Art of Confrontation

Confrontations are a sign of misunderstandings that lead to rash, often times displaced comments. Sparking such confrontation could be a simple gesture either physical or verbal and without much consideration. Conflict can be acquired by way of individual duals or mass battles. Now, since this is a piece only meant for simple prose I will peer on the brightness of language! A confrontation often times neglects either side of the argument. Therefore, in order to have confrontations cease, we as individuals need to lay our voice to side for a moment, and listen to the opposing end. Language and various terminology we use today inadvertently shape our opinions and understanding of one another through utterances that influence our views. Language is a cultural phenomenon subject to region, ethnicity, class and gender. Language in the instance of confrontation could also refer to body language or verbal language. The idea of speaking in different social contexts help uncover social relationships in any given conflict. Language and culture intersect making way for a plethora of misconceptions that lead to shaping our conscious views of one another.

For Instance, placing a “the” in front of the word ‘Americans’ (the Americans) as opposed to saying simply ‘Americans’ this concept deals with unconscious language discrimination. By placing a ‘the’ in front of the term that is automatically separating the speaker from the group without even realizing. Now that is not to say people don’t do this intentionally. However, when having two distinct perspectives we need to tread lightly and think 70 times prior to speaking or making any kind of physical gesture. Humans have the ability to do much damage in a matter of seconds this could be done with simple terms or physical behaviors. While discussing anything we need to make sure our speech reflects respect for all regardless of difference. In doing so, we become aware of our surroundings and seek first to understand rather than be understood. The power of language either physical or verbal is definitely the cause for all conflicts within any given society.

For example, in some cultures pointing a foot at an individual while sitting could be reason for major argument that will possibly lead to being shunned by society. This action, in a diverse community would seem absurd but think about it on a logical level, a foot is to be used for stability the bottom of the foot is always on the floor by pointing a foot at someone it is as if implying the person is below them or unworthy of respect. This act of common respect would not be known in a society of differing cultures but logically it makes sense. Obviously pointing a foot is not as deep an issue as verbal or physical assault/insult but it is a detailed example that has potential to lead to something greater. However menial, this gesture might be it is still a physical action that could lead to an averse, reaction.

Another example, would be verbal language manipulation such as, political texts or media outlets. Political forums or texts don’t get straight to the point. Politicians obfuscate the meaning of words deeming the messages unclear for average citizens. As George Orwell mentioned in his essay “Politics and the English Language,” people use dying metaphors to mask real meaning. Orwell explains that there are two common qualities to language discrimination; staleness of imagery and lack of precision. Political writing is likened to bad writing. According to Orwell, whenever this is not true the political writer is usually a rebel of some sort. Politicians are usually repetitive in hopes of winning over the audience with terms that are constantly used to evoke a sense of hostility towards the subjects whom they (the politicians) speak out against.

The obfuscation of meaning is a prime example of verbal language that will lead major societies to battle one another via contrived manipulation by loud voices. In today’s world people use language to lash out on specific groups of people as we’ve seen throughout history. However, today due to “free” speech people have virtually broken every obligation to respect. Now, it is no longer something to talk about when an individual is blatantly disrespectful or discriminatory against one group of people. People today have broken virtually every limit they would have once adhered to. It is not in society’s interest to be this limitless and without bounds of moral whether they be physical or verbal. Our society has reached a point where nothing is mediated. No form of speech is not acceptable and no form of behavior is looked down upon.

From first-hand observations I have noticed that society is regressing rather than progressing. It is the 21st century people may view the new world as a “modern” seemingly “acceptant” society when in actuality it is that much more discriminatory. The world today looks down upon morals, and any creed based beliefs. The deliverance of speech against those who deem themselves “conservative” by class are the ones getting a push back from society. Free language no longer means an attempt to examine or bring to light realistic events that will have us as individuals think outside the box. Critical thinking today means a mainstream outlook on deeming all traditional behavior or speech as an old closed minded lifestyle which has no place in the “modern” world.

