August 25, 2010

Fall 2010 Submission Guidelines

The Independent Scribe is now accepting student-produced arts and literature submissions, encompassing across a vast creative gambit of genre.

When in doubt - assume the Scribe is interested and please send it our way!

Who Can Submit We are currently accepting writing and artwork from undergraduates and graduate students solely from the University of Rhode Island. We are also thrilled to receive submissions from our alumni.

What to Submit No more than 5 poems or 10 pages of prose or other writing at a time. No more than 5 pieces of artwork at a time.

How to Submit Electronically, to theindependentscribe [at] gmail [dot] com. Please send text submissions as .doc attachments; art submissions as .jpg attachments. Remove writer's name from all submissions.

When to Submit We work on a rolling submissions calendar, but only works received by November 1st, 4PM will be considered for the Fall 2010 publication. All works received after 4PM on the 1st will be considered in the Spring 2011 submission pool.

We look forward to hearing from all the talented individuals in the University community.

Fall 2010 Meeting Schedule and Deadline

Hey all,

The start of the Fall 2010 semester is quickly approaching, and for the I-Scribe that means a new meeting schedule and a shiny new deadline! We will be accepting submissions for our Fall 2010 publication from now until November 1st at 4 pm. We hope to hear from all of our talented URI writers and artists.

This semester, we will be meeting on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 - 6 pm in the Memorial Union room 202. If you are interested in being a part of our work, just stop by or shoot us an email at

April 29, 2010

Would You Look at That?

Now in your choice of colors!

As long as you choose marigold or citron.

Woo hoo!

April 28, 2010

iScribe Interview Special - Poet-at-Law

Name: Kate Stone
Major(s): English/Writing & Rhetoric
Year of Graduation: December 2009
Position: Featured writer (Spring 2010)
Click here to read about Kate's time as Editor-in-Chief

What is so intriguing about your poetry is that you encompass so many topics, from serious academic conversations to portraits of modern young womanhood that would make Carrie Bradshaw proud. Your body of work shows that you are indeed a complex person with a wide range of interests. Do you prefer to keep those interests separate in your work, or do you find that there is a relationship between the two?

I like for those interests to mingle as much as possible. I want my poetry to everything: To back pack across Europe with a rosary and a porcelain tea cup; flirt with all the boys; set off bottle rockets at midnight; sip bourbon and talk dirty at noon; wear five inch stilettos and a cowboy hat; collect Canivale masks; and order a bacon double cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate shake when everyone else is having salad... to name a few.

I think the relationships between the various topics in my work naturally find one another. I just can't seem to keep Virgina Woolf or D.H. Lawrence out of my life, especially because poetry can act as an evaluative tool in our lives, whether we intend for it to or not. I write about what I do, what I know, and apply the lessons I've picked up along the way. The result is personal verse, with other writers' voices, opinions, lives woven in.

I love how this question is written. The first two words of the second sentence, "Your body," following a statement about how my writing functions is fabulously intuitive. My body is just as involved in my poetic process as my mind: My body needs to feel it. If I'm writing and sitting still, something's not right; if I hit five lines that I just can't help but move my hips to, I know I'm really on to something. If nothing else, my poems need to dance. Preferably on tables and platforms.

We've missed having you at the Scribe, but were thrilled to receive your submissions. How have you been keeping busy this semester? What lies ahead after the summer?

I had the pleasure of heading down to Louisville, Kentucky in early March for the Conference of College Composition and Communication, where I chaired a panel and attended some really fascinating presentations. In addition to all things professional and academic, I also had the opportunity to let my hair down and really experience Kentucky: I rode a mechanical bull (and would every day for the rest of my life if I could!), became a Maker's Mark fanatic, ate my weight in Hot Browns and buzzed all the way home on my Sweet Tea-induced caffeine high. If you ever have a chance to get down there, I strongly suggest stopping by Fourth Street Live: Any tourist-ridden, architecturally-hip, outdoor collection of bars serving until 4AM in the bible belt complete with bouncers in cowboy boots is worth a visit in my book.

In addition to the occasional trip, I've been working as a model this spring and like the challenge of learning the ins and outs of a new business. I'm particularly enjoying the experience because I get the opportunity to embody the larger-than-life persona(s) I construct in my poetry in front of the camera; similarly to how I do so in my poems, the modeling enables me to be an -est version of myself and that's a feeling everyone loves every now and again. By this I mean I get to unleash the extremes of my personality, run with them, and I believe its in these parts of ourselves we find the truly interesting, whether that be fierce writing or great photographs or a fabulous new recipe for cupcakes. Sometimes you need to let the leash off for a while, trash around, be larger than life and find something fantastic in the mess you've made.

Law school is on the horizon after summer. I'd be lying if I said I'm not wary of the undeniably daunting years that are ahead, but I'm far more energized by the thought than I am concerned. I hear 1L is brutal; I'm ready to find something fantastic in that.

One of the pieces we have the honor of featuring this semester was previously published in Chronogram magazine. How does the real-world submission process compare to the Scribe? Was your previous experience with the Scribe helpful in preparing you to send your work elsewhere?

Submitting to The Independent Scribe is very much like submitting to publications outside of the URI community, with one exception: iScribe is particularly good about providing writers with feedback. Working on an editorial board provided me with tons of insight with regard to what editors look for; the experience is invaluable when it comes to submission preparation. At the end of the day though, submitting to anyone only takes a handful of characteristics: Solid writing you believe in, sincere professionalism, and nerve.

