Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Was Forced to Read

Hello, readers! This installment of Top Ten Tuesday was actually suggested last week by The Broke and the Bookish; an extremely busy week has pushed it to this Tuesday instead. 😉 The prompt is:

Top Ten Books I Was “Forced” to Read (either by teachers, friends, other bloggers, book club) — doesn’t necessarily have to be a BAD thing. Could be required reading, yes, but also book club, or just super enthusiastic friends “making” you read something!

I’ll admit, I’ve been rather stubborn in the past with my favorite book genres. Actually, for much of my life, I would only read classics (nothing written post-1900, preferably). That’s right; I used to be even more of a book snob than I am now (I figure I could only go on hiding it for so long, readers). To be fair, though, I was similarly discriminatory with my movie taste (nothing in color–especially black-and-white classics colored in later).

Here’s lookin’ at you, kid…wait a minute, you don’t look quite right.
(Casablanca image from forum.dvdtalk.com)

But gradually, through social and academic pressures against my will, I have expanded my reading repertoire. I’m glad, too, because I would have missed out on some great books. Below, I’ve listed ten memorable books I’ve been forced to read–some good experiences, some…not. All images are from www.barnesandnoble.com; click them to buy or read plot summaries.

1. The Winter’s Tale, by William Shakespeare

Winter's Tale

This one wasn’t too much of a stretch for me. I LOVE Shakespeare, but somehow, despite numerous classes on him and reading on my own, I hadn’t encountered this book until one of my advanced-level Shakespeare classes in undergrad at UIUC. This less–well-known play by the bard is actually a favorite among enthusiasts, and I think it would translate really well to a movie, especially given the popularity of period dramas nowadays. This is a tragicomedy, which, if memory serves, is the bard’s only (or one of the only) meld of the two genres (as opposed to dark tragedies like Hamlet and fun comedies like As You Like It). The best of both worlds! Plus, you get the usual memorable characters and sparkling language of Shakespeare’s work.

2. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

Lord of the Flies

I probably don’t have to go into much detail with why I did not like this book, after last week’s list of book turn-offs, especially in regards to disturbing violence. Even the cover is breaking my heart. I was required to read this in middle school, and it was not a good experience. Actually, I’ve kind of blocked it out to the point where I remember the feelings I had about reading it more than the actual book itself. I wonder how I’d feel about this on a reread at an older age, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxed Set

Strangely, as much as I disliked the last book, I loved this trilogy–extreme fangirl level. I was so afraid of it being exactly like the last book (#2) that Jennifer offered to screen it for me first…that’s right, my younger sister has more book courage than I do. She LOVED these books, and as soon as I got the green light from her, I began reading it, because I actually was required to read it for class, haha. (I just needed to know with what level of caution–at what arm-length–I needed to read this.) This was one of the books assigned in my Young-Adult Literature class with Alix Reid at DePaul, which you know was shelf–and, I dare say–life-changing. Although these books were indeed violent, it was all justified, and the message was powerful and important. The writing was great, too; quick and biting, it matched the plot perfectly.

4. “Debbieland,” by Aimee Bender

AimeeBender

I couldn’t find this story or a picture of it online. Instead, this is a picture of the author, and it links to her website.

This short story about bullying, told from the P.O.V. of the bullies, disturbed me so much that I asked my teacher, with a single tear rolling down my cheek (j.k.?), WHY she had assigned it to us. She responded that that was exactly the reason why she had. Touché, Professor Pittard. (Hannah Pittard was one of my favorite teachers from DePaul, in large part because her taste was so different than mine that she helped me to grow and think outside my own writing box.) As much as I was uncomfortable from being inside the heads of such horrible people in “Debbieland,” I learned an interesting writing technique from it. To be honest, though, I much preferred my professor’s own use of the group-P.O.V.; check out her critically acclaimed novel, The Fates Will Find Their WayPerfectly lovely and haunting for this time of year. 🙂

5. Dune, by Frank Herbert

Dune (Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics)