The Art of confrontation lies in the essence of being able to neutralize or set ablaze a minor miscommunication. Many would oppose this notion with abiding by simple human moral by thinking, confrontation should not be seen as an artistic behavior. However, does argument and confrontation not take much talent and individual uniqueness to implement? Realistically every confrontation needs some kind of talent in order to enact. If a person were to focus only on the heuristics of confrontation, we could potentially see the vital influence it has on culture today. The process of learning the eloquence of confrontational gestures is what makes confrontation an art. Confrontation today, has led to an idiosyncratic talent which has long been overlooked, for centuries. This is due to the negative connotations associated with argument or misunderstandings. As difficult as it is to see this kind of ability as a generative ideal for emotional exchange it is often defined as anything but, art. Now, of course, this whole piece regards the “Hegelian Dialectic” which is the idea that social and political structures provide the framework guiding our “thoughts and actions into conflicts that ultimately lead into a predetermined solution.” The aesthetics of art are combined with the pragmatist philosophies of moving emotions to higher grounds. This is not astonishing at all and basically sums up the idea that conflict is seen as an art form. As a John Dewey suggests, art is any aesthetic process. Perhaps, we can dive into the aesthetic of confrontation in the coming chapters.

Rhetoric, or rhetorical process needs to be identified in such a manner where the combination of language and manipulating the syntax of the terminology used creates a leveling between the “discourse community” and the writer or speaker. As a Daniel Fogarty argues in his piece Roots for a New Rhetoric “new rhetoric must expand beyond the art of persuasion.” Well, let us dissect this further: the art of persuasion is basically a sub-category to the art of confrontation. Both groups meet their own agendas by promoting expressive language through fantastical theories to further their own ideals, by way of indirect subversion of writer/speaker with audience and reader. This scoring of language leads to confrontation via any device.

A free based world today simply means that we can utter all absurdities so long as they are not in congruence with any rules that would use respect as a mediating structure. I chose to write this informal but informative prose piece on language because it is something that has been on my mind. It is important for all of us to become aware of what is really occurring in our world today. Although, writing can also be used to limit writers themselves, by using structure or criteria that would focus their topics on a certain type of rhetoric. Confrontations in today’s world might not even be defined as opposing arguments, come to think of it. All confrontations seem to be subject to regions or certain groups to define them as such.

Emily Bronte’s “Wild Workshop,” Wuthering Heights

by Nicholas van der Waard


I was researching Emily Bronte’s life and works for Professor Sandy Norton’s Women’s Literature class and in doing so found that the Great Mediator for Emily Bronte to the general public was her older sister, Charlotte. The so-called “Sphinx of Literature” herself was infamously silent save for the only novel she left behind, and her awesome poetry. In reading the book, Wuthering Heights, I immediately loved it; something in it spoke to me, a sort of elemental force that was more or less lacking from Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel, Jane Eyre. Charlotte tempered her passion, subduing her wild protagonist with an older, chiding narrator and passing off most of the brunt of Jane’s wild nature onto her “double,” the mad, “goblin-like” Bertha (also compared to a vampire, which I found rather hilarious). Emily Bronte, on the other hand, frankly didn’t give a damn, creating what Charlotte describes as “the little black-haired swarthy thing, as dark as if it came from the Devil” (xiii): Heathcliff (that idea that dark is Devilish pops up now and then, though Austen wrote, in Northanger Abbey


“Oh! They give themselves such airs. They are the most conceited creatures in the

world, and think themselves of so much importance! By the by, though I have thought

of it a hundred times, I have always forgot to ask you what is your favourite complexion

in a man. Do you like them best dark or fair?” (64).


didn’t seem to fixate on the idea of black being universally negative when it suited her needs).