Is there one topic you are dying to sink your teeth into? Is there one you would never dare touch?

I'd estimate that approximately 80% of my poetry is inspired by people, including a number of pieces featured in The Independent Scribe. It's always the quiet ones I end up penning; I want to crack into their heads, know what they're thinking in all that silence. I imagine it must be something important, something scandalous, naughty, private, of national importance. Eventually I get impatient and fill the silence with poems. These pieces usually evolved into something larger than just a meditation about the individual, but may begin in this manner. No, I don't usually tell people which poem they prompted and yes, you've probably prompted one or two.

I'm also dying to write a poem about the Pine Barrens back home in New Jersey. I drive through them every time I go to the shore since I was a kid, but I've never tackled them for some reason. I love all the charred bark and silky paper Birch trees. I've a few lines jotted down in my phone, but nothing major yet.

The topics I'm hesitant to tackle today may be the one's I'm all over tomorrow. For the most part, I see my writing as a testament to my belief in writing what "you're not supposed to," or what other's won't dare to touch. If we don't tackle those topics in poetry, where will we ever open them up?

April 27, 2010

2010 English Department Contest Winners

On Friday, April 23rd, a few of the writers featured in the Spring 2010 edition of The Independent Scribe were honored at a ceremony hosted by the URI English Department, to celebrate their success in the department's annual contests.
Photo credit: Barbara Ramos

iScribe Interview Special - What's New, Pussycat?

Name: Gillian Ramos
Major(s): English/Political Science
Year of Graduation: 2010
Position: President (2009-2010); featured writer (Spring 2010)

Congratulations on winning the Nancy Potter short story contest this year! Many have claimed "I never win anything!" Is this the first of many wins to come, or is snagging awards old hat in the world of Gillian Ramos?

Thank you! This is the first win, and I hope it's not the last. I started mailing out stories (this one, and "Glass") in February, and the responses have been trickling in.

So far, I'm 3 for 3 in the "no thanks" column, but I don't mind. It really is about the experience rather than the outcome - without the support I've gotten from the friends I made through the Scribe, I never would have done any mailings, or even entered the department contest!

Tell us a bit about your short story, "Pater Noster." Where did it originate, in thought and in reality?

"Pater Noster" came out of a semester's research on the religious right. It began in the summer of 2009 with the murder of Dr. George Tiller, by Scott Roeder, a well-known anti-abortion activist, self-proclaimed sovereign citizen, and Christian extremist; a man by the name of Frank Schaeffer was all over my news network of choice, talking about the extremism coming out of the religious communities across the country. It turns out, Frank Schaeffer and his family were the pioneers of what we know today as the religious right.

I read Schaeffer's memoir, Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, and it blew my mind. Clearly, no one could foresee that the nexus of politics and religion would take a turn for the violent, as it did in the case of Dr. Tiller's death.

Seeing Frank Schaeffer talk so candidly about feeling like he's contributed to this mess, and wants nothing more than to repair the damage he helped create in the 1980s was so moving, and I knew there simply had to be a story in there somewhere.

And then the summer took a turn for the purely weird - a pair of political sex scandals (John Ensign's strange mix of business and pleasure & Mark Sanford's hike along the Appalachian Trail). This brought me to Jeff Sharlet's The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, which delves into the long entanglement between the Republican Party, big business, and religious fundamentalism.

The large scale of bad behavior and hypocrisy on the institutional level was fascinating, but somewhat unweildy for a short fiction approach. I found more personal narratives to better suit my needs in terms of finding an intimate, manageable story. I read Jesusland, a memoir by Julia Scheer, and Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, an investigative piece by Kathryn Joyce. These two books simply broke my heart.

Without getting into it too much, I found the portrayal of marriage and father-daughter relationships in Quiverfull to be the base from which everything in my story would extend. When a daughter marries into a new family, she is essentially taken out of her birth family, literally having nothing to do with her parents. She is 100% her husband's "problem."

As for the story itself, "Pater Noster" is better known as the Lord's Prayer, which really lays out the tenets of Christianity and the expectation that we have to treat people the way we expect to be treated, and will turn to God for guidance and salvation. This prayer can become perverted and used as a way for people to try and absolve themselves of all responsibility, which I touch in my story. It's not so much about the specific sin, but the multitude of sins and secrets people commit in their daily lives - even the most upstanding members of society.

I chose to go this route, rather than writing about parents and children as a family unit, mostly because I couldn't stomach having to navigate the kind of abuse found in Jesusland without feeling like I was competing with, or borrowing too heavily from, Scheer's life story.

And yes, I do recommend reading any or all of these books.

What is your revision process like? Is "Pater Noster" in its final version, or will you continue to edit and tweak, even post-publication? Why or why not? Is this representative of your revision process as a whole, or specific to this text?

"Pater Noster" is a done deal. When I finish a story, that's it. I have to walk away from it, even if there are things I wish I could tweak. I know I'm done when I start thinking, "Okay, I know it's not perfect, but how much can I tinker with it before totally wrecking it?"

I would rather find a few small imperfections than find out a story is overwrought and beyond repair.

This is pretty much my process every time. I tend to edit as I go, being especially careful about details when I get to them, almost like recording a movie as it plays in my head. I can visualize a few major scenes clearly and then fill in the rest when the time comes.

To speak generally, you're a prose writer for the most part. Ever try your hand at verse? How long ago, and what were your thoughts? We hope you're feeling daring enough to share some!

