SC Alert: Poet on Campus!

Yesterday, Springfield College and our Humanities Department welcomed to campus Linda Hogan, a nationally recognized Chickasaw poet!  Originally from Colorado and living in Oklahoma, Hogan is lucky enough to travel all over the world to share and expand her writing, especially her poetry.  However, she doesn’t limit herself to just being a powerfully dedicated and reflective poet; she has published essays and novels, is a creative writing teacher for at-risk students in her Chickasaw community, and writes with political, historical, environmentalist, indigenous, and feminist themes.  It was a pleasure gaining a glimpse of Linda Hogan’s person and interests and to be in her company throughout yesterday’s afternoon and evening.

Hogan made her Springfield College debut in Dr. Lloyd’s Advanced Creative Writing Class (Poetry), where in a discussion-based fashion, my fellow students and I asked questions ranging from symbolism in certain poems, to her experiences as a writer, traveler, and person of Chickasaw background.  Through Hogan’s contemplative answers, my classmates and I learned about her writing process and inspirations.  Though she explained how her poetry flows very organically and intuitively, Hogan also has a vast knowledge of botany and biology, which are other areas of interest in her life.  With a laugh, Hogan reminisced that a poetry workshop course she took in college was “the most horrible experience of my life”.  As she described, this particular course was very rigid and critical, characteristics of an environment which Dr. Lloyd counteracts in our class’s workshops by instead building a supportive and creative writing space.  For the hour my class spent with our guest, Linda Hogan, she entertained our inquiries about her inspirations, struggles, and experiences as a writer.  Hogan dismissed notions of writer’s block saying there is “no end to creativity and imagination … there is always something in the world to write about, something beautiful, funny, interesting, pathetic…”, and the core of good poetry is “reach[ing] a truth we all share” paired with finding a poem’s “heartbeat”.  Hogan stressed the importance her journal writing plays in her life, and shared that she often starts two projects in the same notebook: writing from left to right on one side, then flipping the book upside down and continuing the other project from the back.  Though our class discussion ended, signaling me to move on to my fifth hour of English class of the day, there was more to be learned from our poetic guest later in the night.

Because I make myself involved in our Humanities Department and am a member of the Editorial Board for our campus’ literary magazine, The Alden Street Review, I was invited with a handful of other English students and supporting faculty to have dinner with Linda Hogan before her evening poetry reading open to all of campus.  In this unique setting, some of my friends, professors, and I were able to engage with and listen to this author’s stories.  She shared with us how she has dabbled in all genres of writing, but believes that “poetry was really [her] first language”.  Many of Hogan’s poems are based on simple wonders of nature: plants, animals, rain, leaves, the body, along with indigenous traditions, tribal dances, experiences, mystical relations, stories, etc.  We also learned that all of her first drafts, whether a novel or poetry are hand-written; I made her laugh by explaining how my laptop battery dies after 10 minutes anyways, which is apparently a predicament she shares.  Later in the night, Hogan introduced and read a good number of her known poems, and even a few others that she deemed “rough”.  Some of the most memorable poems for me included “The Singers”, “Memorial Day”, “Eyes of Animals”, “Eucalyptus”, and “Sweetness”.

Throughout the day, I’d spent a total of almost four hours with Linda Hogan as company.  It was extremely interesting to learn about her as a writer, and the person she is outside of writing.  Hogan has recently written a book for National Geographic, is working on a dancing opera about the world of turtle mythology, and plans on working at the Cincinnati Zoo soon!  Along with her ambitious qualities as a writer, Linda Hogan seemed a very intelligent, polite, reflective, and friendly person, and I’m sure every person that met her is glad she came to Springfield College (we love guests!).  To check out her website, click here!

Advertisements

I Feel Like I’m Missing Everything!

Greetings! =) Since being re-immersed in American culture advertisements, as much as I take pains to avoid being bombarded, I’ve re-realized the incredible rate at which media content is produced. I mainly notice books and articles, but this applies to anything really: toys, fashion, games, technology, music, movies, art, architecture, humor, etc.

