Finalist for MOE AWARDS 2018!

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photo source: newsroom.unl.edu

I am an official FINALIST for the Mark of Excellence Award in Feature Writing for 2018!

The Mark of Excellence Award is presented by the Society of Professional Journalists to collegiate student newspapers, journals, and writers.

 

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spj.org

My Finalist Article that I wrote for The Daily Utah Chronicle: 5 Horror Movies that Subvert Tropes of Gender, Race and Politics

I am so honored to be a finalist and to be selected in a pool of over 10,000 student writers! Even though I was not a winner this is a huge achievement. I want to thank The Daily Utah Chronicle, my Editors for the A&E desk, and my fellow staff writers.

Thank you!

-Alina

Currently Reading: Patti Smith, Hunter S. Thompson and Chuck Palahniuk

Hello!

I hope everyone is doing great! ~ I am at the tail end of my last semester and I have been reading like crazy. Last week was my spring break but unfortunately, I was sick the entire time. I spent a lot of time at home reading and started quite a few new books.

Here are my favorite books that I am currently reading.


 

Just Kids by Patti Smith

 

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Originally published in 2010, Patti Smith recounts her relationship and friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe

In the late 1960’s Smith journeyed to New York to pursue her career as an artist. She quickly met Mapplethorpe and the two started their long and intimate relationship.

So far, I am about halfway through the book and I absolutely love it. I am a huge admirer of Mapplethorpe and Smith and I have always wanted to read this book.

 

Stranger Than Fiction by Chuck Palahniuk

 

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This collection of non-fiction pieces were written by Chuck Palahniuk, the internationally known author of Fight Club. Chuck’s style and humor are at it’s best in these short essays which are centered around the unusual and perverse.

I love Chuck’s work, his style, voice, and choice of content. It is always refreshing to pick up a Palahniuk book, fiction or not, and be immersed in a world that bears all and doesn’t leave out the nasty details.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

 

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I was inspired to read some Thompson the week before spring break. I used to read a few stories of his every once in a while when I was 18 but haven’t really since (at the same time I was into Naked Lunch and the work of Irvine Welsh and Bret Easton Ellis). I decided to pick up this book and reacquaint myself with the drug addict and talented writer. It’s funny, scary, disgusting, and absolutely horrific~I love it.

 


 

Thank you for reading my work!

-Alina

Review of “Beyond Gatsby” by McParland

 

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I have finally finished Robert McParland’s “Beyond Gatsby: How Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Writers of the 1920s Shaped American Culture”

I loved this book completely. I do already have a serious interest in the 1920’s when it comes to literature, art, and music but McParland’s writing style and tone really pulled me in. I found myself reading full chapters in one sitting frequently because of this. McParland who is an associate professor of English at Felician College successfully contextualizes the effects of key writers from the 1920’s on American Culture which is still evident today.

My obsession with this particular time period and specifically Modernist literature is rooted in my observation that people today are going through similar changes in culture, technology, and social relations. I am always looking to this period for insight into how culture, America, and the world rapidly changes within only a few decades. This is something that I find very intriguing and I would really love to explore in my own writing someday.

This book is divided up into seven chapters, beginning appropriately with T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland and the world after the first World War. The second chapter is devoted to the two most well-known writers of the 1920’s, Fitzgerald and Hemingway. Then, where I was delightfully surprised, McParland took an expansive look at the entirety of America in the 1920’s rather than (what I have come across frequently in similar books) focus solely on Fitzgerald and Hemingway. In chapter three, Faulkner is discussed in detail with emphasis on his style and ability to give a unique voice to the South. Chapter four is about Modernism, Pound, and James Joyce. Again, another favorite for me, I am a devout Joyce fan and I have a serious reverence for Pound.

Chapter five discusses the midwestern writers of the U.S. which I had previously little to no real knowledge of. Focusing on Sinclair Lewis, Will Cather, and Sherwood Anderson, this chapter really begins to put the entire picture of the U.S. together at this specific time in terms of literature. Chapter six is all about city writing with Dreiser, Dos Passos, Yezierska, and of course Langston Hughes. This is a pivotal point in the book where McParland talks about the Harlem Renaissance which is in fact what I plan on studying next. In chapter seven, McParland explores the writers that were both historians and influential writers in terms of setting up America’s history with mythic elements. This last chapter talked about William Carlos Williams, one of my most beloved Poets, Stephen Vincent Benet, and John Steinbeck.