I've only ever attempted poetry when it was required of me in survey-style creative writing courses. It's not something I would ever attempt on my own - it really is better left to the experts.

Do you ever feel like you have a fabulous idea for a short story, but it is stuck in your head for one reason or another? What is stuck in your head these days?

I've had ideas stuck in my head for weeks at a time, which is no fun. Sometimes I simply don't have the time to pursue that idea, and sometimes it's just a little kernel of an idea that I have no real intention of fleshing out. I do this a lot on the bus, especially if someone is on the phone and I can only follow half their conversation. I'll make up the other half as a way to amuse myself.

Lately, I've been thinking about doing something different. Still short fiction, but something not as dark as my usual fare. Maybe something more like a fairy tale?

Speaking of things rattling around up there, what have you been reading recently? Any particularly intriguing passages or texts you'd like to alert our readership to?
Right now, I'm reading Ian McEwan's Atonement. I saw the movie when it came out, and absolutely loved it. My plan for the summer is to devour all things British. When I finish this one, I've got Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited lined up, and then it's all Jane Austen all the time.

There's a passage in Atonement that I simply adore. To set the scene, McEwan is introducing his protagonist, Briony Tallis. Briony is a young writer who is positively detail-obsessed, never mind detail-oriented. Emphasis is mine.

"She was on course now, and had found satisfaction on other levels; writing stories not only involved secrecy, it also gave her all the pleasures of miniaturization. A world could be made in five pages, and one that was more pleasing than a model farm. The childhood of a spoiled prince could be framed within half a page, a moonlit dash through sleepy villages was one rhythmically emphatic sentence, falling in love could be achieved in a single word - a glance. The pages of a recently finished story seemed to vibrate in her hand with all the life they contained."

Isn't that just a delicious passage?

I also found an editorial in the April 15th New York Times that really touched on something I adore. Verlyn Klinkenborg is talking about the e-reader trend, and how these devices are great for certain purposes, but nothing will ever replace real books. This is my favorite line:
"A paper book aids my concentration by offering to do nothing else but lie open in front of me."
As I said in my interview last semester, I love books as objects - how they feel in my hands, how the paper smells - and reading a real book is a beautiful, incomparable experience.

I've been listening to Joanna Newsom almost exclusively for a couple of months now. I bought a book of essays and other writings about her music, and have begun to appreciate her brilliance on a completely different level. Once you get past the fact that her voice is, well, I'll call it unique, it turns out that the language she uses in her songs is pretty amazing. She resurrects words and sentence structures that fell out of fashion ages ago, and still manages to make it feel elegant and modern.

Right now, my favorite song is "Sadie," from 2004's Milk-Eyed Mender.

When do you do the bulk of your writing? Where do you usually settle down to write? (Which isn't to imply you may not pace around your backyard balancing your laptop on one hand, furiously typing with the other)

I do most of my writing in bed. I do have a desk, and my laptop usually lives on my desk, but I tend to get the most done sitting on my bed, propped up against some pillows. More often than not, I'll also have a cat stretched across my ankles, so I'm definitely committed to that position.

This is also how I prefer to do most of my reading, though I seem to get a lot of reading done on the bus.

I tend not to write longhand, mostly because it can be so hard to keep up with my thoughts. But this summer, I plan on keeping handwritten reading journals when I get to Jane Austen. I bought these neat little notebooks at Target with wild Liberty of London patterns on the cover. Austen predates the Liberty fabrics considerably, but the covers are just so fantastically cheery - I simply must use them!

April 18, 2010

iScribe Interview Series - Attempting the Improbable

Name: Nick McKnight
Major: Fine Arts
Year of Graduation: 2011
Position: Featured writer (Fall 2009); cover artist (Fall 2009)

It been said (too many times) that "You can't judge a book by it's cover", but this might not be the case of the Fall 2009 edition of The Independent Scribe. Though I'm no art buff, I feel that your painting "Bridge (extended)" conveys the variety and vibrant nature of the writers and artists in the issue, yourself included. Do you have anything to say about this painting that you would like others to hear?

The painting hangs right next to my bed at home and I see it every day. I love it. I mean, I love all of my work, but I feel that its vibrant tone was intended, especially since I made it in the gloomy days of winter. Hopefully it will find a beautiful home someday.

You also contributed the poem "1 Day, 2 Gowns & 3 Reasons", a unique and poignant look at a marriage ceremony through the bride's perspective (please correct me if I'm wrong!). Was this piece inspired by a particular marriage you've attended, the general idea of it, or something else entirely?

It’s actually a funny story: I attended school in Baltimore and while I was there, I was in one of the buildings waiting for a friend and the architect who designed the building was getting married in the building. I just started writing and I thought of that marriage as well as other couples in Baltimore, many of whom are homosexual or transgendered. Although I’m not, I thought it’d be a nice exercise to write about the scrutiny and verbal abuse and all of the bullshit (can I say that?) they go through while just trying to be happy.

Looking through your blog, I've seen that you've been very active as an artist. Can you give an estimate of how many pieces you have created so far in your career?

Ooof. All together? Finished pieces? It’s difficult to tell. If I had to say, maybe a little less than 200.

Can you pick a favorite, or most important piece out of this catalog?

I’m not sure, I don’t have the book on hand.

From some periphery browsing, it is apparent that there is great variety in your work: your self-portrait as your icon, still-lifes, abstracts, collages - you even find time to write poetry! Is there any sort of art form that you feel you could not attempt, or that is the most difficult for you?