I think Barnes & Noble described this book best on their website: “A stunning blend of adventure and mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what it undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.” This book was on our Honors English summer reading list for incoming freshman year, and from this book alone, I knew high school was going to be awesome. (Perhaps a blanket judgement, but I was only 14…and I do have many fond memories of those four years. 🙂 ) Anyway, this was, hands-down, the best assigned summer reading I’ve ever had. This book was so inspiring that I chose to teach it as a student teacher in my undergrad program; I think it should be assigned reading to everyone in school. I was shocked, when I asked the class (all honors students), if they had read the book before. For some reason, it isn’t being assigned as much as I think it should be, with such timeless and important themes. This is Jeremiah’s favorite series ever; he’s read all of the books, as well as the companion books written by Herbert’s son based on the late Frank’s notes. It’s a favorite book of mine, though admittedly, I haven’t finished the series yet. As a teenager, it had changed so much after the first three books that I wasn’t sure I liked it anymore, but as an adult, I suspect I might like the bigger picture even more.

6. & 7.: As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner, & In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

As I Lay Dying: The Corrected TextIn Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

And on the flip side of assigned high school summer reading were these two books assigned for us to read the summer before my sophomore year of Honors English. Dear God, these books scarred me so badly that I can’t even look at them today. Part of me wonders if I was just too young to handle the dark subject content (15 years old), but given that I don’t like much graphic violence nowadays, either, I think I might have the same reaction reading these as an adult. Briefly: they both focus on gruesome aspects of death, as the titles suggest. I know these are classics, and I’m sure they’re well-written, but I was so disturbed by the content that I couldn’t even pay attention to the writing (unlike #4). Not only did they RUIN my summer, but I’ve stayed away from the authors’ other work as much as possible, too (though after other assigned Faulkner readings, I still am not a fan–too dark of humor for me to find it funny).

8. The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book

And back to the positives of assigned reading, The Graveyard Book was another assignment for that Young-Adult Literature class at DePaul (see #3). I love this book so much that I have two copies: a hardcover I read for class and a signed paperback from an author appearance when Neil Gaiman came to Chicago in 2011…the appearance where I almost got in to see him but didn’t, because the line was hundreds of people too long for the space the Chicago Public Library had available. 😥 I drowned my sorrows with a little retail therapy, that being his autographed books. Here’s a picture of me after the event (the event was specifically celebrating his book Neverwhere, another favorite of mine).

Mega-fangirl: My shirt is a sketch Neil Gaiman did, imagining a potential cover for The Graveyard Book. Jennifer bought it for me! ❤ You can buy it from Neverwear here. (Don’t you love the pun?)

Anyway, I’m really glad I was assigned this book, for several reasons: First of all, it was my gateway into Neil Gaiman, who, as you know, is one of my favorite authors (just search his name on my homepage search box and you’ll see tons of my entries pop up). Secondly, I might never have picked it up, as it is technically a “middle grade” book, i.e., targeted for an audience of ages 8-12. As you know from previous posts, I was surprised to learn how much I loved young-adult literature, and this book SHOCKED me with the discovery that I liked middle grade, too. So not only did this book introduce me to an author, but also to a whole bracket of books, too. If you’re looking for a spooky and amazing read for Halloween, I highly recommend this one! It’s one of my favorite books of all time.

9. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter Paperback Boxed Set, Books 1-7

I tried to hide my moments of snobbery from you before, dear readers, but I’ve officially given up as of the last Top 10 post. 😉 As a recovering pop culture connoisseur in 6th-7th grade, I tried to steer clear of anything popular after that, including books. It was to my detriment, as my older, wiser self now knows, because at least with books, they are usually popular for a reason. The first couple of books had already been out for awhile before my mom bought one and urged me to read it, and thank God she did. I read it because I wanted to figure out the “overblown hype,” but instead, I found compelling, complex, beautiful coming-of-age story as timeless as it was timely: my sister and I had the privilege of growing up with Harry Potter, as his age in each book release roughly matched ours. What a fantastic influence on a developing teenager–or for adults. I can’t see this book ever going out of popularity; it has something for everyone.

10. Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer

TwilightThis book is in yellow, because I haven’t actually read it yet. I would say that it is the book I feel most pressured to read by society, both as a reader and a writer. This is such a polarizing novel series; it seems people either love it or hate it. I was somewhere in between with my opinion of the movies; I’ve seen them all. I could understand both the praise and the criticism this series receives, but I feel like until I (finally) read these, I have no right to an opinion either way on their content or writing. As a cultural phenomenon, my opinion of it is: Well-done, Stephanie Meyer. You’ve inspired millions of people to read, and you’ve made it a bit easier for authors to include more sentimentalism in their work. You know that it’s a balance I struggle with as a writer, but I do think there is a right balance out there somewhere. Maybe it’s in here. I actually requested this first book as a Christmas present a few years ago, and it’s still looking at me from the shelf, eyeing me from that big apple.

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I hope you enjoyed my top-10 list this week, readers! What are some memorable books YOU’VE been assigned?

Join me later this week and next for some festive posts about autumn and Halloween. 🙂

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Top Ten Tuesday: Book-to-Movie Wish List

Yesterday was Tuesday, and that means another installment of a top-ten list! A busy day pushed it to today instead; I hope you’ll find it just as enjoyable with the added anticipation. 😉 I skipped last week due to my scheduled book review of Ken Floro III’s The Rising Wind, but you can see my first list here.

Echoing my first list (Top Ten Book-to-Movie Adaptations), today’s list, prompted by The Broke and the Bookish, is another fun one: “Top Ten Books I Would Love To See As A Movie/TV Show (set in a perfect world…in which movies don’t butcher the books we love.)”

I had to think about this one, because there have been so many great movies made already of many of my favorite books. But I was able to come up with 10 clear choices–some by the same authors. Here they are, in no particular order. (All images courtesy of Barnes & Noble; click them to buy.)

1. Tamora Pierce’s Tortall Universe

Immortals Quartet Box Set (Immortals Series)

The Immortals Quartet, a series set within Tamora Pierce’s Tortall universe.

I fell in love with these books as a young girl. Talk about strong female characters! At the time of this posting, I believe she has 18 books out that are set in this universe (according to her website). I have a little catching up to do! This is a magnificent, vibrant universe with lovable characters and compelling plots–all of which would translate well to the screen. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Tamora Pierce in person, and she said that although she’s had movie offers, none have felt quite right. Kudos to her for being protective of her work. I’m hoping that someday, we’ll get to see these books done well on the big screen.

2. Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

“Wait, isn’t this already a movie?” Yes…yes it is. It’s the only book-to-movie I’ve been too afraid to watch, because if they changed just *one* thing about the book, I feel like it’d be destroyed. And from what I’ve read about the movie, they did make some pretty significant changes. So why is this on my wish list? I’d like to see a screenplay done verbatim from the book, or at least to be adapted as CLOSELY as possible. Who’s up for the task? I did take a screenwriting course with the award-winning Jay Bonansinga…so yes, I absolutely volunteer for this project. 😉

3. The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

Rumors have been swirling for a movie adaptation of this book. I discovered this book in Alix Reid’s young-adult/children’s literature class, as one of the assigned books, and it quickly became one of my favorites of all time. It’s a special book to a lot of people, which has earned it several awards. It’s extremely visual, and even the most extraordinary settings are vivid. Initial rumors suggested this would be a stop-action movie (like The Nightmare Before Christmas), which seemed an appropriate style for this dark fantasy. As of January, however, Ron Howard took the helm and it looks like it may be live-action. No filming has actually started, and so many changes have happened already that the fate of this film is still uncertain, which earns it a place on my list. This is another AMAZING book that will require care and precision in adhering to Gaiman’s masterful diction and plot.