McParland’s approach to 1920’s literary influence on American Culture is specific. I believe he picked a particular approach to this discussion. This was a success in my opinion because at the same time McParland really provides a full picture of the entire U.S. during this time. Not only does McParland discuss literature but music, this was The Jazz Age, and he mentions art movements and the various writers that ultimately affected American writers during this time such as Gertrude Stein.

I would recommend this book to anyone curious about literature and culture of the 1920’s. McParland is clear when he addresses how fiction helped establish a general American Mythos of what it is to be American in the 20th century. Much like popular TV Shows, fashion, media, and movies today which all contribute in one way or another to an Americans identity today. Really fascinating book and I highly recommend it!

-Alina

How to Memorize a Poem

 

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Wikimedia Commons

 

One of the great tools of any Poet is memorization. Memorizing and reciting poetry can help a poet write, read, and study poetry. Memorizing poems can benefit your own poetry and writing. By following a few of these suggested steps, anyone can memorize a poem.

Pick a Poem to Memorize

Skim through a few of your favorite poetry books or search online. Find a poem that you like. It is easier to memorize poems that you like. It may be easier to memorize a poem if you have a printed copy. I would suggest having a printed copy of the poem and a few extra sheets of blank paper.

Find a Place to Read Poetry

Once you have your poem picked out, find a place you can study. A quiet place that has no distractions is ideal. Consider an empty room or a quiet spot at a park. Your place of study should be particular to you, find a place you feel comfortable and are familiar with.

Pick apart a Poem

Before you start memorizing, read the poem a few times over to familiarize yourself with it. Using a pen or highlighter, begin to mark off parts of the poem into smaller fragments. Separating the poem visually through line breaks, stanzas or couplets can help you tackle the poem a little at a time.

Memorizing a Poem

Take an extra sheet of blank paper and cover the poem. Reveal your marked fragments by moving the blank paper over the poem as you recite the poem slowly out loud. Reciting poetry out loud can help you memorize faster. Try to mimic the rhythm of the poem as you recite. Can you recognize parts of the poem when you recite? Can you visualize the poem on the page in your mind?

Poems to Memorize

It will take time to memorize a poem. The poems length, form, and style can all contribute to the amount of time it may take you. I recommend picking a shorter poem first such as William Carlos Williams “The Red WheelBarrow”. Starting with smaller poems can help you get used to memorizing. After a bit of practice and a few poems ready to recite, pick harder poems.

Harder poems can include William Shakespeare’s Sonnets, John Donne’s “At the round earth’s imagined corners (Holy Sonnet 7)” or even John Milton’s “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent”. Memorizing a classic poem can help you study poetry. And conducting research can provide you with valuable knowledge about a poem. Knowing the history, cultures, and societies in which poem was written can add to the experience.

Benefits of Memorizing Poetry

If you are a Poet, Writer, or avid reader, memorizing poetry can help you gain further insight into literature and writing. As a Poet, memorization, and recitation are key. At some point, you may have to read a poem out loud and practice always helps. For writers, reading and studying writing no matter the form or style is crucial.

Regardless if you love to read poetry or if you are just curious. Reading and memorizing poems can help you in the future. Analyzing text, recitation and memorization all contribute to learning and retaining information. And it only takes a little bit of curiosity and one poem for someone to fall into poetry completing.

Thank you for reading!

-Alina

 

Currently Reading: Postmodernism, 1920s, and Fiction

This semester is pretty crazy for me as I am sure some of you have noticed I have not been posting as much because I have no time! My last semester is jam-packed and I’ve been reading a book a week alongside 200 pages of required reading for classes and writing up articles for my job at The Chrony.

Just to keep in touch,

Here is my current reading list (NOT including required reading for class)

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“Beyond Gatsby: How Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Writers of the 1920’s shaped American Culture” 

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“The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos”

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“Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen R.C. Hicks” 

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“Cinderella’s Big Score by Maria Raha” 

and still reading

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“Gotham Writers’ Workshop: Writing Fiction”

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“Dracula by Bram Stoker” (a regular ‘re-read’ of mine)

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“Frankenstein by Mary Shelley” (another regular ‘re-read’ of mine)


 

This is just a quick cap of what I am currently reading the real list is about 18 books.

I hope to have review posts finished within the next few weeks. The review posts will be on “Gotham Writers’ Workshop: Writing Fiction” and

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“Hemingway’s Paris: A User’s Guide by John Baxter” 

I read “Hemingway’s Paris” recently and found it to be extremely fascinating for its content and concise writing style.


 

Thank you to all my regular readers and followers for sticking with me! 