Now there’s a question! Bring it on! I try not to stay in a comfort zone while working. I even have a body of work that I’m making now with sculptures (wax, resin, molds and junk). I think attempting the impossible or “improbable” is what artists should strive for, poets and writers especially. There’s not much difference between poetry and visual art either. With both, I’ve submitted poetry and art to contests and failed or didn’t get accepted more than you’ve said the word “hello,” but I still do it again and again.

We at The Independent Scribe don't get to talk about visual art nearly as much as writing, so do you have any artists who influence your work?

We would truly be here for hours. But here’s a few artists and poets:

  • Cy Twombly
  • Jenny Saville
  • Lisa Hamilton
  • Eric Fischl
  • Grace Hartigan

Writers/Performance Poets:

  • Kerouac
  • Buddy Wakefield
  • Anis Mojgani
  • Andrea Gibson\
  • Anne Sexton

Overall, how has your experience with The Independent Scribe been?

Well, I’ve only been at URI since the fall because I transferred from Baltimore back to RI, but The Scribe last semester was pretty great! It was well put together, the team did a fantastic job and there’s a great deal of talent and hard work in those books, writers and artists. I’m honored to be a part of The Independent Scribe and I respect the hard work and enthusiasm all of you have to do this every semester! See you in the fall!

April 17, 2010

iScribe Interview Series - Curiouser and Curiouser

Name: Aran Valente
Major: Political Science
Year of Graduation: 2010
Position: Featured writer (Spring 2010)

Saguaro Blossoms" was probably one of the most challenging pieces we've ever read. It opened up a debate that really bordered on uncomfortable, but we all agreed that it was an important conversation to have. Was that kind of discussion your goal as a writer, or were you looking to tell a story and let the reader come away with whatever they were able to glean from the piece?

I meant the story to be challenging in that it presented an antithesis to a popularly unilateral argument about ethnic relations and emigration issues in the United States. In terms of debate, at the time I was writing it I didn't think a group of people would be reading it at once so I never considered a discussion at the end of the reading. That being said, I am glad that a debate occurred because I think that only by talking about controversial issues can people identify underlying problems and begin to move towards solutions that work to the benefit of everyone and not just whatever group has the power to write the laws of society at that time.

Are there elements to the story that had to be left out? Any background information on the characters or social climate, or even a resolution beyond your conclusion?

The story behind the story is still going on, though civil and human rights lawsuits have been filed against some construction contractors and some unions have been formed. At the time I came up with the story, I was working as a union organizer for the Arizona American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) though my family and I currently affiliate with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). A lot of the dialogue and Roberto's thoughts were taken from comments strikers and construction workers made about civil and human rights' abuse on the job. I purposefully decided to leave out union organizers and put them in the background because I thought it would have been too much of a subjective stance on the issue. A lot of the story was designed around expressing the disappointment of people who painfully discovered the paradox first hand of having their basic rights as human beings ignored by a country founded on equality.

Is "Saguaro Blossoms" part of a larger work? How do you envision the entire piece unfolding - will it be a short story collection? A continuous novel with added characters and events? An expansion of this particular story to encompass more of these particular characters' experiences?

It could be part of a larger work but it’s difficult for me to say at this point. I don’t think I’ve had enough experience to write a novel yet but maybe a series of short stories. There is a longer version of the story but I think this vignette is the best so far.

Now, the big question - why? What made this story so compelling that you absolutely had to share it?

While union organizing, we were often given false locations for delegating by corporate contractors and would drive for sometimes up to six hours to a location that didn’t even exist yet (which wasn’t uncommon during the housing boom at that time). Everyone would groan collectively when they came to yet another highway barrier and saw only barren desert beyond. On the bright side, I got to have lots of conversations with the other organizers and strikers to pass the time.

On one of these long drives I was staring out the window at all the palm trees going by and thinking about how they were bought for the area and how people were trying to change an arid desert into a tropical metropolis. I thought about using a palm tree to symbolize a sense of alienation from the society people were working to improve a country that rejected them and decided to have symbols in the story be put in the context of common Arizona sights. I wanted to design a story that would expose the politics people faced who were overlooked by society and do it in a way that showed more accurate depictions of Latino/a American and in particular, Mexicans, and Mexican-American day-laborers than was normally seen in the media. I took a class on radical writers from the Black Arts Movement of the '60s and wanted to use universal social concepts expressed in the class’s texts to show how people from a different cultural community who face a similar adversity would express their discontent and fight for their peoples’ freedom. I also thought of structuring the story in a similar fashion to Jack London’s, To Build a Fire, in that external factors would be shown that inhibited peoples’ ability to function in a society. The main difference would be that in To Build a Fire all the factors were from nature and in "Saguaro Blossoms" they were made by people.

I’m not sure that I absolutely had to share that story or that it was especially different than other stories or articles on labor exploitation written in the South West or America. Members of the Latino/a and Latino/a American community and marginalized groups in general have been writing about exploitation such as this for generations. All I did was put it in a contemporary context from what I had heard, seen, and researched while organizing during the summer time. Without the testimonies of visionary strikers and Construction Workers who found their voices and shared their experiences no one would ever even know problems such as this were going on in America or at the most would have a very narrow minded view of them. In this way, I think there could some problematic aspects to the story because I have not had the experience first hand that I wrote about in the text. I don’t think that people should come away feeling that they’ve had “the undocumented experience” or “the Mexican experience” but that they’ve read a story to make them more aware of political issues surrounding racism, labor abuse, and documentation. My hope is that stories such as this will make people curious about the subjects presented and interested in educating themselves with a more holistic stance on emigration and labor policies. I also hope that readers will come away with an interest in stories by Mexican and Mexican American authors, journalists, etc. or people who are aware of adversities that members of Mexican and Mexican American communities face. I don’t want my story to be thought of as a permanent social signifier but rather an interface for political identity and cultural expression.

