She believes that the beauty of stories is the ability to step into someone else’s experience and witness the human condition.
“Pájaros”, birds in Spanish, pivots around the murder of a young boy’s mother. His friend witnessed the murder which complicates the relationship between the two friends due to the guilt carried by the witness. The leitmotif riven through the story are the dead birds that fall through the sky either by natural occurrence or by the nozzle of a gun. Aspokahi’s style is spare and nuanced, and she employs metaphors with stunning effect: “Death packed bags, and arrived to stay.”
Asapokhai began “Pájaros” last spring and revisited the story in the fall. “When I saw the Scholastic competition, I thought “What can I embellish that I already started?” Juanita acknowledges the difficulty writing in the short story form. “You’re thinking, how can I consolidate the story so that it is at its most essential? You need to focus on what’s important,” she said.
She began writing when she was eight years old, admittedly random works with no clear beginning, middle or end. As she’s matured, Asapokhai writes often and devotes time each week to developing her craft. She reviews her work upon completion but doesn't want to be too self-critical. “That nitpicking can really stifle the creative process. Whenever I want to write something, I don’t necessarily write with intention.” She gives herself the freedom to create the narrative as she is writing. “I don’t want to be too rigid,” she said.
Asapokhai admires J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books due to how immersive the stories can be. She cites her favorite author as Ocean Vuong, a Hartford raised, Vietnamese poet. She said, “All of his poems are deeply personal but they feel universal. I love the way he stretches language.”
Asapokhai is open to challenging herself to other written forms including creative non-fiction creative and opinion essays. She hopes to apply for Scholastic Scholarship programs that are held throughout the summer.
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.