should make you blink hard and reconsider your life. It should offer a new perspective. I think that this is exactly what good writing should do, and it is certainly what I hope my poems do.”