I loved Heathcliff instantly. “Whether it is right or advisable to create beings like Heathcliff, I do not know: I scarcely think it is,” writes Charlotte Bronte, about him. “But this I know: the writer who possesses the creative gift owns something of which he[, Ellis Bell,] is not always master—something that, at times, strangely wills and works for itself” (xiv “Editor’s Preface”). Of this, I can instantly relate, coming from a family where bi-polar disorder is par for the course; I am not always in control of my emotions, and they seem to have a will of their own. Despite all reason, the devil claws its way to the surface (“Je est un autre,” indeed, Rimbauld).


As to Emily’s novel, itself, Charlotte writes, “[in it] there broods ‘a horror of great darkness'; that, in it’s storm-heated and electrical atmosphere, we seem at times to breathe lightning” (xiii). I love that description, perhaps in the same fashion my 2-year old nephew pretends he is a triceratops: I long to be like a dragon, an elemental beast that breathes death (“and my breath death!” [Tolkien 245]).


Of poor Cathy, Charlotte writes: “Nor is [she] destitute of a certain strange beauty in her fierceness, or of honesty in the midst of perverted passion and passionate perversity [I adore her use of the chiasmus, here]” (xiii). Even if Charlotte Bronte was subdued (and let’s face it, tame) compared to her wild sister, she describes the novel well, and it is worth noting that she was her silent sister’s Greatest Defender. “Breathe lightning” and “strange beauty” are such awesome, well-turned phrases, possibly Charlotte attempting to emulate Emily’s work in her own, tempered fashion. It evokes the same kind of hellish grandeur I adore. Reading the novel, itself, I felt like Mr. Lockwood, a stranger “[left] with a brood of tigers!” (Wuthering Heights 4). Quite a delight, because is there any fun in Literature without at least a little bit of danger?


Antonio Losano sums up the novel well, too: “The novel straddles Romanticism and emergent Victorianism; it fuses romance and realism. Is is simultaneously a ghost story, a revenge tragedy, a local history, a passionate romance, and a powerful social commentary” (Losano 57). I love this refusal to be any one thing but, like the demon of Gerasenes, “is Legion [for we are many]” [Mark 5:9].


To it’s wicked protagonist, Losano writes


“…But Heathcliff cannot be ignored, and even disapproving readers and critics have tended to admire Heathcliff as a potent figure for social rebellion: as a lower-class character, Heathcliff destroys what he perceives as the unfeeling, staid, and passionless upper classes. The intensity of the bond between Catherine and Heathcliff also is itself a criticism of the dull and proper affection that motivates* Edgar or the other traditionally respectable people in the narrative. In Wuthering Heights Emily offers a truly radical view of individualism, social mobility and passion”(57).


I love this unabashed nature to Wuthering Heights and Emily’s natural commitment to passion and wild beauty. No chaser with this drink, and it may burn on the way down, but it’s all part of the fun. It finds beauty in the taboo and champions those that regular society would reject.


Being something of an outcast and reject, myself (according to my own views) and being bred on the valor of the Byronic Hero by my Romantic-loving mother (also a die-hard fan of Jim Morrison, from The Doors, who, in turn, borrowed the name of his band from Aldous Huxley’s book, The Doors of Perception, which was derived from William Blake’s sui generis work, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”—it’s all a big cycle, people), I found myself immediately falling in love with everything dark and hellish in Wuthering Heights. The novel doesn’t mask the nature of such things, but finds beauty in them regardless of the inextricable ugliness. It demonstrates that anything can be Beautiful from the right perspective and that what limits us are the constraints of society.


Like Adam Savage from Myth Busters always loves to say, Emily “rejected Victorian reality and substituted her own.” However, Emily didn’t just reject Victorian ideas, she smashed them, and personified her own notions of Beauty in a human Devil. Like Milton before her, who Blake described as “of the Devil’s party,” it is easy to see which camp Emily is in. I also count myself among that number. I long to “hew” my works in a “wild workshop, with simple tools, out of homely materials” (“Editor’s Preface” xiv).












