Category: Poetry & Drama

no more poems

“Violent” Children’s Book Causes Uproar with Parents

Singer-songwriter Rhett Miller’s, No More Poems!: A Book In Verse That Just Gets Worse, is attracting all sorts of controversy and uproar after rubbing families the wrong way.

WXYZ reports that school teacher and mother to two young girls, Kayla Sykes, bought a copy from Costco to read her children. She later came across one of the book’s controversial poems that made her feel as though she was going to “vomit.”

 

no more poems

Image via Amazon

 

The poem titled “Brotherly Love,” follows a girl who has to deal with her annoying little brother, and is rather violent about it.

 

One verse reads:

 

Feed your brother poison.

Maybe drop him down a well.

And I’m the one who’ll wind up.

Living in a prison cell.

 

Amazon markets the book toward children ages seven to ten. It goes without saying that this age range isn’t quite accurate.

Angry tweeters are currently calling for the book to be boycotted, and Costco has already pulled the book from a number of its stores.

 

 

Miller tweeted about his disappointment to the book’s backlash.

 

 

 

Featured Image via WXYZ

A precarious stack of books. Too many? Certainly not

Why I Love Having Too Many Books Despite Its Inconveniences

I’m an avid reader, and the only time I read is when I take the train. I live in New York, so the train is like my mobile home, and finishing books is not an issue for me. As for my real house, my bedroom… you could say that it’s slowly becoming the book haven of my dreams—like the kind that has a bed, drawers, clothes, and essentials for every day, while I pick one book at a time from my stack of books. I say a stack of books rather than a shelf full of books because I, unfortunately, have not yet acquired a bookshelf, but it is becoming more and more of a priority. Out of necessity. The mountain of books is getting higher and higher to the point that it’s now just a centimeter away from touching my ceiling.

 

image via EDIS RUNE

 

And yet, I cannot help but to buy more books. My unexpected book trips to Barnes and Noble tell my wallet no but my heart yes. (That’s what the New York Public Library is for although I prefer buying.) As the typical millennial that I am, I order mostly online on Amazon. I love watching my stack of books grow like I am watering a plant as it blooms to a tall flower, and you cannot help but think sometimes you might have to cut some of the vines to make some room.

 

Image via thewalrus.ca (PHOTO: erhui1979)

 

At times, I do get frustrated when I don’t have space in my bedroom for my bag, my makeup box, or other personal belongings. I made a self-compromising decision that I would place all these items in the living room instead. It’s not the most terrible thing in the world, of course, yet I couldn’t help but question just how far am I willing to go to buy and collect more books. I know what you must be thinking: “stop buying books then? or give some of the books you read or don’t want anymore to someone who will appreciate it more?” I would argue that a real book lover would not give up their books that easily, regardless of their feelings towards even the books they’ve left untouched—people’s taste in literature changes over time, and I don’t want any book among my collection to be the ‘one that got away.’

 

image via independent.co.uk (photo: Poetry is good for the soul ( iStock )

 

I’ve read about half the books in my collection. A lot of these books like White Teeth, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoIn Cold Blood and many others are from back in my English major days. I never liked to rent books because I see books as something that is not for borrowing, not something you can put a deadline on. Stories, works of fiction, poetry, are captured in a place of timelessness—and reading a book is what you put into it. Getting the full experience and to truly appreciate the book means not having to worry about time waiting by the door, fumbling its fingers with impatience. That is also why I cannot rent books at the library, but I still support them with donations, and you should too!

 

image via usishield.com

 

When family, friends, or boyfriends come into my room, the first point of eye contact is my books, looking down at us, questioning us if we would like to read one of them. Some of my loved ones challenge me as to why I keep the books I read or unread, or books I just completely lost interest in. I wouldn’t say I am a complete monster. I let people borrow my books; HOWEVER, I need a guaranteed return. I know all of a sudden I sound like a librarian, but I won’t charge late fees. Of course, I will send receipts of the promises you made that you would return them, like text messages, emails, all that good stuff. Now the most important questions of all, do I want to be a book hoarder? No, I don’t, and then people ask, what’s the point of keeping the books since spring cleaning is right around the corner? Why not make room for things that are possibly a bit more important?

 

image via nowtoronto.com (photo: tanja tiziana)

 

I hope it doesn’t sound crazy to say that I am enjoying this problem. I enjoy it because I don’t have to solve it, and it’s not a problem, at least for me. The way I see it, when you finish reading a book, you can’t help but have this feeling of a sense of accomplishment, regardless if you enjoyed the story or not. It feels fantastic to finish a book because of your commitment, consistency, persistence, and dedication, all realized. It’s not like writing where you have something to show what you did; you can only talk about it. But if you keep a collection of books and share your gallery of works, written by your favorite authors, in whom you have invested time—then that becomes your published work. It’s also important to note how seeing a small mountain of books can strike inspiration for people to become better readers or writers. My nine-year-old niece (a notorious non-reader) saw how protective of my small book fortress I am and FINALLY changed her perspective. Now, she’s obsessed with the Captain Underpants series and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. My books are not her taste (as she is, as we established, nine), but I think my books are like the fine wine that I love to sip while reading them.

