Rafael Zepeda at Gatsby Books

In the the last few days of February, Rafael Zepeda read at Gatsby Books in Long Beach. The bookstore reserved the night for an open-mic poetry night in which he was the featured poet. Before he read, others in attendance were invited to come up on stage and read their own poetry. Rows of white light bulbs webbed the edges of the bookstore and dangled on the stage behind the poets.

I don’t remember much from that night, at least not from the others who read. I didn’t arrive at the bookstore early enough to get a seat, so instead I stood in the back.  It was very difficult for me to pay attention when someone read their poetry. Not because I had to stand, Gatsby Books is small enough that I was still able to get a good view from where I stood, but because quite a few people near me and even others further in the back were having conversations. Also, since the bookstore was still “open” for business an occasional customer would happen to come in and add to the already annoying commotion at the cash register. Despite all that, when the time came for Rafael to read, everyone respectfully listened in silence.

My Thoughts on Criticism and Editing

There are differences, really, I swear. First let’s go with the “textbook” definition of each term –

Criticism – The analysis and judgment of a literary or artistic work: “methods of criticism supported by literary theories”

Editing – Prepare (written material) for publication by correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying it.

The difference essentially is that criticism is a form of educated feedback – it’s saying what is strong about the piece and what is lacking. Editing is correction to a piece – which is taking the work away from the original author, which is fine if you are an editor or asked to correct someone’s grammar or are asked to rework a piece, but, I feel, has no place in criticism.

It is not the job of the critic to rewrite the work; that’s what someone editing does.

Weekly Review – Week 2

So, in truth, we haven’t been getting as many user-submitted pieces to share and critique on here as we would have liked. The point of the weekly section is to have users send in their work they would like feedback on. This can be done anonymously if the reader wishes, and the poem or short story or other work is posted up here for a week for the editors and readers of the blog to post helpful feedback on.

That being said, here’s a flash fiction piece by Nicole Neitzke, author and English major extraordinaire, titled “Compulsive.”

The clock ticks away the morning as I begin my daily routine: Make the bed. Straighten the bed. Straighten the bed again. Add throw pillows. The coffee maker was preset and spits the dark roast into a travel mug as I stroll into the kitchen. Two eggs over-easy and one piece of toast with light butter. One glass of 2% milk and one ripe orange. It was four breakfast items, an even number. I set two places at the table, though I always eat alone. I use my normal blue table setting, placing one mismatched green mug with a re-glued handle across from me. I sit and eat my meal in ten minutes. Take my shower, brush my teeth, curl my hair, then get dressed. As I sit down to do my make-up in the remaining ten minutes of my morning ritual, I feel something is amiss.

Well, thanks. We like you too.

We’ve just gotten one hundred and one followers on this blog and we wanted to say thank you! The blog, little over a month old, is the love child of multiple English majors who just wanted to have fun and start a community. We’re very excited to have 100 followers and we look forward to bombarding you all with writing things and poetry stuffs.

Cheers to you!

Wine is appropriate for poetry - right?
Wine is appropriate for poetry – right?

– Amanda Riggle

On Revision

When writing, revision can be both the most gratifying aspect of the process, and the same time, the most paralyzing. On the one hand, you have a chance to polish off your work, to shape it into the magnum opus you imagined one day while daydreaming on the john. It’s undeniably important. But, in my experience, if you entertain the need to revise while writing, you won’t get anywhere. So first, a little on the virtues of revision.

A former professor once told me that when you step back from a piece and return a while later, you effectively have a new set of eyes on your work. You can chalk it up to temperament (maybe you skipped breakfast the day you started writing, or found a parking ticket on your windowshield). Or it may be a matter of perspective; at the risk of sounding like a popcorn psychologist, we grow every day, and the “you” of tomorrow might be more capable of writing that piece than the “you” of today.

Kerouac’s Stamp Addiction and McCarthy in Drag: Literary Gossip at its Best

Did you know…

Jack Kerouac was addicted to licking stamps.

Cormac McCarthy dresses up as “sexy Betsy Ross” on Halloween every year.

The above  rumors were found on Vice.com‘s list of one hundred literary rumors. While reading them, I, of course, laughed, but I also wondered how these rumors began and whether or not there was any truth to them, because for the life of me, I can’t get the image of Kerouac, hair a mess and eyes blood shot, writing On The Road on a stamp-induced high out of my mind. Below are some more interesting, literary rumors from Vice’s list:

Gertrude Stein was on the payroll of the New York Mets.

Virginia Woolf passed the bar exam in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Maine.

J. K. Rowling lost all the money she earned from the first four books of Harry Potter due to slot-machine addiction.

Image from Collider.com
J.K. Rowling (image from Collider.com)

Kill Shakespeare


The other day, during that precious time between school and work, I decided to spend a few minutes in one of the local comic book stores on my way to work. I didn’t plan on buying anything, just browse through a couple of boxes of back issues and check out the new issues that had been released earlier that week. Nothing in particular sparked any interest, that is until I drifted into the abyss of the indie section and found a single issue of Kill Shakespeare.

I had no idea what this comic book was about, nor did I know what to expect from it. Shakespeare Comics. It only took that one quick thought for my instincts to urge me to purchase it immediately. Soon after I would come to find out what I was really in for, don’t worry only good things, trust.

Poetry on YouTube!

Aside from having a general appreciation for poetry and recognizing how much more intense it can be when engaging you beyond the page, there are a number of reasons or scenarios why you might watch or listen to poetry performances on YouTube:

1) You can’t make it to/can’t afford to attend an upcoming open mic or poetry event.

2) You need something to listen to while doing the dishes or working out at home, but you’re tired of everything in your iTunes library.

3) You’re curious.

4) You’re bored.

5) You want to be cheered, inspired, touched, infuriated, surprised, or all of the above.

Below is a short list of some of my personal favorite poetry performance clips on YouTube:

Sarah Kay, “Private Parts”: 

Drunk Poetry

The question of the day is: how does alcohol and poetry mix? Below are my humble opinions on the subject.

Tequila; lime optional.

Oh tequila, my old friend. I don’t think I could write a poem after drinking you. I just become so damn happy and talkative. I might think the words that are coming out of my mouth are the most poetic thing to ever touch the ears of the people around me, but alas, one drink of tequila is never enough. Whether it comes in shot form, margarita form, sunrise form, or other mixed drink forms, one sip is always followed by another and then another. I really like tequila. So, after a few drinks, my words are not poetic as much as they are incoherent. Don’t drink and drive, by the way. I just thought I should throw that out there since I’m talking about drinking and coherency levels. It’s bad kids. Real bad.

April Assignment Poetry Selection

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s the assignment for the April Monthly Poetry Assignment:

Base assignment: use color in your poem. This can be as simple as using one word in your poem (for example, blue) or making a whole poem with the theme of color. It’s up to you!

Intermediate assignment: in addition to the base assignment, use a contrasting image someplace in your poem. This is common in sonnets, such as Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20 with the match up of “master-mistress.” Other common contrasting images used in poetry include light and dark, heavy and light, fire and ice. Feel free to step outside of the immediate examples and create your own contrasting images.

Advanced assignment: in addition to the base and intermediate assignment, use this photo to inspire your poem in some sort of fashion (outside of the color alone):


Here are the top 3 poems of April and why I picked them.