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Iris: Art + Lit St. Paul Academy and Summit School 1712 Randolph Avenue Saint Paul, MN 55105 651-698-2451

Dear Reader, Cards offer logical outcomes and random chance. A thousand games live in one deck of cards; it is yours to discover the official rules and the best strategy to win. It’s time to pull up a chair, take your seat at the table, and examine the hand you’ve been dealt. The heart traditionally represents warmth, joy, spring, the power of light and, of course, love. The much-argued shape represents the main arteries of the scientific heart. Erin McNamer and Stephanie Frisch beautifully merge science and art in their animation “Life of Dye,”(p. 31) and Anna Snider describes the power of love and joy in her poem “Belly Love” (p. 26)


4 - North of Superior - Naya Tadavarthy - Watercolor 5 - Wrap Your Head Around It - Iya Abdulkarim - Speech 10 - Running in Reverse - Anjali Tadavarthy - Poem 11 - Depends - Lucy Benson - Acrylic on Canvas 12 - Cerridwen - Lilian Pettigrew - Acrylic 13 - Storm - Helen Barlett- Poem 15- Wood Fired Teapot - Iris Shaker Check - Clay 16 - Minnehaha Falls - Sawyer Johnson - Photo 18 - the last week in june - Melissa Nie - Short Story 21 - Pamela McAllister Johnson - Tana Ososki - Art Book 24 - Window Seat - Abby Hedberg - Photo 26 - Vessel Deconstruction - Lath Akpa - Clay 26 - Belly Love - Anna Snider - Poem 27 - Pangea - Meagan Massie - Poem 28 - Cup Trio - Elea Besse - Clay 28 - Industrial Tea - Eric Lagos - Clay 29 - Vase Form - Iya Abdulkarim - Clay 30 - Contaminated #1, #5 - Stephanie Frisch - Photo 31 - Life of Dye - Erin McNamer & Stephanie Frisch - Stop Motion Animation

“North of Superior” Naya Tadavarthy

Wrap Your Head Around it By Iya Abdulkarim I have made it through high school without a single bad hair day. *hijab flip*


or the skeptics out there, I have proof. I once took a Buzzfeed quiz titled “pick six pizzas and we’ll give you a compliment” and my result was “your hair is absolutely AMAZING.” This outcome is proof that a) there is an FBI agent behind my computer screen and b) my hair is pretty great. I know what you’re wondering. How does she do it? What’s her secret? Well, let me tell you. When you wake up every morning, wrap yourself with confidence. Walk into every room and announce that you refuse to be objectified. Regardless of who you’re with, respect them and expect that respect to be reciprocated. Now, having hair as good as mine comes at a cost. Airport security officers always pull me aside and have to search my head. I mean, I can’t blame them. They’re probably just looking for extensions.



Having my hair tucked under my hijab doesn’t mean that I’m oppressed; it’s liberating because it forces people to see me as more than just a body. I chose to wear the hijab years ago, and I make that choice again every single day. Having my hair tucked under my hijab and living in America means that I am constantly trying to to defy expectations, to disrupt misconceived notions, and to break stereotypes. It means being told to go back to where I came from, even though I was born and raised in Minnesota. It means knowing that, my hijab notwithstanding , I’m so American that I’ve “hopped off the plane at LAX, with a dream and my cardigan” (but, unlike the pop song might suggest, I was there for the international science fair, which you might call a very big science party in the USA). It means I want my daily life to show that I am like you: I feel emotions and I care for others and I eat ice cream, and I want to get my words into the heads of the incorrigible. It means people don’t think I speak English. It means that when I do speak, I exaggerate my American accent lest they think they need to dumb down their vocabulary. I’m spelling it out for you, so you can get it into your head, through your ears, which by the way yes, I can hear you just fine. It means I am always considering how people perceive my cultures and actions. In preparing these words, I considered how I wanted to present myself as different than what you might expect—instead of being quiet, serious, and oppressed, I put myself forth as I truly am: a girl that is loud, humorous, and free. It means smiling despite sorrow and patience despite anger. It means wearing a headband under my hijab in case someone tries to pull it off. It means trying to keep my balance when sitting in the car as my father switches lanes and accelerates to get past drivers that have flicked us off for no reason besides our appearance. It means planning an outfit for the airport comprised of layers not only to stay warm on the plane, but also in case TSA is insistent that I undress.

