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  • The Unorthodocs

    Read our latest work bizarre. creative. quirky. The Unorthodocs is a creative space, striving to provide thinkers a brainstorming hub. Let's get out of the box and think #unorthodocs. ideascape Looking for inspiration? Find cool writing prompts and creative projects on our Explore experience our Explorations send us your work Submit Subscribe Bizarre writing straight to your inbox. Subscribe latest work two poems from 'Never Mind the Saucers' CLAY THISTLETON STORY COLLABORATION ideascape Add on to the first sentence of a story and we'll keep refreshing the page with your responses :)

  • the postman | The Unorthodocs

    the postman by Pascal Dominic Niederhaeuser march 2021 Every morning I hear the letters being dropped in through the mail slot; it’s usually some time after breakfast. A lot of the envelopes end up on my shoe rack. There, I store all the mail that has been dropped in but is addressed to people who have previously lived in the flat. I don’t know these people. Ever since I moved in I’ve been torn as to whether I should call the registration office and tell them about this. Some of the envelopes have the city’s letterhead printed on them with the word tax declaration underneath. Can I be held accountable? I need a barrister. I plead: not guilty! ​ But the last few days have been hard for my postman. They’re going through a lot. Though I have never seen them before I know. I know their mind must be occupied by something more important than my mail. Or at least more important than my neighbours’ mail, because for the last few days, that’s what has been lying at the end of the short flight of stairs, in front of my wooden door, beneath the letter slot, unevenly scattered over the floor. Today, I decided to not just shove my neighbours’ mail through their letter slot but to actually ring the doorbell. They ought to know where their mail has been coming from. I’m a very nice person. Mr P. answered the door people would have already walked away by the time he arrived at the front door. But since there is this copy-paste situation going on with at least three of the houses in my street (maybe it’s even all of them, who knows), I knew how long it takes you to get to the door when sitting, say, at a desk on the second floor. And taking into account his age, I was even more patient. So, when he did make it to the door and, after fiddling with his keys, managed to open it, we had a brief, awkward conversation about the seriousness of the mail situation. I don’t think he understood. On my very short way home I meticulously repeated the very short conversation in my head. I felt as though I had made a fool of myself. Mr P. was very friendly though. I have never seen anyone wear a chequered shirt over a navy blue polo-neck jumper before. It looked very uncomfortable and, what’s more, it made me feel weirdly uncomfortable, too. ​ I really get it. I do. Life’s hard. Maybe it’s their first week on the job, or the roadwork on my street has been throwing them off. The noise is unbearable, I get it. I would like to know who has been receiving my mail, though. I genuinely hope Mr P. is not walking around wearing polo-neck jumpers underneath chequered shirts and keeping my mail to himself. Pascal Dominic Niederhaeuser is a poet as well as a student of philosophy and English currently living in Basel. His work—often confessional, experimental and philosophic—has also been published in Tealight Press. You can find him on Twitter as @pdniederhaeuser. also #unorthodocs: To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

  • Submit | The Unorthodocs

    submit your work So you want to write with us? We're thrilled. How do I submit? Email us at submissions@theunorthodocs.org or fill out the submission form ! If you choose to email us, please provide in your submission: your name (pen names allowed) contact information (this can be any contact information you’d like to include, social media handles included) a short bio (who you are and what you enjoy doing in your free time) a short description of why you believe your piece is #unorthodocs (here we use that to mean a little bit funky, out of the box, and bizarre). ​ What should I submit? We accept any form of prose, poetry, essay, visual art, etc. and also encourage submissions in the mediums of spoken word, film, screenwriting. Responses to our writing prompts always pique our interest! If your work doesn’t fit any of these categories (or fills some hybrid/mutant/yet-to-be-named bucket), we’re more than happy to take a look at your submisson. If you would like to submit a prompt, head over to our Ideascape and select “suggest a prompt” at the bottom of the page. ​ When should I submit? We accept submissions on a rolling basis. You can submit as many pieces as you'd like! Formatting? Any font is acceptable as long as it is legible in style and size ; just know that we use a consistent website font unless you explicitly state that you would like to retain the front from your submissions. ​ Length? We don’t have a hard cut off , but most of our prose entries are around 700-1000 words. becoming a regular writer What's the deal? Our regular writers submit one piece per month and are featured on our team page. They experiment with new writing styles, respond to our writing prompts, and workshop their work with us. Interested? Email us at submissions@theunorthodocs.org with a response to one of our writing prompts 3 samples of your past work (if you have some) a brief message telling us who you are and why you'd like to work with us ​ Become a regular writer writer's block? CHRISTIAN THORSBERG still life Looking for inspiration? Find cool writing prompts and creative projects on our ideascape Explore

