The Importance of Modern Poetry

Poetry. The word itself was enough to incite a chorus of moans and groans in many high school or college standard literature classes. Stumbling through Dickinson, Eliot, or Tennyson was bewildering enough to cause most students to swear off the genre as a plague on personal sanity. As of a few years ago, this attitude was reflected in statistics for regular poetry readers, which was around 8.2 percent for young adults in 2012. Today, that number has more than doubled to 17.5 percent in the same population.

With the rise of Instagram poets like Rupi Kaur and R. M. Drake, we are beginning to see a shift in the world of poetry to a style and medium that is more effectively reaching an increasingly larger audience than almost any other genre today. The brevity and quick sharing options offered by social media platforms give readers access to poetic works that strike at the center of everyday struggles like heartbreak, self-growth, and personal acceptance on sites already touting content aimed at self-improvement. Most of these social media poets have little to no formal training and use highly personalized styles, which are seen as much more approachable and understandable to current audiences, making them more relatable and relevant.

While classically trained poets are concerned over consumer-driven content and diminished quality due to such developments in the poetic world, there must be evolution for the genre to adapt to our current cultural environment. This renewal of the poetic movement has indeed caused quite a stir. 1.3 million volumes of poetry were sold in the UK alone last year, an overall increase in sales of approximately 12% in the area. Social media poets have contributed to these statistics as well, also finding success through formally compiling and publishing their works out to a large and readily available fan base.

Poet Rupi Kaur shown reading from her book, milk and honey, in front of a micorphone.
Poet Rupi Kaur performing at a poetry reading

As social media, and online tools in general, continues to shape the publishing world and all of the genres that fall under it, we are seeing the ongoing importance of being able to make art, of any kind, approachable and available to audiences. No longer are readers interested in ideas of a stuffy and reclusive poet, hidden away scribbling out their meditations on the essence of life. Instead, a new type of poet is emerging. One who understands the everyday trials of life and not only relates to but interacts directly with their readers in an increasingly varied and democratic virtual literary community.

In a turbulent world filled with a vast multitude of uncertainties, poetry continues to be the balm of choice as audiences try to understand the confusing times we live in. Finding hope in the words and meters of others is not a new practice, despite the updated delivery system. While the dialogue surrounding social media’s poetry movement will doubtlessly continue, there is comfort in knowing that this treasured art form will continue to thrive regardless of our technological advancements and endless supply of pastimes.

Avoiding Predatory Publishers

Today’s virtual world is fraught with danger. From the prince of a faraway country asking for money to complex computer viruses disguised as helpful software, scams and phony programs are everywhere, and the publishing world is no different.

As self-publishing and open access academic journals become more prevalent, there are publishers who have realized that there are many ways to take advantage of inexperienced authors. These writers, taken in by promises of fast publication, may be forced not only to churn out works for the publisher, but will be required to pay in order to become published. Contracts may also force authors to sign over the copyrights to their works, creating a larger profit for the publisher without requiring them to provide editing resources or peer reviews for their writers—to the detriment of the authors’ credibility and reputation. Such self-serving institutions are defined as predatory publishers.

Because there is such a vast array of publishers to be found in today’s online world, discerning which publishers are predatory and which are legitimate can be difficult. Here are a few tips to use when evaluating the legitimacy of a publisher:

  • Look at their website. Professional publishers will have a polished website free of grammatical errors or major design flaws. They will also have a clear mission statement and specific genres that they specialize in publishing. Predatory publishers rarely have specific areas of publication and often carry a range of works from a large variety of unrelated topics.
  • Watch for transparency. Good publishers are open and honest about their publication process and carry a clear mission statement.
  • Research previously published works. To get a grasp of the publisher’s quality, look at a sample of pieces that the company has published. Mistakes regarding spelling or grammar could show a lack of peer reviewed editing.
  • Be mindful of fees! Any author’s fees should be clearly explained by the publisher. Hidden fees that appear during the publication process can indicate predatory publishers.
  • Check the copyright agreement. If a publisher operates under an Open Access model, make sure they have a Creative Commons or other type of open license in use. Publishers should be clear about what rights the author will have after publication.

