Monday, February 24, 2014


Good morning English readers, writers, and future teachers!

Well, there’s no longer any use denying it. The semester is in full swing. All the winter holidays have passed, the chance of a snow day is dwindling away to (hopefully) nothing, and those daunting syllabi that stared you down a month ago have merged and transformed themselves into one constant stream of work that you are somehow managing to navigate. Opportunities for a reprieve seem remote, but the one good thing about being swallowed in the timelessness of toil (apart from fulfillment, achievement, blah blah blah) is that the cold, dark days slip by all the faster. The hours march toward… March, and the mythic spring break beyond. Before you know it we’ll be there, but before you give in to daydreams of April 14, here are some other dates and events to keep in mind:

 The English Majors’ Counseling Office (that’s us) will be hosting an open mic on Thursday March 6th. It’s open to poetry, prose, and performance from any student. A sign-up sheet is posted on the door of 3416 Boylan, so don’t forget to add your name!

The deadline to file for graduation is March 14, so make sure to get your paperwork in on time, unless you want to add another minor.

Ploughshares is hosting an Emerging Writer’s Contest, with $1,000 prizes in Fiction, Poetry, and Nonfiction. Submissions will be accepted from March 1st-15th, with a $24 entry fee that includes a one-year subscription to the magazine.

Nimrod International Journal is hosting The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction, and The Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, with $2,000 for 1st prize, and $1,000 for 2nd. Submissions are due by April 30th, with a $20 entry fee that includes a one-year subscription to the journal.

If you are a Sophomore or a Junior who can establish both merit and need, you should apply for the Karel Rose Scholarship by April 11th to receive up to $2,000 for your remaining years at BC. You can pick up an application in 2111 James Hall.

The English Majors’ Counseling Office is also accepting admissions  to The Junction, our annual literary magazine. So if you have poetry, prose, or visual art that you would like to submit, send it to bczinesubmissions[at]gmail[dot]com!

Lastly, feel free to come by Boylan 3416 for more information on any of these opportunities, or answers to any of your English majory questions.


Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

I feel obligated to give a little bit of a backstory: this Dr. Seuss classic was one of my favorite books from the time I first learned to read. I pored over every word and every illustration. I knew the whole story by heart. And then, in what still remains a family mystery, the book vanished. I have a suspicion it was accidentally tossed during some year’s spring-cleaning, or maybe lent out and never returned. I searched every bookshelf, every storage box, even countless used book sale racks, but no luck.

I still haven’t found my book, but last week I did get another copy (thanks, Mom!). Reading the words that had slipped from memory was a fun moment of nostalgia, but more than that, they were relevant to me today in a way I hadn’t expected. I found maybe even more meaning in these simple words than I did when I was a child. Dr. Seuss’s story is full of the wisdom of growing up, the ups and downs and the successes and disappointments that make the journey challenging but worthwhile. Life’s problems, and their solutions, can be summed up in a few lines:

“You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with great care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.”

It’s advice that makes sense whether you’re five, twenty-five or seventy-five, as simple and uncomplicated as it should be. Life is a maze, and it’s impossible to make the right move all the time. The best you can do is be thoughtful and clever, and try to make the steps you take be the right ones. Always make sure to enjoy the good things in life, and remember that they will be waiting for you at the end of your troubles. And never think that those troubles will ever be so bad you can’t tell right from left. After all, “you have what you have, and you know what you know, and you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Though we may think we grow out of them, children’s books can hold a lot of wisdom. So find a book you loved as a kid and read it again. See what it means to you now. If you want, I’ll even let you borrow my favorite.

-Elizabeth Coluccio

Poem of the Week

How the Leaves Came Down
by Susan Coolidge

"I'll tell you how the leaves came down,"
The great tree to his children said,
"You're getting sleepy, Yellow and Brown,
Yes, very sleepy, little Red.
It is quite time to go to bed."

"Ah!" begged each silly, pouting leaf,
"Let us a little longer stay;
Dear Father Tree, behold our grief;
Tis such a very pleasant day
We do not want to go away."

So, for just one more merry day
To the great tree the leaflets clung,
Frolicked and danced, and had their way,
Upon the autumn breezes swung,
Whispering all their sports among,--

"Perhaps the great tree will forget,
And let us stay until the spring,
If we all beg, and coax, and fret."
But the great tree did no such thing;
He smiled to hear their whispering.

"Come, children, all to bed," he cried;
And ere the leaves could urge their prayer,
He shook his head, and far and wide,
Fluttering and rustling everywhere,
Down sped the leaflets through the air.

I saw them; on the ground they lay,
Golden and red, a huddled swarm,
Waiting till one from far away,
White bedclothes heaped upon her arm,
Should come to wrap them safe and warm.