Austen, Jane, and Claire Grogan. Northanger Abbey. Peterborough, Ont: Broadview Press, 2002. Print.


Bell, Currer. Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell. Wuthering Heights. By Emily Brontë. 1847. New York: Random House Publishers, 1943. Print.

Bell, Currer. Editor’s Preface. Wuthering Heights. By Emily Brontë. 1847. New York: Random House Publishers, 1943. Print.


Losano, Antonia. “The Brontë Sisters: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne.” Ed. Jay Parini.Scribner’s, 2002. 49-62. ProQuest. Web. 4 Mar. 2016.


Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Hobbit. 1937. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001. Print.


Is Mr. Darcy a Feminist?

by Jane Mandley

In all my younger years of loving Jane Austen, I have never doubted my equal—if not greater—love of Mr. Darcy. Then a critical feminist lens was adopted through my undergraduate years and I found myself swimming in a sea of literary theory and social critiques in academia. While having previously read five of the six completed novels cover to cover, most of my more recent Austen-indulgences came in the form of the films, and I began to question whether embracing period-romances was backtracking in my current feminist world—that is, one seeking for social, employment, political, etc. equality with men. Elizabeth Bennet, there can be no doubt, is the most celebrated of all of Austen’s heroines for her forward ways of thinking, speaking, and behaving that reinforce ideals of our modern woman who should be free to do as she pleases. But in the end of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth “succumbs” to traditional marriage. With a historical perspective of the reality that women’s financial security rested solely on men in Austen’s day, a modern, feminist audience cannot blame Elizabeth for making due with what her world has to offer. However, her choice of husband can still be critiqued. Is Mr. Darcy truly worthy of such a woman as Elizabeth?—or in other words, is Mr. Darcy all he’s cracked up to be? Through a close reading of feminist attitudes toward women in the novel, Darcy proves to not only become a progressive husband by the end, but solidifies this non-traditional treatment of wives and marriage by his actions and statements throughout the entire novel.

The Last Ship

Submitted by Dominic DiCarlo Meo

“The Last Ship” by J. R. R. Tolkien

Firiel looked out at three o’clock:
the grey night was going;
far away a golden cock
clear and shrill was crowing.
The trees were dark, and the dawn pale,
waking birds were cheeping,
a wind moved cool and frail
through dim leaves creeping.

She watched the gleam at window grow,
till the long light was shimmering
on land and leaf; on grass below
grey dew was glimmering.
Over the floor her white feet crept,
down the stair they twinkled,
through the grass they dancing stepped
all with dew besprinkled.

Her gown had jewels upon its hem,
as she ran down to the river,
and leaned upon a willow-stem,
and watched the water quiver.
A kingfisher plunged down like a stone
in a blue flash falling,
bending reeds were softly blown,
lily-leaves were sprawling.

A sudden music to her came,
as she stood there gleaming
with fair hair in the morning’s flame
on her shoulders streaming.
Flutes were there, and harps were wrung,
and there was sound of singing,
like wind-voices keen and young
and far bells ringing.

A ship with golden beak and oar
and timbers white came gliding;
swans went sailing on before,
her tall prow guiding.
Fair folk out of Elvenland
in silver-grey were rowing,
and three with crowns she saw there stand
with bright hair flowing.

With harp in hand they sang their song
to the slow oars swinging;
‘Green is the land the leaves are long,
and the birds are singing.
Many a day with dawn of gold
this earth will lighten,
many a flower will yet unfold,
ere the cornfields whiten.

‘Then whither go ye, boatmen fair,
down the river gliding?
To twilight and to secret lair
in the great forest hiding?
To Northern isles and shores of stone
on strong swans flying,
by cold waves to dwell alone
with the white gulls crying?’