Authors are often approached by predatory publishers who offer to publish their work quickly. However, if an author discovers that the journal or publisher is illegitimate, the most effective course of action is to refuse the publication and withdraw their piece as soon as possible to avoid any future negative associations with their work.  In the case of finding good publishers, caution and patience are key. While becoming a published author is an exciting accomplishment, we must be sure to arm ourselves effectively against the unfortunate institution of predatory publishing.

Literacy Composed: Music and Book Pairs

As March draws to a close, we are gearing up to add a few more novels to our reading lists—and beaches to our desired set of destinations—as we near spring break vacation season. While the old reliable library-like atmosphere will always be a favorite of book lovers, we have rounded up a few fresh book and music pairings to create the perfect ambiance for some of our most recent favorites.

 

  1. Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana will have you craving some time on Cuba’s sandy shores through her vibrant depictions of Cuba from the 1950s to today. The vintage island feel of Cleeton’s work, mixed with political tension, romance, and a mysterious family history, beg to be paired with songs like Cover for Next Year in Havana. A Young woman in a pink, 1950s-style gown sits on a blue couch. This image fades into a city scene of Havana and the Cuban coastline underneath. “Havana” by Camila Cabello, a modern piece with classic Latin flair that plays on the romantic scenes in the book and matches the modern side of the work. “Cereso Rosa” by Perez Prado pulls readers into Cuba’s 1950s atmosphere and helps crystallize the image of this beautiful island country during its golden years. “Lucky” by Jason Mraz bridges the old and new sides of Cleeton’s enchanting piece with its nostalgic melody, island vibes, and romantic lyrics. Variety reigns supreme as we explore the evolution of Cuba and its people in Next Year in Havana.

 

  1. Looking for a laugh to break up those lingering winter blues? Look no further than Bill Bryson’s smash hit A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Cover of A Walk in the Woods, showing a scene of the lush green forest floor and the head of a brown bear peaking up from the bottom edge of the cover.Trail. Bryson’s true and hilarious account of his completion of the Appalachian Trail (AT) will inspire and amuse through his truthful, elegant prose and unbelievably funny stories from his time on the AT. For this work, we suggest songs like “Brother” by Lord Huron, “The Wanderer” by Dion, and “Follow the Sun” by Xavier Rudd to enhance the feelings of awe and comedy produced by Bryson’s writing. Get ready to catch some wanderlust after experiencing this pairing!

 

  1. For a completely engrossing mystery thriller, be sure to pick up The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. As Aiden Bishop scrambles to solve the murder of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle book cover, black with geometric designs and red diamonds decorating the corners, the diamonds contain black illustrations of a chess piece, a gun, a compass, and a bottle of poison.Evelyn Hardcastle, he has more to contend with than a complex plot. Stuck in a time loop, Aiden must race the clock to inhabit the bodies of eight witnesses and figure out who killed Evelyn in precisely eight days, or be trapped in the loop. Intense, fast-paced, and wild to the finish, Turton’s debut novel has us on the edge of our seats as we wait for his next work. To enhance the mystery and intrigue of his current accomplishment, we suggest the classical titles “Dream Within a Dream” and “Rise” by Hans Zimmer and “In Control” by Anne Dudley.

 

  1. Run away and join the circus from the comfort of your own home with Sara Gruen’s beautiful Water for Elephants. Set during the Great Depression, Jacob Jankowski goes MIA from the Cornell Veterinary School after learning of his parent’s deaths in a devastating car accident, leaving him with nothing but Water for Elephants book cover, shows an image of a ringmaster in a sparkling red coat walking through a canvas tent flap.crippling debt. As he spontaneously lands in the train car of a traveling circus in need of a vet, he struggles to make sense of his life and what he has left. Jacob’s adventures with the circus unfold in a compelling story of danger, forbidden love, and second chances that can be paired excellently with songs like Iron and Wine’s “The Trapeze Swinger,” Lana Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful,” and Riley Pierce’s “Brave,” which all contribute to the engrossing and atmospheric qualities of Gruen’s piece.

 

  1. Last but certainly not least, we have Madhuri Vijay’s novel The Far Field, a compelling tale about a privileged young woman from Bangalore coming to The Far Field book cover, showing an off-white background with a close up of three orange illustrated flowers dominating the center of the cover.terms over her mother’s death while adjusting to life in the politically charged region of Kashmir. To enhance the tones of adventure and intrigue found throughout Vijay’s piece, we suggest the songs “The Stranger” by Lord Huron, “Heirloom” by SIAS, and “Long Nights” by Eddie Vadder. Raw, intense, and full of melodies that inspire travel to faraway lands, these songs are sure to awaken the inner adventurer in every reader as they journey through the complexities of gender, culture, and Indian politics in Vijay’s beautifully complex work.

