Tag Archives: Katie Haggstrom

Photo by: Larry Moyer, from http://www.shelsilverstein.com/

Some poetry connects generations together, drawing them in at an early age through fun rhymes and silly images. Shel Silverstein has become synonymous with children’s poetry, the type of poetry that sticks with its readers well into adulthood.

Most children are familiar with poet Shel Silverstein’s work and the fun pen drawings that often accompany his poems. Silverstein’s poetry has been translated into over 30 languages and sold over 20 million copies. Probably one of his best known poems is “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” which was also the name of one of his poetry collections.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1930, he began his career as a cartoonist at the age of 7 by tracing over Al Capp’s cartoons. Silverstein attended Roosevelt High School and got expelled from the University of Illinois which lead him to enroll in the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Drafted by the United States Army before completing his degree, he served in Japan and Korea.

Silverstein then studied English at Roosevelt University where he got his first cartoon published in the student newspaper, Roosevelt Torch. From there, his career skyrocketed with cartoons published in Look, Sports Illustrated, and This Week. In 1957, he was a leading cartoonist for Playboy, a role which sent him around the world creating a travel journal.

His children’s books have gained popularity among young (and older) readers. His most notable collections include The Giving Tree (1964), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974), and A Light in the Attic (1981). A Boy Named Sue won the 1970 Grammy and Silverstein was inducted in the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame in 2014, after his death in 1999.

Silverstein is known for not giving interviews, but was passionate about his work. In a 1975 interview with Publisher’s Weekly, he said “I have an ego, I have ideas, I want to articulate, to communicate but in my own way. People say they create only for themselves and don’t care if they’re published…I hate to hear talk like that. If it’s good, it’s too good not to share. That’s the way I feel about my work.”

But he also ended this interview explaining that “I’m not going to give any more interviews.” As readers, we will just have to let Silverstein’s work speak for itself.

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giovanni singleton, (image from Harriet: a poetry blog)

The beauty of poetry is that is can exist outside conventional form, instead twisting and moving to a poet’s intent. The avant-garde poem below by giovanni singleton transformed words into images, created a cage made out of birds, the “caged bird.”

singleton received her BA from American University in Washington, D.C. She found her interest in form as art during her time at the New College of California where she earned her MFA. As she explains in a 2011 Pen America interview, she views the page as a blank, or borderless, canvas she can fill.

Her collection Ascension was published in 2011, winning the California Book Award for Poetry. Fellow poet Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon said that her “poems are minimalist…ascension is process. The buildup is slow, and culminates as play, in the clear space left as we literally watch an I disappear. Thereafter, we find the blank page again. And time to make another poem.”

Her most recent collection, American Letters: works on paper, came out in 2017. She is also the founding editor of nocturnes (re)view of the literary arts, an annual publication through Small Press Distribution. As described, “the journal serves as a forum for examining and celebrating the natural connections between diverse artistic mediums as expressed through visual and written language.”

singleton ended a 2011 interview with a simple question, “Why do you still write?” As she explained, “at this point, I write out of habit-a wish to be free…Poetry is a way of developing, of cultivating, fearlessness. Writing and working with language makes the world, makes life, for me anyway, more tolerable and more true.”

Video: giovanni singleton reading for the Lunch Poems series, the first time she publicly read from her Ascension collection.

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Philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1956. Surrounded by the Hungarian and Russian Jewish traditions of her family, Butler attended a Hebrew school and took special classes on Jewish ethics. This education was the beginning of Butler’s introduction to philosophy.

In an interview with Haaretz, and Israeli newspaper, Butler said that “I began to be interested in philosophy when I was 14, and I was in trouble in the synagogue. The rabbi said ‘You are too talkative in class…You have to come have a tutorial with me.’ I said ‘OK, great!’ I was thrilled.”

From there, Butler’s interest in philosophy skyrocketed as she delved into work on gender and feminism. She went to college at Bennington College, moving to Yale University where she received her B.A. in 1978 and Ph.D. in 1984 in Philosophy.

Following those degrees, Butler moved on to become a professor at various prestigious universities, including Wesleyan University, George Washington University and John Hopkins University. She has been a professor at University of California, Berkeley since 1993 where she teaches in both the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory.

