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.
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.
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.
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 “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.
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 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!
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
As a writer, receiving a rejection is inevitable, but there is always a chance the text you have been working on still has opportunity at different publishing houses. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein were both rejected upon first review, and these two are not the only famous books thwarted by publishers. Sometimes you must submit to multiple publishing houses before someone can see the merit of your work, and that’s okay. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tactics to utilize your rejection to craft a stronger manuscript.
1) Don’t be Disheartened by Rejection
Rejection is always difficult to cope with, but the vast majority of books aren’t accepted in just one submission. As mentioned above, we are all fond of some books which faced rejection multiple times before being picked up by a publishing house. These books had authors behind them who believed in the importance of their works and so should you.
2) Don’t Stop Submitting
All publishing houses aren’t looking for the same types of works or even have the same types of people working for them. There are a vast number of publishers who specialize in different works, and you should explore all your options. Try to find publishing houses whose previous published books are similar to the book your submitting. Are you trying to publish a science fiction novel? Look for a publisher who specializes in everything science fiction. Rejection from one publisher, or even multiple publishers, isn’t a death sentence for your work. Keep submitting!
3) Listen to Feedback from Publishers
Publishers will occasionally tell you what they see as critical errors, and this can be a good opportunity to improve your manuscript. You shouldn’t expect feedback from the editors (they often don’t). If they do address problems within your manuscript, they will generally address global issues. Global issues can range from plot coherence to the constant misspelling of a word throughout your manuscript. Take it as an opportunity to improve your manuscript for other publishers, and don’t be afraid of submitting a revised manuscript to the same publishing house.
4) Objectively Edit Your Manuscript
As a writer, it can be difficult to look objectively at your work, but this is necessary to become a great writer. Try asking yourself why your manuscript was rejected. Is the writing appropriate for the intended audience? Are your characters believable? Did you follow the submission guidelines? Are you considering assumptions about shared knowledge? Look for plot holes and inconsistent formatting. These are all things to consider when receiving a rejected manuscript.
5) Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
A misconception about writing is that it’s a one-person job. But typically the best, most enjoyable works are produced when multiple people contribute to the production of a work. That’s not to say you need to rewrite with a co-author, but having a third-party proofread and suggest ideas can vastly enhance your manuscript’s readability. Because writers can become overly attached to their manuscript, a third-party allows for an unbiased opinion which can help find critical flaws within a work. Just be sure to find someone who is not attached to your work already.
It’s crucial to understand that rejection is a normal part of the writing process. Every writer has confronted rejection countless times. Embracing rejection is difficult, but can be one of the most helpful tools for a writer if utilized correctly. Often times, writers will submit their manuscript for years before a publishing house accepts it. But in the end, some of the most prolific, award-winning books are rejected dozens of times before being published. If you ever feel down about your rejection, take a look at this list of some of the most rejected books of all time and remember that you’re in good company.
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. 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 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 Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and find our complete catalog on our homepage.
Have you every measured the readability of your writing? We’ve all had a text to read where we didn’t understand a word it said, no matter how many times we read it. Readability is the ease with which a reader can understand a written text. You may have been perfectly smart enough to understand your biology textbook, but the readability of the information presented may have been above your level.
There are a few factors that determine a work’s readability:
the vocabulary used
the sentence structure
the typography (like the font and its size)
But how do we take these parts and actually determine readability? There are a few different methods.
Flesch Reading Ease Test
Rudolf Flesch developed the Flesch Reading Ease Test in the 1940s. It uses a mathematical formula to determine how easy a text is to read. A higher number means a text is easier to read; a lower number means it is more difficult. Flesch’s work had a huge impact on increasing readership, especially in journalism.
Very easy to read. Easily understood by an average 11-year-old student.
Easy to read. Conversational English for consumers.
Fairly easy to read.
Plain English. Easily understood by 13- to 15-year-old students.
Fairly difficult to read.
Difficult to read.
Very difficult to read. Best understood by university graduates.
In 1975, the Flesch Reading Ease Test was refined by J. Peter Kincaid as part of an effort by the United States government to improve the readability of technical documents. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Formula presents the score as a U. S. grade level. A score of 8 means the the material is understandable at an 8th grade or above grade level (but a 6th grader might have difficulty with it). Because the total words, sentences, and syllables are weighed differently than in the original Flesch Reading Ease Test, the two formulas are not directly compatible.