It means listening to safety demonstrations on flights, but not too attentive in case people think I know something bad is going to happen. It means making sure that my hands are not in my pockets when I walk into Target so people don’t think I’m carrying a weapon. It means when I look down, I see the same hands that airport security officers have swabbed on several occasions for traces of explosives in a room with flickering lights as part of a “random security check.” It means being greeted by Homeland Security officers as we board who don’t “Having my hair even have to ask our names to know that tucked under they have been assigned to us. It means having to be cooperative and going down my hijab doesn’t a sketchy staircase landing because they mean that I’m said so. It means watching as they search all nine of our bags then count all our oppressed.” money and only when they realize that we’re innocent do they allow us to board our plane with a consequent half-hour delay. It means kicking myself for letting tears slip down my cheek as I find my seat because I feel guilty. It means feeling guilty about things I didn’t do. It means being apprehensive every time the day after September 10th comes around, being extra aware if anyone tries hurting me. It means rounding up or down when someone asks me the time and the clock reads a minute after ten after nine, and my circumlocution is intentional; I seek absolution from the numbers representing the horrific events of that day. It means experiencing astonishment when someone asks a teacher about the war going on in Syria and out of shock of their ignorance I’m ready to explode but I cannot explode. Muslims cannot explode and I rarely use the term out of fear. I got up and left the room out of fear that I would lose control. Looking back at it now, I should’ve stayed and helped answer the question. Ignorance is the problem and spreading knowledge is the solution. At the same time, can you really expect one person to have all the answers and to provide them without error? It means working hard to prove myself a valuable member of society.

It means only feeling worthy when I receive recognition because I need the same society that has convinced me that I am not good enough to tell me I actually am. However. It also means developing a sense of self-confidence instead of selfconsciousness. When I play basketball in my hijab, I do not spend every second fretting that I look different. When I take pictures in my hijab, I do not try to cover it up with a cap or a beanie or a hoodie. When I explore journalism because I’m unsatisfied with the way Muslims are portrayed in the media, I pour my heart and soul into it. It means I carry the weight of representing my cultures and religion well. Everything I do has to be appropriate in my religion, in American culture, and in Arab culture, and I choose to adhere to these things. It means being polite, respectful, and kind out in the world because I may be the only Muslim someone sees, meets, or befriends. It means that since I have put on my hijab, I have been able to recognize so much more beauty in others. Wearing my hijab does not mean that I see myself as superior to others who do not. It means learning how to be confident but not conceited, proud but not arrogant, and living outside my comfort zone. It means I face the challenge of seeking a sense of belonging in a society where it seems as though cultures are mutually exclusive, and the overlap between culture and religion is sticky. Parts of my identity might make people think I must be America’s worst nightmare, but I’m really a part of the American dream. My parents have lived in this country for 20 years and are proud citizens, who went from living in a small apartment with a cardboard box as their dinner table, to the incredible and loving parents of three children.

“My mind is brimming with ideas and perhaps my hijab is what is holding it all together.”

Mama brought up children in a nation she didn’t know, and took the bus in the snow to go to an English class to learn a language she didn’t speak. She shelved her medical degree to raise those kids because she was in a land with no family to help her. Baba rented a room with six other guys before he married Mama, and amongst themselves they would compete to see who had the least weekly expenditures because they were all going through the costly process of higher education. He used to work bagging groceries. This is everything I know about my parents before things started looking up for them. So tell me again that we don’t belong here. I dare you to once more interrogate my parents for hours on end in the airport, only to allow them to emerge with looks of exhaustion on their faces because they happen to be in the overlap of the venn diagram of Muslim and Middle-Eastern. However, I will continue to live my life because I know what my religion and cultures actually stand for. All of this, of course, comes from a place of great privilege: I am an American citizen. I am on my way to pursue higher education. I am able-bodied and my family is in good health. I can travel. I am grateful, so I say alhamdulillah an Arabic word meaning “all praise is to God.” I say alhamdulillah because I have been presented with opportunities and hardships, big and small. My hijab is the reason I have become and will continue to be a leader. I am confident with my ideas and will share them, which in turn gives me the confidence to develop and share even more. It is a wonderful cycle. My mind is brimming with ideas and perhaps my hijab is what is holding it all together. This is my hijab, and I wrap it around my head. It’s about time you wrap your head around it.