Most of Butler’s philosophical work has revolved around her theory of gender performativity, first presented in her 1990 book Gender Trouble. Her focus with this book was that gender is an improvised performance. With this book, she made great strides in the realm of feminist, women’s, gay and lesbian studies and queer theory.

As Butler explains in her Book Bodies that Matter published in 1992, “the misapprehension about gender performativity is this: that gender is a choice, or that gender is a role, or that gender is a construction that one puts on, as one puts on clothes in the morning, that there is a ‘one’ who is prior to this gender, a one who goes to the wardrobe of gender and decides with deliberation which gender it will be today.” She is trying to break down the norms and stereotypes that modern society has about gender.

Video: Judith Butler talks about what it means that gender is performative.

Butler has played a large role in human rights activism, including her positions on the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace. In 2004, she was awarded the Brunder Prize from Yale University for “lifetime achievement in gay and lesbian studies.” She won the 2008 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award for these contributions to the study of the humanities. In 2014, she received a diploma of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Cultural Ministry. The American Association of Geographers made her an “honorary geographer” in 2015. Butler’s considerable list of honors and acclaimed positions goes on, including nine honorary degrees from various universities around the world.

Judith Butler continues her work on gender performativity and challenges modern philosophical thinking. In recent years, she’s written on post-9/11 “war on terror” rhetoric, Guantánamo, Israel, and police brutality, and is starting to anticipate her eventual retirement from Berkeley. Another project she’s been considering with her friend Ken Corbett, a psychologist and writer, is a new version of Gender Trouble — illustrated, for kids ages 8 to 12.

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President George W. Bush shares a moment with author Harper Lee Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, prior to presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during ceremonies in the East Room of the White House. Photo by Eric Draper, Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Harper Lee (born Nelle Harper Lee) was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. After attending the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery, she transferred to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa where she pursued English literature.

Lee spent a year working towards the university’s law degree as an undergrad, but decided that writing was her true passion. At the age of 23, Lee arrived in New York City in 1949. In 1956, Lee received a gift from the family of Broadway composer and lyricist Michael Martin Brown, and they supported her in New York for a year. Lee quit her job and began writing full time, working on a manuscript that turned into To Kill a Mockingbird.

Her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published in 1960 and instantly became a classic American novel. In 1961, her novel won the Pulitzer Prize and in 1998, the Library Journal declared To Kill a Mockingbird the best novel of the 20th century. She was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for her contribution to literature.

But following the success of To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee abruptly stopped writing. In a letter sent to Oprah Winfrey’s magazine from Lee, she said that “in an abundant society where people have laptops, cellphones, iPods and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books.” Lee stopped giving interviews and returned to a solitary life in Monroeville.

As Telegraph explains, “that detachment is, clearly, necessary to her. It is the paradox of the novel that it could not have been written by someone in love with literary fame; that the fame it achieved and deserved killed off any prospect of a succeeding masterpiece.” It seems that this fame caused Lee to stop writing, and for decades she published no further work.

Back in 1967, Lee had written a prequel for To Kill a Mockingbird that she didn’t publish. The manuscript for Go Set a Watchman was submitted to Lee’s editor in ‘67, not long after the publication of her first novel. Lee believed that the manuscript was lost, explain that “after much thought and hesitation, I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication.”

Go Set a Watchman abruptly appeared on bookshelves in July 2015, published by HarperCollins. While some readers were quick to share accolades with Lee about a second novel, others questioned her competence following decades of her reluctance to publish anything.

The New York Times explains that “in May 2013, her name [Lee] appeared in news reports and when she filed a lawsuit accusing her literary agent, Samuel Pinkus, of duping her into assigning the novel’s copyright to his company after a stroke she suffered in 2007 left her with impaired hearing and eyesight.”

While Lee’s mental competency was questioned, the novel had sold 1.6 million copies as of January 2016. In 2015, it also made the US bestseller list. Preorders alone turned it into an instant bestselling novel.

On February 19, 2016, Harper Lee died in her sleep at the age of 89. For members of the literary community, the release of Go Set a Watchman has not diminished Lee’s impact on the literary community. Today, To Kill a Mockingbird is still considered among one of America’s classics.

