A Community Collaboration: Golden Shovels

Jet Fuel Review Issue #21 Cover

For our Spring 2021 issue of Jet Fuel Review (cover art by Deedee Cheriel), we devoted a special section to golden shovels. If you are unfamiliar with the form, it is an interesting take on acrostic poetry where a poet chooses a line and puts each word from that line at the end of each of their new lines. Terrance Hayes created the form and based his poem “The Golden Shovel” on Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool.” (In Hayes’s poem, he explores his childhood and memories of his father).

We felt that it was necessary to take this golden shovel form beyond the confines of our journal. Like previous issues that had special sections, we would often have a call-out throughout Lewis University in order to foster community engagement and celebration. This time, unlike our 19th issue that focused on collaborative poetry, we chose the golden shovel form. To celebrate the successful launch of our 21st issue, and to witness a mosaic of creativity at the end of the Spring 2021 Semester, we asked students, faculty, and alumni to join together to create golden shovels. These shovels could be from a line of poetry or music that inspired the community member to write.

Presented below is an excerpt from the Special Section’s introduction written by JFR Assistant Managing Editor, Jo Spangler, that discusses the form in more detail. Located underneath the excerpt from our journal, there is a collection of fantastic golden shovels written by some of our own editors of Jet Fuel Review as well as some faculty and alumni of Lewis University. In summation, each of these golden shovels represents communication between the original author of the line and the poet using it. This community project is one that connects to the theme of our special section and gives a glimpse into the creativity and talent of our community. I hope you love Jet Fuel Review‘s 21st issue and also enjoy reading some golden shovels from the Lewis community.

Thank you, and I hope the blog has served you well during this difficult semester!

— Christian Mietus, Blog Editor

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A Community Collaboration: Collaborative Writing

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Jet Fuel Review Issue #17 Cover

For our Spring 2019 issue of Jet Fuel Review (with cover art by artist Delano Dunn) there is a special section that presents collaborative writing, which is writing that multiple artist’s crafted. As a way to celebrate the successful launch of our 17th issue, we’ve asked some of students, faculty, and alumni to join in and construct a piece, or multiple,  that they created with their peers.

Presented below is a segment of the Special Section’s introduction as written by JFR Managing Editor, Zakiya Cowan, and a collection of fantastic collaboratively written pieces by some of our very own editors of Jet Fuel Review as well as some members of the Lewis University community. In summation, each of these pieces remain as a showcase of the bridge of collaboration and we are excited to present this talent.

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In Memoriam: JFR Editor Steven T. Seum (July 19, 1978 – December 29, 2017)

Dear readers, Jet Fuel Review has established a memorial page for our dear editor Steven T. Seum with some of his work as well as tributes from his peers and professors. This is work-in-progress as we will continue to update the page with pieces about Steve from students, faculty, and others. If you have anything you’d like to say about Steve, please send it to our JFR blog editor Michael Lane and/or Simone Muench, and we will post it on this page as we are able. If you would like to donate groceries to his family, there is information at the bottom of this page for a GoFundMe organized by Steve’s brother, Michael Seum, as well as a link to a food delivery service called Meal Train created by Amber Ruland.Simone Muench

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Steve Seum at the JFR Issue #14 Launch on November 30th, 2017

The Chronic Appeal
by Steven Seum

(Written for Dr. Jen Consilio’s Advanced Writing course)

“We are not to blame for our illness, but we are responsible for our health.”- Victoria Maxwell, BPP