‘Nay!’ they answered. ‘Far away
on the last road faring,
leaving western havens grey,
the seas of shadow daring,
we go back to Elvenhome,
where the White Tree is growing,
and the Star shines upon the foam
on the last shore flowing.

‘To mortal fields say farewell,
Middle-earth forsaking!
In Elvenhome a clear bell
in the high tower is shaking.
Here grass fades and leaves fall,
and sun and moon wither,
and we have heard the far call
that bids us journey thither’.

The oars were stayed. They turned aside:
‘Do you hear the call, Earth-maiden?
Firiel! Firiel!’ they cried,
‘Our ship is not full-laden.
One more only we may bear.
Come! For your days are speeding.
Come! Earth-maiden elven-fair,
our last call heeding.’

Firiel looked from the river-bank,
one step daring;
then deep in clay her feet sank,
and she halted staring.
Slowly the elven-ship went by
whispering through the water;
‘I cannot come!’ they heard her cry.
‘I was born Earth’s daughter!’

No jewels bright her gown bore,
as she walked back from the meadow
under roof and dark door,
under the house-shadow.
She donned her smock of russet brown,
her long hair braided,
and to her work came stepping down.
Soon the sunlight faded.

Year still after year flows
down the Seven Rivers;
cloud passes, sunlight glows,
reed and willow quivers
at morn and eve, but never more
westward ships have waded
in mortal waters as before,
and their song has faded.

Letting Lips Speak

by J. Barringer


“Chop off the lips quickly

To stop the words in her mouth

She’s settled back in the chair

Temporarily relieved that the pain was kept

Buried and kept from rising up.

She has no idea what the words will do.”

Can I keep my secrets forever? I have many, but there is one that eats away at me when it comes to mind. Like Melinda Sordino, the protagonist in Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, I have a secret. Her secret involves Andy ”It” Evans, who raped her at a summer party (Anderson 135). Andy silences her “IT is my nightmare and I can’t wake up. IT sees me. IT smiles and winks. Good thing my lips are stitched together or I’d throw up,” (Anderson 45-46). I know such emotion. I can feel my own throat closing out of fear and remembrance of my own “It”. He was doing his homework. I thought he was ignoring me. I played with my pencils, I was finished looking up the spelling words for the week. I wrote my sentences with each letter twisted up to create syllables. I scribbled onto my paper with chicken scratch. I was good at this. With absent-minded innocence my eyes glanced over one sentence. One definition.


Impotent /ˈimpətnt/ adjective :


unable to take effective action; helpless or powerless.

“he was seized with an impotent anger”

Synonyms: powerless, ineffective, ineffectual, inadequate, weak, feeble, useless, worthless, futile;



It was hard processing this definition as young as I was, but I understood enough of the world to know that I never wanted to be powerless. I never wanted to be weak, or feeble, or useless, or worthless. Those words I knew. Those words wrinkled and burned my eyes so badly that my heart ached. I saw them. I feared them. But I wasn’t afraid of him. Not yet. He was still doing his homework. Algebra, I think. It is hard to remember why the j’s, and h’s, and x’s all got mixed up in math. I shook my head. I was going to stick to words. I could add an “I” to the word “never”, to the word “want”, next to “be”, thrown beside “impotent”. I had something. I had something.


“I never want to be impotent.”


Oh, I was so satisfied with myself you would have thought I won a Pulitzer prize for that sentence. It takes talent, stringing words together. At least that was what I thought back then. It takes skill to be able to make sense of every bit of information we get and sew our own thoughts and opinions together. I was light. I was free. His dark eyes slithered over and burdened me.


“What’re you so happy about?” He asked in his slightly raspy voice. Upon clearing his throat and staring at me harder, he tried speaking again.


“Why’re you smiling like that, you’re so weird.” He shook his head dismissing me in words, but his eyes lingered. My heart yearns for my earlier defiance and spunk. It disappeared with my strength to stand up. But in that moment I answered him with my fiery snapping fingers.


