Meet the Authors: Rita Mookerjee

Hello again, Readers! As promised, we are continuing the Meet the Authors series with our profile on Dr. Rita Mookerjee. Dr. Mookerjee followed Dr. Carrie McGath’s presentation which you can read about in our previous blog post here. Dr. Mookerjee spoke about a variety of topics and gave important pieces of advice to the students in the class. She also spoke about her experience living in Jamaica on a Fulbright and read a poem she wrote while staying there.

Dr. Rita Mookerjee

Bio: Rita Mookerjee is the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Postdoctoral Fellow at DePaul University. She holds a PhD in Literature from Florida State University. In 2020, she was a Fulbright fellow in Jamaica. She is the co-founder of Honey Literary, Inc. and a Poetry Editor at Split Lip Magazine.

False Offering, her debut full-length collection, is forthcoming in 2023 from Jackleg Press. Her poetry is featured in Juked, Hobart Pulp, New Orleans Review, the Offing, and the Baltimore Review.

Rita Mookerjee holds a Ph.D. in Literature from Florida State University. In 2019-2020, she was a Fulbright Fellow to Jamaica. She is also the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Postdoctoral Fellow at DePaul University. 

-End of Bio-

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Meet the Authors: Carrie McGath

Hello, readers! Welcome to the first edition of “Meet the Authors,” a series for the visiting authors that grace Lewis University with their presence. On March 3rd, the University welcomed Dr. Carrie McGath and Dr. Rita Mookerjee to AS 158 where both authors read poetry and gave a Q & A afterward. For this “Meet the Authors” post, we will be focusing on Carrie McGath and her wonderful poetry (stay tuned for our post about Rita Mookerjee and her amazing work as well!) Now for a brief introduction to Carrie McGath and an exploration of her work and the thought behind it:

Before Dr. McGath and Dr. Mookerjee presented their work for the University, they made a special appearance at the Advanced/Intermediate Creative Writing class taught by Dr. Simone Muench. At this closed event, the students listened to the wisdom presented by each author and had the opportunity to ask questions following the presentations. For this blog post, we will run through some of what McGath discussed throughout the private session as well as the University event that occurred after.

Dr. Carrie McGath

Bio: Carrie McGath’s first collection of poems, Small Murders, was released in 2006 by New Issues Poetry and Prose. Since then, Carrie has self-published five limited-edition chapbooks, including: Ward Eighty-One, The Chase, So Sorry to See You GoOhio Lonely, and Dollface. She is currently at work on her second full-length collection of poems, The Luck of Anhedonia. Her poems have appeared in literary journals including The Chariton Review, Hiram Poetry Review, and Barrow Street. Her poem, “Dear Anhedonia” won the AWP Intro Journals Project Award in 2019 and was published in The Tahoma Literary Review.

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Writing Process Blog Tour with Jackie K. White

Welcome to the Writing Process Blog Tour!Muench.WolfCentos copy

I’d like to thank Simone Muench for inviting me to participate.

Simone Muench is the author of five full-length collections including Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010) and Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014), as well as the chapbook Trace (Black River Award; BLP, 2014). She is a recipient of a 2013 NEA fellowship, two Illinois Arts fellowships, and residencies to VSC, Yaddo, Artsmith, and ACA. She received her Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and directs the writing program at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies, while serving as chief faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review.

You can read Simone Muench’s responses here.

1. What am I working on?

I’ve been moving between translation and poetry projects this year; first, in the fall when I was on sabbatical and carmen-natalia-martnez-bonillaable to travel to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. In the DR, I was able to meet with Sherezada (Chiqui) Vicioso whose collection of feminist essays on Caribbean women writers, Algo que decir (Something Worth Saying) I’ve translated with the help of Socorro Cintrón. Socorro and I are now working on a set of poems by another Dominican, Carmen Natalia Bonilla Martínez (1917 – 1976), Llanto para el hijo nunca llegado (Lament for the Child Never Who Never Arrived). Also related to translation, I’ve recently begun serving as the Translations Editor for a quarterly feature in the online journal, Escape into Life. The first translation feature there is Jesse Lee Kercheval’s work from Uruguayan poets, Augustín Lucas and Circe Maia.