Being overwhelmed by multiple, debilitating chronic health issues at any time in my life was mind-bogglingly unanticipated.  My back has been sliced and diced twice (once through my back, and the second time through a six-inch opening starting at my navel and going down past my waist).  I now have an artificial disc in the lumbar region of my back, I deal with chronic neuropathy, I have limited control over my right leg, and I have dealt with Crohn’s disease, an Inflammatory Bowel Disease, for the past twenty-six years of my life, all at the age of thirty-eight.  Unable to anticipate each day bares an undesirable burden.  I am incapable of anticipating when my back will seize up, as various muscle groups compensate for the injured region, or the surgically repaired and replaced areas of my back will ache a deep ache, pulsing in time with my heart, or if I will be stuck running, no, sprinting to the bathroom because of my Crohn’s disease and the side effects which come with it (the fatigue, the vitamin deficiencies, the joint pain)—a daily routine was ruled out long ago. This is how it is for anyone dealing with anything chronic or invisible, or those close to it—our family and friends—and the side effects that come with chronic illness and the depression, the lack of routine, and the inability to live a “human” existence (the “human” existence is simply a dream I have of a life apart from this dysfunctional body of mine).  There is much I would like to say, to those new to these chronic issues, which would provide a positive story or feedback of a structured regimen, but even the best of us know that the struggle for remission is an overwhelming and intimidating burden of this disease.

“As far as I’m concerned, the entire reason for becoming a writer is not having to get up in the morning.” – Neil Gaiman

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English Alum in the Spotlight: Kendra Hadnott

Kendra Hadnott
Kendra Hadnott

Recently, we here at the Jet Fuel Review hosted an Alumni Author Reading featuring three alumni from the university where we are based, Lewis University. We wanted to celebrate them not only in that space, but here on the blog, too. Two weeks ago we spotlighted former JFR Managing Editor Tim Fitzpatrick, last week we highlighted poet Susan Slaviero, and this week we finally have novelist Kendra Hadnott.

Kendra Hadnott is an author, freelance writer, educator, and blogger. In 2015, she was named the third place winner in the 2014 International 3-Day Novel Contest for her novella, Somebody’s Nobody. Her short stories have been published in various university magazine publications. She is the author of the 5-book LIVE series and children’s paranormal fantasy novel, Something Watching Me (an official 2016 Chicago Public School Battle of the Books title). Her science-fiction novel, Death Leaders, is the latest of her work to be published. Previously a writer/project manager for a well-known toy company, Kendra happily traded in her 9-to-5 gig for a rewarding career as an author. She holds a bachelors degree in English from Lewis University. You can visit her website here.

Below we have an interview with Kendra, and also feature the first chapter of her novella, Somebody’s Nobody.

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English Alum in the Spotlight: Susan Slaviero

Susan Slaviero
Susan Slaviero

Recently, we here at the Jet Fuel Review hosted an Alumni Author Reading featuring three alumni from the university where we are based, Lewis University. We wanted to celebrate them not only in that space, but here on the blog, too. Last week we spotlighted former JFR Managing Editor Tim Fitzpatrick, and this week we have poet Susan Slaviero.

Susan Slaviero’s full-length collection of poems, CYBORGIA, is available from Mayapple Press. Her chapbooks include An Introduction to the Archetypes (Shadowbox Press 2008), Apocrypha (Dancing Girl Press 2009), A Wicked Apple (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2011), and Selections From The Murder Book (Ghost Ocean, 2012).  For many years, she designed and edited the online literary journal Blossom Bones, and now she performs as her alter ego, August Rose, with The Chicago Poetry Brothel. She is the recipient of a 2014 Pushcart Prize, and she received her degree in English from Lewis University. You can visit Susan’s blog here 

Below we have both an interview with Susan, and we’re also featuring a poem by her, entitled “Coyote.”

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English Alum in the Spotlight: Tim Fitzpatrick

Tim Fitzpatrick
Tim Fitzpatrick

Recently, we here at the Jet Fuel Review hosted an Alumni Author Reading, featuring three alumni from the university where we are based, Lewis University. We wanted to celebrate them not only in that space, but here on the blog, too. First up on the docket is former Jet Fuel Review managing editor, Tim Fitzpatrick.