The Lexile Framework for Reading
The Lexile framework was developed by A. J. Stenner and Malbert Smith III in 1989 and funded by the National Institutes of Health. The framework is divided into two categories: A Lexile reading measure (what level the reader is at) and a Lexile text measure (the difficulty of a specific text). The Lexile framework is frequently used in schools. Unlike the Flesch formulas, the creators of the Lexile framework retained their intellectual property rights, meaning that educators must pay for their services.
Readability is especially important to children’s books. Because their reading skills are still developing, giving children a book too far above their reading level can deter or confuse them. Most children’s books have a clear marker for what reading level it is on, though the ranking system can vary by publisher, such as Scholastic’s Guided Reading Levels.
No matter what type of writing you are doing, keeping readability in mind will help aid your reader’s comprehension and understanding. If you’re a publisher, make sure that your readability levels match the industry’s standards. If you’re an author, make sure to keep your audience’s abilities in mind. If using Microsoft Word, you can even check your readability statistics according to the Flesch scales. Under the Proofing option in Word, make sure to select “Check grammar with spelling.” After you run spell check, you’ll receive your readability statistics. For this article, our Flesch Reading Ease score is 52.5 and our Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is 8.9.
If you’re a parent, don’t be afraid to encourage your child to try a book above their reading level. Because of the factors measured, a more-adult book may have an ‘easier’ score. Sometimes, the punctuation used can change a score even if the actual text never changes. We don’t want to deny books to children, so if your little one wants to explore harder texts, encourage them. After all, there are amazing stories to discover at all reading levels.
It’s November which means it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Authors of all genres take part in the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel from November 1 to November 30. If you’re as good at math as you are at writing, you’ll realize that’s 1,667 words per day. It’s not the easiest challenge, but it is a fun one. We want to start the month off write (get it?), so here are three tips to help you begin.
1. Make a Storyboard
Write down each scene on an index card. Using a corkboard—or even some tape and a blank wall—arrange your scenes in order of how they’re presented in the book. For most of us, this’ll be chronologically, but it may not be. Seeing the scenes laid out gives you a bird’s-eye view, allowing you to see how everything connects. It’s also easier to move around scenes as you figure things out. Maybe a middle scene works better at the beginning. Just move your index card and test it.
2. Write the Most Exciting Scenes First
You don’t have to write the story linearly, even if it’ll be told that way. Start with the scenes that excite you the most. They’ll be the most fun to explore and may help motivate you to write the necessary but slower scenes that connect them. You’ll also find that by starting with the most exciting scenes, the previous slower scenes may be unnecessary altogether, and you can remove them from the story.
3. Don’t Tell Anyone About Your Project
This may be the hardest thing to do. We’re excited about our writing. It’s meant to be shared! But sharing your story too early is the fastest way to lose motivation. Set yourself a “share goal,” where you can only share the information after you’ve completed a certain amount of writing. Your goal may be “write a chapter” or “finish a scene.” Whatever it is, it’ll get you writing, instead of talking about writing.
If you’re in the Dahlonega area, join us for a weekly Write In, sponsored by The Chestatee Review and the University of North Georgia Press. We’re meeting every Thursday (except Thanksgiving) from 7 pm – 9 pm on the second floor of Starbucks.
Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus was first published on January 1, 1818 without attribution. Only 500 copies were produced by the small publishing house known as Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, and Jones in London. Little to the publishing house’s knowledge, Frankenstein would end up becoming one of the most influential novels of all time. Four years later, Frankenstein was reprinted after the success of a play created by Richard Brinsley Peake based on the novel which sparked an interest within its audience members. This is the first time Mary Shelley claimed Frankenstein as her own.
Later in 1831, another edition was published. This edition went on to become the standard edition which most people have read. Though it is the most common, this edition was heavily edited by Shelley before publication due to some critiques citing the original as far too radical and vulgar. The Quarterly Review, a literary and political periodical, said the 1818 version of Frankenstein was, “a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity,” upon its release. Because of the 1831 edition, there has been controversy as to which edition is most deserving of the spotlight. However, we think both have merit!
The 1818 Edition
The 1818 edition is the original work of Mary Shelley. It’s the one that started it all, and for some, the edition deserving of all the attention. The merit in this edition is in its origin. The 1818 edition was spawned from a friendly writing competition among Shelley’s friends and is loved by scholars and Franken-heads for its rawness and unaltered state. It’s believed this edition contains the original message of Shelley where the 1831 version tatters it. Plus, who wouldn’t love to own one of the original 500? Getting a hold of one may be difficult though, unless you have €350,000 to spend on Lord Byron’s personal copy signed by Shelley herself!