4. Neverwhere

Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Interestingly, this other novel by Gaiman actually started on the screen. Its original form was a BBC miniseries written by Gaiman, which he later adapted into a novel. I think this urban fantasy would be brilliant as a movie, especially with the right special effects. I’m not quite sure why no one’s completed a movie for this yet, especially with its timeless fanatical popularity (it’s a modern classic–the PENULTIMATE in fantasy, if you ask fans). Gaiman’s other movie adaptations, like Stardust and Coraline, have been well-received. It seems a sure-fire box-office hit. Fans of the recent BBC 4 radio production are rooting for its all-star cast (including Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy and Natalie Dormer) to take it to the silver screen, too. I’m all for that!

5. Seraphina

Seraphina

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

This enchanting tale speaks volumes about human nature–and how better to do that than with dragons? The characters and the world completely pull you in, almost without your realizing it until you have to close the book/pause the CD. 😉 Hartman’s innovative twist on classic elements is both familiar and refreshing at the same time–something that movie-goers would love. And if I may be a fangirl for a moment, I NEED to see this love story onscreen. Please.

6. Wicked

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years Series #1)

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

This book and musical will forever be special to me. The theme of “It’s not only OK to be different–it’s what makes you extraordinary” inspired me during my recovery from a traumatic brain injury. It taught me about courage to fight for what’s important to you, that you can make a difference against all odds. This twist on the classic The Wizard of Oz has great heart, great humor, and great quotes. Don’t you think that would be a great movie? I’m not the only fan who thinks so, and rumors have been flying for years about movie projects. So far, I haven’t found any specific information on a movie adaptation, though. Keep your fingers crossed, green or otherwise!

7. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

This other book by Maguire is my favorite retelling of the Cinderella story–and it’s not even starring her. It’s such a clever twist on this ever-popular fairy tale–so popular, in fact, that it needs a little zest added in to keep it fresh. It just so happens that zest is what Maguire does best. With the popularity of fairy tale remakes in Hollywood lately, I’m surprised this hasn’t been picked up yet.

8. Pathfinder

Pathfinder

Pathfinder, by Orson Scott Card

This is one of those books where my jaw dropped several times, and by the end, it was fully agape.

Something like this. (Image via Tumblr.)

It was also one of those books that was almost mind-bogglingly complex. The world and the concepts were fascinating, but packed with a bit more physics than I’d expect a 13-year-old to wade through (this is technically YA lit, i.e. 13 and up). For both of these reasons, Pathfinder is on my movie wish list. If done well, it might be one of those movies that makes the book even better by clarifying it. Then again, narrowing down the 800-page book into a movie might be its own challenge.

9. Libyrinth

Libyrinth (Libyrinth Series #1)

Libyrinth (Libyrinth Series #1) by Pearl North

This YA dystopia would strike fear into the hearts of bibliophiles everywhere. Like Fahrenheit 451, the world in this book questions the danger of books–a clash against the spoken and written word. The similarities to Fahrenheit end there, and we’re immersed in a foreign world that’s both futuristic and ancient at the same time. The characters are witty and clever, which makes for a fun read. I won’t spoil it, but the message is timeless and important, which is always good for movies. This movie would be popular with book-lovers and others (ARE there any other kinds of people??).

10. …My own.

So I have to admit that one of the reasons I took that fantastic class with Jay Bonansinga was because, as a reader, I get SO UPSET when a movie *ruins* a book. And as a writer, if my books ever got ruined in this way, I’d be devastated. (These books are still in development—I promise to keep you updated. :)) I wanted to have at least a basic understanding of screenplays and movie-making in my tool belt, and in Jay’s class, I got so much more. So, powers that be, if you’d like to adapt my books into a movie, I am ready to help. 😉

Memoir Preview Event, and Why I’m Writing It in the First Place

Happy Tuesday! I hope people aren’t too tired from busy Mother’s Day weekends; the beginnings of the week are hard enough, right? 😉 One coworker of mine told me she was tired from helping her mom plant 50 new flowers Sunday, buying and spreading 35 bags of mulch! And I guess 50 and 35 must have been magic numbers, because Jeremiah had to tote 35 50-lb. bags of rocks to cover a sinkhole on their farm Sunday. Holy cow!  My Sunday was comparatively laid-back–well, I suppose, laid-back, period. 😉

Thank you again to all of you who supported my memoir preview event, either with your presence or your encouragement. Jennifer and I had been invited by Marianjoy’s Auxiliary to speak at their Spring Luncheon this year. (Click here to see my initial announcement and the invitation.)