-Alina

Review of “Writers Gone Wild” by Bill Peschel

 

Writers Gone Wild: The Feuds, Frolics, and Follies of Literature's Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lovers, Iconoclasts, and Misanthropes

photo source: goodreads.com

 

 

I recently finished “Writers Gone Wild: The Feuds, Frolics, and Follies of Literature’s Great Adventurers, Drunkards, Lovers, Iconoclasts, and Misanthropes” by Bill Peschel. This book was interesting in that it contains numerous little facts about various western writers and poets. Most notable literary figures that are highlighted multiple times in this book include Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, and James Joyce among many others.

I found this book to be funny and pleasant to read after a long day. And the little fact snippets are very short making for easy and fast reading. Some snippets are just a paragraph while others are a couple of pages. The book is divided up into three parts, “On the Job”, “Off the Job” and “Everything Else”. The facts are not all ‘facts’ since most of the time possible rumors and hearsay at the time of their creation are discussed. Which I think makes this little collection all the more fascinating.

Bill Peschel writes with a humorous tone and fluid style that allows for enjoyable reading. And at the end of each little section, there is often bullet points of facts related to the story. I would say that anyone with a love for the modern classics of western literature should give this book a go. It would be enjoyed by the avid reader and book geek that finds themselves getting lost in a trail of Wikipedia pages in search of interesting speculations about their favorite authors. I recently conducted a two-hour meander on Wikipedia and online sources about one of my favorite writers, Bram Stoker. I was amazed to learn about his prevalence in the Irish Theatre scene and the fact that he was a personal assistant to the then-popular actor Henry Irving.  Of course, I don’t consider Wikipedia trustworthy but good for light curious reading now and then. “Writers Gone Wild” goes on my shelf as a good reference book that I may pick up again and skim through on a rainy day. It has an average rating of 3.3/5 stars. I honestly think it deserves better.

I hope that whoever reads this takes a little time to research the book and give it a chance. Thank you for reading my review and I hope that you will return in the future!

-Alina

 

What to Expect: Discussions and Book Reviews

Hello!

My last semester in college has now officially started and I am thrilled to be one step away from graduating. Because my workload is pretty heavy this semester my posts may seem sparse but I will not disappear completely.

What to Expect from me by the end of January and in February,

Book Reviews:

“Writers Gone Wild” by Bill Peschel

“Imaginations” by William Carlos Williams

“Gotham Writers’ Workshop: Writing Fiction”

Discussions:

I will be emphasizing on short short stories and fiction for the next few months due to my increasing interest in writing in both styles. If anyone has any suggestions or would like me to tackle a specific topic related to these styles please leave a comment below. I would love to have an online discussion on this topic and involve as many writers as possible.

Thank you to all my followers and regular readers that continue to stick with me and read my work! I am deeply grateful for your attention and dedication.

-Alina

 

Why I Write: Poetry #1

I want to play around a bit and start up a new series of posts that I plan on continuing into the New Year. I will call this series “Why I Write” and I will talk briefly about the various forms, styles, and interests that I have.

For this one, I want to open up a discussion on the never-ending question as to why people choose to write and/or read poetry. This will be a personal post, in that I will be pulling from my own experiences and background in writing poetry and maybe talk about where I’d like to go in the future.


 

Poetry #1: The Root of the Obsession

I did not get into Poetry until I was about 19 maybe 20 years old which was not that long ago for me. But in the span of the 4-5 years since then I have come a long way. I use to think that Poetry was some high-brow artistic form of writing that I would never be able to understand let alone write regardless of me already being an avid reader and dabbler in writing. This fear is not unknown to people who have been interested in Poetry and it is, in fact, a common trait. It is probably because of the literary history of Poetry and it’s importance to all civilizations in terms of culture and time that contribute to its somewhat intimidating prestige.

I was finally broken into poetry in one of my creative writing courses in 2011. In this course, I read Wittgenstein and Maggie Nelson among many others which finally cracked open the world of poetry and creative writing for me. Since then, I have never been the same and have found myself continually wanting to write and explore literature. In only a couple of years, my interests in literature led me to my routines today. I have read numerous books on writing, poetry, and fiction and have maintained a routine of writing for a minimum of one to two hours every day. What can I say about poetry, about writing?

If you love it, do it.

It’s worth it. I have discovered so much valuable knowledge and have worked hard to gain the experience that I have and hope to have in the future just from my unwavering love for writing poetry. It is the insatiable desire to learn, read, and write more that has led me to where I am now. It is humble times but it is a beginning of a future I hope is successful.

For me, I write because I feel like I need to and I would love to open up a discussion for other writers/bloggers and ask, why do you write? and when did it start to become something serious for you?

