National Writing Project

Student Writing on "The Unfamiliar"

By: Cynthia Fuselier
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1
Date: Winter 2002

Summary: A collection of work from Cynthia Fuselier's eleventh-grade English students from Trinity High School in Washington, Pennsylvania, on the theme "Writing About the Unfamiliar."


NOTE: When The Quarterly's editors decided to establish "writing about the unfamiliar" as the theme of this issue, we knew it was a broad theme that could be taken in numerous ways. In retrospect, looking at the variety of submissions we received, we realize our initial thoughts hardly scratched the surface of the possible ways this theme could be interpreted.

Among the submissions we received was a collection of work from teacher Cynthia Fuselier's eleventh-grade English students from Trinity High School in Washington, Pennsylvania. The following short pieces—some excerpted from longer worksi—are from this collection. Although we were not able to include everything Fuselier's students sent us, we appreciate their submissions.

An excerpt from "Unfamilar"
by Noah D.

A new awareness
Starts to seep in
Starts to creep in
Close it up
Close it up
Shut the door
Lock the bolt
Hide the key
Can't let it in

A Mercurial Morn
by David W.

Faces we see, hearts we do not know
places that we have to go.
I do not wish to journey there,
into the darkness' lair.
The sun has risen, of that I am sure;
I hope the evil is no more.
I struggle on, facing the UNKNOWN
doing it all on my own.

An excerpt from "Different"
by P.L.D.

All new, a World unseen.
In the night of life, was it all a dream.
Until now, I thought I knew,
But true I was mistaken. . . .

Yet to Come
by Mike E.

I began without a clue
And grew along the way.
What was my last step?

So I stop to look about me
But the darkenss shields my eyes.
What is my next move?

As I venture on the path
I search for my life.
Where do I start?

I attempt to guess ahead
but am searching aimlessly.
What can't I decide?

In the now I sit
Amongst the hills and roads untaken.
Wht does this coldness loom?

This question stabs my soul
Like a thorn deep in my side,
But I press on like the rest
Toward the future.

An excerpt from "The Unfamiliar"
by Lindsay G.

The Unfamiliar
Things unknown
Ideas yet to be acknowledged, invented, or displayed
Dreams yet to be made truth. . . .

by Kristin J.

I hear the wind blow;
the eerie sound of the swaying trees;
I must continue,
what awaits me? . . .
The Unfamiliar

I set foot upon the Earth,
my senses are at a peak;
The adrenaline rushes,
My heart beats.

Crack! I hear a noise from beyond;
My steps become quicker,
my breathing becomes heavier;
what lurks beyond the trees? . . .
The Unfamiliar

The blood rushes through my veins;
I prepare for the worst;
the moonlight shines upon me,
are my fears visible to . . .
The Unfamiliar?

I should have listened to my mother,
I should have stayed home;
That was the last tht I remember;
where am I now?
The Unfamiliar

An excerpt from "Write About the Unfamiliar"
by Ryan S.

When looked up in the dictionary, the word "unfamiliar" is defined as "not within one's knowledge; strange." Many things are unfamiliar to me, especially cars, rap music, and women. . . .

. . . women . . . I try everyday to understand what they are thinking. I try to put myself in their position. However, they have so much emotion in their systems that it makes it impossible to use any logical reasoning to try to understand them. For example, if a man finds a pencil on the ground, he picks it up because he simply needs a pencil to write with. That's what pencils are for, after all. On the other hand, if a woman finds a pencil on the gorund, she picks it up not because she needs a pencil to write with. Oh no, that's not the case at all. She picks it up because it is "pretty" or it "matches her outfit." Thus, women are strange and confusing.

One day, I hope to become more familiar with all three of these strange and confusing things. I may succeed with cars and rap music, but I think I will never be able to fully understand the strange being we call a "woman."

An excerpt from "Unfamiliar"
by Victoria G.

The unfamiliar has become a familiar part of my life. I suppose most people could say the same thing, but for me, it is especially true because I have moved many times. What is more unfamiliar than leaving your old home and moving to a new community where you don't know anyone? I have lived in six different states and each one of them had new people, places, and even ways of talking. The difficult part is finding where you fit in. . . .

About the Author Now in her twenty-third year of teaching, Cynthia Fuselier currently teaches English at Trinity High School in Washington, Pennsylvania. She also serves as the English Department representative, a member of the curriculum council, and faculty vice president of the parent-teacher-student association. She is a teacher-consultant with the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project.

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