What other events and experiences do you hope to capture in the future?

Well, it’s hard to predict the future. I am curious to see how the recession has affected labor relations in Arizona currently and compare and contrast with my former experiences there.

What 5 writers or other works (entire books, stories, articles, movies, etc.) stand out as favorites, be it the most influential in your own work or simply for enjoyment?

Stories that influenced my writing in Saguaro Blossoms include:

Poems by Sonia Sanchez
Poems by Amiri Baraka during his transition period
Etheridge Knight’s poem: The Bones of My Father
Jack London’s To Build a Fire
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

Reading through past editions of the Scribe, what piece(s) made you think,"Wow, I would love to live in the world this writer has created!"

Well, I enjoyed reading "Glass" by Gillian Ramos and "To Train Up a Child" by Samuel Aboh. I wouldn’t want to live in the world Glass depicts though. It sounds pretty disturbing.

[ed. note - "Glass" appears in the Fall 2008 edition; "To Train Up a Child" appears in the Spring 2009 edition]

April 5, 2010

iScribe Interview Series - To the Ace

Name: Rob LeBlanc
Major: English, Ph.D.
Year of Graduation: 2010
Position: Featured writer (Fall 2009)

If you were going to go to a diner that was based on the works of one author, which author would it be and why?

I guess it would probably be Breece D’J Pancake.

Do you prefer writing poetry? Do you prefer to read poetry or prose?

I prefer to write poetry, but I prefer to read prose, especially short stories. My favorite experience as a TA for the English Department was teaching ENG 243, The Short Story, in the spring of 2008.

What do you do for fun…besides writing?

Mostly reading and watching viral videos. I don’t have a lot of free time lately. My fiancĂ©e and I went to some sort of cheese shop in Tiverton recently; that was fun.

What is the most inspirational line of poetry you’ve ever read?

I would have to cite this lengthy line from Thomas Merton’s poem #9 in his 1968 collection Cables to the Ace :

“I am doubted, therefore I am. Does this mean that if I insist on making
everybody doubt me more, I will become more real? It is enough to doubt them
back. By this mutual service we make one another complete. A metaphysic of
universal suspicion!” (These words were once heard, uttered by a lonely,
disembodied voice, seemingly in a cloud. No one was impressed by them and they
were immediately forgotten.)

April 2, 2010

iScribe Interview Series - Paradoxically Elusive Nature

Name: Max Orsini
Major: English
Year of Graduation: 2011, PhD
Position: Featured writer (Spring 2010)

Your featured piece in spring’s edition, “On a Painter and Her Art,” was quite the visual piece. Do you have any experiences in the artistic field? Do you feel that written words have the same sensory effect as visual art?

I, like most people I presume, sketched quiet a bit as a kid growning up in Brooklyn and Jersey. I have always, even as a child had an nterest in the way visual art challenges the boundaries of a frame, the way that certain artists, like Picasso most notably, toy with the idea of disfiguration. I've always felt drawn to distorted faces of a certain sort, diverted vanishing lines of a kind; yet, paradoxically, my whole artsistic sensibility from childhood to the present has been governed by an overriding "idea of order," by the idea of still life and what I recently hear someone call the simple but monumental significance of plain and ordinary objects. I'm not a visual artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a kind of underlying devotion to the power of the crystal image in poetry. I like poems, paintings and even imagistic songs that possess and elicit a kind of dark transparency, a kind of night-blue clairvoyance, a sort of Atlantic-silver light.

Music, literature, and visual art all have the incredible ability to convey one’s thoughts and ideas, while also serving as effective methods of emotional ventilation. What is your most favored form of expression and why?

Actually, along with writing poetry, one of my passions in singing and song-writing. I've been writing music for more than twelve years and even more paramount than my belief in the visual landscape of a poem is my out and out faith that a poem is a "dream song" to play with a phrase from Berryman. I feel that poems "tap" into an inante music in the subconscious, a kind of clamorous whisper that goes on under the current of our lives that resembles an inate music. I really enjoy writing music, but my poems and songs are two very distinct entities. They rush forth from a similar source, but they form two very separate streams in my life.

Do you believe that an artist’s (covering the spectrum from writers to musicians) best work comes from periods of strong emotion? Why or why not?

It's funny that you ask this question about periods of turmoil producing exciting work. I've thought a great deal about this question and though I've always met it with a kind of resistence, I have to say that Blake was right when he said that "without contraries there is no progression." For about the last year or so I've written in response to certain circumstances in my own life and these circumstances have challenged my writing. They've challenged my notion of how to live, actually. I suppose the benefit of emotional trial is intense introspection, but there comes with this the fine line of excessive introspection and a kind of loss of the outside, which, can become a detriment to the connectivity between speaker and listener in a poem or series of poems. Professor Cappello has given me sound advice regarding this matter. She's implored me to try and have a conversation with other poets in my writing, maybe not directly, but to use the personal as a means of contributing to a dialogue that other poets are having on similar pesronal concerns that are always inherently political.