Running In Reverse By Anjali Tadavarthy


The world moved in reverse and she ran forward. Anjali saw her run, and wept her same tears But Cora kept running, to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. She had to run to stop moving. If she stopped so would the world She wasn’t going to stop until she found home. The light around her was inky black, like the ink of a squid. She can taste the bitter air as it passes through her lips. The air sounds fuzzy and still. She feels the air heavy as a wet wool blanket on a cold March day. She smells the sweetness of the world, and sees the darkness. But she knows that if she stops the world will end. She wasn’t running at all. The amorphous world passed her by. Everything she saw, was as clear as day. Eventually she will find her way home. She knocked on the unsympathetic door, but the door snickered and turned her away. The voice in her head whispered, “Just give us five more minutes.” She bounced with grief, and leaped with misery. Everything around was a schlampige Sache. She had to leave to see that everything stayed the same. She pushed off and jumped into the sky, she flew away from that one-way town. She ran in the cold dark and wet streets.


Lucy Benson


Lillian Pettigrew


By Helen Bartlett

Her voice was silk The clouds grew black and sank to the earth They were cold to the touch but you could never really grasp them They were sharp in smell like cloves and they tasted similarly although with an edge of salt There was no sound and the silence was deafening in such a way that she had to cover her ears and squeeze her eyes shut to try to block it out The blackness of the clouds stifled the world around her So that when she did 13 She wondered whether her eyes were still closed because everything around her was black She suddenly remembered Agatha! Agatha she spoke it out loud the silk of her voice was blue and it filled the world of black around her She had been wrong-- the clouds were not salty they were sweet Sweet like a Florida peach. Agatha loved movies She loved Bardolatry Films She knew that it was because of her love for these movies the little red flowers continued to grow outside her window. There was something odd about them though, but she never questioned it until she remembered that “Only dead fish go with the flow�

Agatha ate breakfast Her eggs were sunnyside up and they made her smile like a young girl smiles at her mother’s wake She finished her breakfast floating on her own happiness. She then floated to work. She didn’t want to get her new suede shoes dirty She knew she would run into Helen on the way Melancholy Helen Melon Helen She chuckled as she could imagine the encounter unfolding


Helen would most definitively say Hello Agatha would force an orange smile Agatha knew that her smile would show Helen that Agatha knew the effects of her smile and that agatha’s smile had that very effect on Helen herself “L’APPEL DU VIDE” The clouds called out to Agatha “Don’t do what you are about to do” And with that the rain fell

Wood Fired Teapot, 11x7x5

Iris Shaker-Check


“Minnehaha Falls”

Sawyer Johnson

the last week of june By Melissa Nie


et’s be princesses,” Sadie says. “Then we can do whatever we want.” We don’t look like princesses. Dirt smears our hands and faces, clothes stick to our skin from the summer heat, the pearly tips of permanent teeth peek out from the gaps in our smiles -- hardly the image of royalty. Still, like the children we are, we make-believe. Old brooms turn into majestic steeds. The dusty attic becomes our palace. Stuffed animals transform into obedient subjects. We invite our subjects to a royal banquet, poring over the seating arrangement because Minnie Mouse obviously can’t sit with Daisy Duck; they’re refusing to talk to each other. But if we put her next to Princess Leia, they’ll spend the entire night talking and they won’t eat a single thing. Finally, we solve the problem by having Minnie sit next to Snow White, who is friendly enough but won’t distract her. Pretending to sip out of plastic pink teacups and delicately munching on carrot sticks, we gossip about the latest happenings in the royal court -- did you hear that the duchess invited Harley the Horse to her wedding? Yes, really! And everyone was so shocked because Harley the Horse doesn’t know how to act like a proper subject. He wiped his dirty hooves on the tablecloth and released methane in the duchess’ face. We can’t stop giggling. There is no one to judge us, no limit to stop us -- only our own imagination. met Sadie at the beginning of fourth grade. It’s a scary thought and a haunting presence in the back of my mind. It marks the beginning of a new year at a new school with new people, leaving the security of the familiar hallways and faces. I enter the classroom, the weight of my backpack and my fears pushing me down. I take a step. Another. And another. One by one, my classmates turn to look at me. There’s a short girl with strings of plastic


