Expressions of Pride: A Literature and Arts Festival

Diversionary BuildingOn Saturday, May 2, 2015, literature lovers and members of the local community headed to the annual Expressions of Pride: A Literature and Arts Festival. Now in its second year, the festival, which is run by the San Diego Multicultural LGBT Literary Foundation, has far exceeded expectations, becoming the one of the largest LGBT multicultural literary festivals in the nation.

From 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the event featured a book and art festival at the Diversionary Building in University Heights. While perusing hundreds of titles by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and multicultural authors, visitors sipped mimosas and viewed works by artists from the likes of Manuel Acevedo and Clarione Gutierrez. Continue reading


Review of Gabrielle Zevin’s “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry”

91hvgvo-tlNo avid reader can resist a charming cast of characters who are cleverly named after classic novels. Gabrielle Zevin’s New York Times Bestseller, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, is a light and humorous novel that pulls at the readers’ heartstrings, especially those of us who are involved in the writing, publishing, and bookselling industries. The novel creates connections and raises interesting questions that avid readers would thoroughly enjoy. For example, the main character, A.J. Fikry, asks his date the question, “In what restaurant based on a novel would you have preferred to dine?” after taking her to a Moby Dick themed restaurant. I personally would enjoy eating at a restaurant modeled after Gatsby’s residence, as much as Fikry would have enjoyed a Narnia-based restaurant that served Turkish delight. Nevertheless, Zevin’s novel allows readers to imagine, laugh, and feel. Continue reading

Under the Influence

say-11As a current Creative Writing graduate student, who spends seemingly infinite hours a week breathing in literature, drinking in poetic craft and technique, it’s no secret that I love the process of studying words and their power. When I think about my infatuation with the influence of words, I can trace it back to before I could read or write; I trace it back to some of the first songs I ever belted out from the back seat of my mother’s old Buick in the early 90’s. My first love was lyricism.

Have you ever explored what makes you love a certain line in a song or poem?

I’ve found that some of my most favorite musicians are incredibly skilled in their use of figurative language. Say Anything is the perfect example of one of my favorite bands that excels at creating memorable, and at times, haunting lyrics.

I’ve been enamored with Say Anything since– let’s say, 2005. I was immediately attracted to their experimental nature of unique sound within their genre (a blend of  punk/alternative rock/emo), and lyrics that instantly captivated me. Over the past ten years, I have found myself inspired by Max Bemis, lead singer and composer of Say Anything, just as much as, and sometimes, even more so, than some of the great poets I was introduced to in my youth: e.e. cummings, Maya Angelou, Emerson, Gary Snyder, and so on. In order to understand why, I’ve decided explore just a few slices of genius within Say Anything’s lyricism; I will highlight some key elements of figurative language Max Bemis masters, in a few specific fan favorites, from the punk band’s most notable albums, spanning from the early 2000s to present.

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Change the Conversation, Change the Culture

change-the-conversationWhoever controls the conversation can influence the nation.

Every day, we are bombarded by advertisements on the street, on the Internet, and in our homes, whether they’re for fast food, new clothes, or better cars. Social media constantly updates itself, produced by us and for us. Opinions, songs, Vines and other miscellaneous memes flood our feeds. We have access to thousands of channels, and hundreds of millions of websites. We can stream movies, play games, and communicate with others from a single device, instantly. Continue reading

Interview with Professor and Poet Meagan Marshall

 meagan marshallQ: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? What are you passionate about? What really frustrates you? Do you dog-ear or write in books?

A: I am a San Diego native. I am a lecturer at SDSU and San Diego City College. I direct the Hugh C. Hyde Living Writers Series (at SDSU) and I co-coordinate the Early College High School Program (at SDCC). I like long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners, er… okay just kidding. I am passionate about the arts, education, my family and friends, cheese, baked goods, and cats. I am frustrated by injustice, inequity, and prejudice; I am frustrated by the belief that the arts and humanities have no place in higher education. And yes, I compulsively annotate and dog-ear my books—especially if I am teaching them in the classroom.

Q: If you could host a fondue & wine party with three writers/artists (dead or alive), who would you invite and why? Continue reading

Review of Charles Baxter’s “There’s Something I Want You to Do”

somethingThere’s Something I Want You to Do:

It involves diving deep into the interior of others’ lives, for the sake of discovery; Charles Baxter, the author of five novels, numerous short story collections and three poetry collections (for which he has received various honors and awards) published his newest collection in February from Pantheon Books. The ten stories are organized by virtues and vices: Bravery, Loyalty, Chastity, Charity, Forbearance; Lust, Sloth, Avarice, Gluttony and Vanity. At first, one might assume from the titling of these stories that there will be a rigid, overarching moral lesson.  As the reader begins to make their way from one story to the next, they might also believe that each story is a separate entity from the others in the collection, yet neither of these assumptions are true.

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The Art of Spoken Word Poetry

“Love Poem Medley” – Rudy Francisco

Poetry is a classic art form dating back to the Vedas and the ancient Greek epic poem, the “Odyssey.” The beauty of poetry stems from the diversity of form, style, and voice. Like classic literature, every poem is uniquely written to express the human experience, but spoken word poetry uses language in such a different manner to depict imagery and describe emotion that it created its own new culture. Continue reading

Interview with Activist Aundrey Jones

IMG_3329Considering his freelance writing, activism, hunger for knowledge, and dedicated community work, Aundrey Jones is a multifaceted and ambitious individual. From his hometown in Palmdale, California, he went on to receive his B.A. in African-American Studies in 2014 at the University of California, Riverside, and is currently a Ph.D student in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. Although young in age, his mindset and beliefs are sophisticated, firmly grounded, and strongly supported with his constant research in American policing institutions and their relation to Black culture. Half African-American and half Filipino, Aundrey has always taken great interest in ethnic studies and discusses how classic and contemporary literature factors into the realities in America.

Q: When were you inspired to get involved with Ethnic Studies? Did your own ethnic background inspire your studies? Continue reading

The Restorative Power of Nature For Writers

Writer’s block. Ugh. The longtime nemesis of a writer. Some don’t believe in it, saying that you simply have to work through it, while others fear its unavoidable presence. Whatever the case may be, we’ve all been there, blocked in some way. As a writer, the solution shouldn’t be avoiding creative blocks, but rather, learning how to work with them.

I recently experienced such a creative block, followed by a trip to the eastern Sierras. As I temporarily left my urban life behind, I felt bitter and perturbed. Why haven’t I finished my novel? Why is it taking so long? These and other thoughts marinated in my mind as I coasted on the freeway out of San Diego’s metropolitan confines. Soon the seemingly harmless Why is my book taking so long? became its more sinister cousin, My characters suck, and of course, ultimately devolving into the inevitable I’m a hack. A total hack. Continue reading

Interview with Mary Helen Specht: author of Migratory Animals

Mary_HelenFor those of you who read our first issue, you know that one of our book reviews was on Mary Helen Specht’s debut novel, Migratory Animals. For our second issue, I had the pleasure of interviewing Specht about her novel, and about her journey as a writer.

Q: Perhaps the most compelling part of Migratory Animals for me personally, was that each of the characters in this book have some sort of unique secret or flaw that humanizes them. What was most difficult about the process of fleshing out these different characters to give them each their very own life? Did you know from the beginning what the fate of each character would be, or how each relationship would end up? Continue reading