What is your source of inspiration? What brings your pen to paper?

My main source of inspiration is the paradoxically elusive nature of inspiration itself to be honest. It's always fleeting and changing. Usually, given a certain slant of light, or after I've read enough beautiful poems by Mary Oliver, or James Wright, or Anne Sexton, or Wallace Stevens or Sylvia Plath or Elizabeth Bishop, or Wordsworth or Shakespeare, something will form in my mind, like an ocean of waves with rippling meanings and then I will simply have to write because the beauty and the sorrow and the irony and the lucidity are overwhelming. I think this is probably the case for most people. I'm still pretty traditional in terms of my influences. There are many fine poets writing today, but I take much of my own music, my own metrical advice from older or deceased poets.

There was a crazy thunderstorm that freakishly switched people’s minds from their bodies. As a result, college students for one day now inhabit writers’ bodies. Whose body do you inhabit? Describe your day-in-a-life situation.

Right now, Mary Oliver. For beauty, for wisdom, for dark lucidity, for faith in the convictions of the natural world, for short, clipped, quick breathed phrases, for imagery, for love, Mary Oliver.

Tell us about your educational and career plans. Do you see yourself publishing to the national audience in the near future?

At this moment, I teach senior English and Creative Writing at a local private school and am working on my PhD in English. I plan to teach at a college that values writing and art one day.

Say that you built your house from the ground up using literary pieces—what works are lining your bedroom windows? How do these affect you view?

At the foundational level of my imagined literary home, I would line the walls with a fair blend of Romantic poems and Modernist poems to please both the eye and the ear of those inhabiting.

What inspired you to submit to the Scribe? Any intention of submitting again in the future?

I believe it was a fellow Grad Student who brought the Scribe to my attention. I've enjoyed submitting my work to the last two spring issues and I hope to contribute to this great journal again in the fall.

March 31, 2010

iScribe Interview Series - Redefining Universal Languages

Name: Joe LiVolsi
Major(s): Mechanical engineering/German language & literature
Year of Graduation: 2010
Position: Featured writer (Fall 2009)

First of all, congratulations on getting published! Have you been published previous to “House of Hosts”?

Thanks! I was "published" once, but it turned out to be a scam...if you ever get an offer from Elder & Leemauer Publishers, or something, don't take it. Essentially, then, no: I haven't been published.

Talking about the actual piece, we were quite impressed with the consistency of the rhyme, meter, and overall entertainment of “House of Hosts.” You mentioned something about the inspiration for it at the Fall launch - can you share this origin of creativity once more?

Thanks for that, as well. I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out, myself. The driving force behind writing a poem of that length and with that focus was John Mansfield's "The Hounds of Hell," which is a nineteen-page piece (at least, in the format I've seen). The rhyme and meter of that one is relatively simple, though; mine was a product more of happenstance: the rhyme needed to be like that for there to be a rhyme, and the meter fell together in a pattern that was made necessary by a mistake. Once it was set, though, it was reasonably easy to keep up (although material was sometimes troublesome).

How were your experiences with The Independent Scribe, both in submitting and reading at the Fall launch?
Oh, it was great fun; both reading, and submitting. I enjoyed working closely with the editorial board, and they were very enthusiastic and accommodating. Reading at the Fall Launch was very enjoyable. I've never showcased anything I've written before, and it was a great experience.

Aside from your inspiration for writing this piece, are there any other writers or genres that you feel are worth mentioning as influences on your writing?

James Russell Lowell, hands down. He didn't inspire anything about this poem in particular (I don't think), but he has inspired others, and a portion of his "The Present Crisis" was the first poem I memorized of my own free will. That piece in its entirety is an absolute monster, but the rhyme and meter are amazing. More than that, my only muses are jealousy of someone else's poem, my girlfriend, or maybe something in nature.

This piece was a part of very unique makeup of the Fall issue of The Independent Scribe. This variety was not only limited to the style pieces, but also to the writers and their backgrounds/majors. So I have to ask, what’s more fun, being a poet or an engineer?
At this point, being an engineer is anything but fun. I expect the payoff to make all the pain worth it, though. I enjoy building things--always have--and the engineering path is the one that's going to get me where I want to be. That, and it pays well.

As hard it is to look at a piece other than your own work in this publication, how do you feel The Independent Scribe as a whole turned out, and if you can, can you name some other pieces that you personally enjoyed?
To be perfectly honest, I haven't had much chance to look at the book since I got it, last semester: senior year's tough on an engineer. I really enjoyed the essay/short story by one contributor about her time in Spain: I spent six months in Germany, myself, and I was able to identify with a lot of what she said. There was also a piece about a robot, and I think it had something to do with a bluebird, but memory fails offense is meant to the author, of course.

[ed. note - the essay and poem in question are Katherine McAllister's "Grenada" and Dylan Thompson's "Madrigal," respectively]

As it happens, this is your last semester as a senior. What are your plans after college, and how much of them are related to writing?