The 1831 Edition
To the chagrin of many, the 1831 version is the most widely read edition of Frankenstein. Anne K. Mellor wrote an essay in the W. W. Norton Critical edition arguing that the 1831 edition of Frankenstein loses Shelley’s tone and doesn’t coincide with her original vision. To understand the outcry of many, the alterations from the 1818 edition to the 1831 edition need to be listed:
The 1818 edition’s first chapter was expanded as well as split into two different chapters
The 1831 edition had changes made to the origin story of Elizabeth Lavenza
The 1831 edition introduces the concept of galvanism, a power thought to be able to reanimate bodies
The 1831 edition includes more of Victor’s motivations and thoughts for creating life
But even if some do detest the 1831 version, it still has a merit which might be overlooked. The main one being most people have read the 1831 edition. When we read books, we like to discuss them with others who have read the book. With the 1831 edition being the most popular, that means it’s more likely to come across someone who has read it. This means we readers can fulfill our need to discuss this edition easier than the 1818 edition.
Editions, Editions, and More Editions
Since its creation, Frankensteinhas been made into almost 300 editions. Yes, you read that right. 300. Romantic Circles, a scholarly website devoted to the Romantic period, has compiled a list of editions starting from the original 1818 version all the way to a 2000 Spanish translation. Below, we’ve compiled five editions of Frankenstein worth taking a look at. (And maybe even purchasing, if you have the coin.) Which is your favorite?
1) The Grosset and Dunlap Edition
Based solely on the iconic cover, the Grosset and Dunlap edition of Frankenstein makes the list. This edition was printed in 1931 to capitalize on the Frankenstein movie produced by Universal pictures that year, simply titled Frankenstein. This movie became a cult classic, and by 1943, Universal reported the movie made $708,871 with only a $262,007 budget! Unfortunately, you’ll have to be comfortable with shelling out a little over $1,000 for this edition.
2) The Puffin 8-Bit Edition
If you’re into the 8-bit video game aesthetic, this edition of Frankenstein is for you. Puffin published this retro looking Frankenstein in 2016. This is particularly neat if you’re a video game buff and remember Dr. Franken released on the Game Boy which holds similar artwork.
3) The 1818 and 1831 Editions in One Book
This edition of Frankenstein from Uber Books includes both the 1818 edition and 1831 edition all in one book. No more arguing about which one is better! You could use this edition to closely compare the two editions.
4) The Barnes & Noble Edition
This Barnes & Noble edition of Frankenstein gives off dark castle library vibes with its red and black aesthetic. The pages have gilded red edges, contributing even more to the spooky factor of this edition. And if you have read Frankenstein before, the lightning on the cover is great foreshadowing!
5) The Classic Comics Edition
If you’re looking for a more casual read of Frankenstein, perhaps this Classic Comics edition is for you. Classic Comics set out to turn classic novels into graphic novels and, of course, Frankenstein made it in. What makes this crossover so great is the nicely drawn illustrations alongside a condensed version of the original work.
6) The Classics Reimagined Edition
This edition from Rockport Publishers is specially illustrated by graphic artist David Plunkert for the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein. There are illustrations inside as well, including an 8-page insert that shows doctor designs and a full spread of the monster. Frankenstein and his creature have never been so horrifying.
Celebrate Franken Fridays with us! Frighteningly fun events are held each Friday to celebrate Frankenstein’s 200th publishing anniversary. Connect with us on social media using the #FrankenFriday tag.
Friday, Oct. 26
11 a.m., Library 134, Gainesville Campus—”Frankenstein and Posthumanism” faculty panel featuring Dr. Lynn Berdanier, Dr. John Hamilton, Dr. Jeanelle Morgan, and Dr. Kristin Yager
Noon to 3 p.m., upstairs lobby, Cumming Campus—PoeDown and costume contest
Noon, Library 134, Gainesville Campus—“Monster Theory” faculty panel featuring Dr. Jeff Pardue, Dr. Phil Guerty, Dr. Patsy Worrall
3-5 p.m., Mount Hope Cemetery, Dahlonega Campus—“Secrets from the Grave” guided tour of Mount Hope Cemetery.