  • the patron saint of lost causes | The Unorthodocs

    the patron saint of lost causes illustrated by @tea.vinci Lisa Weber february 2021 I'm doing laundry and another sock goes missing and I wonder where they go and why they leave. Are they pulled from the washer by some invisible hand, destined for a dryer-sheet scented heaven beyond this stained existence? And don't we all wish we could disappear sometimes— sneak out through some magic portal and fly away to the hiding places of our dreams. And haven't we all felt like socks without mates— like something is missing and we can't seem to find it no matter where or how hard we look. Or maybe we're full of holes and no one has the time to mend us because they're too busy filling up other holes, like the ones in their souls that they dug out themselves and can never fail to fill because emptiness can be comforting. Sometimes the lost don't want to be found. And sometimes even they have forgotten where they hid themselves in the first place. ​ Or maybe we're like Alice in Wonderland— never feeling the right size, trying to fit in this confusing world of riddles Maybe we're like that bride who accidentally locked herself in a trunk while playing hide-and-seek, and wasn't found until years later when someone cleaning out the attic discovered her remains. And what remains but time we can never get back and memories that trick us at every turn. Or maybe we're like Alice in Wonderland— never feeling the right size, trying to fit in this confusing world of riddles that taunt us with Cheshire grins and make us worry we're going to lose our heads. Most of the time, we're simply humans doing laundry, quietly praying the never ending pile will disappear and we'll find those missing socks along with some measure of hope— a tiny miracle hidden in all this loss. Lisa Lerma Weber has been called weird all her life. Her weird brain compels her to write. also #unorthodocs: To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

  • dancing spectres | The Unorthodocs

    dancing spectres illustration: visual poem by Michelle Moloney King title: Plastic men operate in the mini kitchen by Pascal Dominic Niederhaeuser february 2021 awareness. sudden, agonising awareness of it all, of everything. the sounds, the conversations, even the colours buzz distantly. voices like shutters; all vibrates and hums. the light’s too bright – the light’s too dim i’m zooming out, flickering, my physicality achromatising. for an instant i cling to my reason, but then i simply surrender; embracing you. amidst the lightless crowd, you expose me: a fading reality. my heart’s pumping again, you’re inside of me, filling me up and i am brim-full— and warm, again. we’re both unreal. i dream of soaring through the sky, dancing on the moon and cuddling up in the clouds with you. ​ Pascal Dominic Niederhaeuser is a poet as well as a student of philosophy and English currently living in Basel. His work—often confessional, experimental and philosophic—has also been published in Tealight Press. You can find him on Twitter as @pdniederhaeuser. also #unorthodocs: To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

  • Our Team | The Unorthodocs

    our team GROWTH & STRATEGY DIRECTOR Grace O'Keefe Student at Yale University. Loves sweater weather, monochrome, and long drives . SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR Rachna Iyer Student at University of Michigan. Loves sushi, Spotify playlists and sad music on acoustic guitar. INTERESTED? Join our team! view open positions open positions Meet the minds behind the madness. Student at Columbia University. Loves snow, rollercoasters and dark chocolate truffles. CO-FOUNDER + DEPUTY EDITOR Jamie Xu Student at Washington University in St. Louis. Loves piano, talking to old people, and really bitter dark chocolate . FOUNDER + EXECUTIVE EDITOR Aruni Soni Student at Columbia University. Loves snow, rollercoasters, and crossword puzzles. COPYEDITOR Phoebe Lu Student at Columbia University. ​ Special shoutout to for some absurd illustrations. absurd.design Pascal Dominic Nieder- -haeuser Student at Columbia University. Loves karaoke, Girl Scout cookies and people who laugh at her bad jokes. Ethan Webb Student at Brigham Young University. Loves rock climbing, horchata and warm socks. Monica Vogel Student at the University of Chicago. Loves fried oreos, axe-throwing, and lacrosse. regular writers Erin Gallagher Writer. Loves airports, iced coffee, and notes app poems. Our regular writers submit one piece per month and are featured on our team page. Learn how to become a regular writer . here

