Sunday, July 23, 2017 This Week's Paper

The world needs more people like Caroline Allen

Caroline Allen will kill me for this. As I sit down to write these words, she is someplace far away from me, possibly at school, blushing away at the very idea that this article will be written, and that it will be about her. Self-conscience and nervous, I know she will always wonder why this was written, why I bothered, what she did to deserve it. The answer to these questions will be fairly obvious to those who know and love her, a group of people, which is legion.

Caroline has a personality that resembles her hair. Long and tumbling, it descends down her back and across her shoulders in wild and frizzy curls spinning uninterrupted and free in every direction. Like her hair, Caroline is totally and utterly free. She is loud, excited, jubilant and joyful, with a laugh and rosy smile that are entirely her own.

Best described as a ray of sunshine, Caroline brightens the world around her by uplifting those who need it, and never stopping to drag anyone behind her. Almost inherently, she is a wanderlust soul with a passion for exploration and adventure. Her desire to see and to experience is almost a hunger or an unquenchable thirst, and once she experiences, she never forgets. Simply by looking at her one could get the impression that Caroline dislikes to rest. When something enchants her, or moves her, she doesn’t sleep. I have spent an uncountable number of summer nights with her underneath a blanket of ever expanding stars waiting for the sun to come up in the morning, and I have born witness to her own self-driven desire to stay awake until the next day looking forward to a big trip or an event, simply because she could, and what is sleep to a woman like Caroline Allen? What is sleep to her but wasted time, to think, to love, to sing, to write, to create, to be with a loved one, or a close friend to memorize a poem, to pray, to listen to music old and new, and above all to breathe, and simply to be alive.

Caroline takes to heart the teaching of her idols. Her very soul seems to be carved by the words of her idol Walt Whitman, and her enchanting presence brings to mind a kinder, naturally enigmatic Bob Dylan. Yet her life, and what will eventually become of it, bears a strong resemblance to the music of John Fahey, tumbling, exhilarating and at its finest, wandering and restless. Caroline has a talent and a passion for music of all sorts, from classical, to choir, to rock to folk, yet she is primarily a classically trained singer with a sublime voice. However perhaps most notably, Caroline is a gifted poet. Few that I know of so fully embody their art form as closely as Caroline Allen does hers. She seems to have been brought into the world to narrate it; her gift for words is a reflection of her inner most joys, fears and admirations. Like Walt Whitman, Caroline has a deep admiration for nature, and much like the great American poet, she is determined to sing the song of herself. Her style of writing is wide-eyed American beauty; her simple observations hit notes that ring together in such a way that every syllable in every poem forms an undeniable sensation of brilliant honesty and objective truth. Like her heroes, Caroline is decidedly raw, choosing more to focus on the feelings that sights such as pile of leaves, or summer night creates, rather than to describe them to a lover or to describe their majesty with a removed sense of respect. To rely on old clichés, Caroline has an uncanny ability to speak from her heart. Despite her own insecurities regarding her creations, her writing is fearless. The simple and humble way in which she presents herself to the world is perhaps the most staggering aspect of her work. She knows she is but a small piece of a much bigger puzzle, and her respect and understanding of that concept is at the forefront of her writing. Yet this topic, while to some, lesser gifted creators, would be otherwise unnerving, and frightening, Caroline handles with a gentle indifference and a resigned smile. Like Whitman, Caroline knows her place in the world, she knows where she came from, who she is and that in time, she will return to the earth to begin anew. In a post Sylvia Plath era of poetry, it’s unusual to see a poet of this talent return to the earth and take on the traditions of the romantics. Yet Caroline has a childlike innocence and sincerity that transports her work to the 21st century and back again, it is at once fresh and new as well as aged and classical.

Yet looking beyond the Caroline that has caused so many to admire her and love her as both a friend, and a romantic flame, we simply see her. A normal girl in high school on her way to college; she has fears, she has insecurities she has her faults, and like the rest of us, the distant horizon of the future is as foreboding as it is unknown.

So perhaps I have not made it clear why I have written this, why you have read this, why you are still reading this. After all, what has Caroline Allen done for the community? What makes her worthy of the ink I have just used in her name? Simply because the world needs people like Caroline Allen, an optimist at heart, a woman with every ounce of her being, and a poet to the very fabrics of her spirit. Yes perhaps I have not explained my love for Miss Allen well enough, but perhaps it will take a writer of a greater magnitude to do so. Yet those who know her, and those who know her in the same vein that I do, will likely smile and nod along with me in the legion that thinks that this writing was wholeheartedly and achingly deserved.

"West Bengal"

By Caroline Allen

When I used to live in the concrete house with the orange and green and red walls,

we'd sometimes cook by candle-light

and listen for thick rain to fall.

it was hotter than hell in the concrete house

and the sweat puddled thick on your brow,

and the trio played--an acquired taste,

traffic and cricket and cow.

Rakhi was mixing the rice in the pan,

the mosquitoes were biting my feet.

the candle wrote poems in the window-sill,

and I thought that the poems tasted sweet.

I ran upstairs to grab my pen,

and to see if I might write her song,

then quick as the rain, the power came on

and the all-knowing glowing was gone.

Sean Contris is a student at Wilson High School. Oftentimes he comes too close to embodying the classical, and often times stereotypical, persona of a young male writer. Sean enjoys listening to a wide range of music and locking himself in his room to read sad Russian novels.