The great bare tree looked down and smiled,
"Good-night, dear little leaves," he said.
And from below each sleepy child
Replied, "Good-night," and murmured,
"It is so nice to go to bed!"

If there’s one thing I love most, it is trees. Well, and cats. And if I mention cats, I must mention reading, too. I think that should do.

Me in ten years

As a connoisseur of the children’s poem, “How the Leaves Came Down” is truly one of my favorites. It takes place in a magical setting: nature. To make it even better, the Tree, which is personified and anthropomorphized, is a male. How often does that happen? It seems this occurrence is not common in nature. (Or maybe I’m just too hung up on Grandmother Willow being the spiritual guide for the *first half of my life).
*First half = all of my life

Me seeking advice

I must applaud Coolidge for the perfect balance of quotation and narration. Her “call and response” storytelling makes for a great read aloud. I also love the intimacy between the human and the Tree. It is never needed or explained how the human knows the inner workings of the Tree and his children. What a breath of fresh air for a suffocating city dweller like myself.

I enjoy how a euphemism is used for death in the poem. After all, death and sleep are brothers. So are the leaves just temporarily dying? Like sleeping? What I love most about it is that the leaves will come back, eventually. The human also makes caution of this by calling snow “warm bedclothes.”The marriage of irony and juxtaposition in the verses only shed light on the Tree’s mercy. His children (the leaves) want to stay because they are enjoying themselves—but the Tree knows better. He selflessly lets them rest while he takes on the harsh weather, which he dares not call it such.

There is a sheet of leaves climbing up the backyard fence of my curious 1920's house. They are sleeping now, under a white blanket, but as the Tree promised, will be back. How wonderful to love a thing that comes back.

Until next week,


"The Lego Movie:" Is everything really awesome?

This weekend I went to see The Lego Movie with my son, and it really proved to be an enjoyable experience. While managing to be continuously hilarious, the balance of adult humor and children’s humor was perfect. Although there were many underlying themes throughout, the one that I found mostly appealing to children was that everyone is special--whether you’re the good guy or villain. It is a positive affirmation that everyone needs to hear and believe in, and The Lego Movie, successfully reiterates that sentiment several times.

The movie begins eerily optimistic with Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), detailing his daily routine through a list of instructions. He seems to be extremely content in doing so, but after a few minutes of the hilarious monotony of instructions, the viewer notices that the society in which Emmet lives in also follows the same set of instructions. The Lego world is portrayed as a happy place, dictated by Lord business (voiced by Will Ferrell), who is the owner of a corporation (Octan) which is the big brother of the entire populous. It is clever yet straight forward to refer to the bad guy as “Business” and the hero as “the special”. For the children that watch this film, they will understand the separation, and for the adults, well, we get it. 

I found there to be a lot of irony. Hasbro is the creator of the Lego Company, so why would a huge franchise agree to script a children's movie that blatantly spews anti business rhetoric? Perhaps that is where the humor lies-- that, and the “Everything is Awesome” song.

Over all, I would recommend that everyone watches this movie. The animation is excellent and the storyline is genius.



Fleetwood Mac

Since my childhood I have been listening to Fleetwood Mac, and have loved their music ever since. For those who don’t know, Fleetwood Mac are a British/American rock band that formed in London in 1967. The band members are Stevie Nicks (vocals), Lindsey Buckingham (guitar, vocals), John McVie (bass) and Mick Fleetwood (drums). They have sold over 100 million albums worldwide. It’s quite interesting to learn about the personal lives of the band members and how their lives influenced their music. Lindsey and Stevie were dating before they entered the band, and they had their own band called Buckingham Nicks, but Buckingham Nicks were struggling to become successful.

Things changed for the better when drummer Mick Fleetwood went into their studio to meet with Lindsey and Stevie's producer, Keith Olsen.  Mick Fleetwood was looking for a guitar player, and Lindsey seemed like a good guy for the job.  Lindsey and Stevie were a package deal, and in order for them to have Lindsey in the band, they needed to take Stevie too.  Taking both of these musicians would be one of the best decisions that Mick Fleetwood ever made.

My personal favorite song is “Go Your Own Way”, which carries significance to Lindsey and Stevie. They used their songs to communicate their feelings toward each other. "Go Your Own Way" is about Nicks and Lindsey's crumbling relationship. Imagine singing this close to your ex:

It must have been tough going through a breakup while having to see the other person every day. It was one way for these two to communicate their troubles and their passion for each other. Here are some of the lyrics to "Go Your Own Way":

“Loving you isn't the right thing to do
How can I ever change things that I feel?
If I could maybe I'd give you my world
How can I when you won't take it from me?

