November Reading List

Hello! Here (a few days late) is the list of all the awesome stuff I read in November:

  • House Carpenter,” also known as “The Daemon Lover”—an old Scottish ballad. I have three different versions of it on my November Spotify playlist (Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Nickel Creek), and I was straight-up obsessed with it for like four days. Creepiest/best lyrics I’ve heard in a long time
  • Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  • Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,” by William Wordsworth
  • Frost at Midnight,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • These poems by June Jordan
  • Some random stuff by John Clare
  • The Monk Dilemma,” by Cameron Stewart
  • Parsley,” by Rita Dove
  • These poems by Anna Akhmatova, plus just the Wikipedia page about her life in general (“Snow” is my favorite poem of hers)
  • Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
  • Babi Yar,” by Yevgeni Yevtushenko
  • Lies,” by Yevgeni Yevtushenko

Happy reading, and happy December!! I’m weirdly hoping it gets colder here soon, just so that being in a wintery mood can feel more natural. I haven’t really been listening to any Christmas music because it still feels so unseasonable. It snowed once in early November and it’s been fairly warm since then. I don’t ordinarily hope for snow, so the season is off to a weird start for me.

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New story up on Bad Pony!

Hey everyone! Last year I wrote a piece of horror/fantasy-ish flash fiction for The Michigan Daily’s Story Slam. I hadn’t done much with this type of writing in the past (either fantasy or flash fiction, come to think of it), but I’m very happy to report that as of today, that piece has been published by Bad Pony Magazine! It’s called “The August Yield,” it’s about a zombie-ish-type boy and a farm, and you can read it here.

Even cooler than that is the fact that this issue features so many other awesome people, too. One of them is actually an old classmate of mine from high school, Dean Symmonds, who does some really amazing work with poetry. I was so excited to see zir name when I was checking out the poetry section of the issue, and both of zir poems are obviously just plain great.

So anyway, I’m pumped to see my work in Bad Pony, alongside the work of Dean and so many other talented people. (The magazine is also based out of my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana, which adds a whole new layer of coolness for me.) The homepage of the website can be found here, so feel free to click around at will.

Arbwriters Fall Retreat

This is going to be a short post because it’s late at night and I have to wake up at like 6 am  tomorrow(/today) to do revisions.

(Brief aside: I honestly suck when it comes to deadlines. Like my attitude is literally “if it’s due on Thursday afternoon, why would I do it anytime before Thursday morning?” Which I know is maybe bad. I’m trying to change. (Except not really. I’m trying to do a lot of other things. I can focus on changing my bad habits later.))

ANYWAY: the Arbwriters had a fall writing weekend in Detroit!!

IMG_20171028_192053.jpgThat’s us, getting ready to eat an amazing dinner. Photo credits to Vahid, and dinner credits to Will Toms. Brooke and I had to do a lot of weird furniture maneuvering to make all of this table space possible, which I for one was very proud of.

This was personally my second time getting together with everyone for an in-person retreat thingy (I’m pretty sure I wrote about the first one here, too — it was the one back at the end of the summer, the one where I learned about ceiling tables). It was honestly so much fun. There were writing and revising times, and there were friend times. That’s about as articulate as I’m capable of being right now, I’m sorry. But it’s important that there were both — both types of times, that is.

I don’t really have a point, but I’ll try to make one up here anyway: If you’re a writer, find yourself some writer friends. It will make things so much better. If you’re lucky, they won’t just be your writer friends, they’ll be your friends friends as well. I’ve always invested a lot of time into writing in terms of class scheduling and extracurriculars and that sort of thing, so it’s often worked out for me like that anyway. And if you don’t know where to start, just hit me up! I will be your writer friend. See, now you have truly no excuse.

October Reading List

For the sake of just generally writing more here, I’ve decided I’m going to start posting lists at the end of each month of everything I’ve spent that month reading. I figure even if this will be of use to absolutely nobody else, it’ll at least be a good way for me to keep track of everything I’ve been reading lately. And who knows, maybe it’ll even motivate me to start reading more — although, what with all of my classes and everything, I don’t really know if I have room for that type of motivation in my life.