In an easy to read and entertaining NPR article I first read last spring semester by Linda Holmes titled “The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything“, she discusses the fact that many people, myself undoubtedly included, attempt to read anything and everything they can in trying to “catch up”. Her focus is that people should have a broad spectrum of content experiences, to find what they enjoy most. Then, one can choose which to like, learn, and explore further. Holmes’ explains a little here:

“Culling is the choosing you do for yourself. It’s the sorting of what’s worth your time and what’s not worth your time. It’s saying, “I deem Keeping Up With The Kardashians a poor use of my time, and therefore, I choose not to watch it.” and later in the article: “If “well-read” means “not missing anything,” then nobody has a chance. If “well-read” means “making a genuine effort to explore thoughtfully,” then yes, we can all be well-read. But what we’ve seen is always going to be a very small cup dipped out of a very big ocean, and turning your back on the ocean to stare into the cup can’t change that…”

While I’m surely missing out on some education or entertainment featured on the TV shows that I neglect to watch, the books I choose not to read, museums I don’t make time to visit, etc. according to this NPR article, I “cull” my content making things more important to me than others. I’m able to rank my to-do list, and make it shorter by excluding what I don’t find as interesting. Admittedly, my to-read list is probably half a notebook long, and often when new books are released, I’m more inclined to pick up recent works. Here’s a picture of my current (physical) reading list (with my Nook on top housing my endless mobile media library):

It’s true that I have read more than the average student my age, and that’s probably an understatement, but I know that I’m never going to be able to read everything. So for the past few months, outside of required school reading, I’ve chosen books I can really be excited about, rather than feel an obligation to them. While in Ireland I read The Help; The Picture of Dorian Gray (by my beloved Irish Oscar Wilde); a few borrowed book-versions of “chick flicks”; some Irish authors including The Likeness by Tana French and Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor; and of course some of the more classic Irish authors Sean O’Casey, W. B. Yeats, Lady Augusta, J.M. Synge, George Moore, James Joyce, etc. Back at Springfield, I’m actively reading some Whitman, Dickinson, Twain, armfuls of poetry, loads of Shakespeare, and tons of Toni Morrison. I’ve finally made the time to pick up on the easy to read and page-turning Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins which so far is absolutely fantastic! In a J.K. Rowling fashion, Collins creates a semi-futuristic world in which her characters live and literally fight to survive. I’m eagerly anticipating the first movie’s release after recently seeing the exciting trailer, due out March 23!… Though my list is forever long, I am, of course, still taking to-read suggestions =)

My (Awesome) View on Valentine’s Day <3

As many of you know, I’m not exactly the biggest fan of holidays, especially those of the religious brand, the kind that require any sort of gifts or obligatory observed traditions, or the one on July 8th every year… Now, you’re probably thinking that I’m a stereotypically single, liberal-arts-studying, independent, intelligent, feminist, college-girl who hates Valentine’s Day and doesn’t need a guy to buy chocolate and flowers, pay for a fancy dinner, etc., etc. And yes, SOME of that is true. But I actually love Valentine’s Day, though not for the secretly hopeless romantic side of me you’re thinking of.

There are two main reasons I love Valentine’s Day: 1) PEOPLE WATCHING & 2) EXPECTATIONS. If your all-time favorite hobby is people watching like mine is, after some thinking, you’d have to agree that this holiday on a college campus is absolutely prime! I don’t feel the need to get into the highly researched details and statistics I’ve procured, but here’s a brief overview: Four types of girls #1 those dreaming of their boyfriend being perfect (ie picking out the perfect gift); #2 the hate-being-single girls crying into a pint or two or three of Ben and Jerry’s “Chubby Hubby”; #3 the ones actually not caring; and #4 those just pretending they don’t care.

