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Carmen Lau, Ages 17 & 18

Winner of the Electric Book Award, Carmen Lau’s debut collection, The Girl Wakes, was published this month by Alternating Current Press. Lau composed the piece below, “a combination planner, journal, and fictional space,” over the course of a year in high school.

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— Carmen Lau, Ages 17 & 18

Carmen Lau

“Was it when I finally ‘grew up’ that I became ignorant? I was 18 in 2003, an adult. How books can seem like home. I read this and I can, sort of, slip back into the experience of my teenage self. I remember abstractly the loneliness, the anger, the sadness. Even today I feel those sharply on occasion. I still marvel at the frequently painful realities of this world. But adulthood and experience have ironically gifted me these: levity and empathy. I want to say to my teenage self—Don’t worry, Fate isn’t out to get you. You’re in for an amazing ride. Other people aren’t as terrible as you fear. The ‘real world,’ despite or maybe because of its ugliness, is fascinating. Don’t be afraid to open your eyes. Don’t be afraid to grow up.”