 

image via longroom.com

 

I know I may be Marie Kondo’s nightmare, but that’s okay, as long as I am living my dream. Inside The Bell Jar of my world, and book in hand, I will continue to live my best life.

 

featured image via Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Gatsby Was First Published in 1925. So What Else Was Going on?

On April 10th, 1925, Scribner published a short novel by popular author F. Scott Fitzgerald which didn’t sell many copies or receive positive reviews. Today, The Great Gatsby is one of the most widely taught works of fiction in the United States.  Safe to say, the publishing climate in the 1920s was about as unpredictable as international conflict at the time — so what other bookish things were happening in 1925?

 

1. the Argosy Book store opened

 

 

New York City’s oldest independent bookstore, Argosy Book Store, opened for the first time in 1925, although it later moved from 114 East 59th Street to 116 East 59th Street. This famous bookstore still sells rare, used, and new books to customers in its elegant townhouse setting — until 6 p.m. most evenings, anyway.

 

2. American ya author robert cormier was born

 

 

Although he didn’t write his first novel until he was thirty-five , I Am the Cheese and The Chocolate War author Robert Cormier was born on January 17th, 1925, in Massachusetts. His books, later adapted into award-winning films, continues to receive flack today for its violent depictions of mental illness and abuse.

 

3. the new yorker published its first issue

 

The New Yorker magazine, a cultural vanguard for New York City and modern culture, published its first issue on February 21st, 1925 — and has hardly stopped releasing world-famous covers, cartoons, and commentary since then.

 

4. Flannery O’connor died

 

 

On March 25th, approximately a month before the publication of a book that would change the world, literature lost a legend when short-story writer and proponent of the Southern Gothic literary style Flannery O’Connor died from lupus at the age of thirty-nine.

5. T.s. eliot published the hollow men

 

 

20th Century poet T.S. Eliot officially published his haunting tribute to post-war Europe, “The Hollow Men,” on November 23rd, 1925, though there are many borrowed lines from some of Eliot’s previous works.

 

Featured Image Via Argosy Book Store.

 

Chaucer’s First Female Biographer Discovers His Outrageous Fashion Choices

When we think of Geoffery Chaucer, we think of The Canterbury Tales, a work loved by literary scholars and passionate readers the world over (and loathed by undergraduate English majors). We do not, however, think of “a teenager wearing leggings so tight one churchman blamed the fashion for bringing back the plague.”

According to The Guardian, Associate Professor of English at Jesus College, Oxford, Marion Turner, who is Chaucer’s first female biographer, is also the first to look in depth at Chaucer’s fashion choices. While The Guardian notes that scholars have long known that Chaucer wore a ‘paltok’, bought for him as a teenager by his employer Elizabeth de Burgh, Turner notes that nobody seems to have investigated what exactly a ‘paltok’ was!

 

image via telegraph.co.uk (credit: ap)

 

Turner has discovered that paltoks were tunics, but not just any tunics! They were “extremely short garments… which failed to conceal their arses or their private parts.” She explains:

“No one had ever thought about what they were before [but] I found these were completely scandalous items. The paltok was skimpy and scanty, and underneath that there are these long leggings, or tights. Contemporary sources say they emphasised the genitals, as they were laced up very tightly over the penis and bottom, so you could see everything.”

 

Black and white image of Dr Marion Turner

IMAGE VIA THE GUARDIAN (DR. MARION TURNER)

 

Turner’s biograhpy, Chaucer: A European Life notes that the theologian John of Reading “explicitly blamed [paltoks] for causing the plague,” and “feared judgment from God for such outrageous sartorial choices.”

There were many biographies, written by men, throughout the years focused on Chaucer’s masculinity due to how he writes sympathetic women in his stories and poetry, in a time where toxic masculinity was the norm. Chaucer was someone who was ahead of his time and was with independent women, like his wife, who made her own money, and they lived independently rather than the traditional ways of marriage like most people lived by. Turner speculates that he took care of his daughter and always visited her at the nunnery where she was staying.

 

image via theconversation.com by Mrs H. R. Haweis

 

I loved it when Marion Turner gave a thoughtful explanation and connection to Chaucer’s feminism (at least I believe he’s a feminist) and his flamboyant fashion choices and make sense of it in his most recognizable work, The Wife of Bath. The most famous female figure in his work, the academic said “becomes an authority figure, which is great, because one of the things she talks about in her prologue is how men wrote all the stories and history is biased against women, and Chaucer makes her into an authority figure with gravitas. Of course she’s not a real woman, she’s Chaucer in drag, but he’s still emphasising the importance of recognising the bias of the literary canon.”

 

Read more of the article from The Guardian if you want to learn more of this fascinating find in literary history!