beads twisting her hair into a set of braids. Her expression is a cross between a grimace and a synthetic grin. The boy sitting next to her looks bored, playing with a pair of scissors. I wince at the sound made when he snaps them shut. Who’s the new kid? I wonder where she came from. Look at her backpack. Are those Barbies? I make it to my seat without bursting into tears, and the teacher begins class with a toobright smile and a chipper voice. I can’t hear what she’s saying. My heart is beating too loudly. At recess, a girl with short blond hair and a determined expression approaches the swings where I’ve been sitting glumly. “My name is Sadie. Do you like horses?” she asks. I look up. “I like horses,” I say. “I ride them sometimes.” She appraises me for a second before breaking into a smile and holding out a hand. “Okay. You’re my new best friend now.” Hope blossoms in my chest. We spend our time galloping around the playground and spinning elaborate backstories about our pretend characters. I’m the queen of an imaginary land and Sadie is my loyal animal companion. We don’t care what anyone thinks despite the whispers, the pointed fingers, and the stares. It’s our world and our world only. o you have any brothers or sisters?” I ask. We’re sitting in the classroom making paper snowflakes. Outside, rain pummels the windows. “I have a big sister,” she says. “Oh,” I say. “I’m an only child. How old is she?” “My sister is fifteen.”

“There is no one to judge us, no limit to stop us -only our own imagination.”




“Does she go here?” She doesn’t respond at first. Instead, she cuts a large hole in her snowflake. “She used to. She goes to Fort Knoll now.” I hesitate. “What’s Fort Knoll?” A loud clap of thunder shakes the room and makes me jump. “It’s a school for problem kids.” I bring my attention back to her. She’s staring down at her finished snowflake, adorned with a hypnotizing pattern along the edge and a gaping hole in the middle. “Problem kids?” “You know. Bad kids. Kids who don’t get along with other kids. Weird kids.” I am silent for a while. I look back at my own creation and find that I’ve accidentally shredded it to pieces. The rain continues. he gives me a friendship bracelet one day. “Look,” she says. “My dad engraved our initials on the charm. Sadie and Layla. Best friends forever.” Sure enough, there’s a heart attached to the string with tiny letters carved into it, almost too small to be seen. The bracelet is just a bit too small for me, but I wear it anyway. I wear it because it makes her brighten with happiness. he day we have our tea party, her sister comes home. We hear her footsteps walking up to the front door and we shudder as it slams, throttling the whole house. Her mother calls out in greeting with a trembling voice but she’s met with a series of incoherent screams. She is helpless to stop her child from stomping up the stairs and pausing right below the ladder to the attic. “Sadie,” she growls. We are frozen in fear. My gaze is fixated on Sadie, silently begging her to do something. She can’t meet my eyes. “Sadie.” She grabs the rickety old ladder and I hear it splintering under her force. Finally, Sadie speaks. “I’m up here. D-Don’t come up.” That does it. I can barely process what’s happening before she’s in our faces, spitting viciously and screaming words that



Pamela McAllister Johnson

Tana Ososki

I have never heard before. My ears are ringing. My heart is threatening to launch out of my chest. Everything is telling me to get out of here NOW. She’s focused on Sadie. Practically jumping down the ladder, I race downstairs and a fumbled apology spills out of my mouth before I run out of the house. adie doesn’t talk to me the next day. “Why are you friends with her?” I glance up from my book. One of my classmates, Nancy, is hovering over me, her long dark hair hanging inches from my face. I’m alone, for once. Sadie’s at home sick today and there’s no one for me to be with. “Who are you talking about?” “Sadie, obviously.” There’s a glint of something else in her eyes, something that I don’t like. I look back down. Nancy continues. “I mean, she’s so weird. Did you know that she was invited to Mickey’s birthday party, but she kept picking her nose and wiping the boogers on the tablecloth? And she’s still obsessed with horses. That’s so last year.”



