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Common App Personal Statement, On Poetry and Sailing


NonSequitur 3 / 15  
Dec 6, 2009   #1
Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to read!
Some of my concerns

1) Spelling/grammar/style
2) Is this essay unique or somewhat cliche?
3) Am I being too reminiscent of the past, and not forward-looking enough?
4) Based on this essay, what kind of person do you think I am?

"Brother, what is reality?" my sister ****** asked me one day on our way home from the library. Startled by the question, I began to tell her something about our five senses, only to realize that I didn't know what reality was to her, because even though we are siblings, we grew up in different worlds, each with a different reality.

Her reality is one of countless Sunday mornings when she would crawl into my bed and tell me about her dreams in a hilariously matter-of-fact way; of the rush to the door on weeknights when my parents come home from work; and of her love to look through my poetry books and take "notes" in her little booklet, among other moments in the daily rhythms of her life. Unlike her, my childhood reality was one of climbing old tombstones behind my backyard for fun, walking to the fish market with my grandmother at dawn, and creating my own picture books by drawing figures in the dirt beneath my feet. ***** and I live in different realities; just as the world she sees through her eyes shapes who she will become, so my childhood has shaped who I am and my reality.

I remember growing up in a rural village in southern China, raised by my grandparents- one a stone mason and the other a farmer. My uncle used to take me to the roof to stare at the stars, then so horrendously numerous in the eerily black sky, horrendous only because I did not yet understand it. I was part of a village spirit, a brotherhood of humans in their most basic elements. We washed our clothing with our hands by the well, and on holidays would gather in the courtyard and slaughter roosters, according to tradition. Life was unruly then; there were no routines, only spontaneous adventures. That was my childhood, the first poem that I ever learned.

I grew up in a world of poetry, and inevitably, began experimenting with writing after immigrating to the U.S nine years ago. I learned English, starting with the ABCs, and read frequently. In a few years, I went from reading children's books to reading classics and writing poetry. While I have been called a poet, I do not think that I speak poetry; rather, poetry speaks through me. In the last few years, sailing has become my poetry; for hours every school night and weekend, the spirit of the -Boat Name- speaks through me. I become a member of the crew, bound by the fraternal oaths of sailors and the love of the schooner. I sail because the water is my shelter, where Jupiter is again visible in the western sky and the black water washes over us with its surges and plunges. Beneath the night, even sailors become passengers, of the vehicle that drives our dreams and humanity, of nature's poetry.

I once met a man on a street in ******, ****** who pointed to a piece of drawing and said "this is not art," and then, gesturing between his heart and mine with his hands, said "this is art". Although at the time I walked away quite confused, now I think he was trying to tell me that the real art lies in the beauty of people bound by a common dream and purpose. Sailing is thus my poetry - my art, without being "art". I watch people as I sail; the children who toy with their naïveté as they stare over the edge into the water that passes beneath us, and the old sailors who have anchored their youth between the shores of Jersey and the piers of Manhattan. We live another reality on the water; the rhythms of our days are marked not by the ticks of clocks, but the rush of waves that rocks the -Boat Name-, wildly and abruptly.

My friends insist that I am a country boy, destined to yearn for the lost romanticism of the village. Yet I think that they are mistaken. Every time I sit on the cabin top of the -Boat Name- with my notebook in my hands, humming the song "Two Worlds" by Phil Collins, I am constructing my future world of poetry, a world once again romantic and hopeful. I make due with what I have, and the city of New York offers plenty of all worlds. I rediscovered my childhood in New York Harbor, salvaged from the depth with my calloused hands and darkened skin. The East River is my home, and the -Boat Name- crew, my family.

Someday, when my sister grows up, she will find her very own reality. But for now, I will tell her about my reality, once in a village in China, now on the waters of New York and very soon, in the community where I will spend the next four years of my life.

OP NonSequitur 3 / 15  
Dec 6, 2009   #2
If it helps, this is for mostly liberal arts colleges, such as Bowdoin, Carleton, and Haverford...
t1292 11 / 21  
Dec 6, 2009   #3
Does your sister really ever call You brother?? it takes away the realism replace that with your name.
"a hilariously matter-of-fact way" I dont know what to call this exactley just know it is awkward and somewhat paradoxical.
"so my childhood has shaped who I am and my reality." Is more telling then showing
"one a stone mason and the other a farmer." One a? The other> How about my grandmother a ..and my grandfather a...

"starting with the ABCs, and read frequently." proofread!(out loud)
"once met a man on a street in ******, ****** who pointed to a piece of drawing and said "this is not art," and then, gesturing between his heart and mine with his hands, said "this is art". " No offense but this is knod of boring try inverting sentances a bit.

OVERALL It is proffessional interesting but it needs ALOT of work
OP NonSequitur 3 / 15  
Dec 6, 2009   #4
Thank you t1292!

"I learned English, starting with the ABCs, and read frequently." <- I think this is correct, no?

Also, my sister really does call me Brother, lol. I know, it's weird...
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Dec 7, 2009   #5
then so horrendously numerous in the eerily black sky,

I usually tell people to be careful not to overuse adverbs, but you do a great job with them here.

This is great writing. I searched for something that I coud tell you was a non sequitur, but I could not find one, ha ha.

Well, obviously this is inspired, so we should not mess with it too much. And you write without errors. However, you should try to mention your sister a little more in the body paragraphs.


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