Found Poetry, “Alternative Hip-Hop Twitter Edition”

by David Hurtado

What is life if we can’t find art in everyone of its facets. As I scroll through my Twitter feed various times a day it is very easy to find myself gliding through generic images of “places I’d rather be right now”, ridiculous Vines, and partisan tweets about why Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are the devil. Yet, through this mindless scrolling there is the occasional 140-character gem of poetic genius. I took it upon myself to filter through the amalgamation of “Netflix and Chill” and teenage angst to create found poems, crafted in the words of contemporary Alternative Hip-Hop musicians. I hope that this poem of mine inspires you to find art in every space, cyber or physical, that you inhabit.

 

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What Is Beauty?

by Claire Dinehart

As writers, we strive to find beauty in all things. Even the unappealing things in life can be romanticized with just a few lines of prose. But why do we do this? It is a hard question to answer, but I think it’s so we don’t have to focus on ourselves.We spend countless hours beautifying the world around us. In contrast, we often do not spend enough time reminding ourselves that we are beautiful. It’s disturbing to me that we can find beauty in even the most mundane things, but not in ourselves.

Shea Glover, an eighteen year old student in Chicago, performed a social experiment in which she filmed people’s reactions to her calling them beautiful.

The reactions in this video are amazing. People’s entire faces and attitudes change when they hear that one simple phrase, “I’m taking pictures of things that I find beautiful.” Unfortunately, not everyone had a positive reaction. One girl was so convinced that no one would find her beautiful that she actually threatened Glover.

In our society, it is important to take the time to appreciate oneself. No matter how beautiful something or someone else is, we are all unique individuals, which is beauty in and of itself. So next time you want to romanticize something, romanticize yourself.

 

Mormons on The Children of Same-Sex Couples

by Ruben Castillo

Recently the LDS church’s top leader made new policies about same-sex marriage and was adopted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. An Article in the New York Times called “Mormons Reinforce Stand on Same-Sex Marriage” by Laurie Goodstein discusses about the new policy. The church has lobbied against laws legalizing same-sex marriage, with the supreme court making it the law of the land, the church felt the need to protect their beliefs. Goodstein writes that the church has been in support of laws intended to protect gay people from discrimination in recent years. The new policies make it that the children of same-sex couples are banned from the church until they are 18 and have moved out of a same-sex home, and members of the church who are in a same-sex relationship are considered apostates and will undergo a disciplinary hearing that could lead to excommunication. My question is that if the church is in favor of protecting same-sex couples from discrimination, why would they banned the children of same-sex couples from the church? Are they not discriminating themselves? They are banning anyone that has to do anything with same-sex relationships. Some liberal LDS members are against the new policies, in the article, one member says that “It’s heartbreaking for me to see my church drawing this line in the sand, which leaves faithful L.G.B.T members with an impossible choice: They can either be excluded from lifelong love and companionship, or excluded from the blessings of the church.” I understand that the church is protecting their beliefs that comes from the scriptures, and they make policies as the generation changes, but these policies are based off old fashioned beliefs. The church teaches love and acceptance, but are banning faithful members. The church considers them not faithful members because they are breaking religious morales. The church believes that they are not really happy or are confused if they are attracted to the same-sex, but why is the church making them even more religiously confused by making them feel unwanted? One can never disrespect others religion, but these beliefs are going to make the children unwanted and confused on why their religion of choice does not accept them. A child might even hate their parents because of the parents relationship they are banned from the church their entire childhood. The church believes and teaches that no one should be persecuted and mistreated, but believe in the protection of religious freedom, making the church show hostility towards this situation. They have opposed same-sex relationships, and believe that it is not permitted within membership. The church respects the law but also has the right of freedom of religion, and is protected by that right making it lawful. I believe that this act is not what the church is trying to teach and making it so that the idea of same-sex relationship is no longer an issue and has been dealt with. Discriminating and prosecuting members that are gay and their children.