Please leave responses in the comments below. If you would like for me to write on a topic related to this let me know.


 

Thank you for reading my work! I hope you will return in the future! 

-Alina

Book Review: Making a Poem by Miller Williams

 

photo source: amazon.com

 

I recently finished reading, Making a Poem: Some Thoughts About Poetry and the People Who Write It by Miller Williams who was a former inaugural poet for the Clinton administration.

This was an interesting read in that Williams looked at writing poetry from angles I had not previously considered such as The Writer and The Editor, The Scientist and The Humanist, and Translate. These are all chapters that begin in the middle to end of the book and discuss relationships between being a writer and the editor, with personal experience from Williams in both positions. The Scientist and The Humanist is a dialogue between Williams and another on the similarities between scientific thinking and the efforts of humanism and particularly how these are mimetic to writing poetry, or what poetry tries to achieve. And lastly, the subject Translate, which is on translating poetry into English or vice versa. Translation being a critical part of the literary world that can often have detrimental effects on the work itself: a beautiful line can be altered into a wobbly ugly thing if a translation fails.

These particular topics were intriguing to me, since I had some inkling of them but have never really read any serious discussion on them. Reading Williams perceptions and responses on these topics helped me gain more insight and information from a reliable source. Overall, I would recommend this book to those interested in reading about writing Poetry in a loose manner. It is not very rigid, and it is definitely not a “how-to” manual but nevertheless, it provides valuable insight into Poetry.

Thank you for reading my work! I hope you will return in the future! 

-Alina

 

Personal Response: Surviving 2017 in the Trump Era

Back in November, I made a brief announcement post that I was planning on writing my personal response to ‘Surviving 2017 in the Trump Era’ and the reoccurring theory that college students are being brainwashed into becoming liberals. This is exactly that.

NOTE: This is my own reflection. I am not assuming a voice for all those opposed to Trump. Anyone has the right to disagree or agree with what I am saying but do realize this is my own personal response. I am not looking for battles or arguments. I think it is beneficial for people to reflect on an entire year like this one, in one form or another to help them gain insight into themselves and the changing world around them. 


 

The results of the election last year were devastating. Not only had Trump won but suddenly the surreal feeling of living in a twilight zone-like reality began. Watching Trump’s inaugural speech on January 20th on TV, the strange and gloomy streets as he paraded in Washington D.C. Suddenly, it felt like something had dramatically changed. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it but now I think I’ve realized what it was that I felt. This was the beginning of a new time, a new block of time that would have to be sectioned off, highlighted, and analytically picked apart day by day in the future. It has been termed an Era: The Era of Trump. I think this term is correct because now it is apparent 2017 is the start of another chapter in U.S. history.

The Women’s March, protests, petitions, and rumors of impeachment have all added to the growing feeling of tension and unrest in the U.S. Two sides were emerging; in support of POTUS and vehemently against. This divide has become stronger and more resolute as news coverage, tweets, and speeches which all contribute to the obvious reality that the POTUS may be extremely irrational and dangerous. There is little room to breathe when his ego is threatened when his words are analyzed and questioned when his behavior is criticized as being inappropriate and extremely insensitive. But the division between pro and anti-Trump supporters is creating unsafe spaces full of animosity and possibly dangerous eruptions.

After the first month, sleepless and admittedly paranoid, it felt like everything suddenly went into full gear. Every week on the news, every day, Trump words and actions have become a horrifying reality show in that his actions have actual repercussions throughout the U.S. and the World. I have come to terms with the fact that now I have to spend the next three years watching this man puff up and prance his way through international relations. That his arrogance now puts Americans at risk and that his agenda, selective and suspicious, is equally threatening to minorities in America. It has become more and more apparent that Trump’s ideologies may be reflecting in his actions as POTUS.But it hasn’t only been Trump’s behavior that has made the first year of this Era disturbing and shocking but its been his reactions to the horrible and tragic events throughout the year including protests, shootings, and hurricane devastation.

Charlottesville was a turning point. The protest turned violent and deadly, the POTUS fumbled and went back and forth on his own response to the events. The ‘Unite the Right’ rally featured white supremacists, who try to camouflage their hate and identity with terms such as ‘white nationalist’, protesting the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. Counter protestors were present and violence quickly ensued. Finally, counter-protestor Heather D. Heyer was killed when a white nationalist plowed his car into the crowd.