As for my poetry projects, I’m finishing up two chapbooks of elegies that I hope to form into one manuscript: Threnody and The Fury Psalms. Both centered on elegy, the first processes grief through poetic forms, linguisimages-1tic tropes, and seasonal markers to interrogate both personal loss and the loss of language that accompanies it. The second picks up some of those thematics through spliced centos in a larger dialogic structure that ventriloquizes Sexton and Plath, framed by “purer” centos with are then fractured into “extractions” that put a lengthier, discursive poem in conversation with the lyric knot excised from it. I hope to begin soon a “remake” of an older project, Eurynome in Exile, building on these projects and a previous series of “body centos” in ways that will allow me to explore the intersections between translation and poetry alongside hemispheric intersections of “American” identity.

I was delighted to read in Tyler Mill’s blog of her interests in “investigat[ing] the lyric persona, the body, landscapes, and memory,” as that speaks to my interests, as well, and yet, as I’ve been reflecting on my old project related to “exile” and issues of place, I’ve begun to realize that the lurking concern – and one of the lyric poem’s innate concerns – is with time. (Eurynome, Pelagasian goddess of place, was exiled by the Greek Cronus, god of time; you can read an excerpt from the initial project here: Seven Corners Poetry. I’m curious to see how that sensibility morphs what and how I write next, particularly as attitudes and grammars of time seem to be so culturally inscribed – U.S. Americans supposedly future-oriented, for example, and other Americans more engaged with the present or the past…

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?  4f55529bee2ec_80495n

My work in elegy differs from others because of its more foregrounded attention to linguistic matters and metaphors as well as in my experimentations with the dialogic, the cento, and other stanzaic forms (couplet, tercet, sonnet, for example). To some extent my elegies also address gender and the gendered body, as well, probably because these later chapbooks or sequences follow my previous chapbook, Come clearing, which has those issues at its core. Another possible difference in my work is a Midwestern landscape sensibility and a tension between meditative tone and clipped or unusual juxtaposed phrasings.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Where “what” refers to content: because I’ve never felt completely at home and because words offer both a home and an exploration of its limits and possibilities—and by “home” I include landscape and body, relational constructs and language(s). Where it refers to genre: because I like the containers that poetic forms provide and prefer lyric to narrative and, to speak of translation as well, because I like to give voice to other voices and to be part of larger conversations in intimate ways.

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Writing Process Blog Tour with Simone Muench

Welcome to the Writing Process Blog Tour!MillsCompHi.indd

I’d like to thank Tyler Mills for so graciously inviting me to participate.

Tyler Mills is the author of Tongue Lyre, winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award (SIU Press 2013). A poet and essayist, her poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, The Believer, POETRY, and the Boston Review, and her prose has appeared in the Robert Frost Review and the Writer’s Chronicle. Her poems have received awards from the Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Coast, and Third Coast, and she has been the recipient of work-study scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. A graduate of Bucknell and the University of Maryland (MFA, Poetry), she is Editor-in-Chief of The Account: A Journal of Poetry, Prose, and Thought. She lives in Chicago, where she is currently working toward a PhD in creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago and helps organize the Wit Rabbit reading series.

You can read Tyler’s wonderful responses here, and below are my responses:

1. What am I working on?Muench.WolfCentos copy

Project 1 (completed):  I recently completed my chapbook Trace (Black Lawrence Press, 2014) and full-length collection Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014), both of which are books comprised of centos, a patchwork form that I find to be deeply under-utilized with great potential to engage the lyric-I in a new, and hopefully profound, manner. The recombinant nature of the cento allows for both homage to influences and predecessors while beginning the conversation anew. And just as each line “converses” with its adjacent line, each poem is in conversation with one another. Ultimately elegiac, these particular poems oscillate between transformation and stasis, wildness and domesticity, damage and healing. The “wolf” of these centos becomes a symbol of a threshold, a transformative space, as well as a mode of meditation, or as the wonderful late Larry Levis notes:

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One Class Can Change a Life: SAIC Instructor and MFA Candidate Danielle Susi Profile by Zana Dixon

Hello, everyone, and welcome to our installment, “Acts of Reading and Writing: Faculty Profiles.” This week we feature Danielle Susi, instructor and MFA candidate at the School of the Art Institute. Lewis student Zana Dixon interviewed Ms. Susi. The mini-interview, that the Jet Fuel Review editors are also partaking in for the “Meet the Editors” series, is located after the profile.