Tim Fitzpatrick served as Managing Editor of Jet Fuel Review from 2012-2014 and currently serves as JFR’s Head Consultant. He is an avid reader, writer, and Bulls fan. He joined the Jet Fuel Review after its second issue and has not been allowed to leave. He has run a videography company, worked for Jokes4miles doing video work, written as a professional blogger, and currently works as a chef for Wooden Paddle Pizza. He enjoys his coffee black, a good film, the occasional alcoholic beverage, and golfing. You can check out his previous JFR blog “Tim’s Storydome” where he pit novels against their film adaptations.

Below we have a Q&A with Tim:

So, what are you working on?

There are a few short stories that I am working on, but primarily I’m working with some friends to turn one of my shorts into a short film. I’ve already written the script, and we’re aiming to start shooting at the beginning of June.

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​​In Memoriam: JFR Editor Lucas Boelter (Sept 23, 1990-Sept 24, 2015)

Dear readers, Jet Fuel Review has established a memorial page for our editor Lucas Boelter with some of his poetry, which deserves to be read. There are also tribute comments about Lucas from students, faculty, and others. If you have anything you’d like to say about Lucas, please send it to our blog editor, Michael Lane, and we will post it on this page as we are able. You can also read an interview with Lucas here



Imagine I have a hook
and your body splayed above me,
hooked, and it is as if each cut
breathes, like a mouth, into my

We are kissing, darling,
how I have prayed for this.



Lucas Boelter’s intellect, imagination, and conscientiousness allowed him to be a striking writer and excellent editor. The qualities of his poetry, which you will see below, embrace the marvelous, contain an affinity for oddities, and involve dreaming and liminal states as they drift between levels of perception, invoking magical and dazzling tableaux with their lyrical complexities. They revel in the imagination, creating strange landscapes, refreshing tonal changes, and complicated sonic terrains as evidenced in his poem “Waterfall,” in which he creates sonic pulses, echoing the rhythms of falling water by building on the “w” and “l” sounds:IMG_2165

. . . It will be my
waterfall and we will have children who
will rest on my shoulders. I will be a
waterfall god of sorts. The children will
be called Cougar and Matthew and in the
parks we will stroll.

Although Lucas’s poems are quirky and whimsical, and often conversational, they are counterbalanced with gravitas as they investigate and pose questions about the nature of “being,” as in the closing lines of his sonnet with the loaded title “Rest Room”:

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Alumni Feature: “Gracefully Surrendering the Things of Youth” by Travis Conner

Today’s feature is a piece about alienation, transition, and growth. It describes the difficulties of reintegrating a soldier into a forgotten realm: civilian life. Veteran Travis Conner focuses on the importance of the relationships he forged during a time of extreme caution and hyper-real violence. The piece was submitted by Louis Revisky, a professor at Lewis and US veteran.

Gracefully Surrendering the Things of Youth
by Travis Conner

The title of this paper comes from my favorite poem, titled “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann; a poem that I consider to be full of wisdom, and is a tool that I use to slow down my life for a minute to perform an honest reality check on myself. I enjoy the feeling that I get every time that I read it, which is about once every six months. It gently reminds me to strive to be myself at all times, to be a good person, and to remember that I have a lot of life left to live. It reminds me to keep things slow and deliberate, and to stay consistent in the way that I make decisions; with a mindset looking to the future. And above all, to remember that time changes everything, in good ways and in bad, and to strive to not let time make a victim out of me; instead, using the time that I have to make sound decisions every day so I can look back on a life well-spent, and not regret too many of the decisions made in my youth.

It’s strange to go from being a soldier for four years, with a combat deployment to Afghanistan, to abandoning part of what makes me who I am to become a civilian again. I trusted my brothers with my life, and I knew they trusted me with theirs. We were a family, forged through war, and I was leaving them just like that. I was Specialist Conner, and I didn’t know how on earth I was going to become Travis again. I felt completely lost when I was driving the U-Haul out of the base, onto I-5, to go back to my home that I knew wouldn’t feel like home. I was excited though; it was an opportunity to do anything that I wanted. The sky was the limit, and I was happy about starting a new chapter in my life. I knew that I would miss my former life, though. It was the life that I knew and loved every minute of.

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