Trump’s response was inappropriate and strange. I think his words will be highlighted and remembered forever as he said there was blame “…on many sides.” This did not make sense, it still doesn’t. Suddenly people who do not believe in hate, racism, and bigotry were equated with white supremacists? Both parties were somehow guilty? This is when I think America finally began to understand where the POTUS stood in terms of hate, racism, and bigotry if they hadn’t already clued in with his behavior before the presidency. It was so apparent when his quick on the draw tweets and responses were delayed…possibly for once a response was being thought over by Trump himself before coming out of his mouth.

Personally, I was not surprised by Trump’s response but I was devastated by the violence and death. I have been conducting research since then on white supremacist groups. My findings are horrifying and I am now more aware than ever that America may have to again fight against racism (a never-ending fight) on a publically large-scale level similar to that of the civil rights movements of the 1960’s. (Oftentimes I found that white supremacist groups say they are not racists but just have certain beliefs regarding who should be a recognized citizen, including who should have rights, which for them means only specific people of white European-descent. Their definition of what an ‘American’ is, rests solely on their beliefs of race) Not only have I realized this but as a college student, I have been approached by multiple people who tell me I am being brainwashed to become a liberal.

After some research on this theory, I learned that the infamous Ben Shapiro has written a book on this ‘brainwashed liberal’ concept among many other self-proclaimed conservatives. Ben Shapiro actually came to my University this year and gave a talk, it was highly protested and at the same time, his supporters (fellow students) were large in numbers which is unsettling and disturbing. I recognize now that since this event my campus has felt completely different. I have also noticed how Salt Lake City’s local news appears to have their own biases about events such as this. This is not new and it has become harder and harder to find a reasonably unbiased news source that will tell the truth and report what happened without taking their own spin on stuff. This little theory (liberals are brainwashed) is not new but has been present for a very long time. But this is the first year ever, in the six years I have been a college student that anyone has told me this. Now I am left feeling confused and offended. I have worked my ass off to graduate next spring. I have had to save my own money, pay my own tuition, and just this year take out two small loans so I can graduate. To be told that somehow my education is brainwashing me is humorous and ridiculous.

If being taught that diversity and unity among all peoples regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, and religion (to name a few) is wrong, this belief only tells me that people opposed to a higher education don’t believe that our society can function if it is diverse. I am assuming here that being deemed a ‘brainwashed liberal’ means that I am being brainwashed to believe in equality and rights for everyone; brainwashed to believe it is possible that one day people will be judged on the quality of their character not the color of their skin, sexual orientation, gender, or religious or cultural background.

Higher education isn’t available to everyone and is treated as more of a commodity than anything else and I can understand how this commodity can be manipulated to indoctrinate young adults into particular beliefs and ideologies both pro-diversity and against. But it does not makes sense to me that a higher education means I am being brainwashed. If anything I have been taught to read carefully, analyze, extrapolate, and critique everything that is available to me. After all of this, I am encouraged to give my own response, pull from own experience and education, and ultimately think. It should be noted that at my own university there are Ben Shapiro and Trump supporters and possibly even white nationalists. I am never forced to believe anything, I am given the opportunity to choose, as I think most people do. I am taught to think critically. I am also continuously taught to question my own education, including my university. If being brainwashed means to question everything, think critically, and believe in possibility then fine. I would rather be deemed a brainwashed liberal just because I have a higher education than believe everything on the news, believe the words of our POTUS, believe conspiracy theories in circulation and believe in the fear of change. I never proclaimed myself a liberal but have been labeled one from the very beginning. If this is what I am recognized as by those labeling me then so be it.

Also, If having Trump as POTUS is what it takes for the U.S. to wake up and realize we need to address specific issues that have continued to be swept under the rug or falsely believed to be ‘solved’ then so be it. This is the time for change to happen. This is not a time to be silent and pretend that something isn’t already happening in our country. The political turmoil, the continual protests on “both sides”, the issue of sexual harassment, these events are crucial in understanding that right now is not the time to stick our heads in the sand. We must be vocal and supportive and uphold the rights that we have worked so long and so hard to gain as Americans. If a diverse society cannot be, or cannot function, if a belief in rights and equality for all people in this country is not possible then our country would be exactly the same as it was in previous centuries. If it is not possible then why did change happen in the past?

Ultimately with everything that has happened this year and my own personal experiences, I have come to the conclusion that there it is no survival but endurance.

This is already a long post, and if you’ve read this far I want to thank you for your time. It has been difficult trying to put my thoughts into words and try to come to some kind of conclusion. If I do not stop now I could go on for pages about these two topics forever. How I feel now versus at the beginning of the year has changed that’s true but I find myself instilled with even more passion than before. I have more courage now to write.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my writing. I hope you will return in the future.

To my regular readers and loyal followers Thank you so much for your support.

-Alina