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.