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Video of a Utah news station discussing about the policy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwTugPDWszQ

The Timelessness of Inequality

Essay Review: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

by David Hurtado

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Considering recent events in the news, I feel that a review of James Baldwin’s 1962 essay, The Fire Next Time, would be an appropriate place to begin discussion. Baldwin was one of the first prominent African-American authors in the United States and although this essay is over 50 years old the concepts of the novel still carries an unsettling amount of relevance today. This story, that details Baldwin’s experience growing up in Harlem and his religious journey, delves deeply into the way that minorities – particularly African-Americans – are taught they are lesser.

Recently, a policeman at a high school, brutally assaulted a young African-American student. In my classrooms this has sparked conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement. It is strange to me how quickly my peers jump to defense of the policeman and try to remove the situation from race. It is a testament to how uncomfortable challenges to current social order makes those benefitting from it. How, in light of video evidence, can the initial reaction to the images be one in defense of police rather than empathy towards a brutalized teenager. Why does conceding that people of color in this country are disproportionately incarcerated, killed, and abused feel so threatening to us? There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding- the phrase Black Lives Matter does not inherently mean that all lives do not matter. It is simply stating that the race issues in our country demand immediate attention.

Baldwin’s essay makes chilling statements after a long discussion of race relations in the United States, “People are not, for example, terribly anxious to be equal (equal, after all, to what and to whom?) but they love the idea of being superior.” This concept is extremely relevant today, and it probably always will be. It is in human nature to seek superiority and security but I like to believe that empathy is also a characteristic of our nature. This unapologetically honest essay is brilliant, not only in the context of the beginnings of the civil rights movement, but in its examination of human history. We have made many good steps but the current relevance of this essay says volumes (although it is just over 100 pages), of how deep American roots of racism are sown. The essay is thought provoking from any angle. Looking at America through a religious lens, questions like the one posed above on equality in the face of “what”, make us consider what the utopian end goal really is. Regardless, this essay, in its brevity and tragedy, is incredibly thought provoking, especially in a modern setting. While reading this essay the following questions came to mind: Is inequality inevitable? Are sources of comfort, like modern religions, perpetuators of this issue? And what, really, is the place of minorities in this country? Where do they belong in academic, literary and social circles?

I would recommend this essay strongly to anyone interested in religion and the history of oppression. I also hope that with the constant issues in the news, our readers take time to read essays like Baldwin’s and study movements like Black Lives Matter before making a quick and easy assumptions on America’s race relations.

The following video is a compilation of great quotes from James Baldwin and a quick look at America in the 1950’s

Different Tongues All One Noise

by Brie Veltri

Language is the the way that we as humans communicate; this is how we share our emotions, experiences, knowledge, and so much more. There are many way to experience an emotion. Our life experiences and personalities contribute to our reaction to certain situations. That being said, language can be as different and unique to every individual as are their life experiences and personalities. For example you could speak “Spanglish”, your tongue rapidly pronouncing your English R’s. You could be from England and not understand what in the world we Americans are talking about when we say “fries”, and how our “chips” are very unlike yours.

Many of the classical pieces of literature weren’t written in English, infact most of them were translated from Latin or some other language. Henry David Thoreau in his narrative Walden, devotes a whole chapter to explain reading and it’s purpose. Thoreau claims that there is a fine beauty in having the ability to read a text in it’s original language, especially the classics. With the access to the internet we have today, you can find almost any book in any language, and if you don’t, you can have your trusty friend Google Translate to help you out. However, here lies the problem, there are so many sources available at the touch of a button where you could electronically translate a whole essay into any language in seconds. This is where translation goes wrong though. Words have different meaning and context plays a huge role in distinguishing these differences, but unlike humans, computers often times won’t catch these errors. Therefore fine details, that may be crucial to the author’s purpose can often times be lost when translations occur.

Authors, such as Junot Díaz, have found a way to break this language barrier. Bilingual authors have begun to write novels in dual languages. Junot Díaz’s novel, The Brief and Wondrous life of Oscar Wao, is written in “Spanglish”; mostly English with sporadic Spanish words here and there for emphasis. This is such a neat concept, when you think about it. Even if you know a limited amount of Spanish you can still decipher the meaning of most words even if you don’t know them because of context clues. In a way, it is like learning how to read all over again. This method of writing reflects Díaz as a person and author. Díaz demonstrates his individuality, uniqueness, and culture throughout his writing.