Writing has always been a hobby, nothing more, and I have a solid job lined up after I graduate that deals specifically with engineering. Although I feel compelled to say that writing is an integral part of any and every facet of real life, and nobody--in any major--should make the mistake of underestimating the expression of language--in any way--just because his scholarly focus is something more scientific. Math and music may be the universal languages, but if you can't read, write, or speak English properly, you won't go far.

iScribe Interview Series - Likes: Cyberpunk; Dislikes: Tootsie Rolls

Name: Marc Curtin
Major(s): English
Year of Graduation: 2012
Position: Featured writer (Spring 2010); Scribe member

You're one of the few writers who has seen both sides of how the Scribe works. As both a featured writer and a participating member, what are your thoughts on how the Scribe operates?
When I first heard about the Scribe, I assumed it would be some sort of faceless corporation, a group of people meeting behind closed doors , mechanically separating pieces into “in” and “out” piles. After coming to my very first meeting, I realized that that image couldn’t be further from the truth. I feel like the Scribe is unique in that we really care about the people who submit to us. We talk at length about the majority of the submissions we receive, and even if we feel that a particular piece doesn’t work for us, we try to find good things to say about it, or parts that can be saved. If a work needs revision, we give the writer ideas about the direction in which we would like to see his or her work go in order to make it publishable. I’m not going to name names, but there were several pieces this semester that needed two or more revisions before we could definitely say “yes,” and I’m glad that we took the time to work with these writers. As for my own work, I am indebted to my fellow editors for their insightful criticism and attention to detail. To be in the same room while people discuss your work is pretty nerve-wracking, but I chose to do it anyway, and I feel like my work and my understanding was greatly enhanced as a result.

Have you done any submitting outside of the Scribe? Is it something you would consider for the future?

Nope, this spring’s edition of the Scribe will be my first appearance in print. I would definitely consider submitting to journals and magazines and whatnot in the future, though – maybe when I have a little less reading to do.

Now that you've been a member for a semester, what do you hope to see in the group's future, whether it's next semester or a couple of years down the road?

More submissions! And more exposure – lots more. Many URI students haven’t even heard of the Scribe, and that’s sad, because aside from English department contests there are very few outlets for URI writers to gain recognition and get their work out there. The more submissions we get, the bigger future editions of the Scribe will be, and the more seriously we will be taken as a literary publication.

How would you describe your writing process? Do you draw inspiration from specific things, or do ideas pop into your head at random - or is there some other secret method to your madness?

My writing process is, in a word, chaotic. I tend to write in short bursts, usually late at night – much to the dismay of my parents when I was still living at home (apparently not everyone enjoys the clack-clack-clack sound the keyboard makes when you’re typing. Weird, right?). As for inspiration, I keep a notebook of random things people say that I think are interesting, or particular lines or images that I think about when I’m daydreaming (which is often). Sometimes I’ll write a whole story just so I can use one particular line. I guess that means my stories tend to be more image- or dialogue-driven than plot-driven, but hey, I’m happy with that.

What is the most embarrassing/cheesiest thing on your bookshelf?

I guess that’d be the big pink polka-dotted piggybank thing full of tootsie rolls. I don’t even like tootsie rolls. I swear.

Is there one particular writer who you cannot get enough of? What makes this writer so meaningful to you?

I love, love, love William Gibson. The style of his novels is nothing short of poetic, from cover to cover, and his vision of the future is at times scarily prescient. Gibson literally coined the term “cyberspace,” and this metaphor for the flow of data along a global network serves as the basis for similar representations throughout literature and film. To me, to read Gibson is to be on the bleeding edge of where technology meets human life, an experience which is both exciting and scary at the same time.

A crazy super-villain has broken into your house and stolen all of your books! But he's feeling charitable, and will let you take back only three of them. Which three do you choose, and why?

First, I’d save Neuromancer, by my aforementioned buddy Gibson, because it was the book that got me into Gibson and cyberpunk literature in general (and also because reading it saved me from going crazy on an 18 hour flight). Enough about him though, I don’t want to bore you to death.

Next, I’d save The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which is a collection of short stories by Ernest Hemingway, another one of my favorite writers. I’ve always loved Hemingway’s style; he draws you in with a simple dialect, and then WHAM! – you realize the significance and meaning of the story. “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” found in the collection, is a perfect example of this, and is one of my favorite short stories. Not that the other ones are too shabby, though. What I love about short stories, and Hemingway’s in particular, is that each of them creates a world of their own, like a novel, but their form forces them to be more impactful. In a sense, you get more “story” per page, and having a collection of short stories is like having several different books.

Finally, I’d save How to Rule the World: A Handbook for the Aspiring Dictator, by Andre de Guillame, because leaving a book like that in the hands of a crazy super-villain is downright irresponsible. Besides, I might need it someday – for, um, research. Yeah, that’s it.

Part two - little does the crazy super-villain know, you've actually got your own super-powers. You lock him up and punish him to read three of your least favorite books for all eternity. Which three, and why?

Oh boy, there are so many books I absolutely hate that it’s hard to narrow down. I suppose first on the list would be Gilead, by Marilynn Robinson, which I was assigned to read over the summer before junior year of high school. I barely got through the first three chapters – it was that boring. And I’m the kind of person that likes boring. Heck, when I tell people that I love Hemingway, the most common response is “How could you? He’s so boring!” I even enjoyed seeing The Good Shepherd for christ’s sake. But yeah, it was that bad. And she won a Pulitzer Prize for it. Go figure.

Next on the list is Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. I appreciate the effort, Mr. Achebe, but seriously, there is only so much talk about yams I can take before I have to abandon a book.

Last but certainly not least is William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. I may get a lot of flak for this, but really, I just don’t get it. I’ve read it twice, written a couple papers on it, and I like to think that I understand what Faulkner is doing in theory, but it really is not an enjoyable read. Maybe the whole stream-of-consciousness thing just isn’t for me, I don’t know.