Video: In 1964, Harper Lee talked with WQXR host Roy Newquist for an interview in New York. For the first time, that interview is now available to listen to online. The interview is the only known recording of Lee discussing To Kill a Mockingbird, among other topics, and one of the last interviews she would ever give.

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Author and cartoonist Alison Bechdel was born in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania, to Helen and Bruce Bechdel. Bruce, her father, operated a funeral home part time, which Alison and her brothers, Bruce and John, called the Fun Home.

At the age of 19, she came out to her parents as a lesbian. A later conversation with her father revealed his intimate past with other men. This discovery brought more questions than answers when Bruce committed suicide shortly after, although Bechdel says “there’s no proof [just] some suggestive circumstances.”

Graduating high school a year early, she attended Simon’s Rock College before transferring to Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1981, she received her degree in studio arts and art history.

Bechdel first garnered success for her comics with the strip Dykes to Watch Out For, first published in 1983 in the feminist newspaper WomaNews. Her comic strip ran until 2008, becoming one of the first representations of lesbians in popular culture. The strip follows a group of diverse characters, most of them lesbians, as they experience life, love and politics. As Bechdel explains on her website, the comic “became a countercultural institution among lesbians and discerning non-lesbians all over the planet.”

Her closeted childhood was the basis for her autobiographical cartoon Fun Home, released in 2006. Fun Home chronicled Bechdel’s childhood, including her father’s obsession with restoring their Victorian Gothic Revival house and her journey to discovering her identity as a lesbian. Fun Home was then turned into a musical in 2013. Two years later, it won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Bechdel was also the recipient of the 2014 MacArthur “Genius” Award.

Bechdel is known for “the Bechdel test” for spotting gender bias in literature or film. To fulfill this test, the work must feature at list two girls/women who talk to each other about something that’s not a boy/man. Only about half of all films meet this requirement, calling attention to the gender inequality still present portrayals of women in literature and film.

Alison Bechdel become a voice for lesbians and the queer community, drawing attention to gender bias and the lives of LGBT people. Her autobiography provided the literary world with one of the first detailed coming out narratives, something that continues to help and inspire others.

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(Left to Right) Tiffany, Mackenzie, Emily, Danny, Leah, Katherine, and Kiley

Today’s Humans of Eddy doesn’t feature one person, but a group of humans who make their home in Eddy. These lovely individuals are some of Eddy’s own Writing Center consultants. The Writing Center is made up of 17 consultants who are both undergrad and grad students with various degree backgrounds.

Where are you located?
The CSU Writing Center is located in the basement of Eddy, room 23, Monday through Thursday.

What does the Writing Center do?

Our consultants can assist writers at all stages of the writing process, including brainstorming, drafting, revising, and polishing. Our clients come from all types of disciplines, with writing that ranges from research papers and essays to lab reports, resumes, and applications. There are three types of consultations: face-to-face appointments, online draft submission, and synchronous video conferencing for online and off-campus students. As our website says, we work “to help create better writers, not just better writing.”

How can a student make an appointment?
Visit our website at writingcenter.colostate.edu and click “Make and Appointment.” If you don’t already have an account, you can quickly register for one to access our availability. Or feel free to stop by our office for any questions or assistance. We have coffee and tea and great conversation!
Favorite words from various consultants:  

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Laguna Pueblo writer Leslie Marmon Silko was born in 1948 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She identifies as an Anglo American and Mexican American, noting that she is ¼ Laguna Pueblo, a Native American tribe predominantly located along the Rio San Jose in west-central New Mexico.

Growing up along the border of the Laguna Pueblo reservation provided Silko with the insight and drive to infuse her writing with her family’s rich history. She attended school at the Laguna BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) School and the Albuquerque Indian School. In 1969, she graduated from the University of New Mexico and dabbled in law school at the same university before dedicating her time to literature.

Silko published her first poetry collection Laguna Woman in 1974. She gained attention for her short story called “The Man to Send Rain Clouds,” which went on to win the National Endowment for the Humanities Discovery Grant.  As the Poetry Foundation explains, Silko is known for “her lyric treatment of Native American subjects.”

