Rising Censorship Targeting Children’s and Young Adult Literature

by Regina Fuller

Book banning was a thing of the past. Something that you read about in the history books
while growing up. It doesn’t happen anymore. Right? Wrong. As of April 2022, book banning has risen once again, especially in southern states. One of the frequent targets is children’s (and young adult) literature, and the topics are almost always books written about black or LGBTQ+ characters. Why does this happen? Why is it happening again? Maus, a graphic novel by Art Spiegelman, that details his parents’ experiences surviving Nazi concentration camps, was banned in by a ten-member school board in McMinn

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Travel Writing: Exploring the World One Story at a Time

Navigating the world as a literary citizen; the importance of a travel journal.

by Daphne Xulu

Long before I became familiar with the term travel writing, I was captivated by stories of adventure and exploration; how a distant land, thousands of miles away, could come to life on a page. The word travel tickles my senses, and my already inquisitive mind wonders further to dreams of countries, cultures, and cuisine. The first book which brought my attention to the world of travel literature was Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. I was hooked. Who was this author who had traveled across America? Why did this piece of creative non-fiction unlock a burning desire for adventure? How did a country that I had yet to visit, seem so close to home?

When I was seventeen, I felt downtrodden like most teenagers do, and I left the UK in pursuit of a solo adventure to Nepal. I had spent months preparing and packing all the important things: sun cream, hiking trainers, documents, and handy bottles of mosquito repellent. Yet, I would’ve never guessed at the time, that the most important possession I could ever have brought with me was tucked away in the front pocket of my backpack –a cheap notebook. Every day for eight weeks I sprawled my adventures across the page, documenting the highs and the lows, friendships, and failures, fleeting moments and memories. I wanted to remember everything and in doing so I created a time portal, a story that authentically summarised two months in my seventeen-year-old life, a story of discovery and exploration.

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How Bold Are Literary Journals?

And how open-ended could they be?

By Walter Paskoff

As technology continues to develop at an unmanageable pace, the mediums through which we consume and produce literature have expanded along a similar path. Blogs, forums, vlogs, songs, and interviews are all now looked at with some credibility and weight. Chuck Klosterman, in his existential ramblings of “But What if We Were Wrong?” even thinks that what we now know as a “book” will become obsolete in the future and that the word itself will likely change meaning entirely. This is not uncommon in our language, as we still talk about the best “albums,” “records,” and “singles,” in the music industry despite most of those releases being exclusively digital. With that in mind, many literary journals are embracing this change. Gandy Dancer accepts original songs, the SUNY Geneseo student-run Recess and Iris add playlists to their submissions list, and Catapult (along with countless others) is a journal that is fully online.

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The Struggle of Writing About Family

By Jessica Marinaro

When we write something about ourselves we open up the world to our life. While that can be a liberating experience, it is also littered with roadblocks. One such roadblock that many creative nonfiction writers deal with regularly is the struggle to write essays about family that are genuine to your own experience. Writing about family members is never easy, and more than one problem tends to arise when writers consider including their family members into their narratives. Continue reading

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Crafting a Chapbook

Are you looking to take your next big step as a writer? Here are a few tips for making your mini collection of poetry.

By Jenna Murray

Throughout my time at SUNY Geneseo, I have grappled with the aspiration of creating a collection of my work that reflects how I have grown as a writer. After speculating the many ways I could present my work to my community, with the workload of an undergraduate student on my back, I decided the best avenue would be to write a chapbook. 

A chapbook is a small book containing ballads, poems, tales, or tracts. Historically, chapbooks were first introduced as an alternative to the expensive, inaccessible book of the late 16th century—these unbound books of 8-12 pages cost less than a penny to purchase. Though the same can not be said of contemporary chapbooks, the exact value of accessibility stands. No matter what kind of poet you are, no matter how far along in your poetic journey you are, you can easily create a chapbook to share with your peers. 