  • i'm not here | The Unorthodocs

    i'm not here by Erin Gallagher march 2021 If I pull my hair back and wear a hat, fewer strangers speak to me, for better or worse. I crack my knuckles to show that I’m tough while my hair is down. Curls cascade down my shoulders and I lace my fingers and bend them until they snap. I exhale into the backseat of a taxi and tuck strands behind my ears. A glint of gold, a shimmer of doubt. inspired by our writing prompt. f ind more prompts . here In the Lower East Side, I pick shiny gossamer off of a stone staircase and hold it gently. The staircase takes me down and around, the steps dipping in the center from a century of lives lived. People passing by carrying groceries, boxes, sleeping children, laundry. I live on the top floor of a walk-up, five flights up to think about who bore down the weight of these stairs before me. But for now, I follow this gleaming strand down. Under scaffolding in the dark cold, it takes me to a glowy, impossibly warm place on Bowery. I see myself from across the block, wrapping an orange coat a little tighter around my body, walking with you to the 6 Train at Bleeker. Laughter escapes into the cold air and I can see it from here. What do they say about the red string? That it holds us all together? I’m all wrapped up in this gleaming thread, twisted in and around my fingers like a cat’s cradle. A little tug brings me back to center and I follow its path to Christopher Street, down the steps into a loud basement. I watch myself hold a pool cue with more confidence than skill. Reaching out for sway in the middle of a crowd, I see myself find it in old standbys like laughing over my shoulder and misdirection, while I lean down before a sea of bright green and miss. I use both hands to pull myself back up the stairs, gripping an impossible strand, strong like a spider’s web, its shimmery metallic direction guiding me onward. Walking along Essex, there I am, passing a blazing car crash on my way to you. My gears are turning, the symbolism weighs heavy. Surely this is a bad omen? Should I cancel? Through bright red flares and flashing lights, I see myself stop and ask someone what had happened. He doesn’t know, and I move on. Through circulated air, I see myself typing in the dark, writing poetic lines like, “I lost myself on the way to you.” This luminous material, this incandescent vein of fiber tangles itself all over street signs and stop lights, moving in no particular order, providing no sense of ending. I shiver from forgetting a hat and scarf and always wearing summer blouses under a winter coat with no sweater in the middle. The thread gets entwined in a turnstile and becomes stuck in the closing doors as we haphazardly make our way uptown. I sneak glances at myself as I sit on a metal bench and spiral, alternating between staring into a dark window and checking my phone, seeking a particular notification. We go faster now, into a crowded club thudding bass and flashing lights, onto a train to Newark, the crowded line to board a flight. Through circulated air, I see myself typing in the dark, writing poetic lines like, “I lost myself on the way to you.” Then, all at once, I see waves in the distance, dappled sunlight makes patterns on my arms and I see the glinting gossamer frayed at the edges. The edge. The end. I twist it amongst my fingers and feel soft silk slip away. I wade slowly into images of cool water disguised as feelings I can’t articulate. I balance my words on a tiny table. Easy breezy goosebumps scrawl themselves around my shoulders and down to my wrists, slowly and quickly. Sun warm on my nose, summer freckles come early. I recline into the known, stir a clear glass full of ice swimming in milky coffee. Heavy metaphors carry weighted words. I used to know this song. I used to ride this wave of anticipation, follow it as it crashed upon a sandy shore, a rocky cliff, a steep wall I couldn’t break through. I trace my finger over it, follow faint lines where they lead, away from you, back to who was there at the start. It was me. Erin Gallagher is a writer in New York City. Her work has been published in Maryland Bards Poetry Review, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, and No Contact Mag. You can find her on Instagram as @erinagall. also #unorthodocs: To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