March 30, 2010

iScribe Interview Series - Finding Himself a City

Name: Eric Slade
Major: Studio art
Year of Graduation: 2009
Position: Featured artist (Fall 2009; Spring 2010, cover)

Have you always enjoyed creating art? What first piqued your interest in art?
I’ve enjoyed creating art for as long as I remember, but talent alone won’t get you anywhere if you’re not continually pushed to test its limits and see the possibilities that can open up. An enthusiastic, motivational art teacher early on in one’s education can make all the difference in the world, and I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic example of one of those in middle school. So I guess I have her to thank for the state of my bank account right now. I could have been an engineer…

What was your inspiration for your artwork that was published in the Fall 2009 issue?
I studied abroad in Florence during Fall of 2008, and during that time I took a break to spend a week traveling solo by train through France, Germany, and Switzerland. That image evoked all of the exhaustion and, at times, loneliness, that can be effects of such a long foreign journey. I then printed the same linocut image on multiple train tickets that I had saved.

You designed the newest logo for the Scribe — explain your design.
This logo was based on the classic image of the '50s “nuclear family” gathered together around the television. The Scribe seeks to promote writing and literacy, so I thought this slight alteration, with the same family gathered around a book, would be an amusing take on the idea. It’s a simple graphic that encapsulates the most important things we need to encourage literacy – replacing TV time with reading time, and, for kids, reading with the family. We need to get enthusiastic about books again, in the same way that people are for "Lost."

Are you currently working on any new artwork?
At last count I had 23 ideas for new art projects written up in my sketchbook. I’ll be happy if I get around to one or two of them. One thing I am excited about is that I just bought a 10-yard roll of drawing paper and covered a whole one of my bedroom walls with it. I’m not sure what I’ll use it for, whether to doodle ideas or to actually make one massive drawing, but the possibilities it opens up have my imagination swimming.

What is life post-URI graduation? What are your plans?
I don’t actually make any money from my art, so I’ve been teaching this past year in order to get by. Since my hopes to go to grad school this Fall fell through, the new plan is, to quote David Byrne, to “find a city, find myself a city to live in.” It would be nice to live in a place where people buy art, since they certainly aren’t doing it in New Hampshire. Not that anyone wants art anyway; they want decoration to hang on their bathroom walls. And that’s why we have Christmas Tree Shops and Thomas Kinkade.

Oh, and of course I hope to continue submitting to The Scribe as long as they care to keep taking my e-mails.

[ed. note - we're always happy to take your emails!]

March 20, 2010


The Independent Scribe is ecstatic to announce that the following writers have been accepted for the Spring 2010 edition:

Congratulations to all of our writers, and to our cover artist, Eric Slade.

Many thanks to all of the writers and artists who sent us their work this semester. We are so proud of all of you for participating in our process. We look forward to hearing from all of you in the future!

Keep watching this blog in the coming weeks for more interviews with folks from the Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 editions, as well as information about the launch of the Spring 2010 edition.

* - Asterisks indicate the winners of our contest, The Secret Society of Demolition Scribers.

March 3, 2010

Updated Deadlines

Well, Scribe-lings, it's March and you know what that means - our deadline is fast-approaching.

But don't panic, we've extended our non-contest deadline to Friday, March 19 by 4 PM!

Contest entries are still due by the 12th; we will choose 5 winners and award them with a fabulous prize. We're still accepting entries, so show us what you've got.

February 12, 2010

URI Helping Haiti

The Independent Scribe is participating in the URI Helping Haiti campaign. We will be collecting donations at our booths every Friday in February - starting tomorrow!

Keep checking the school site for more information about other groups' fundraising events.

Thank you!

February 2, 2010

Held Over - The Secret Society of Demolition Scribers

In the spirit of Marc Parent's short story collection, The Secret Society of Demolition Writers, the Independent Scribe is giving you, our beloved writers, a chance to explore the deepest corners of your imagination - and be featured in our upcoming Spring 2010 edition!

The Challenge "What would you write if no one knew who you were? In the spirit of the demolition derby, where drivers heedlessly take risks with reckless abandon, welcome to the first convocation of the Secret Society of Demolition Writers. Here is a one-of-a-kind collection of famous authors writing anonymously - and dangerously."

So says Marc Parent in the introduction to the book. He rounded up 12 famous contemporary authors and asked them to write something daring, something spectacular, something their editors and agents would never let see the light of day.

How it Works Write. Whatever you want it to be, no matter how dark or silly or sexy or painfully honest. Send it our way with "SPRING 2010 CONTEST" in the subject line (and as always, make sure your name does not appear in the body of the text).

We'll choose a small, select group of winners and feature them together. Your name will appear in the table of contents, but will not be associated with your piece. We want to publicly thank you for submitting and congratulate you for winning, and we will guarantee your anonymity by never sharing who wrote which piece.

Remember, all entries must be received by Friday, March 12 at 4 PM. Any contest entries received after this point will not be considered.

For more information on Marc Parent's book, visit your favorite online retailer.

Best of luck to you all, and happy writing!

January 25, 2010

Spring 2010 Meeting Schedule

Welcome back, Scribe-fans!

Our new meeting schedule for the Spring 2010 semester is as follows:

Mondays & Wednesdays, 4-6 PM, MU308.

Our first meeting will be on Monday, February 1st - see you soon!