Through a directive study, which I decided to title “Crafting a Chapbook,” I read through contemporary chapbooks, analyzed the structure and critical poetic techniques within, and was able to create my very own 40-page chapbook by the end of the semester. 

For any writer looking to make their next big move throughout their poetic journey, creating a chapbook—whether it be 40 pages, 20-30 pages, or as small as ten pages—is a perfect window into the concept of the poetic collection. Whereas some chapbooks may be based around certain thematic elements, such as motherhood, or a series of specific events, many chapbooks do not need a firm structure and can function within spaces of lyricism and spontaneity alone. 

After gaining all this insight throughout the semester, I understood the production of a chapbook very well. Though there is no one way to create a chapbook, as creative pursuits such as this should not be defined by structure, I found my course plan extremely effective and wanted to share those steps below, should they help any poets in their future endeavors. 

No matter what it is you envision for your future poetic chapbook, there is a space for all creatives within contemporary poetry—so, please take these steps and tips with both an open mind and an awareness of what works for you! 

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Should Straight Cisgender People Write Queer Characters?

Posted by Charlie Kenny, Co-Fiction Head for Issue 10.1

Alice Mattison writes: “Writing about people from any marginalized group can be scary. It’s also bad for your imagination to put limits on it. You ought to be free to become anyone when you make up a story” [sic] (74). This raises an age-old question: should non-queer people write about the LGBTQ+ community? If you asked fourteen-year-old, newly out Charlie, the answer would have been a hard “no!” Back then every queer person I saw on T.V. or in books were always written the same—as a gay, not a person. The only time I ever saw someone like me not as a stereotype was when I saw or read something written by another queer person. Continue reading

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Approaching Creative Nonfiction

Posted by Alison DiCesare, Creative Non-Fiction Head for Issue 10.1

When I began my studies in creative writing, I had a solid grasp on fiction and poetry as genres with specific rules and expectations – I had never heard of creative nonfiction. I had heard of memoirs, of course, and academic essays, but it had never occurred to me that nonfiction could really be creative. Since then, it has become one of my favorite genres to work with, and I understand that it has limitless possibilities. I know many fellow writers, especially students, also aren’t familiar with the genre, so I’m going to attempt here to introduce you to the possibilities of creative nonfiction as well as give you some tips on how to approach writing it yourself. Continue reading

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You Miss All the Shots You Don’t Take: Literary Opportunities Available to You in College

Posted by Liz Roos, Fiction Head for Issue 10.1

“You miss all the shots you don’t take,” is a bit of cliché, overused advice—but I wanted to begin this post with that advice because it is a phrase that I have repeated to myself again and again when sending an application to an internship, or an email to a professor, or a Google form to a writing contest. A key addition to that advice is, “If there’s no detriment, then why not?” If there’s no submission fee to submit that short story to that literary journal, then why not submit? The only cost is your free time—which is a precious commodity in itself. However, it has been my experience that the fifteen minutes it might take you to submit an application or send an email is worth the experiences and connections that might come out of that application or email.

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Exploring Writing as Activism through Amanda Gorman’s Poem: “The Hill We Climb”

Photo by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Flickr

Posted by Hailey Cullen, Poetry Reader for Issue 9.2

On a gloomy January day, before the start of my 2021 Spring Semester at SUNY Geneseo, I sat down to watch the inauguration of Joe Biden. There were many highlights (Michelle Obama’s fabulous monochromatic outfit was one), but I found myself especially moved by Amanda Gorman’s role in the ceremony. America’s first national Youth Poet Laureate, Gorman recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

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Writing with Mental Illness: The Value of Acceptance

Syed Ali Wasif from Flickr

Posted by Anthony Lyon, Fiction Reader for Issue 9.2

This past year, I took a stay in a mental health institution for my severe depression. While I was there, I spent many hours thinking about my life, and talking to others about the crossroads where they had found themselves. How should I continue? I would ask myself. How should I continue when nothing else has worked?

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