McFerron’s Authors of Revolution: Milan Kundera

Milan Kundera is both widely praised and somehow overlooked in talks of influential postmodern authors and poets of the 20th and 21st centuries. Kundera was born in 1929 in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and came of age during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia that started with the Munich agreement. From his early teenage years, Kundera was a devotee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. In 1950, he and his close friend Jan Trefulka were blacklisted from the party for “Anti-Communist activities,” since the party’s take-over in 1948. Kundera and Trefulka both criticized the movement’s deviation from Marxist principles and leniency toward totalitarianism. In response to his expulsion, Kundera wrote The Joke, a novel in which he pointed out the hypocrisy of the party, which was banned as soon as it reached bookshelves. This novel was published in 1968 and was Kundera’s foothold for his involvement with the Prague Spring. To understand Kundera, you first have to understand this history. The Prague Spring was a reformist movement led by groups of philosophers, writers, and artists who introduced enlightenment ideals like freedom of speech and religion, as well as a decentralized economy and democracy to what was then Czechoslovakia. You can probably see where this is going if you know your history. The Soviet Union didn’t take kindly to these “Western” ideals being implemented so close to home and used other nations of the Warsaw Pact to invade and take control of the country in a rapid display of violence that lasted only 2 days. Kundera, though certainly on a hit list for his influence in the reformist movement, remained hopeful throughout the occupation, but was eventually pressured to flee from Prague to France in 1975, where he now, at the age of 93, lives a quiet, isolated life.

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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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McFerron’s Authors of Revolution: Gil Scott-Heron

Hello everybody, my name is Samuel and as the title suggests I will be writing about authors of poetry, prose, music, essays, and novels who proved crucial to cultural and political revolution. I’m gonna walk a fine line between expressing authors’ viewpoints without affirming them, but rather provide a historical breakdown on their influence on the world around them. Without further ado:

Gil Scott-Heron was perhaps the most influential voice of The Last Poets; a supergroup of Black poets who organized in the late 1960s. Though an honorary member, Scott-Heron blended elements of blues, jazz, and funk in his music and combined melodies with politically charged poems to create the earliest instances of what would come to be known as Hip-Hop. 

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Musings of a Future Librarian: Peluda

“Peluda” is a collection of poetry by Melissa Lozada-Oliva that discusses the author’s journey regarding her identity through an overarching theme of hair. Oliva presents her difficult position as a hairy Latina Americana via details stemming from conversations with friends and her culture. In the poet’s introductory poem, “Origin Regimen” we see the common position of Latino’s in America very clearly. Olivia writes:

 “before there were legs, bikini lines, eyebrows, upper lips,underarms, forearms, labias, assholes, chins,or the waxing table there were houses & two immigrants who cleaned them (ll 1-4).” 

The latter portion, “two immigrants who cleaned them”  highlights the reality that many Latinos within the United States hold service or labor jobs.  In the same breath Olivia is introducing the stigma around female hair. By naming all these places in which women get waxed, the poet is directing us to analyze why we feel it is so necessary to tame our hair. In her poem, “My Hair Stays on Your Pillow Like a Question Mark” Olivia again presents the issues through intersectionality via the speaker’s conversation with her white friends. She tells us:

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Henrietta Eghan’s Words for the Mind and Soul: “Some Words for the Lonely”

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Hello JFR Blog Readers,

This is my first blog; forgive me for I am but a simple being trying to emote the daily feelings that all of us often feel through poetry. Sometimes the poetry of choice will be mellow, sometimes a little sad, and rarely cheerful. But I can’t help it as I find myself drawn to poetry to find solace and to find comfort. Poetry helps me better understand my experiences—as well as the experiences of those who deal with life in ways that don’t mirror mine at all. Found below is a wide range of lonely poems, from a broad range of contemporary pieces, classics, well-known poets, and emerging poets. I hope these poems will resonate with you.

Our first poem by Dionisio D. Martinez is a salute to lonely people. It acknowledges most of the things lonely people do so that it can inspire them to keep on moving through life. Sometimes we lonely people need a reminder that we’re not alone and we have our community, this poem serves that purpose while at the same time uniting people.