Her 1977 novel Ceremony is her most acclaimed novel. The story follows a part-Laguna WWII veteran as he combats the painful memories of wartime. Silko relies heavily on the oral traditions and practices of both the Navajo and Pueblo people throughout this story.

Almanac of the Dead was Silko’s second book, publishing in 1991 after 10 years of writing and researching. The almost 800-page novel received mixed reviews for the depth of the interwoven plots and the breadth of characters. But in an interview, Silko explained that “in the Native American community people love this book, it gives them hope. When I started out in 1981 I had no idea it would be a statement against capitalism.”

In the same interview, Silko also thinks back to the idea that “almanacs, not just the Native American Mayan almanacs but also Western Europeans almanacs or medicine almanacs in the U.S. have many little, many different sections. All of a sudden I became aware of, yes, what needed to be done was many, many chapters so that the chapter headings themselves could tell a story or express something.”

Silko’s writings and career have made her an influential person among the Native American Renaissance, categorized by the insurgence of literature written by Native Americans is the late 1960s. Recently, in 2010, she released her memoir The Turquoise Ledge in 2010. In an LA Times review, they explain that she “writes in the language of spirit—reading her words…is not only like being inside her head, it is like eavesdropping on her silent conversations with her gods.”

Leslie Marmon Silko has given a voice to the Laguna Pueblo people, a voice that will continue to carry through generations of Native American (and non-Native American) peoples: “I will tell you something about stories. They aren’t just entertainment. They are all we have to fight off illness and death. You don’t have anything if you don’t have stories.”

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The name Sylvia Plath incites thoughts of deep, depressive poetry and a woman who abruptly ended her life. But her raw, revealing writing has inspired and influenced generations of new writers and poets.

Born in 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts, Plath had always been drawn to language. From the age of eleven, she kept a journal and published poems in her regional newspapers and magazines. In 1850, following her high school graduation, Plath’s first national publication was printed in the Christian Science Monitor.

Plath completed her undergraduate degree at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. After graduation, she moved the Cambridge, England as a Fulbright Scholar where she met Ted Hughes, whom she married in 1956. One year later, she returned to Massachusetts and studied with the writer Robert Lowell. From there, she had success publishing her first poetry collection, Colossus, in England and had two children named Frieda (1960) and Nicholas (1962).

Most of Plath’s poetry and writing drew from her personal experiences and struggles. While attending Smith College, she spent a disastrous summer living in New York City. Her experiences from that summer worked as the basis for her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, released in 1963. The novel was originally published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. By sharing her deeply personal experiences, Plath had a great impact on the genre of confessional poetry.

Her tragic death left behind many unpublished works. Those poems were gathered and published posthumously in 1982 as The Collected Poems. Unfortunately, she was not alive for the moment that collection won her the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Plath’s words continue to stand out in time, providing insight into the darkness of life and Plath’s experience of life. Plath was deeply connected to her consciousness and self, something that carried depth within her writing. As Sylvia Plath describes, “I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.”


Video: Sylvia Plath reads her poem “Daddy”

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The only known surviving photo of Margaret Fuller

Margaret Fuller is a woman known for her powerful feminist writings and her literary criticism. Born in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts in 1810, she learned to read at the age of three. Her father refused to let her read the feminine books of the time that focused on etiquette and sentiment, setting the groundwork for the women she would become.

After bouncing around between the Boston Lyceum for Young Ladies school and the School for Young ladies in Groton, Fuller left school to study at home at the age of 16. She noticed that she didn’t fit in with the other girls her age, writing that “I have felt that I was not born to the common womanly lot.”

In 1839, Ralph Waldo Emerson reached out to Fuller, his “vivacious friend,” offering her the position of editor for his transcendentalist journal called The Dial. Her two years of experience with this journal gave her a reputation as one of the most important figures of the transcendental movement. Her 1844 book Summer on the Lakes includes her experiences with leading Transcendentalists Fuller met. That same year, she moved to New York and joined Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune as a literary critic.

Time and time again, Fuller defied gender barriers and accepted positions rarely taken by women. She was the first full-time book reviewer in American journalism and became the first female editor at the publication in 1846.