  • an unexpected turn of events | The Unorthodocs

    an unexpected turn of events illustrated by @eeshachavan by Nam Tran march 2021 It is a busy Friday night at some restaurant in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. There are pockets of conversation scattered throughout, but most become lost amidst the flurry of rustling silverware and scraping chairs against the smooth tile floor. At one of the tables, a man meets his ex-wife for the first time post-divorce. He goes over and pulls a chair out for her, nodding in acknowledgement as she thanks him. After she settles herself, he smiles and takes the seat directly across. Some moments of silent staring pass until he finally takes a deep breath and their evening begins. ​ Good evening, Cheryl. Man: ​ Robert. Nice to see you again, it’s been awhile. Ex-Wife: ​ No kidding. You look great by the way. Have you lost weight? Man: ​ Thank you. And yes, I have. Ex-Wife: ​ I thought so! You look much thinner. Not to say you weren’t beautiful before, though. Man: ​ Speaking of thinning, can we talk about your hair? Or at least, what’s left of it? Ex-Wife: ​ I see your sense of humor hasn’t faded one bit. Man: ​ Yeah, but that hairline of yours sure has. Ex-Wife: Why yes, unfortunately so. Thank you for pointing out the obvious. Man: Sure thing, just looking out for you. Ex-Wife: So there is something I’ve been meaning to ask. Man: Oh dear, you aren’t going to propose to me again. Are you? Ex-Wife: Of course not, you already know how things ended last time. Man: I do. Actually, we know. Ex-Wife: both Yeah. Man: (nods) Ex-Wife: Have you been seeing anyone? Man: Of course! I have been seeing everyone, my eyes work perfectly fine. Ex-Wife: There goes that humor of yours again, but in all seriousness, have you? Man: I recently got engaged, actually. Ex-Wife: Oh, I’m happy you found someone new. I hope you two will be happy together. Man: Trust me, we be. Thank you for your warm wishes. Ex-Wife: will You’re welcome. Man: We just bought a new place and will be throwing a housewarming party soon. You should come by if you can make it. Ex-Wife: Sure, I wouldn’t mind. I might even get you a housewarming gift. Man: That’s very sweet of you, but you really don’t have to spend money on me anymore. Ex-Wife: No, no, it’s perfectly fine. There’s no romantic feelings involved, just a man getting his lady friend something to celebrate her new home. Man: I guess that’s acceptable. Ex-Wife: Of course it is! You know what, I’m thinking about a portable heater. How does that sound? Man: Now why on earth would you purchase me a portable heater? Ex-Wife: I figured if I’m going to get you a housewarming gift, I’d better get you something that can warm your house. Man: literally Looks like I’m not the only one with a sense of humor. Ex-Wife: I learn from the best. Man: (laughs nervously) Ex-Wife: Anyways, I really am glad you decided to join me this evening. I hope this isn’t awkward for you. Just think of it as two friends having dinner together. Man: Well that is precisely what is, is it not? Ex-Wife: this It is. Man: I thought so. Ex-Wife: (signals waiter to come) Man: How are we doing tonight guys? Waiter: Great, thank you. Man and Ex-Wife: That’s great, my name is Lucas and I’ll be your waiter for the evening. Now can I start you two off with something to drink? Waiter: I’ll have a water, please. Man: And for you ma’am. Waiter: A water as well, please. Ex-Wife: Perfect, I’ll get those to you guys right away. Also, I’ll give you a minute to look over the menu before I swing back around. Waiter: Alright, thank you. Man and Ex-Wife: (walks away) Waiter: Have you seen anything you’d like to try tonight? Man: Not yet, I’ve