Five Books to Read to Educate Yourself on the Black Lives Matter Movement and the History of Racism in the United StatesGracie Donovan | Sep. 16, 2020
Five great books (both fiction and non-fiction) to read right now to educate yourself on the movement
When entering the realm of LGBTQ literature it’s easy for readers to find ourselves within the same trap that we often do: being left with or gravitating to narratives centered around white, male stories. Lists of LGBTQ book recommendations often parrot the same titles, ignoring a large swath of literature out there addressing queer women, transgender people, and persons of color. Even in a community that prides itself on its “diversity”, LGBTQ stories are dominated by the same group that governs mainstream literature canon. That’s why I’ll be taking this post to highlight a few novels that venture beyond the stories we’re frequently told. By no means is this list comprehensive, but hopefully it will turn both LGBTQ and allies of the community onto a new range of reads.
It’s award show season! Red carpets, outfits, and (in theory) the celebration of the art of the past year. The Grammys, like most award shows, have a diversity problem. Critics have hailed this years’ nominees as changing the dynamic of the award show, but frankly; I’ll believe it when I see the winners. It is really important, though, that some really incredible artists and bodies of work were nominated and I (as always) have many opinions. Here is my comprehensive(ish) review of the General Field Grammy nominees (because I simply do not have the energy to go through 84 categories) and who I personally would like to see win.
If you’ve seen the Devil Wears Prada, as not doing so would be robbing your soul, you have at least a small understanding of what the fashion industry can be like. Anne Hathaway aside, the movie’s true anchor is Meryl Streep’s character: a play off of the fabulously cold Anna Wintour, the artistic director of Conde Nast and Editor in Chief of Vogue.
This past month I attended one of the events from the Visting Writers Series at AU hosted by the Creative Writing MFA program. Christa Parravani was featured and spoke about her past memoir, Her, and shared part of the book she is currently writing. She spoke highly of the literature faculty at American and discussed her own experience as a professor at West Virginia University. I had previously read some of Parravani’s work in my LIT-107 Creative Writing class about the death of her twin sister prior to her twin sister’s rape. I already appreciated her style of writing and I learned to love it, even more, when I heard her read aloud.
For the past few weeks my literature class has been reading the book Dodging and Burning by John Copenhaver. The book is a mystery that highlights queer culture and how queer people were treated in the 1940’s by looking at the relationship between two boys: Robbie and Jay.
Every Tuesday my friends and I attend the open mic night at the Busboys and Poets 14th and V location. As we file into the dimly lit room, with walls covered in murals honoring great artists of color through history, we have the privilege of hearing from a vast array of artists that share their respective talents and works. But the nights I treasure most are when Charity Blackwell hosts the event.
A grey stained plywood dropbox sits atop yellow-lined rusted metal bleachers in the middle of a white wall room. Pick up the pen, attached by cuffed chain links to the side of the box, just next to the entry slot where stories slip into a pile of collective memories. Write a significant moment that occurred around a basketball hoop.
Rainbow Rowell is back with a newly released sequel to her 2015 fiction novel: Carry On. This new book: Wayward Son is thought to be book two of an intended three-part series. The titles are reminiscent of Kansas’ hit song, Carry On Wayward Son, which begs the question of the title of Rowell’s next book. Although the third book begs more questions than it answers, her fans will appreciate any new content she writes, even with a four year waiting time in between the publications.
Dermot Kennedy’s latest release is so polished and breathtaking, it’s easy to forget Without Fear is the Irish singer-songwriter’s first album. Although Dermot has emerged with a more heavily-produced sound in contrast to his two earlier EPs and numerous singles, his poetic lyricism remains a centerpiece of each song and is surprisingly well-complimented by a less folksy tone than fans are used to.
In The Man They Wanted Me to Be, Jared Yates Sexton tells the story of how toxic masculinity played a major role in his life. From the time he was a young boy, all the men in his life, especially his father, pushed the unrealistic pressures of toxic masculinity onto him. Not naturally fitting into the acceptable masculine stereotypes, he felt lost for most of his life and even now fights to not give in to these unrealistic expectations.
A Review that Isn’t Really a Review: Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, Spoiler Paranoia, and the Joy of Going to the MoviesCam Diagonale | Nov. 6, 2019
The idea of the “spoiler” and all that it entails is pretty new. Famously, Shakespeare’s plays were based off of stories from history that audiences would have been familiar with, and Greek tragedies often laid out the entire plot in the opening dialogue. The term “spoiler” still didn’t connote what it does today until well into the 20th century. Quite famously, The New York Times published an article in 1976 in which George Lucas explained what exactly was going to happen in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope a full year before it was released. So when—and why—did we start caring about spoilers?
This past month I was able to attend a poetry open mic event at DC’s Busboys and Poets. The event featured spoken word poetry from several local poets including any audience members who wished to participate. The reading was hosted by Alexa Patrick- an AU alumnus herself- who shared some of her own works and introduced Ryan Sheppard, also an AU alumnus, as the featured poet. This was the first open mic night that I have ever attended and I was incredibly grateful for the inclusive and welcoming environment that Alexa generated. I shared some of my own poetry and left feeling both validated and well-received. I’ve never spoken at an event before and although the experience was nervewracking, I felt well supported by both the crowd and Alexa. Nearly every audience member shared their writing and Alexa had a generous compliment after each of the poems. The environment of the event certainly contributed to the experience. The ticket was only five dollars and I found this to be more than worth the unbelievable poems. The best part about the open mic night, in my opinion, was the talent within the audience members. Their poetry opened my eyes to new perspectives and their talent amazed me. It reminded me that each individual is capable of creating art, no matter how “mundane” or “normal” they seem. I would highly recommend Busboys and Poets- specifically events hosted by Alexa- for anyone looking for an open mic night.
You know that feeling when you make friends with someone, and at first, it’s lighthearted— you like spending time with them because you laugh a lot together, but then you reach a point where you realize that person is going to be really important to you— that something about them really resonates with you? Well, that’s how it feels to watch Fleabag. At first, I was drawn in by the witty, morally ambivalent, vulgar leading lady and her hilariously dry analysis of hook-up culture, and her almost constant breaking of the fourth wall— but slowly I became enthralled in Fleabag’s exploration of love, guilt, intense female rage, and being a woman in our world— or a person at all.
Why Netflix's Tall Girl missed the mark.
Shakespeare is often praised as a man ahead of his time, producing pieces with subtle, or sometimes even overt, liberal ideology. And while I am not going to try and deny that Shakespeare did have more culturally advanced ideas portrayed through his works (for example, you cannot convince me that Coriolanus is not a deliberate and romantic homoerotic text), I am going to focusing on feminist critique of Shakespeare's plays.