-Chana Trappler

Image Sources:

Revolution!: Works from the Black Arts Movement at the Brooklyn Museum

            To attain racial justice, there needs to be cultural awareness in addition to social, political, economic, and intellectual awareness, which led to the start of the Black Arts Movement. The Black Arts Movement was the cultural aspect of the Black Power Movement during the 1960s and the 1970s. The art pieces from the Black Arts Movement were from various cities, ranging from New York City to San Francisco. However, the artwork from the Black Arts Movement all had a similar goal: for African Americans to recognize their full humanity and to advocate for social justice in an environment ridden with racial inequities and oppression.
            The artwork from the Black Arts movement is what a lot of scholars would consider to be “unorthodox.” Since African American art was often excluded from contemporary museums during the 1960s and 1970s, African American artists often did not adhere to the stylistic elements of the more mainstream art pieces found in museums. Rather, artwork during the Black Arts Movement served to educate and empower black communities.
            Here are my two favorite pieces of the Black Arts Movement in the Brooklyn Museum’s exhibit:
1.     Casper Banjo, A Black and White Situation, 1976

 The background of the art piece is a brick wall which symbolizes the barriers that prevented African Americans to attaining rights that would guarantee full citizenship to them in American society. The black and white hands, of course, symbolize race. The stylistic elements of the piece are not completely symbolic, however. In addition to symbolizing race, the black and white hands reflect the pervasiveness of graffiti in Oakland and the Bay Area in California.

2. Jeff Donaldson, Victory in the Valley of Eshu

This art piece is of Donaldson’s parents depicted as African ancestors. Donaldson’s mother is wearing a necklace with an ankh, which symbolized life in ancient Egyptian society. Donaldson’s father holds a Shango dance wand, which has to do with the Yoruba god of thunder and lightning. Eshu, which is in the title of the piece, is also a Yoruba god. Donaldson’s piece highlights the role of the Africa and its diaspora in African American culture.

            Although my favorite art in the Brooklyn Museum is still ancient Egyptian art (which I mentioned in my last piece), I found the artwork from the Black Arts Movement to be extremely significant and meaningful since it highlights the role of culture in social movements for racial justice.
            Also, the incorporation of art and culture into social movements is not only significant in African American society. Last week, I saw an art piece on the Internet. The piece is located in San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico, which is in the Borderlands, an area of hybridity of Anglo and Chicano culture, but also an area of violence. It says, “Sin Cultura…No Tengo inspiracion ni Corazon.” (“Without Culture…I have neither inspiration nor heart.”) The role of culture in the fight for justice brings a sense of awareness and passion in marginalized groups in both the United States and around the world. On a concluding note, here is the piece:

                                                                - Jacqueline Retalis

The Hereford Mappa Mundi

The Hereford mappa mundi is one of the most famous maps in the world. It is dated around 1300, and is probably the largest medieval map (5.18’ by 4.36’) still in existence. I previously wrote (on the blog) about another mappa mundi and its general form, but the Hereford mappa exposes even more because of its size. Although all mappa mundi are fanciful depictions of the world (and yes, Medieval people knew it wasn’t flat), mappa mundi offer our only way to see how creatures and places existed in the medieval imagination, contextualized in space. Though stemming from imagination, these artifacts offer a glimpse into how imagination was transposed upon the physical world.

One of the things that I find so interesting about the Hereford mappa is that it actually charts out cities and locations—it is the first known map to represent the Farroe Islands. All mappa mundi have some sense of geographical location, as Jerusalem is always in the middle (and to medieval thinkers, this was one of the structures of the corporeal world), but the Hereford explodes with place, mixing locations of biblical and mythological importance (Noah’s Ark, Eden, the Minotaur’s labrynth, etc.). And stretching even further than this, it explodes with creatures, plants, and glossing about all of those things. This past week, the ongoing projects of Factum-arte and The Folio Society to document the work were launched on an interactive site. The site allows exploration of some key features such as the unicorn, blemmyes, and sciapods, giving a totally new and intimate experience with the artifact. I hope that the digital project expands, and eventually includes all of the glossing and characters.

I wonder how we really interact with maps. A video about the Hereford mappa led me to a link on Grayson Perry’s 2008 Map of Nowhere, which is inspired by the Hereford mappa and presents both a map of his own body and of a sort of urban experience. He states that the piece is a “world view, but also a sort of personal world view.” I would go on to say that all world-views are just that. Seeing the tensions in the vellum makes me think of the deep violence and comfort that is writing and creating; here it is literalized on the back of a calfskin. And this is what writing was in the Middle Ages: either impermanent, scratched on a wax sheet that one can rub or melt away, or codified onto the bodies of dead animals, each scratch of a writing instrument making punctures in flesh. There is something analogous in our digitized world. These words that we write seem less significant; they have no tangible existence, living instead on tiny bright light filling up a screen, and yet, we know that somehow they are deeply permanent. Nothing is leaving this digital space. Until then, we will keep hopping around on our oversized feet, speaking empty words from our bellies.