never been here so I’m just a bit overwhelmed by all the options. Ex-Wife: There is quite a lot, isn’t there? Man: You bet there is. Ex-Wife: (scans menu) Man: (returns) Here are your waters, now what can I get you guys tonight? Waiter: You see, Cheryl here is a bit overwhelmed with all the options as this is her first time, so I figured you could offer up some suggestions. Man: With pleasure! Well the split pea soup here is pretty good if you’d like to start off with that as an appetizer. Waiter: (darts her eyes at the waiter) Ex-Wife: (notices and looks back at the man’s ex-wife) Waiter: What did you just say? Ex-Wife: Split pea soup, ma’am. It is called that because the peas are peeled, dried, and then split into two. Waiter: (grows visibly flustered) Ex-Wife: Is everything okay ma’am? Waiter: I think the word might’ve triggered her. She and I broke up not too long ago. Man: split Oh, I am very sorry to hear that. Please forgive me. Waiter: It’s alright. Man and Ex-Wife: Are you sure? Waiter: Yeah, I’ll be fine. Ex-Wife: Okay. Waiter: Is there anything else you might be able to suggest? Man: Hm, the baked halibut is also pretty good. It comes with steamed broccoli and is served on a bed of broken rice. Waiter: (looks at the waiter and begins shaking his head) Man: Oh, Lucas, dear, what did you say the halibut comes served on? Ex-Wife: Broken rice, ma’am. It is called this because the grains of rice are broken into small pieces which gives it the unique texture. Waiter: (sighs) Man: You poor thing, you obviously do not read hints very well. Ex-Wife: I’m sorry? Waiter: Robert had insisted you offer up something besides the split pea soup. What he was getting at was suggesting anything else that wouldn’t trigger memories of our breakup. Yet, you were absolutely oblivious and decided to bring up this so-called ‘broken rice.’ Now you got me thinking about how my poor little heart was torn into shreds after Robert left me. Ex-Wife: Actually, were the one that left. Man: you So, are you guys ready for me to take your orders or not? Waiter: Okay, listen here , the only thing I want you to take right now is a freaking hike. Alright? Ex-Wife: Lucas Excuse you! Waiter: Oh, Lucas, my fine man, there is no reason to be offended. Cheryl here is just telling you to take a hike because she cares about your well-being. After all, being physically active is part of a healthy lifestyle! Man: That is not what I meant at all! When I told him to take a hike, I meant for him to get out of my face! Ex-Wife: Well listen here, , maybe should get out of face. Better yet, I kindly ask if you would excuse yourself out of this restaurant. Your little episode is disturbing the dining experience of our other patrons. We are known for our ambience and plan to keep it that way. Waiter: Cheryl you my Don’t mind if I do. For the record, men are such immature inconsiderate dirtbags. Ex-Wife: Well, you’re about to marry another one here pretty soon. Man: You know what, I won’t sit here and be disrespected to my face. I’m out. Ex-Wife: Fine, go! You already left before so it doesn’t really bother me this time around. Man: (storms out the restaurant) Ex-Wife: (looks at the man) Waiter: (looks back at the waiter) Man: (continues to look at the man) Waiter: Women, am I right? Man: Beats me man, I’m gay. Waiter: ​ Nam Hoang Tran holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. His work appears or is forthcoming in The Daily Drunk, Star 82 Review, Bending Genres, (mac)ro(mic), and elsewhere. His free time is spent shooting film, doing yoga, and discovering new artists on Spotify. Find him online at . www.namhtran.com also #unorthodocs: To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.

