Literature

Are We Living in a Dystopian Novel?

‘Dystopian’ is often defined as “relating to or denoting an imagined state or society where there is great suffering or injustice.” To say that we are threatened by becoming this version of ‘dystopian’ would be to say that the society we live in now is not violent or full of injustice. But it is. So, under the vague dictionary definition, we are living in a dystopia. But the key word that jumps out in this definition is ‘imagined.’ For me, ‘dystopian’ conjures up images of a dark grey filter overlaying a desolated, toxic wasteland or slums full of leather-clad teenagers who team up against the gaudy, corrupt, and wealthy leaders. It’s specific, a reality that makes permanent the injustices already present in our world, taking away any possibility of progression or change. This imagined version of a dystopia isn’t quite our reality.

Is That a Snake in Your Pants, Or Are You Just Happy to See Me: Monstrous Metamorphoses and the Literature of Alienation

Human fascination with unnatural transformations is nothing new; humans have morphed into monsters all throughout literature, from werewolves to vampires, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve’s Beauty and the Beast. But perhaps the most famous treatment is Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a compilation of mythical changes.

Looking Behind The Autobiography with St. Augustine and Ayad Akhtar

The portrait was once a primary tool for the shaping of public perception. You can argue with me about the competing roles of banquets, weddings, coronations, and edicts but the point is that a picture, an artwork, has a historical sticking power. Images, like the distinctive visage of Henry VIII (wide, smug, magnificent), echo across time. But fashions change and the inception of the photograph has somewhat depreciated the value of a painting. It is more and more common to see the autobiographies of politicians and celebrities published, almost as a formality of fame.

Review: Unfinished Murder Ballads, by Darren C. Demaree

Review: Unfinished Murder Ballads, by Darren C. Demaree

The title of Darren C. Demaree’s newest poetry collection, Unfinished Murder Ballads, beautifully sets the haunting tone of his work long before you can turn its first page. A murder ballad, as the name suggests, tells the story of a violent death; what does it mean to leave such ballads unfinished? All at once, the collection’s title blends death, stories that are passed down as folklore, and an overarching sense of loss. These persist through the entire work, which is made up of moments that build up into a portrait of isolation, violence, intimacy, and perhaps above all, humanity.

Canons and Classics: Are They Still Relevant?

Canons and Classics: Are They Still Relevant?

What is the literary canon? When I hear the word ‘canon,’ two things come to mind. First, I think of the true events in a book or TV show—and not part of a fanfiction—this one is left over from my Tumblr phase. The other definition conjures up an image of High School English classes, where we had to read outdated, boring books written by white men, that were usually racist and misogynistic. However, the canon as we know it has been getting some fresh new titles as time has gone on, as the demand for a more diverse set of voices rises.

Campfire Pop

Campfire Pop

The hot medium of flames smacks

upward, whacks sheer eyes

with a stencil of blue and green.

Foreigner

Foreigner

There is a foreigner
on this shore.
From foreign lands, with
Foreign hands,
Knocking at my door.

The Lions on the Library Ceiling

The Lions on the Library Ceiling

Have you seen the lions on the library ceiling? They’re pawing at the edges of ontology, where flowers bow like gentlemen with Sinatra-style fedora hats. Everyone is lithe, lither than pigeons bopping on the curb and squirrels scrambling at a crumb of bread, and yet the lions lie in stubborn stone. Nothing to do but dance. 

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