 

Featured Image Via The Guardian (Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Fifteen Reasons Why I Read Books

This past weekend I was talking to a friend of mine about books, because why not? And I listed a bunch of reasons as to why I love reading books, and he nodded his head and said, “You should write an article about it, but don’t go overboard.”

 

image via hdwallsbox.com

 

And here I am, sharing my reasons for my love of books, and I am going overboard, so screw you, Jake.

 

Image Via Autisable.com

 

#1. I am a word nerd. I love it when I read, and I recently saw an interesting word from Franz Kafka’s The Complete Stories, specifically, The Hunger Artist, “impresario,” and I looked it up to expand my vocabulary! FYI impresario means someone who finances concerts, plays, or operas. Sounds fabulous right?

#2. My love for poetry, fiction, and all things literature is a bit scary. Faves you ask? Sylvia Plath, Nayyirah Waheed, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, Harper Lee, Oscar Wilde, Truman Capote, and yeah let us move on…

#3. I am the queen of isolation. Books help reinforce my fortress to not talk with strangers, and not make friends, and not talk to my loved ones, but they understand me, I’d hope, if not, then I would be too busy being stimulated by my current reading, The Handmaid’s Tale. Please don’t judge me. I know I’m late as hell, and I know I should be burning for it because it is so good!

 

image via patricktreardon.com

 

#4. Escapism. Well, it does sound similar to #3 in some ways. However, not only do I prefer to isolate myself but escape to another world. I can read Game of Thrones and not just picture what’s happening in the plots of the story, but I go as far as to imagine what would it be like to be a part of the Starks or Lannisters by making up my own character… I’m not crazy I swear, it’s just life is too hard (insert crying emoji here).

#5. To kill time. I live in New York, and my commute to work is quite long, so no matter how overcrowded it may be, whether I am sitting or standing, I will make it my mission to pull out my book from my bag and continue reading my story.

#6. Food tastes better when I have a book in one hand and a fork in the other, and of course, I would stain my pages with my spaghetti sauce. Why do I do it then? Well, despite the challenge it’s more time efficient than watching videos in my opinion… and if I start watching videos, I don’t think I can ever stop. I haven’t yet perfected in the art of eating, and reading seems….

 

image via vanity fair (photo: Marc Simonetti/Penguin Random House)

 

#7. It gives me something to do when I tan at the beach. There’s a downside to this if you’re super into the book and you don’t realize how much time has passed and you forget to switch position, and you end up burned. Unpopular opinion, I like it when after you brush off the sand away from your book you can appreciate the extra dryness of the pages when you turn them, kind of like an extra dry martini (it’s how I like em).

#8. I like reading The Little Prince to my niece. I love when she feels encouraged to learn more because of my influence. She can’t get enough of The Diary of the Wimpy Kid series, and tries to follow in her uncle’s footsteps!

#9. For creative purposes. I enjoy creative writing like poetry, short stories, and whenever I feel inspired by a line or a dialogue, I would put the book down and write something that would hopefully deliver the same impact. “I feel like the word shatter.” Ugh! Handmaids, you need to stop being so great.

 

image via mentalfloss.com (photo: antoine de saint-exupery)

 

#10. I read so I can collect bookmarks. There is no way I can only collect bookmarks without reading books. I prefer Leatherology; they have beautiful bookmarks. My favorite is the red apple colored kind, and only God knows how many books it went through.

#11. I’m also trying to be more emotionally intelligent. I started reading the Goosebumps series when I was twelve, and they were the first books I ever experienced. However, even though I’ve read a long time, I still haven’t come to a place of confidence to say that I am more skilled at dealing with situations in regards to feelings. I can sure say that I wouldn’t be better if it weren’t for reading.

#12. Reading books is my favorite medium of entertainment; now don’t get me wrong! I do love my Netflix, and HBO more than the next person—but there is something about picking up a book and falling for the descriptions of the characters and the world, and the plot. No other medium can stimulate all your five senses at once, and I think that’s pretty amazing.

 

image via comicbook (photo: Scholastic Corporation)

 

#13. This is going to sound very simple but what I love about reading books is the simple act of holding them in my hands. While I read the words on the page, I get this sensational feeling when I have a paperback, and I read a good portion of a book, I fold the front cover along the pages that come before to the back cover—it becomes magical to me. The fact that a whole world is so present and so solid in your hands is mind-blowing.

#14. I love it when I’m reading; I can smell the vanilla aroma scent around the pages. You don’t have to be a book lover to know what I am talking about! If there is a perfume out there that is dedicated to book scents, please let me know! I will have my coins ready.

#15. The power of mind reading is a superpower I most desire, and thanks to being an avid reader, I can say that I’ve read many great minds. I may not be Professor Charles Xavier, but I’m glad that I get to read thoughts in this fashion. A fashion where I get to know more than the person’s mind, but by their intentions, performance, and realities they create with words on the page.

 

image via pintrest

 

I can go on to a hundred reasons but I am not going to do that to you. What are your reasons for reading books?

 

featured image via medium