“Mind your own business, and I’ll mind mine.” I answered  in only a way that I could. He wasn’t intimidated in the least bit by my domineering little self. I thought to myself. I don’t want to be impotent. I never want anyone to view me as an impotent being. I raised my feathers, bright as flames, glistening with boldness, and told him with a flick of my hand and roll of my eyes that I was me, and I am mine. I was not afraid of him. Not yet.


He was perfectly nonplussed by my phoenix showcase. Shouldn’t he be wriggling like a coward? I thought so. I thought I could eat werewolves, wrestle vampires, and catch Frankenstein on a hook.


“Do me a favor,” He told me innocently enough.


Favors for a friend. Favors for a cousin. Favors for your father. Favors for your mother. Favors for her. They say “Do me a favor” with a calm, innocent lilt to their voices, and they hide the beast in their eyes. You fooled me. He fooled me. Do him a favor. I did him a favor, and  I have never been able to talk about it. Not until I picked up Speak in high school. I am Melinda Sordino. I am Jasmyn. I am John, I am Kayla, I am Charlotte, I am Michael, I am victim. I cried. I kept crying. I still cry sometimes. Do me a favor he said. Baby girl socks were lying on the floor with their edges of lace. My favorite socks beside my school shirt with white buttons and a fruit punch stain, bright pink. Do me a favor. I did him a favor, and after the favor I was rejected. He tossed me aside. He never cared.


Talk girl, my mother says. You don’t talk to me anymore. You don’t say how you feel. You don’t let me in, you build your walls so high, little girl. Don’t you know you are my sunshine? Talk girl, my mother says. This is my weaving of words. This is the importance of literature; the significance that reminds me to let my lips speak. I am Melinda Sordino. I am Jasmyn. I am life, breath, hope, love. I am me, and I am mine. My voice is mine.


In the United States alone,  18.8% of African-American women suffer from sexual assault  (USDOJ).

Make up the breakup

by Zachary Green

And I don’t think you should lie to me with any nature poems
because you know you don’t think sand is beautiful
unless you are in a good mood, which you never are


That sweet spot in a relationship where y’all fit together like an old pair of shoes,

you may lack a sole or general structural integrity,

smell bad from the years of decay and sweat, and you might not like being seen in public with one another,

but hey they are always there when you get home.


On donor recipients and love: I read once that cross gender organs fail at almost the same rate as cross species organs. This is because the hearts of men and women are intrinsically different.

Our Literary Manifesto

by Katie Smith




Immortalized echoes.

Our experiences are complex collections of words and moments, both shared and singular, echoing onwards. These are our words. As we arrive at the end of undergraduate experience, let us remember the words that inspired us onward.

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;”

Join together, let us sing:

“Long Live Literature!

Long Live Literature!”

Together let us celebrate the principles of our passion: Our literary manifesto.

  1. Don’t look back.

We say that taking the road less “traveled by” has “made all the difference”. Now is our opportunity to put our money were are mouth is. so let us Stand still no longer.

“Run, you fools” There is adventure to be had Remember.

“There is no try, only do”

  1. Be a Global Citizen.

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

We sing on the songs of our ancestors, lives long lived and passed, still:

“Long Lives Literature!

Long Lives Literature!”

  1. Go outside. Stay There.

“The earth has music for those who listen.”  Yet, only if we are silent and linger long enough to listen.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arise”

  1. Get Gritty.

We say that “We are the music makers” and we are the “dreamers of dreams”, yet we have learned the hard way that we “pay for everything in this world one way and another.”

“Read a little bit of Leviticus.
All the kids are a little too little for this.
All the parents nod in agreement –
“I think I can vaguely see what he meant.”
It’s too early in the morning glory
To read another allegory story,”

Wake up and do something that will make you sweat, put dirt under your nails.

“True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done.”

Let us work for a better tomorrow today, pressing on, moving forward, with tireless tenacity.