The whole event was fabulous, from the location, to the food, to the presentation itself. College of DuPage’s Waterleaf Restaurant was a gorgeous venue to choose for a spring luncheon, and apparently, this was the Marianjoy Auxiliary’s second luncheon there (the restaurant opened only a couple of years ago). With spring finally arriving here in the last few weeks, the buds around facility were in full bloom–a lovely site with the venue’s glass walls. I don’t have the photos from our event yet, but I will post some at a later time, and here is a photo from Waterleaf’s Facebook page:

The Waterleaf Restaurant at College of DuPage (courtesy of their Facebook page)

It was hard to count exactly how many people attended, but it sure seemed crowded, especially from our little spot up front. (Jennifer and I rather comically figured out how to maneuver to share the microphone meant for one.) I think there were at least 70 people there.

After raffles and a delicious lunch, Jennifer and I were up! We were incredibly nervous; no matter how many times we tell my family’s story of my TBI, it is emotional and nerve-wracking. Part of it was that “performance high” feeling I’ve gotten from being onstage since the age of five. (Having no other high to compare this to, it is an imaginary allusion. 😉 ) It’s the rush that comes from working really hard on something and imagining the best case scenario, and it feels like you’re flying–but the giddiness, too, that comes from not wanting to look down and see how far away the ground is. You’re flying, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for, and the only thing to do is focus on the act, to look ahead at where you’re going; focusing on the ground will only make you crash. There I go, inserting poetry into an entry that’s meant to be narration… 😉 Anyway, I love that feeling right before performances or speeches I’ve worked hard on, and I’m so lucky I get the opportunity to do public speaking all the time for my job at Marianjoy.

However, with this type of speech, there is always an inherent fear that people won’t “get” it. It’s one thing for someone to dismiss a poem you’ve written about a butterfly or an ancient Greek goddess, maybe both beautiful, but neither directly related to you. It’s another thing to pour out your entire soul, bare yourself completely naked and worry that people won’t respond well. Of course, this is a metaphorical  baring; I was, in fact, wearing a gray shift dress, black blazer, and gray pearls that I remember vividly because I spent hours agonizing over what to wear. 😉

It’s a nakedness that’s taken me years to be comfortable with. The more you can refer to something in the “past tense,” the easier it is to separate yourself from a painful memory, right? Well, that may be true in general, but the fact is, a brain injury is a permanent badge–it stays with you for life. There is great potential for recovery (like I was blessed to undergo–from <5% chance of survival to having two degrees and a great job), but it is something that will always be part of you. I’ve learned that the secret to true peace and “wholeness” comes when you embrace the very thing you’ve been trying to overcome. Always strive to surpass limitations and be the best you can be; it’s not about accepting limitations, it’s about admiring how far you’ve come and how those triumphs have defined your character.

This can be a hard place to get to when you’ve been through a traumatic event. While I’ll never remember the car accident (it happened too quickly for my brain to process it), remembering and learning anew what my family went through when they supported me is a humbling and somber process. I’ve been so blessed to have their support all along, and it felt so reassuring to have my sister by my side at this memoir event.

I’ve never ignored the TBI or recovery process, but it’s not something I really pondered over at enormous length until my graduate memoir class at DePaul with Michele Morano. That very class was the whole reason I signed up for the Writing & Publishing program there; I knew I would need help putting the muddied emotions into words. I love to write, but ironically, it had always been hard to write about myself (still is, at times). It’s much easier to imagine how a fictional character might react to a situation than to dissect how you, yourself feel–and then, you have to turn it into art! My professor was wonderfully understanding, giving me the advice and push I needed to start the process of writing my memoir about the event. Ever since the TBI happened, everyone who’s heard about what happened to me urged me to write a book about it, even before knowing I was actually a writer. I realized that while people sadly get injured all the time, the perspective, support, and beauty of what I went through was something special that needed to be shared so it could help other people going through a dark time.