Now, I do acknowledge this post is extremely sexist and stereotypically critical of (me and) my own peers and of society in general, but that’s obviously what’s entertaining about it. This brings me to why I love Valentine’s Day: I’m not on a rant, but I do find the card-buying, gift-bearing, flower-wrapping nonsense completely and utterly ridiculously over-the-top. Having said that, this is one annual celebration that I absolutely love for that precise reason. The intense commercialism and consumerism brings out the WORST in people, and hence, the BEST in people watching. However, I do have to make a note that I do know some amazingly creative people who MAKE cards, WRITE stories, and CREATE presents for loved ones, which are totally awesome and appropriate in my book. The End (of the boring, non-interactive part).

My favorite things directly or indirectly related to Valentine’s Day! Check them out! (If they weren’t worth it, I wouldn’t put them up):

“DON’T go about saying, “I hate Valentine’s Day” and “it’s so commercial” to anyone who will listen. Don’t post it on Facebook. Don’t tweet it on the tweeting machine. There is no way to frame this sentence without sounding like a bitter loser. Also, no one cares.”

“DON’T watch The Notebook. Watching The Notebook on Valentine’s Day is the number one cause of suicide among single women in Australia. The number two cause is listening to Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’.”

“DON’T wear red to work. You won’t look cute. You’ll look like an asshole.”

“DON’T make a list of all the reasons a girl would choose Ryan Gosling over you.”

“DON’T chastise any lady who has the temerity to actually get excited about Valentine’s Day. Jerk.”

“DON’T scatter flower petals on a girl’s veranda. You’ll look like a creep. And after she comes out to sweep them off while you look on through a pair of long-distance binoculars, you’ll start acting like a creep.”

  • “Shit ____ Say” videos are one of the latest trending YouTube topics. If you have my sense of humor and/or the ability laugh at/with stereotypes while acknowledging their horrible (but normally true) qualities, “Shit Single Girls Say” will definitely entertain you, as well as “Shit Nobody Says“, even though the later is unrelated to Valentine’s Day.
  • While I don’t believe Time News always has the most reliable articles, I loved the recently published “My Worldly Valentine” by Kate Springer. Each entry has a picture and description from various celebrations from around the world!
  • And lastly, what with this post be without a ridiculous Harry Potter reference, right? Well if anyone plans on tying the knot Muggle-style but needs some wizard influence, check out all these suggestions for favors, attire, food, and music. My favorite HP website, MuggleNet, has it all in this article! (If anyone actually clicks on that link, they may be my soul mate)

That is all. HAVE A GREAT VALENTINE’S DAY =)!

20120214-010831.jpg

Couldn't resist!

SUPERBOWL MONDAY!

Everybody in America knows yesterday was Superbowl Sunday, but did you know today is Superbowl Monday? Yes, it’s a real American holiday, just like yesterday, if only you know what to look for…

Today’s the day when people are comparing parties, just like after New Year’s Eve. Everybody wants to know about the party they ditched for another: who went where, who spilled the salsa on the new white carpet, who had the bigger HD TV, who double-dipped the chip (for anyone that hasn’t seen this Seinfeld episode, click here for a quick clip :)). Today, Americans are separated into strictly three categories, as far as I can see: the gloating fans of the winning team, the sulking excuse-making losers, and those who forget which teams played, but remember the best commercial was definitely the M&M one: click here. I must place myself in the third category this year; seeing as I did not watch a single NFL game all fall in Ireland, and the two or three games I’ve seen since Christmas did not leave me with much invested in this season. However, like everyone else, I gorged on chips and dip, and even committed suicide on my stomach with some “Cheesy Bread” from Dominoes, all in the name of the game, of course!

Today, many Americans will return to the convenient use of fast-forwarding commercials in recorded TV shows, because after yesterday, nobody cares to be advertised to for another year. People will forget that yesterday they willingly or out of obligation ate themselves into a reclined comatose state in front of the “idiot box” for an entire day. Exercise routines may return to their regularity, because Superbowl Sunday fitness is essentially limited to a sock-slide on the kitchen floor to the fridge, a sit-up when reaching for a drink on the coffee table, or a squat in front of the oven window to see if the wings are done. Whether you’re going to work, class, or staying on your couch for another day, good luck avoiding the inevitable small talk about the food, game, and commercials that everybody will try to engage you in!