  1. Bathe Often.

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Come into us at midnight very clean. It hopes we’ve learnt something from yesterday”.

Honor thy body. Bow thy head

Allow the rain to wash over you, rain of love, hatred, humanity.

I wanna feel the thunder
I wanna scream
Let the rain fall down
I’m coming clean, I’m coming clean”

  1. Get Good

“Rage! Rage! Against the dying of the light!”

Our work is never over. . .

There “the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one’s waking life was spent watching one’s feet.”

. . . In fact, it’s only just begun

“Do not go gentle into that good night.”

We are the writers of the next great American novel. The Neoclassiest. Swaggiest. Millennial-est that ever existed.

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.”


It is we who can “call into the past, far back to the beginning of time, and beg them to come. . . . And they must come, for at this moment, I am the whole reason they have existed at all.”

“ WE NEED THE UNCONSCIOUSNESS OF HUMANITY—their stupidity, animalism and dreams. . . . We believe in no perfectibility except our own.”

Long Live Literature!

Without it we would be lost!

We are the echo, the reverberation of the visions of all that we have read screaming an immortal message:

“I am. I am. I am.”

  1. KICK ASS!

We have a voice of our own, a megaphone of might held by a hair trigger.

Now is our moment. This our message, our literary legacy, our Manifesto.

 Let us not repeat, Let us learn, Let us change.

“Pioneers, o pioneers”

Let it be us who are the captains of industry and insight. Ambassadors to the ever-echoing past screaming:


We Are. We Are. We Are.

Of course, this is but my modest proposals. A compilation of my education, spat out and condensed like soup for the soul. Remember: No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. “Lead on. Oh captain, my captain.”

A Passionate Defense of Genre Fiction

by Shelby Hallenbeck
This short essay was cross-posted from The Voracious Reader, the author’s literature blog. To find this piece and other works of hers, please visit
My boyfriend is a creative writing major at the same university as myself, and like me he’s preparing to wrap up his degree by taking a senior seminar course. The final project for the creative writing bachelor’s degree is, as one would expect, to write a long-form poetry or prose piece of your choice that reflects your own interests and style. There were, however, three limitations to what could be written:
1. No fantasy or sci-fi stories
2. No horror stories
3. No children’s literature
Naturally I have plenty to say about rule number three as a children’s literature major, but I’ll save that rant for another day. Now, I suppose that there could be a reason for these rules that makes sense logically (the professor isn’t familiar enough with certain genres, they’re harder to grade, etc.) but I can’t help but consider these limitations to be a reflection of the fact that we just don’t take certain genres of literature seriously. Despite the fact that some of our most brilliant social commentary comes from science fiction novels (the most famous examples being the ubiquitous 1984 and Fahrenheit 451) and that fantasy epics (Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, for instance) build a dense fan theory culture of their own, fantasy and science fiction novels are put in a separate space from “serious” works (science fiction is only taught as a 200-level intro course here at Eastern Michigan University, with no space for horror and fantasy novels), a few select classics aside. This isn’t to say that all genre fiction has something important to say; like all other types of novels there’s plenty of drivel to sort through, but by no means should we push certain genres aside due to a belief that they’re inherently cheesy. Or too popular. Or too shallow.
And yet despite numerous examples that yes, genre fiction can prove to have literary value while being massively popular, these novels are relegated to “guilty pleasure” status. In 2007, for instance, horror master Stephen King was named top guilty pleasure writer. In second place? J.K. Rowling, the author of a fantasy series so dense with biblical and literary references that entire books are dedicated to unpacking it. Another article asks “Should You Feel Bad About Reading Stephen King?”. I’ll tell you, dear reader, that as a literature major who just finished binge-reading IT and absolutely loving it, my answer is a resounding no. I will never feel guilty for reading Stephen King. Aside from the value of fun (which is sadly ignored by many), these horror novels, typically regarded as pulp, deal with more than one would think. IT, for instance, which follows a group of six adults who return to their childhood town to fight a monster that lurks in the sewers, asks whether or not you really can connect with your inner child and if imagination can be recaptured (there’s quite a bit more going on in the novel, but for the sake of brevity I highly recommend Mike Pace’s article “6 Reasons Why You Should Read Stephen King’s IT” to any interested readers), although more informed literary sources like Dwight Allen turn up their noses at these sorts of books.
Is there any solution to this relentless genre-fiction scorn, both in pop culture and the classroom? I have been lucky enough to watch my senior seminar class vote to read Ira Levin’s feminist sci-fi classic The Stepford Wives, and I’ll admit I’m pretty excited to see it picked apart in the college classroom. I can only dream that this is the start of a new trend, a slow shift into seeing some of my favorite novels being taken seriously.

