Poetic pair

Although twins Allen and Isaac Liao share the same love for poetry, their styles and reasons for writing are vastly different.


Sean Brown

Isaac Liao ’20 and Allen Liao ’20 have written numerous poems which cover serious topics such as depression and isolation.

The high expectations and pressure placed on many high school students can often cause depression and anxiety. In many cases, high-achieving students do not have many outlets for escape and self-reflection. For Allen Liao ‘20 and Isaac Liao ‘20, their preferred route was through poetry.

Isaac was first inspired to write rhymes by christian rapper NF.

“NF raps about something real,” said Isaac. “A lot of people like Drake or Lil Uzi Vert, but they rap about money and drugs. NF just raps about other people in his life like his family and his wife.”

Like NF,  then began to put his rhymes to music.

“I tried to find good beats on YouTube, write some lyrics that correspond with them and then rap, but it didn’t really work out,” said Isaac.

Undeterred, Isaac chose to join Spoken Word Club to improve on his writing and rapping abilities.

“I went to spoken word club last year and it really inspired me to write more,” said Isaac. “There I wrote “Unsteady”, a poem about past, present and future.”

Noticing his brother’s blooming passion for poetry, Allen decided to give it a shot himself, but did not pursue writing raps. Like his brother, Allen had been struggling through bitter arguments and disagreements with their mother over their conflicting priorities.

Even though you’re in the same place, you can learn to enjoy life from different perspectives and get out of your own self, and poetry helps you do that a lot.”

— Allen Liao

“We disappoint my mother a lot,” said Allen. “She just had a build up over grades and how we choose to live, specifically like how we don’t do chores because we think they’re useless.”

The arguments soon began affecting Allen, his outlook on the world turning bleak. Turning to poetry, Allen was able to come to terms with his situation.

“I found poetry is like a therapy session for myself,” said Allen. “You understand yourself by what you can and cannot articulate. You also understand your most dominant emotion and the worst part you’re hurt about.”

Besides offering Allen a healthy avenue of release, writing original poetry gave him a level of creativity that was looked down upon in his culture.

“I lived in Taiwan for most of my life and I went to public school there,” said Allen. “Creativity doesn’t exist there, there is no choice in what you learn. Here I like how teachers reward creativity and reward difference.”

Although they maintain different styles, both Liao twins share the belief that reflection on perspective is the source of greatest value from writing poetry. For Isaac, writing poetry has helped him gain more control over his emotions.

“We grow as people so our perspectives change and the things we write about change,” said Isaac. “When I first started I was angry and depressed, but now its like I’m more in control and more myself.”

Conversely, poetry has helped Allen find strength to persevere.

“A lot of times you don’t have new things to write but you have new perspectives you can look at. Even though you’re in the same place, you can learn to enjoy life from different perspectives and get out of your own self, and poetry helps you do that a lot.”

To check out Allen’s poetry, click this link to his personal website.