To read more on POC  and cultural language distinctions, read Junot Díaz’s article “MFA v POC” published in the New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/mfa-vs-poc

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Revive Your Mindset

by Megan King

Last week at Saint John the Baptist Elementary School, students, such as fifth graders Hannah Bradshaw, Genesis Carrillo, Isabella Orellana, and Gage Ongman, wrote about kaleidoscopes. In which they explored their vocabulary and creativity through words and colors. While some students played it safe by writing specifically what they saw, others, such as the four mentioned prior, went out on a limb to create something more.

While what we see may not be a masterpiece, or a work ready to be published, that doesn’t mean it’s not GOOD. To these kids, it’s great. They take pride in what they can achieve, whether or not it’s just something we deem unworthy of attention. When you’re a kid, you don’t typically see your works as failures, but rather, accomplishments, and improvements.

As we grow older, we begin to realize that our work may be subpar. It is what leads us to think that our artwork and our writing are below the “standards.” This, while sometimes creating a challenge for a few, deters most of us from following our initial interests. We forget that art is art, writing is writing, and it comes in all forms.

These kids show us that the arts don’t have to “flow”, or have clear imagery, to be good. Of course,“good” is not the way we would normally define it, but in the respect that we were all at their level once. We all had the mindset of a ten year old, and sometimes it’s good to revive that mindset, to open a new door for creativity. Because, sure you can judge their works now, but you never know, one of them might just be the next Maya Angelou.

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When The Well Runs Dry

by Natasha Cyriac

Since you’re looking at this blog, I’m going to assume that you have some sort of interest in writing. Writing is a curious thing – it can break us, put us back together, and make us feel in so many different and complex ways, all with the simple power of words. This simplicity and versatility is also what makes it appealing to many of us, makes us love it and call ourselves writers.

Despite the love and passion we share for writing, we’re all different sorts of writers. Some of us make a diligent effort to write every day. Others may write infrequently. Some of us write late into the night, some of us write in the morning, and some of us write in the middle of class. Some of us write poetry, some write stories and others write about their memories. Some of us have written for years, while others are just starting to discover how much they like it.

Regardless of when you write or how well you write, anyone who does write is familiar with one thing, usually termed something like ‘Writer’s Block.’ This term usually means that a writer’s creativity has been drained and they suddenly lose any inspiration and struggle to create new works or expand on existing ones.

So what do you do when you’ve run out of ideas, of inspiration? What do you do when you have the ideas bottled up inside you – you know that they’re there – but none of it turns out right when you write it down?

Well, from the years I’ve spent attempting to improve my writing, I have found a few solutions. They’re not surefire, but they have worked most of the time and in any event, doing something is better than letting writer’s block consume you:

  • Take a break from it. Don’t look at the piece that’s giving you grief for a few days, maybe even a week. Instead, spend this time doing all the things you don’t do when you’re focused on your work. Take a break; watch movies, read new books, reread your favorite books, do something you’ve never done before. Chances are that when you sit down in a week’s time to continue your work, you’ll be refreshed enough to figure out a solution to the problem you had.
  • Write stuff, even if it’s really, really bad. It’s important not to go too long without writing anything, so if your block lasts a while, you may want to consider simply writing whatever you’re capable of at the moment. It doesn’t have to be great, or even related to any piece you’re working on. Don’t criticize what you write or try to achieve perfection; just write. Remember, you can edit and fix anything but a blank page. And nothing you write is ever wasted – it’s all just more practice.
  • Take a step back and look at the big picture. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the moment that we’re writing about that we forget that it’s simply one part of many. So maybe you need to look over your whole piece – focus on things like the plot, the point of view, the pacing. Maybe you’ll see that a certain part should come later, or be completely left out. Rework or rethink the structure of the piece, and then adjust the details to fit it.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. This idea was sort of covered in point #2, but it’s important enough to emphasize again. The thing is, even if all of us here are writers, we are all still learning. We all make mistakes and we all run into various problems and dead-ends. And so it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself and be too critical of your writing. The most important thing for a writer to do is to write, obviously, but you can’t write if you are finding fault with every word you put on the page. Criticize your writing when you’re making revisions on the piece, but while you’re writing, don’t let fear or feelings of inadequacy kill your creativity.