Anyway, here is everything I read in October! (And for your reading pleasure, I’m cutting out anything too boring and/or irrelevant.)

  • The Haunting of Hill House (by Shirley Jackson), which I actually wrote an article about here for The Michigan Daily
  • We Were Eight Years in Power (by Ta-Nehisi Coates), which I reviewed for the Daily here
  • The Ballad of the Sad Café (by Carson McCullers), and the short stories included with it (my favorites were “A Domestic Dilemma” and “Wunderkind,” which McCullers wrote and published when she was still a teenager!)
  • Dracula (by Bram Stoker)
  • H.R. 40, which I learned about while reading one of the essays in We Were Eight Years in Power, “The Case for Reparations”— it’s a very important government document that I didn’t even know existed before
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Daddy’s World,” by Walter Jon Williams
  • “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • “This Lime-tree Bower My Prison,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • These scary poems

That’s about all I can think of for now! Have fun checking out any and/or all and/or none of those. And Happy November!

HALLOWEEN SONGS!

It’s been sort of a while since I’ve posted something, so I’ve got TWO SCARY SONGS here, and this is sooo writing-unrelated because I didn’t even write either of these songs myself, but anyway, they’re both scary and creepy, so here they are.

This is a cover of “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. (Amanda Seyfried did a semi-popular cover of it and that was the first version I ever heard, so that ‘s why it’s labeled with her name.) I performed it at my house’s open mic a couple of weeks ago, and my friend and housemate Qianru was awesome enough to record it!

This one is a cover of “Shankill Butchers” by The Decemberists. The way I originally heard this song had some of the words changed, and it was sort of difficult for me to try to sing them here, the way they were originally written, without reverting back to that.

I have written a couple of scary songs on my own, but I’m not going to post either of them here or anywhere, at least not anytime soon. (One is about the Salem witch trials, and it’s okay but it’s definitely not finished yet; the other is a rewriting of “Pirate Jenny” from The Threepenny Opera, and like the original, it’s pretty extreme.)

So those are my Halloween songs! Two days late, but all the same, happy Halloween!!!!!

LHSP Release Party

This post will be short because I’m trying to get to bed before midnight, which is 8 minutes away so I’m really racing the clock. But tonight was the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program’s literary magazine release party, which I thought was worth mentioning!! (Shout out to the title of the magazine, which is literally “Things Worth Mentioning”.) My Caldwell-winning poems, “How Was Your Trip?” and “Winter in Oz,” were published in this year’s anthology, alongside a ton of awesome work from other current and former LHSP students. I took a picture so you can see what the cover looks like (along with a random corner of my bedroom):

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I flipped through the anthology as much as I could before people started reading, and there’s some really awesome work in it, some of it written by people I know and have studied with! I also got to read “Winter in Oz” tonight, and to hear some of the other published work read aloud. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned LHSP here a lot before, but at any rate I’ll say again that I’m so glad to be a part of such a creative and supportive community.

In unrelated news, I got three things today: two of them were rejections (holla @ my haterz) and one of them was my copy of New American Stories edited by Ben Marcus!!!!

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(A moment of appreciation for the line “You have to stare down a story until it wobbles, yields, then catapults into your face.”)

I took that photo with my bed as the background, so you can tell I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here. I guess I’m just so proud of myself for knowing how to embed images in a post that I want to show off that skill as much as possible. Anyway, this collection looks great, I’ve already read two of the stories for my fiction class and I can’t wait to check out more.

Okay and it’s midnight, so that’s all my content for tonight! Peace out!!

Late Summer Recap!

It’s been a long time since I last posted here! I would say it was because I’ve been really busy, but in truth that would only account for the first week or two. After that I started watching Game of Thrones, and that was sort of that.

The good news is that all of the stuff I have been busy with has been really exciting! Last weekend, I went on a writers’ retreat with the Ann Arbor Writers Workshop. We spent two days at a cabin in the woods in Lake, Michigan, reading and writing and workshopping each other’s pieces. There were also plenty of s’mores. I’ve had so much fun being a part of the workshop remotely this summer, and it was great to hang out with everybody in person and to get some writing done as well.