Poems for Slughorn

by Nicholas van der Waard

To be an owl, soaring through the night,

Or a breeze that blows through the raven

Hair of a woman, a lady in a silk chemise

Who reclines on a soft feather bed and dreams

Of love.

“The night is young but Saturn old smiles sagely.

Moon dreams, sickle slashing sleep sings, to me sweetly songs of sagely

Wisdom and love. What has been and what will be

Come mingle like dancers in the mind

Of a hopeless dreamer dreaming drifting

Lightly on a tide.”

Pleasant, content, artistic bluebell blossom feelings

Rivers run ruthless across the page. A field of

Roses—verily a sage! Killer of mine rage

Ink spills across the frame. The tiger in me

Timid, ere growling made sudden tame.

“The arrows of unbuffering consequence

Bounce forlorn from my skin,

Rain over my feet. Harmless blades

Of feathered grass. It now a fence

Around me to protect

Mine tender heart.

Earthen eyes eager scan the horizon

Surmise love’s next surprise.

Hurt’s hell, the fading knell,

Distant peal of oft-promised joy

Rings the siren another bell.

And I think, and I dwell.

Sleep and dreams.

Touch tomorrow toy-like streams

Happiness moon beams, sorrow seems

To fade.”

How like a fallen soldier I felt, defeated, my goodwill utterly

Depleted. My unrequited love seated deep inside me, so blindly!

When through happy chance I beheld two ladies fair who fixed

Unto me a coupled stare. In them I saw what with her in love I had

Fallen. No baggage nor pain. Just two happy faces. Sparkling

eyes smiling stars twinkling cheerfully in the lonely dark. To me

Only they were glad to see. Their dawn is your dusk, my rebel;

And the sickle of a thin, shy moon in my heart rises cautiously to

Await the arrival of another brilliant sunrise.

Sad sighs, I shut mine eyes. She told me they were green.

All I want is to hear her voice, if not here, perchance a dream?

Nightmares plague me, I rise uneasy. Was that her I’d seen?

Away from me she went, no matter how I tried.

To catch and hold her one last time, the purpose of this rhyme.

Here are words she may not read. Yet, to hope I cling:

I knew the risks and so did she. We took our chances.

Perhaps we’ll meet again, my love. I just pray under happier


Anger, rage, lament reason

Lost, sophomore, dim-witted sage

The voice of reason, drowned out

by the din of a fit of the season.

Alas! Fury, encompass me it doth

Such as it is, loth! Despair

Hated’s broth, the taste bitter

None doth compare.

Sad beautiful bell, beligerent beam

Smiles sad seem such lonely dreams how

Tired against the beam. One spent can


But the music plays on.

Nightmares are the hellish, black, vile hounds that nip at my heels, chasing me into the day where I dream awake, exhausted and spent and left wanting.

Life’s lofty love so fleeting flies,

Seeping passion, it deeply buried lies

The raven of my graveyard heart,

Spreads her glorious wings, sadly she sings

Soars, takes flight, joyful and free, into the glorious

And long beautiful Night.