  • Ideascape | The Unorthodocs

    Struggling to come up with some fresh ideas? Welcome to our Ideascape! Play around with our writing prompts on our prompt board and sketch out your thoughts in our note box! View More Prompts Double tap on the images to view a prompt, and click and drag the cards to fashion your personalized creative template. ideascape Dump your thoughts here! Thought of something bizarre? Submit your work Have a cool idea for a prompt? Suggest a prompt prompt of the week What’s missing from the dictionary? Is there a feeling that isn’t fully captured in one word, or a scenery or sound we can’t describe? Create it! think #unorthodocs STORY COLLABORATION Add on to the last sentence of this story and we'll keep refreshing the page with your responses :) Everything was upside down. Gravity made me float; but I could still feel the weight of my anxiety . Did you know that air is denser and sweeter when you breathed with a nose upturned? Here, the wise man liked to be corrected. The words I spoke were not my own, but an ancestor's memory finding purchase on my lips. Only now do I understand how terrifying it is to know. Knowledge is paranoia - to know is to not know. The wise man flared his nostrils, bowed down, and faded away. In the fading dusk light his once-vibrant spirit wished away. It flew higher and higher, until it was a speck so small, you could have considered it a star. Submit Please leave this field empty. CAPTION CONTEST FEBRUARY 2021 WINNER "It takes courage to be your own best friend. It's probably the most important friendship of all." Participate Every month we will put up a quirky image for you to caption; the best ones get featured on our Instagram page! Here are some upcoming illustrations; get out of the box and think #unorthodocs! Cool projects that inspire us to think outside the box - or inside it! QUIRKY SNAPSHOTS Let a machine judge your taste in music, not just your friends ;) A different way to look at creative thinking Want to add on to this board? Send us an email with something that inspires you! here

  • oddballs | The Unorthodocs

    oddballs a permanent collection of our quirkiest submissions. The Edge "The Edge" places the viewer in line at the edge of the world (supposedly). The beyond is nothingness, and everything seems a little disconnected there. Who's holding that skateboard? ALEXANDRA TARANTO two poems from 'Never Mind the Saucers' The poems are experimental in form – but with a purpose – to push the boundaries of what may be considered poetry. CLAY THISTLETON About Face I love Mobius strips. It continuously breaks my mind that something so weird--an object that has one face, that is technically two dimensional--exists in our 3D world! About Face takes all of this and reimagines it from a fresh new angle: Mobius Strip is now a person with thoughts and feelings and friends and family. By blasting this mathematical object out of the box, it can actually help readers connect better with the information, and maybe feel a little bit of the love I harbor for Mobius strips. MALLEN CLIFTON Plastic men operate in the mini kitchen MICHELLE MOLONEY KING I love asemic poetry as I come from it form poetry history form the avant-garde, surrealists, modernists, postmodernists, all the way to now and neo-postmodernism. I remove the barrier of language and use heavy wax pigments to put my inner life onto the page. I always create with a nod to quantum theory and the chaos of everything happening at once - this poem is truer than words can ever limit me to say. Traditionally, asemic poetry is a vacuum of meaning, which is left for the reader to fill in and interpret. I don't try to put meaning into my work, I don't bring my thinking mind into the creation. This comes from me choosing a constraint of 2 wax pigments in a plastic container and with no other tools but my hands and I investigate the limits of the page, pigments, and their containers and play. The meaning of this poem is in your hands - what do you see in it? Who are you in this? The Blackwater Detective Agency It’s a short choose-your-own-adventure story; many choices are tangents that return to the main plot, but there are two endings and a swamp. JONAH GOLDBERG Still Life A script submission, Still Life tells the story of a dystopian, futuristic art performance. CHRISTIAN THORSEBERG This is how a marriage ends A response to the writing prompt to tell a story in reverse chronological order. VEENA DINAVAHI Awaiting Reply This piece was a collaboration with someone I no longer talk to. We addressed each other as A & L. I've removed all of the dear A sections, as we are no longer in touch, so I cannot obtain his permission----though I should add that his contribution is infinitely better than mine. Despite what happened, ours was a pure and happy collaboration, and I want to honor that, so----Awaiting Reply. ABBIGAIL ROSEWOOD You Sign The Papers on Sunday MEGAN LUNNY She'd Be "she'd be" is an erasure of an article from Elle Magazine's October 2019 issue, in which actress Naomi Ackie is being interviewed. This was my first attempt at black out poetry. From this interview, phrases jumped out of the page and I wanted to make a coming-of-age story with love and loss. Like the plot of a movie. CRYSTAL FORETIA Have an idea for a cool project you'd like us to feature here? Send us an email at with your thoughts! submissions@theunorthodocs.org