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While we were there, I started reading Stranger in a Strange Land, which has totally knocked me off my feet so far. There’s a brave nurse who risks her job and her life to do what’s right! There’s a journalist who gets arrested for being too heroic! There are sky taxis and Martians! And why haven’t ceiling tables been invented yet? (They hang from the ceiling and you can lower them to whatever height you want, and they never touch the floor or mess up your carpet or anything! I seriously can’t get over this.)

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While I’m on the subject of the writers’ retreat, I have some more delayed news: one of our members, Vahid Arefi, placed last month as the runner-up in Round 2 of Midwestern Gothic’s Summer Flash Fiction Contest! You can read his piece, “Unwed,” here.

On a more general note, summer is ending! This time next week, I’ll be back at school in Ann Arbor, taking classes and doing homework. Ordinarily, by this point in the summer, I’d feel a little resigned and maybe regretful that I hadn’t spent more time doing such-and-such (usually writing) during all of my free time. I do have a couple of regrets — I started writing a couple of songs that I never quite finished, and I never ended up going to the state fair — but I realized recently that I’ve done A TON of writing this summer! Granted, U of M’s summer is crazy long (four whole months!), so I’ve had a ton of time, but I still feel unusually good about this. Over the course of the summer, I’ve written two short stories, four short short stories, an essay, a couple of poems, a couple of songs, a crap ton of journalism (for my internship), and most of a novel. I don’t feel like doing the math to add up how many words that is, so I’ll just say it’s enough to leave me feeling really good about my summer.

Of course, I’m expecting school to be a different story — I’ll have homework to think about when I’m not working, not to mention various clubs and co-op-related activities. And (no point in lying here) I can already tell that until I’m all caught up on Game of Thrones, that’s going to be a bit of a time-consumer of its own. But I’m still determined to hit the ground running! I’m taking two separate creative writing classes this semester, a workshop and a tutorial, and my work can’t overlap between the two of them, which means I’ll likely be doing more fiction-writing this semester than I’ve ever done before.

So by December, depending on how I spend my time, I could either end up with quite a lot of carefully revised short stories I’m really happy with and ready to submit to publications and contests, or a handful of slipshod stories I didn’t try very hard to make awesome and don’t care to look at anymore. Either way, a lot of stories, but I know which outcome I’d prefer. Stay tuned to find out which path I choose!

And most importantly, I hope anybody who’s reading this has had a terrific summer! Happy September!

Caldwell Update– Winning Pieces

I already wrote about this a while ago, but this spring I was lucky enough to win the Alumni/Written Category of LHSP’s Caldwell Poetry Competition, although I submitted five poems and wasn’t sure which had won. Last week I got an email letting me know that two pieces of mine are going to be published in the LHSP Arts & Literary Journal! The poems are “Winter in Oz” (which reimagines Dorothy’s journey through Oz as something actually difficult) and “How Was Your Trip?” (a poem I wrote for my mom after babysitting my younger siblings alone for a week). I’ve had “Winter in Oz” sitting around for a particularly long while, so it’s good to have somewhere to put it finally. I’ve thought before about adapting it into a short story (mostly just because I got bored one time and wrote the first paragraph on my phone), but we’ll see if I’m ever in a dreary enough mood.

Nashville Summer (original song)

Here’s another song of mine! This was only the first or second one I ever wrote, so I’m aware of how cheesy the lyrics are and I apologize. I guess that’s what being a freshman in college does to a person.

Also, fun fact, this song is not about the Nashville you’re probably thinking of.

Next Time (original song)

I’m finally starting the process of posting some of my original songs on YouTube (which thankfully makes this a lot more relevant for this blog)!

This song I actually recorded a while ago, and then never uploaded it because the guitar sounded really soft and I wanted to try redoing it. But yesterday I decided I was just going to be lazy about it and upload it as it was! So here it is!