When the President of the Marianjoy Auxiliary, Mimi Rose, asked Jennifer and me to share our story at the annual Spring Luncheon, we were flattered and agreed immediately. When Mimi found out I was writing a memoir about it, she encouraged me to share selections from it as part of the presentation.

Although we were excited for our presentation, it was a pretty daunting feat. I have spoken at several events for Marianjoy in the past, but this would be much longer and more comprehensive. I chose what I thought was a good array of pieces reflecting different aspects of the experience, and Jennifer helped me form an outline for the presentation. It was our mom’s idea to intersperse verbal anecdotes in between the stories, mostly from Jennifer, and we thought the idea was brilliant and went with it.

In the end, I didn’t get to read everything I’d planned within the time constraints–but that was OK. The audience was so kind and empathetic; my boss says “there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.” There was a lot of laughter, too, because so many absurd things happen when things are supposed to go a certain way in recovery–they never do, right? I think the more serious an event is, the more potential there is for little things you’d never expect to sneak in and be funny at the same time. I was so happy for the balance of reaction, because that’s the very message I want to get across, the very reason I’m writing my memoir and even this blog: when things seem sad or dark, have faith, because they just may turn out for the best. They may change your path and give you purpose; I know they did for me.

Many people came up to Jennifer and me afterwards and complimented us, thanking us for sharing our stories. We both really appreciated this, because as I said, it can be nerve-wracking being so completely candid about something so personal and deep. To top off the loveliness of the whole day, our mom won a donated raffle for a bottle of wine and a restaurant gift certificate, and each of us got to take home a transferable flower pot. While I’m not sure exactly how many people attended the event, I know each ticket was $40, so I’m sure we raised a nice amount of money for the Marianjoy Auxiliary. 🙂

I’d like to end this post with a thank-you again to everyone who made the event possible. Thank you to the Marianjoy Auxiliary for the invitation; to my sister, Jennifer, for speaking with me; to our mom as well as our family friend, Sue Ann, for attending and supporting us; to everyone who attended the event; to the doctors, nurses, firemen, therapists, friends, and family who assisted in my recovery; to my memoir teacher, Professor Morano; and to you, dear readers, for reading this post and your constant support. ❤

Forces of Nature: Earth Day and Pastoral Poems

Happy Earth Day, children of Gaia! Just kidding, I’ll try not to make this too weird. Sure, I’m obsessed with nature, but in a completely self-aware way, with a sister who will tell me when I’m wearing one, or five, too many flowers at a time. I did my part today by wearing earthy colors and shoes with big flowers on them. Yes, I can’t resist celebrating holidays, even Earth Day!

Speaking of nature, we’ve been having some crazy weather in the Midwest. Last week, we had 70° F one day, torrential downpour and epic flooding the next day, and snow the following day! I think our weather makes us hearty. 😉

We are still dealing with the effects of the flood. I was visiting Jeremiah’s farm when it hit, and luckily, the house and animals are OK, but the surrounding fields and forested area had quite the challenge.

No one in the area, or back home, had ever seen flooding so bad before. I guess, if I were to think of it as an author (which  I always do)…maybe the rain was washing away the tragedies from earlier this week (the bombing in Boston and the explosion in West, Texas) and refreshing the earth, the people…The plants certainly got a drink, and I saw flowers blossoming today around the campus at Marianjoy.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was in keeping with the theme:

In honor of the occasion, I challenge you to write a poem in keeping with Earth Day — it could be a reflection on what’s growing in your garden, a modern pastoral, or a Marianne-Moore-style poem about an animal. Anything to do with the natural world is fair game.