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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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Not Your Binary: A QTPOC Reading Column – A Reading of Christopher Soto’s “Los Padrinos Juvenile Detention Center, Unit Y2”


For the first installment of Not Your Binary: A QTPOC Reading Column, a reading column centralizing on the contemporary voices of queer and/or trans people of color in the literary world, I will be discussing Christopher Soto’s “Los Padrinos Juvenile Detention Center, Unit Y2.” Because this is the first installment of my reading column, I want to emphasize the importance on centralizing marginalized voices, stepping aside from the dominant, mainstream culture, to exercise the very existence of surviving and living as a QTPOC, in and out of the literary world. This column is an exploration of political identities and of systemic realities; specifically, in the ways literature can either work to deliver, express, or alleviate the stress that comes with embodying the very existence of being a QTPOC in the time and setting each writer transports us to.

Christopher Soto’s “Los Padrinos Juvenile Detention Center, Unit Y2” takes the reader to a juvenile center, where the speaker volunteers and helps young men sublimate their emotions from acting negligent to poetry: “to be here / where the concrete ends / & page begins.”

Moreover, Soto takes on poetic devices, as well as theoretical devices, alluding to dates and research, revealing both intended and unintended consequences of the prison industrial complex that the speaker suits the reader in. The intentions behind keeping prisons open and alive are many, but what is often ignored is the unintended consequences of the prison industrial complex, which are violent: “each body is disciplined for its difference,” “[physical assault],” and “[one] can’t even scream in pain / [without being pathologized].” The attraction to keeping the prison industrial complex alive is the idea that the system eradicates crime and alleviates society of its “social issues,” yet the false comfort that comes with this “solution” is knowing that keeping this system alive only feeds to another individual’s nightmare: “Dee Dee / A trans woman / sentenced sixty years of life / [in a men’s prison].”

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A Community Collaboration: Centos

Jet Fuel Review Issue #15 Cover

Inside our new Spring 2018 issue of Jet Fuel Review (with cover art by Australian artist Jim Tsinganos), you will find a special section that specifically highlights a particular style of poem known as the cento, which is a unique form in which an author creates a piece by stitching together lines borrowed only from the works of others. To help kick-off the launch celebration of our 15th issue, we’ve asked some of our own to join in on the fun and construct a piece or two themselves.

Presented below is a portion of the Special Section’s introduction as written by JFR Assistant Managing Editor, Zakiya Cowan, followed by a collection of wonderful centos written by not only the editors of Jet Fuel Review but also some members of the Lewis University community at large. A few of the writers included here are experienced veterans of the genre, others are amateurs, and some have never written a poem in their adult life. However, each piece remains a showcase of talent and form that we are incredibly excited to share with you.

Read on,

— Michael Lane, Blog Editor

The Jet Fuel Review editors are excited to share with you the noteworthy gem of Issue 15, our cento collection. “Cento” is Latin for “patchwork,” and in terms of poetic form, a cento is a “patchwork” of lines taken from various works. According to the introduction of Hosidius Geta’s Medea:” A Virgilian Cento, by Joseph J. Mooney, Geta’s “Medea” is the first recorded cento, dating back between 200 C.E. and 300 A.D. Classified as a Virgilian cento, “Medea” is composed of lines from works by the ancient Roman poet, Virgil. A Frankenstein-like composition, each line is carefully sutured to the next in order to create thought-provoking images and metaphors that seamlessly weld with one another, and ultimately crafts a piece that pays homage to other’s work while creating a new text.

We hope you both enjoy and appreciate the thoughtful artistry that is involved when constructing the cento, and hopefully discover a newfound love for this longstanding, intricate form.

Read on,

— Zakiya Cowan, Assistant Managing Editor

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Haley’s Poetic Playlist: “First”

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Hi all! I’m back for another semester of blogging with an old favorite of mine. Today we’re dissecting “First” by Cold War Kids. This indie rock group got its start in California back in 2004, and they have worked their way into our hearts ever since.

“First” was a single released in 2015, stemming from their 2014 album Hold My Home. This piece quickly rose to number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Its overall emotional beat and relatable lyrics make this song incredibly relevant and timeless, earning it a rightful spot on my playlist this week.

“First”

[Verse 1]
“Cheated and lied, broken so bad
You made a vow, never get mad
You play the game, though it’s unfair
They’re all the same, who can compare?
First you lose trust, then you get worried”

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