A video about the mapping process:\

A more thorough outline of images:

The Hereford Mappa
Grayson Perry's Map of Nowhere

Art based in Brooklyn during the Depression Era

The Canvas

Maybe this is because I am a Brooklynite, but there is just something about seeing artwork based in Brooklyn that absolutely excites me. This was the reason why my favorite pieces of artwork on the fifth floor of the Brooklyn Museum, called “American Identities,” were the ones based in Brooklyn. The pieces of artwork based in Brooklyn took place during the harshest years of the Depression era. Here are two of the paintings that fascinated me:

1. Louis Simon, “Bicycle Boy trade Sign, 1932-34”

The most interesting aspect of Simon’s piece, “Bicycle Boy Trade Sign”, is that it mainly had a practical, business-oriented purpose rather than an aesthetic purpose. Simon created the sign in order to improve the business at his bicycle and motorcycle shop on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. When the sign worked, a bulb in the boy’s head lit up, which caused the boy’s eyes to light up and his legs to pedal on the bicycle. The boy on the sign served to attract customers to the store. 

Another interesting aspect of the piece was that it depicts of the lives of business owners struggling to keep their jobs rather than just the struggles of unemployment that is common in Depression era narratives. 

2. Reginald Marsh, “The Bowl, 1933” 

Marsh’s piece, “The Bowl”, focuses on middle-class New Yorkers during the Great Depression era, which is a much different approach from the focus on poverty stricken people. Middle class New Yorkers during the Depression Era were much more privileged than their poorer counterparts and were able to go to Coney Island for leisure time. In the rides in Coney Island, men and women were able to attain and maintain close contact with each other. This differed vastly from gender relations during the Victorian era, in which men and women often had separate domains. In the piece, there was one of the “bowls,” where people ranging from close friends to complete strangers were chaotically mixed together, which Marsh depicted in a sensual manner.

Both art pieces allowed me to not only learn more about New York during the Depression era but also to look at the Depression era in a different light.

          - Jacqueline Retalis


If I could rewind time
I would put you and I as far apart
as the east from the west
my love for you has come to an end.
no more take backsies, start over's no try 
our time has expired like bad milk. 
Friendships were meant to be equal 
but you took the glue 
out of our relationship
somehow we are
where no voice is heard   
no opinion matters oh
and maybe yours no
nothing matters anymore
like two of us never existed as
our heart drifting farther apart...
never hated you    
I always planned to love you  
as a matter of fact my dear friend,
I'm praying for you.

I saw an old friend today and I didn't even realize how distant we were until that moment. Growing up we were inseparable but today we could barely find anything to talk about. It helped me to understand how fragile relationships can be. This poem is the perfect example of the evanescent quality of friendships. We drifted apart and we both blamed each other. Maybe we'll find a common ground or maybe it's best we go our separate ways. But like the poem's end, I will always wish her well.   

-Eta Oyarijivbie 

Tolerant Truffles

The downside of being lactose intolerant is the obvious, no dairy. I’ve spent years compiling recipes of baked goods with soymilk instead of 2%, margarine instead of butter, and soy products instead of cheese. Black coffee with two Splendas when no milk substitute is available and a headache a stomach-pain when I just can’t resist a chocolate truffle. There is no substitute for a chocolate truffle.

            Last summer I spent July Fourth weekend at a friend’s house. After lunch Saturday afternoon my friend’s mother pulled out a package of chocolate truffles. Immediately my heart fell. I would be offered these truffles, the good kind, the kind covered in dark chocolate and filled with fruit-infused truffle-inside, and I would politely decline. They would ask why and I would sadly answer that I was lactose intolerant.

            What I hadn’t anticipated was their answer of, “Oh! You’re lactose intolerant? These are non-dairy, and vegan!”

            Dear Coco is a web-based chocolate factory of from-scratch, upscale desserts from Rachelle Dalva Ferneau, the California native pastry chef who founded Eden Cake. Among their other sweets, they sell non-dairy, vegan, dark-chocolate truffles in countless flavors. Their signature flavors are Belgian chocolate (roasted cacao), Kyoto Green (green tea), Mauna Loa Salted Caramel, Milano double espresso, Mumbai Masala Chai, New Orleans Bananas foster, Peppermint Powerball, Peruvian Peanut, Polynesian Toasted coconut and many more listed here! I’m a fan of the fruit-flavored chocolates and the dairy-free-ness of it all. Each month they have a new signature flavor, and include a type of chocolate delivery newsletter, where customers can sign up for a new chocolate flavor to be delivered each month TO THEIR DOOR!

Here’s another picture to wet your apetite-

They’re available to order online, in two New York restaurants and other places listed here. If you’re lactose intolerant, vegan, or hungry for some delicious chocolate truffles, it’s a treat.

~Rebecca N