I stay silent. Go away, I think to myself. Go away. It’s not nice to talk about people when they’re not here. Still, there’s a part of me that’s intrigued by what she’s saying. “All I’m saying is, maybe you shouldn’t play with her. She’s just nasty. That could rub off on you.” My voice is barely above a whisper. “Do you really think so?” Nancy nods solemnly. She offers me a hand. “Come join us at recess. We’re a lot cooler than her.” My heart is pounding. I think back to that very first day, where I came into the fourth-grade classroom as an insecure, frightened little girl. I think of how Sadie asked to be friends. I think of the royal tea parties in her dusty attic. But I also think of her sister. I think of how she’s locked away at a school for bad kids. I think of the way she yelled and swore and frightened me half to death. I take Nancy’s hand. My own hand is quivering, and whether it’s from guilt or fear of excitement -- I can’t tell. Maybe it’s all three. Maybe it’s something else entirely. The bracelet around my wrist seems tighter than before. “All right,” I say. “I’ll come with you.” I stop talking to Sadie. n fifth grade, there’s a new girl in class with brilliant red hair. Looking at her, I’m painfully reminded of the way I was last year: the hunched shoulders, the tension in her body, her eyes darting from place to place. Introducing herself to the class as Amy, she says she’s from Kansas, her favorite color is yellow and she has two little sisters. At recess, I walk toward the new girl sitting on a bench alone. I’m so focused on Amy that I don’t notice the figure coming from the opposite direction and I run right into her. When I’ve regained sense of my surroundings, my heart drops. “Oh,” says Sadie. “Hello.” She’s still wearing her friendship bracelet. I took mine off a long time ago. I pause, then push her out of the way and continue to Amy.



ou don’t want to be friends with her,” I say to Amy. Her basement is warm and we’re wrapped in soft blankets, nursing cups of hot cocoa. Her brows furrow. “Why not?” I take a moment to sort through my thoughts. “Trust me. She’s just not a good person to be around. Did you know that in fourth grade she...threw up all over Mickey at his birthday party?” Deep in my chest, something foreign and unpleasant bubbles up and leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I can’t discern what it is, but it’s terrible. Amy wrinkles her nose. “Ew. I see what you mean.” She sets her cocoa on the nightstand and turns out the lights. Lying on the ground, swallowed whole by the tangled mess of blankets, I finally recognize what it is: Guilt. Sadie stops coming to school in sixth grade. “Did you hear?” my classmates whisper. “She has mono.” “Who would ever want to kiss her?” “She had it coming.” “Thank God. We won’t have to deal with her now.” I glance down at my hands. I’ve been wearing the little bracelet again, ever since the first day of her absence. Guilty guilty guilty, it seems to chide. “Thank God,” I say to myself. “She won’t have to deal with us now.” She won’t have to deal with the side glances, the turned backs, the giggly conversations that stop whenever she draws near. She won’t have to deal with sitting alone at lunch because no one wants to be with her. t’s the last week of June. When I wake up on Monday morning, the sunrise is unusually bright, unusually red. There is a pervasive silence throughout my house, seeping in through the cracks and slithering through the pipes. I think nothing of it. I arrive at school and walk into the classroom. The other children are chattering brightly and the teacher is reading something on her computer.

Swallowed whole by the tangled mess of blankets, I recognize what it is: Guilt.