One Class Can Change a Lifedanielle susi profile

Getting lost in a book allows you to escape reality, however, getting lost while reading a book is terrifying; for Danielle Susi this is beyond true. Reading on Chicago’s train, formally known as the “L,” or while on the CTA bus, has become a normal routine for Susi; it allows her to literally move as she is moving through the story. One day while riding the CTA bus, Susi began to read a book. “It was night time and I had a long day at work,” she recalled. She became so distracted reading the book that she lost track of the time. When she finally happened to look up, she noticed she was in an unfamiliar neighborhood. As she hurried off the bus into the cold darkness of the night she fortunately found her direction and began the long ten block walk home. This was not the first time she has gotten lost, and probably will not be the last. “Pay attention while reading on the bus or train,” she advises. Getting lost while reading, however, has not diminished her love for reading.

Danielle Susi’s love for reading and writing stemmed from her childhood. From an early age, reading has been a llamapart of Susi’s life. As a young girl her house was filled with children’s books that her mother would read to her. “I remember the book Is Your Mama a Llama? being read to me over and over again,” Susi recalls. She knows that book had a great influence on her love for llamas but later realized that reading at an early age contributed to her love for reading; or, as she says, “I recall my mother reading to me as a child; she deemed it very important. My favorite book was Go Dogs Go. Reading as a child has also influenced my love for writing.”

Choosing a book to read is not at all difficult for Susi; however, “I am not drawn to genre writing” she declares. Reading a book should be able to take you from your reality and put you in a place that goes beyond one’s imagination. While reading a book, questions should be posed that cause you to look for answers; and when the answers are not found it allows you to look within yourself for the answers.

In college, choosing classes can be easy, especially when you are set on a major. Danielle Susi knew she wanted to major in Political Science. However, she did not know that a simple creative writing class would cause her to double major in writing.  At Quinnipiac University during her freshmen year, Susi enrolled in a creative writing class hoping to just fill a requirement. As the year went on, her love for writing began; her writing career started at the age of nineteen. Throughout her college experience her writing profile began to grow: “I personally write poetry and fiction stories.” Susi then declared an independent major in writing. This is often a difficult process because it requires students to make their own curriculum and paradigm for classes; however, since Susi loved writing it wasn’t a chore.

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Exclusive Interview with Daniel Handler

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This past week, Dr. Simone Muench’s Fun with Fiction students had the unique opportunity of virtually interviewing author Daniel Handler. Daniel Handler is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, AdverbsThe Basic Eight, and Watch Your Mouth. You may also know Daniel Handler by another name. His pseudonym, and the name under which he penned the Series of Unfortunate Events books, is Lemony Snicket.

Here, we reprint the interview in its entirety for readers of the Jet Fuel Review blog to read and enjoy. Questions in this interview were provided from students Angela Lewandowski, Michael Malan, Andrea Grundon, Tonya Peterson, Mary Egan, Summer Hallaj, Joe Kurpiel, Leander Haynes, Whitney Brough, Andrew Rock, Alicia McKendry, Jazmine Williams, Summer Ferrara. Please enjoy.

Interview Questions for Daniel Handler from Topics in Writing: Fiction Class, Fall 2010

1) With all the hats that you wear (author, musician, magazine contributor), why do you consider it important to help promote the careers of your fellow writers by writing book reviews, conducting interviews, etc.?

I enjoy participating in literature, not just by reading it and creating it but by talking about it and writing about it and meeting other people who make it and arguing about it in bars. I write book reviews because I like doing it, and because when I read misguided criticism it strikes me as a problem that I could help fix. I hope it promotes good books and good writers but only in the sense that I hope recycling cans helps the oceans.

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