Professionals in Motion: A Review of “Children’s Book Publishing from Start to Finish”

March 1 and 2 saw the annual Dahlonega Literary Festival grace our favorite mountain town with a fantastic selection of books, authors, panels, and workshops. This occasion marked the festival’s 16th year in Dahlonega and featured authors like Rebecca Wells, author of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Nayomi Munaweera, award-winning author of Island of a Thousand Mirrors and What Lies Between Us, and UNG’s very own Dr. Bonita Jacobs, author of the University’s first children’s book, UNG The Gold I See! Workshops and panels covered everything from memoir writing, poetry, screen writing, writing promotion, and specialized genre discussions. The literary festival’s strong turnout was bolstered by members of the local community as well as out-of-town visitors, cementing the vibrancy and importance of such events in the region.

The UNG Press was honored to host a panel featuring the University’s president, Dr. Bonita Jacobs, and her most recent publication, UNG The Gold I See! Dr. Robinson, director of the Press, began “Children’s Book Publishing from Start to Finish” by introducing Dr. Jacobs and welcoming everyone to the panel before handing the floor over to the featured author. To start, Dr. Jacobs explained the University’s focus on creating scholarships for students, and how she hoped to continue creating such opportunities by directing all profits of her book to the school’s scholarship foundation. This work is very personal for the University’s president, who wanted to convey her love for UNG in a way that would strike a cord with both alumni and their children. Her sister, J’Nelle Short, illustrated the book with beautiful watercolor scenes of the Dahlonega campus, giving the work an added layer of special meaning for Dr. Jacobs.

After discussing the background of UNG The Gold I See! and answering a few questions, Assistant Managing Editor Jillian Murphy discussed the target ages for different forms of children’s books, from picture books to easy readers and chapter books, and the various plot and structural requirements for each. Next, Dr. Robinson spoke about the need for the Press to meet industry standards to ensure successful publication and marketability for Dr. Jacob’s book, focusing on book size and target audiences specifically. Managing Editor Corey Parson finished out the talk by explaining the storyboard process and the importance of designing a book’s layout with the specific audience in mind to enhance readability. They also discussed the process of finding the right illustrator for the book.

Audience members were attentive and interactive throughout the discussion, asking questions relating to marketing, the number of universities writing children’s books, writing for multiple genres, illustrator limitations, and the author’s influence over design. Currently, the University of North Georgia is the only public university to publish a children’s book about itself. They will continue the trend by publishing a book about each of their five beautiful campuses. Technological innovations are also in the works, with the Press looking into developing a virtual reality component for the book’s story.

University Press staff poured forth a fascinating and impressive amount of knowledge about the world of children’s book publishing, leaving a remarkable impression on festival-goers. Their passion for sharing knowledge and creating quality literature was clearly displayed through their eager interaction with the crowd and thorough presentation. Looking forward, the future of the UNG Press continues to shine brightly with a staff of highly-talented and knowledgeable professionals at the helm.

Missed the UNG Press’s panel? Don’t worry. All our resources and presentation can be found here: Children’s Books: Industry Standards and Resources

Lessons Learned from Dr. Seuss

For literary fans across the nation, March 2nd is a glorious day for two reasons: It’s the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day, and it’s the birthday of our favorite children’s author, Dr. Seuss. Students young and old can recall enjoying Dr. Seuss’s quirky and enchanting books when they first began to read, and they carry a fondness for his work well after moving on to the more challenging sides of literature. Because of that continued love for Dr. Seuss and his books, we commemorate his inspiring life with Read Across America Day, meant to celebrate the pure joy of reading and sharing that happiness with young readers throughout the country. As we enter into this time of literary promotion and celebration, let us also reflect on some of the lessons left to us by the man whose unique perspectives on art and literature have left an unmistakable mark on the world of children’s books.