“Window Seat” Abby Hedberg

I greet Amy, I ask her if she did the science homework. She gasps and rummages through her backpack as I giggle. It’s nothing unusual. The teacher gathers us for morning circle. There’s an odd expression on her face, a strange light in her eyes, a slight tremble in her voice. I lean over to whisper in Amy’s ear. “This is probably going to be another one of those be-nicer-to-each-other meetings. What’s the point?” She doesn’t laugh. Instead, she’s focused on the teacher, her brows furrowed in concern. I follow her gaze and I’m shocked by the tears running down the teacher’s face. She sniffles loudly. “Class,” she says. Pause. Deep breath. She tries again. “Class, I have some sad news to tell you.” Uneasiness washes over me and I dig my fingernails into the center of my palm. When I look down, I see angry crescent-shaped blemishes arranged neatly in a curve. “Sadie was in a terrible accident yesterday afternoon. And we don’t know if she’ll wake up.” Amy asks me if I want to visit Sadie in the hospital. I tell her no. I don’t tell her that I can’t bear seeing Sadie’s sleeping face covered in scars. It would only remind me of the wounds I inflicted on her. So she goes alone. When she comes back, she tells me how pale Sadie looks, the appalling tubes and monitors emanating from her body. She tells me about the gifts and flowers and cards surrounding the bed. “I just feel so bad, you know?” Amy muses, tugging at a strand of red hair. “I wish I was nicer to her.”

I smile and agree. If only she knew. here are rumors. Of course there are rumors. It’s ironic. Rumors are what left Sadie friendless. Now rumors are destroying what little life she has left. “I heard that her sister did it. It really wouldn’t surprise me. Have you seen the way she treats her? Unbelievable.” “I think she tried to run away but something went wrong and she landed in the hospital. Can’t blame her, though.” I want to tell them they’re all wrong, because don’t you see? She’s just like us. She’s lonely. She wants to fit in and to be loved. She needs friends. And it’s your fault! And it’s my fault too. It’s all my fault. She’s in my dreams sometimes. We’re in her attic again, laughing like the children we once were, playing with Barbie dolls and stuffed animals. Her hair gives off a golden glow and her loose white dress flutters behind her like she’s flying. Minnie Mouse is sitting next to Daisy Duck again. She’s happy. I wake up feeling incredibly loved and peaceful. I don’t deserve it. Because the real world isn’t a matter of playing pretend and acting like royalty. The people around us aren’t going to bow down to our every whim. It’s still my fault. id you hear the news?” A good five years have passed since the events with Sadie. I’m sitting in advisory with Amy, who has a funny look on her face. “What news?” I ask lightly, grinning. “Sadie woke up this morning.”



I see her walking down the hall. “I miss you, Layla,” she says. She holds out her arms. I close my eyes. Breath in. Breath out. Smile. “I missed you too.” And we enter the classroom together, children again in a world where imagination reigns.


Vessel Deconstruction 6x11

Belly Love

By Anna Snider

What makes you think that your belly and all the mountains it can form is any less worthy of being kissed by the sun than the valleys between other girl’s hip bones? My love, we are all just embodiments of Mother Earth; the same stardust simply molded into different shapes.

Lath Akpa


By Meagan Massie

Your eyes are the pine needles in this forest, the deciduous trees laugh at my admiration. My cheecks are flushed and damp, Yet I can taste the photograph of us last month freezing in my pocket Part of me resides in Mount Rainier, beside Briana, With only the vast lake that surrounds me. Halloween is near... Though I’m afraid the phantom will be resurrecting from his grave of denial. If I pluck the roses from the cemetery, the stallion will be lost. “Hyvää yötä Kulta,” your breath feathered against my ear. I blinked once or twice, your face faded as the sun in the sahara. I sprinted across the continents, swimmin the Atlntic. Meagan’s pockets weep as the paper melts. Soon Pangea will return and the distance will shrink, my ears will strain for the timbre of your noctural voice. I will taste the salt on my skin to know my tears still reside a continent away. En päästä sinua menemään My finger yearn to hold the folded creases of the two of us... Kauniita unia.


Cup Trio 4x9x3 Elea Besse

Industrial Tea 8x9x8 Eric Lagos


Vase Form 10x4x4

Iya Abdulkarim


“Contaminated #1”

Stephanie Frisch

“Contaminated #5”

Stephanie Frisch

Scan here to see Erin McNamer and Stephanie Frisch’s “Life of Dye”

2018 1 Hearts  

This is book one of four in our 2018 literary magazine.

2018 1 Hearts  

This is book one of four in our 2018 literary magazine.