Waves of life

Songwriting winner siphons inspiration from strength of tsunami victims

Watching video of the devastating Asian tsunami aftermath struck a creative chord with 17-year-old Brenna Daldorph.

Overcome with emotion from visions of the destruction that claimed 170,000 lives, the Lawrence High School junior was inspired to write a song, "Waves of Life," that reflected the "make a difference" theme for the Journal-World's annual songwriting contest.

"It happened on such a big scale, and I think that's why it affected me so much," said Daldorph, the winner of the Journal-World's contest that was held in conjunction with USA Weekend's national contest.

A kind gesture by one of her friend's little sisters also pulled at the budding songwriter's heartstrings.

"For her birthday party, instead of asking for presents, she asked to have donations for tsunami victims," Daldorph said. "That a little girl would do that is so nice. We sent in money, and so did family and friends."

Creative writing comes naturally for Daldorph. Her father, Brian, is a poet and English professor at Kansas University. Her sister, Lucy, a 13-year-old at Central Junior High, assisted her on "Waves of Life."


Mike Yoder/Journal-World Photo

'Waves of life'
By Brenna Daldorph

Without warning, the waves crashed in.
Nothing was how it had been.
You can make a difference
It's up to you and me
To reach our hands across the lands
and help anyone in need.
He saw the picture on TV --
A flooded house, a broken family.
He sent his coins across the sea
To a wave-ravaged land.
It would take just a little longer
To buy drums for his band.
Repeat chorus.
Her house, her family -- they were gone.
She stood in line for oh so long,
But it was worth the wait.
She got some rice to fill her empty, broken plate.
Bandages patched her bloody knee
As she silently thanked people like you and me.
Repeat chorus.

"I've always enjoyed writing," said Brenna, who enjoys the music of Ben Folds and Counting Crows. "I just like art in general. I like music, too. I'm always listening to different things, so it seemed like a cool idea to write a song."

Her selection of the title was a no-brainer, she said.

"The waves of the tsunami were so destructive, but then by giving aid, better waves happen and it really is life to the people affected," she said.

One of her favorite lyrics in the song comes in the chorus: "To reach our hands across the lands."

"I was kind of humming those words," she said. "The important part of writing the song is if you can hum along to the words, then it'd sound more like a song than a poem."

Besides writing, Daldorph is involved in several other activities and clubs at LHS. She belongs to Young Democrats and Model U.N. She participates in theater and choreographed a song by Counting Crows, "Accidentally in Love," for Showtime, the school's annual musical variety show. (SEE IF THE SHOW GOT IN!!!)

If Daldorph had to pick an artist to perform her song, Ben Folds or the Counting Crows would be her choices.

"I think any artist could have a different take on it," she said. "So many artists have come together for the tsunami relief. I think people would be open to it."

Daldorph was encouraged to enter the songwriting contest by Joy Clumsky, creative writing teacher at LHS.

"She didn't even get any extra credit for it or anything," Clumsky said. "That's a true writer who wants to do something badly enough to do in addition to another project. She's very dedicated."

Clumsky said her creative writing class focused on the basic elements of poetry, rhythm, figures of speech and emotional intensity.

Audio interview with Journal-World songwriting contest winner Brenna Daldorph

"We worked very hard on finding the perfect word, circling all generic verbs and finding strong ones," she said. "I see that in her writing.

"So many people write things they call poems, and they aren't poems. They're just prose looking funny on the page."

Clumsky thought Daldorph's words were a natural fit for a song.

"If you write a really good poem with lots of rhythm and beautiful language, it can be put to music any time," Clumsky said. "The two are interchangeable."

Daldorph's and other songwriting entries to the Journal-World were forwarded to the USA Weekend contest, which drew approximately 10,000 entries. USA Weekend, inserted every Sunday in the Journal-World, plans to announce the national winner May 22.

Other contest entries:

The World

By Tony Anderson

Where do you see yourself,

In about twenty plus?

Do you see yourself with me,

Helping the community,

The world?

I see kids with no choice,

Addicted to crack at birth.

They're standing in this world alone.

Nobody cares what their life is worth.

Politician's thoughts come to mind:

"Only the strong survive."

I see beautiful women

In abusive relationships,

Constantly being hit,

Still too strong to quit.

Violence and hatred,

When's it going to stop?

Together, we can change the world.

I see politicians

Helping starving children,

And beaten women.

Who will help quell their fears,

In about twenty years?

Where do you see yourself,

In about twenty plus?

Do you see yourself with me,

Helping the community,

The world?


By Josh Edwards

The world around me is going insane,

Torn apart by divisiveness,

Children crying in pain.

So many people I can help today.


Every day I can make a difference.

I just have to lift up myself and try.

With a smile I make a difference

In someone else's life.

I just have to lift up myself and try.

With the world torn apart with genocide,

I wonder what I can do.

I send money and hope, to help them cope.

I get others to help by my side.

When the hungry and battered cry, I send food,

But I still wonder what I can do.

Every day, I try to lift up another life,

All I ask is, you try too.

Chorus x2

Tear Away From Your Fears

By Ian Adema

Infected with hate,

Feeling no worth,

Anger consumes them.

They feel no one loves them.

Driving out anguish,

They end their lives

And others in bloodshed.

Look at all the pain around you.

Take time for a word of kindness.

Take time for a simple smile.

Take time to show him

He's so much more than worthless.

Rejected in life,

Wanting to die,

Depression consumes her.

The world only shuns her,

Ending her life.

They mourn her last breath.

Look at all the hate around you.

Take time for a word of kindness.

Take time for a simple smile.

Take time to show her

She's so much more than worthless.

A World's Prayer

By Chayme Chavez

Everyone asks, "Why can't we just get along?"

I ask the same question.

If they would just listen to what we say,

Then maybe this world would be what God really created.


Can you see what this is doing

To all the families?

You've got to just let it alone, and this world will be happy.

Stop trying to fight their war.

Where do we go from here? None of this smoke is clear.

I can't see, breathe, hear, for those guns are killing people.

Hear my cry. Let this pain die, not our brothers and sisters.

I pray this world will heal.

We have got to let go of the hurt and be what God wants us to be.

(Repeat Chorus)

World of Difference

By Ashley Caldwell

It's taken days and nights

To make me realize

I'm not the only one

Yearning to save this phobic world.

I'm still searching for a place

To hide when the coldness seeps in

From beneath the door.

Loving the world may not be the answer.

I'm wishing we could settle

For the love offered every day.

Roaming through the windless nights,

I'm searching for a way to make a difference.

Wanting my smile to light up the room,

I dream of a place with no fear.

A place to stir the sleeping past

INto a future of beauty.

Filling the incomplete spaces

I seek a way to save the world.

One person at a time,

Just dreaming to make a difference.

Don't Wait in Line

By Heidi TenPas

Today's a dream

Waiting to be awoken


There's a barrier

Waiting to be broken


There's a vision

Waiting to be conveyed


There's a difference

Waiting to be made


So don't wait in line

Child, now is your time

Flash a smile

Lend a hand

Plant your seeds

To save the land

For every step you take

There's another you can give

With every difference your life makes

A better life another lives


There's a song

Waiting to be spoken


There's a soul

Waiting to be unbroken


There's a child

Waiting to be saved


There's a difference

Waiting to be made


Yayeyeah today is yours to take

Every difference yours to make


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