1. Black and white picture of Dr. Seuss holding a copy of The Cat in the Hat at a desk, with many of his other children's books scattered around him.Perseverance is Key: Before Dr. Seuss became the literary giant we all know and love today, he was known as Theodore Seuss Geisel, or Ted for short. Ted received his bachelor’s degree in English in the 1920s from Dartmouth, and moved to New York City shortly after in an attempt to start a career as a cartoonist. After being tossed out of numerous ad agencies, production companies, and magazine offices for three months, he landed his first job as a freelance cartoonist with The Saturday Evening Post. Years later, his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was born. Geisel had to withstand 27 rejections of his manuscript before it was accepted for publishing. His distinct style wasn’t for everyone at first, but his determination and commitment to his goals are core factors of his eventual success.

2. Forge Your Own Path: Ted Geisel’s artistic style was entirely his own from the very start, a mixture of surrealism and pure fantasy that made his work unique. Because of this very distinctive style, publishers were hesitant to produce his pieces. Despite the seemingly endless bouts of rejection, Geisel stayed true to his personal style, and held on to his artistic identity even in the face of consistent negative feedback from others. Now, his work is admired by millions and considered properly and perfectly Seussian.

3. Humility Is the Best Policy: While the work of Dr. Seuss became quite successful even while Geisel was alive, he never let the fame and recognition affect him negatively. Ted was known as someone who could light up a room and add laughter to any situation. His fame was simply a part of what he did, not who he was. Geisel’s ability to remain true Black and white picture of Dr. Seuss sketching characters for a book or cartoon.to himself through the flood of success also allowed him to become one of the biggest philanthropists in Dartmouth’s history. He and his wife were some of the school’s most significant donors on record, and the Audrey and Theodore Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth was named in their honor.

4. Shine a Little Light: Soon after the publication of his first book, World War II broke out. At that time, Ted served in the military as a captain, attached to Frank Capra’s wartime documentary filmmaking unit. His scripts focused on the morale and principles maintained by troops, and he later received the Legion of Merit for his efforts. Geisel also created military cartoons to boost the men’s spirits while he served, creating laughter with his zany character Private Snafu during one of the darkest moments in the world’s history. With nothing more than a pen and a little imagination, Geisel was able to spark happiness in an environment where joy was extremely scarce.

5. Use Your Talent to Help Others: One of Seuss’s landmark works is the classic and wildly popular The Cat in the Hat, which used an anapestic tetrameter structure meant to help children learn how to read through the use of cadence. With the emergence of this achievement, Geisel founded Beginner Books, a publishing company focusing on creating books for children. His company was soon absorbed by Random House Publishing and is still one of the most successful branches of the company today, creating books to be used as tools to help children unlock the gift of reading.

How did Dr. Seuss influence you? Let us know in the comments below! Interested in more great content? Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram and find our complete catalog on our homepage.

Intern Spotlight: Ariana Adams

Greetings fellow bloggers! My name is Ariana Adams, and I am an upcoming senior at the University of North Georgia who has been lucky enough to land an internship with our fantastic Press this Spring. I am so excited to begin this journey and learn about all of the intriguing ins and outs of the publishing industry during my time here.

When not at the Press, I am making myself a fixture in all of the regular haunts for English majors on campus such as our beautiful library, enchanting Great Room, and our fabulous English Department. I have also enjoyed exploring some of the other art programs on campus. From our excellent and inspiring Music Department, which I was honored to participate in through the concert band my freshman year, to the Art Department itself where I am currently pursuing a minor in Graphic Design, I have loved exploring and learning about the arts and how they both move and challenge us.

Other than my love of the arts, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, crocheting, reading, watching Netflix (a habit I am currently trying to curb), and building community in the resident halls as a Resident Assistant on our beautiful Dahlonega campus. Considering most of my hobbies and their laid-back nature, many of my friends tease me and say that I am the ultimate Mom Friend of the group. Personally, I take the title as a compliment. Helping others through anything that comes their way has always been a passion of mine, and I hope to bring positive and encouraging characteristics into every interaction I have.

After graduating, my hope is to earn a Master’s Degree in Publishing and work at a small indie press for a while to gain additional experience. After that the future is a bit unclear, but I am eager to see what new opportunities and experiences are in store. For now though, I am honored to share the next few months with you, and thrilled to learn everything I can from our strong and extremely talented University Press staff. Until next time lovely readers, adieu!