Fuller’s 1845 Women in the Nineteenth Century made great strides with feminist literature. After completing it, she told a friend “I had put a good deal of my true self in it, as if, I suppose I went away now, the measure of my footprint would be left on earth.” And she did just that, writing one of the first pieces of American feminist literature.

When Fuller fell in love with Giovanni Angelo, she settled in Italy and had a son in 1848. Following the Roman revolution in that same year, they left for the United States where their ship ran aground off New York. Their bodies were never found.

Fuller’s career ended abruptly in 1849, but her legacy as an influential feminist and women’s rights activist laid the framework for decades of activism. Her work remains relevant today as 21st century women still push for the social reform Fuller spent her life fighting for.

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~from intern Katie Haggstrom


Literary readings always bring together a diverse audience who shares a love for language. As a new MA English student at CSU, I was eager to attend my first Creative Writing Reading Series at the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art.

I relinquished my pen and water bottle at the front desk (these items aren’t allowed inside, to protect the art) and followed the hallway into the gallery, unsure what to expect. I was met with a small cluster of chairs surrounding a microphone, setting the tone for what I thought would be an intimate Thursday night reading.

But more and more people filed into the gallery and more chairs were brought to fill the empty spaces. Embarrassingly, I knew little about the writer Rachel Hall and the poet Mike Lala who were the esteemed guests for the evening. I listened as English professor Camille Dungy and two CSU students took the stage to introduce the night’s readers.

With standing-room only, we were reminded that we were among artwork, ready to hear the spoken art of prose and poetry. From the beautiful paintings on the wall to the sculptures sprinkled between occupied chairs, we all awaited the start of the reading.

Rachel Hall spoke first, reading an excerpt from Heirlooms, her collection of short stories showing how war interlinks four generations of a Jewish family. As she explained in a blog post, “I’m less interested in those who make history and drawn instead to those who live it—backstage, downstairs, on the sidelines, those overlooked in history textbooks.” Through her writing, Hall delves into these human landscapes, looking at traits that are passed down from generation to generation, like love and duty, pulling inspiration from her own family history.

Rachel Hall

Rachel Hall

With an MFA from Indiana University, Hall has won countless awards for her writing, including two Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence, one for teaching and the other for her creative writing. She also received honors from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Ragdale and the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts.

When Hall began reading, her voice was calm and steady as she brought to life the story of a woman experiencing pregnancy and a subsequent miscarriage. The writing was filled with vivid imagery as Hall painted a landscape sharing the story of home, loss and family life.

The poet Mike Lala spoke second. He recently won the 2016 Colorado Prize for Poetry for his collection Exit Theater. He explains the theme of this collection as war, and his relation to it. I was enamored by his unique style and his work with splices and syntax cut short.

Lala began his reading explaining the challenge “to find work that feels relevant to where we are now.” The first poem he chose took place in an art museum (the perfect setting) about a refugee from a different time. From the moment Lala began reading, I felt myself holding my breath, afraid to miss a word through the bursts of fast-paced reading or break the thought-provoking silences.

Mike Lala

Mike Lala

Lala ended the evening with two unpublished poems from a collection he’s working on, describing the theme as money. The first poem was inspired by his old boss. The last poem gained inspiration from Lala’s favorite street in New York City: Elizabeth Street.

Similar in style, both poems were read entirely as one breathless sentence. This intonation gave readers the sense of a hectic New York City, falling into the bustling pattern of city life.

Lala finished his final poem, abruptly ending what had been a longwinded adventure through New York. I sat there with the audience for a moment, breathless.

Blinking, I came back to the art gallery around me and the reading concluded as quickly as it began. The excess chairs were folded up and the room left with the resonating images of two powerful writers, now stored among the paintings and sculptures of the gallery.

The next Creative Writing Reading Series is scheduled for Thursday, March 23 at 7:30pm in the Lory Student Center, Ballroom 350-D. This event will feature author David Shields, “the internationally bestselling author of twenty books, including Reality Hunger, War is Beautiful, and Other People: Takes & Misktakes. The recipient of the Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, Shields has published essays and stories in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire and many more. His work has been translated into twenty languages.”


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