New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Letters to the Graduate, From the Graduating

An attempt to wrap your head around what the f-ck has just happened to you.
Illustrated by Julia Hope Riguerra.

Read a transcript of Maxine’s poem here:

Illustrated by Julia Hope Riguerra.


_is like breaking up with the person you lit candles for, bought roses for, made mixtapes for, like blacking out the best parts of a love letter

_is like skydiving off a cliff face you carved with your own hands, but at the moment of surrender searching your bag for that one last spurt of Albuterol

_is like purchasing a one-way plane flight but then chickening out at the last minute and selecting “round-trip” 

_is like applying makeup in front of a mirror you cracked, foundation still swirled in unblended brushstroke circles upon leaving

_is like finally learning how to tie your shoes without the bunny ears

_is like revamping your seven-year-old bedroom stationary store with a trendy new social media account

_is like overcounting the stars and then realizing there really are that many stars, because it’s New York City

_is like finally learning how to transfer calls on banana phones

_is like watching rain drip down the rims of your glasses

_is like tasting bittersweetness on the eraser head of your pencil, even the cuff of the cashmere sweater you occasionally bite

_is like spending three years telling someone how to put on a pair of headphones, only to be dumbfounded when they decide to use a bluetooth speaker instead

_is like having someone hack your Spotify playlist, but not caring because you still listen anyway

_is like ending a conversation after giving someone directions, telling them to chill out, whispering a secret in their ear

_is like knowing you would be stood up, but going to the restaurant anyway to chat with your waitress over a glass of sherry and a plate of dungeness crab cakes

_is like calling out sick, and instead becoming an ever-so-sweet couch potato

_is like a cliché — your last performance, your last shared dormitory, your last extra credit, your last free gym membership, your last free trip to the Rubin Museum, your last free print, your last coffee at Peet’s, your last chat with the security desk, your last shop on Albert, your last excuse not to explain yourself to other people

A version of this article appeared in the March 2nd, 2020 print edition. Email Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes
Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes, Voices Editor
Maxine graduates in May with a B.F.A. in Dance and a Minor in English Literature. She is on the way to publishing her first novella, through Eileen (VerbalEyze Press), and presenting a thesis on choreographic procedure. She is a longtime fan of the August POetry POstcard Festival — if you’ve been longing to send your poems to strangers, check it out! Her favorite phrase to use in her poetry is “sea glass” — a worn remnant of rejection appearing only to scavengers of beauty. Read some of her words @poeticabythebay.

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