Because I am so inspired by nature, I was happy to see this prompt. In fact, I have presented and published a few of my favorite nature poems. I was selected to read these poems by the English Graduate Student Association at their second and third annual conferences, while I was a graduate student, myself, there. This, along with my selection for Radio DePaul, was one of my most rewarding experiences at DePaul. The conference was a celebration of select students’ work, organized by category, and we read our work aloud to our fellow students, faculty, family members, guests, etc. After the conference, a selected number of presentations were chosen to publish in the conferences’ proceedings. For tonight’s poem, I will point you to one that I wrote about my relationship with nature, which was pubilshed in the 2011 DePaul EGSA Proceedings. It is in blank verse, and I wrote this while I was at Jeremiah’s farm one summer night (pre-flooding–if I were to write it right now, it would have a decidedly soggier note to it). That’s one of my favorite things about going out there–it’s like a different world, where the only sounds you can hear are alive, where the air feels fresh…well, you can read the rest in the poem. 🙂

Please click here to read “Country Nocturne” on page 159 (you can “search” the title and it will take you there).

Enjoy the last few moments of Earth Day! You might consider hugging a tree, planting a flower…or just shutting off a light a few minutes early. 🙂

Noir: Poetry on the Radio

Oh my goodness, another late post! I’d better hurry before my coach turns into a pumpkin! 😉

Look who I saw today at Marianjoy? I got him on camera, but his sweetheart wasn’t nearby. Perhaps she was out doing errands. I hope they weren’t quarreling! ❤

Donald takes a rest while Daisy runs errands.

Donald takes a rest while Daisy runs errands.

After work, my sister and I met for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Freshii. They have delicious organic, eco-friendly food. Everything there is biodegradable, even their disposable silverware and cups! The food is so fresh (as the name suggests), wholesome, and delicious! The food we’re displaying is their red pepper hummus, and we loved it! Jennifer repaid me for my compulsory picture for my blog by sneaking in the ever-so-flattering one with the puffed cheeks. Yay! Haha. (I suppose I deserved it; I didn’t even give her a chance to change after working out, but she looks so cute anyway, doesn’t she?) ❤

Sisters at Freshii

Sisters at Freshii

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was pretty interesting:

Write a poem inspired by noir — it could be in the voice of a detective, or unravel a mystery, or just describe the long shadows of the skyscrapers in the ever-swirling smog.

Noir reminds me of those old radio programs that they still play on NPR sometimes; my dad and I listen to them in the car. That, and the mystery instructions, reminded me of a wonderful opportunity I had last year. DePaul University’s award-winning radio program, Radio DePaul, invited me to be a guest for one of their hour-long programs on their Student Writer Series show. This was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done! Here we are, right before going on air:

Radio DePaul

Me, Marcy, and Colin on Radio DePaul

Marcy and Colin were the SWS‘s cohosts before we three graduated last year. Actually, Marcy is going to be in a screenwriting workshop with me and two other ladies from our program that will be starting up soon–more on that later! 🙂

Anyway, here is the link to the whole hour-long radio show. The beginning segment is me reading a fairy tale I’ve written, “The Mirror.” The ending is a selection of my poetry–but I only want you to listen to one of them right now, because I may feature the others later this month. 😉 The one I’d like you to listen to is at 42:30, and it’s called “The German Professor.” Colin introduces it slightly and we discuss it afterward, but it is based on a true event my sister and I experienced together. The style is “prose poetry,” and it was a piece I actually wrote for my portfolio in my grad school poetry class. It is an interesting style that uses  paragraph-style text and punctuation but lyrical words and imagery. When we got that prompt, I knew it was perfect for the event my sister and I were following, which was too big for choppy lines and vague images. I needed a format that gave me room to say all the things I never did while the event was happening.

Click on the .wav file in the post below to hear me read “The German Professor”–skip to 42:30: http://depaulsws.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/february-3-2012-show/

That’s all for tonight, lovelies! Have a good rest of your week! I promise some longer posts soon. 😉