Recently, our friend, Kiriti Sengupta, was interviewed via The Policy Times which is based out of India. This interview was created after he won the 2018 Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize. Take a listen and leave some comments/likes in the video!
Changing Shakespearean History—Literally.
I have this problem of never being satisfied. Biographies and autobiographies feed me a certain motivation for writing protagonists, antagonists, and minor characters, but reading into their background and ‘flaws’ is never enough. I want baggage, enemies, guilty pleasures, gluttony, resentment, and what makes a man drive to leaving his legacy. The man I’ve been fascinated with is no other than William Shakespeare. It sounds like an unhealthy celebrity crush, but all I’ve ever wanted was to get under William Shakespeare’s skin and see the world through his eyes. Because I am 427 years younger, I must be creative. Naturally, I did what any unsatisfied woman would do and wrote a fantasy series based on William Shakespeare.
Going back to my introduction, one William Shakespeare isn’t satisfying—I want one for each genre: Comedy, Romance, History—and let’s throw in a woman—and Tragedy. That’s great and all, but what about their identities? The Shakespeare of Comedy is William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, who is the “fair youth” in Shakespearean sonnets and co-founded Pembroke College with King James. King James happens to be the Shakespeare of History. These two Shakespeares are the better of the four. Now, let’s heat things up. The Shakespeare of Romance is Sir T. Moore, an Irish poet, singer, and poet who’s crazy about art and power. Who’s also obsessed with art and power? The Shakespeare of Tragedy, of course! Mary Fitton is our Shakespeare of Tragedy and is historically considered the “dark lady” in Shakespearean sonnets. She had an affair with William Herbert, who you remember is “fair youth”. Strange how they all seem to be slices of the pie, right? I could go on and tell you that Mary Fitton is a lesbian who fell in love with Viola from 12th Night, and Viola betrayed Mary to marry William Herbert and become the Queen of Comedy, but I’ll save that family drama for the actual novel:
Shakespeare’s Promenade: Book 1
Beneath the University of Oxford’s Pembroke College Library, is a secluded tube station leading to Shakespeare’s Promenade, a mystical land where the Shakespeare lineage is royalty and only the young and beautiful are gifted immortality. There is but one rule: remain contented, or torture methods will be executed to add the conspirator into Shakespeare’s army of deranged clowns. When I say deranged, I mean the kind that will cut a man’s legs off in public and throw a party after. The bad clowns. But Shakespeare’s Promenade isn’t based on William Shakespeare, it follows his granddaughter that had no idea it existed until now. Let’s fast forward a little bit.
The year is 2014, and twenty-three-year-old, Roxanna Obelix, lives alone with her depressed and legless father while she attends graduate school in Oxford. She believes her mother had been murdered by artists for the last fifteen years but is revealed that she was kidnapped by Roxanna’s estranged grandfather, William Shakespeare…but which one? Because it’s hard to believe her depressed and legless father, she does what any normal woman in her early 20’s would do, and ventures into Shakespeare’s Promenade. Tagging along is Ed, her past babysitter turned handsome Shakespearean Studies professor, and Matt, her gay social-media-obsessed best friend. There’s no guarantee of returning to the real world, but she’s certain everything will be fine once her mother is found and the four of them shall quietly exit Shakespeare’s Promenade. Disclaimer: everything will not be fine. Roxanna discovers she is a part of a conspiracy to begin the “War on Art” and murder William Shakespeare—all of them.
A brief setting exposition:
A Comedy-Tragedy statue towers over the glittered stone ground and passing citizens who have no intention of leaving. Different colored roads lead to four destinations: the red road travels to the Romance Promenade, the blue to Comedy Promenade, green to History Promenade, and black to Tragedy Promenade. Time goes by the corresponding color of the sky, and currency is based on the ‘popularity points’ a citizen has obtained throughout their stay. The more popular a citizen becomes, he or she receives a nicer home, better food, and a larger audience. Every day, citizens strive to be popular through their art while simultaneously becoming brainwashed in the process.
In six words or less: Social media filter in real life.
Shakespeare’s Promenade shall be a four-book New Adult Fantasy series, with another four-book prequel series to be determined. If you’ve read this far, this is what I meant by never being satisfied.
Aahoo Ellie Pourang is an MFA student based out of California. Find her on Instagram: @aahoo__ and her website, aahoo.xyz, for two short stories, “Lucifer in Love” and “Trials and Tribulations of Mike Pout”.
A short 30 minutes from Center City, Philadelphia is where the hamlet of Glenside, PA resides. A cozy suburban town, it is also the home of Arcadia University, a private college that was established in 1853. One can sense the grandeur of its trademark building, Grey Towers. See for yourself!
Designed by American architect, Horace Trumbauer, we were all captivated by Gothic elements of the building; the dome ceiling, mahogany railings, and grand staircase of scarlet carpet captivated us all. Many college artifacts line the walls in shadowboxes and casements. Once the mirth gravitated to the majestic Rose Room, the magic began to happen. Bright, refreshing, and adorned with After a brief introduction by the creative writing MFA director, Josh Isard, the author herself took the podium...
Ms. Tedesco needed no amplification for the reading. The acoustics of the room swirled her poems into a whirlwind. Straight from her newest poetry collection, She Used to Be on a Milk Carton, listen to a piece here...
After a well-deserved round of applause, the staff of April Gloaming Publishing walked to center stage and a Q&A occurred. Being a publisher myself, it was a pleasant surprise to have the work and the philosophy in direct conversation.
I was able to ask editor-in-chief, Lance Umenhofer, how the Nashville literary scene is like and how would Kailey's book 'fit in'. Being a fan of Southern Gothic, the occult, and all things weird, he said that Nashville is infantile, malleable, and ready to accept new voices, be it from their own backyard or afar. He stated that April Gloaming is leading the charge in adding the art of literature to a music-heavy city, and there's much room for inclusion! The night wrapped up after that and I was able to add two more of April Gloaming's finest to my bookshelf:
From the ambiance, to the work itself, to the collective energy of everyone in attendance, I know that one won't soon forget such a moment for Kailey Tedesco. April Gloaming is a publisher worth supporting and boast an eclectic mix of work that you should check out. Below are some links for She Used to Be on a Milk Carton as well as April Gloaming.
Until next time, thanks for reading The Weekly Degree!
Kailey Tedesco is the author of two poetry books, She Used to be on a Milk Carton and These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese. Her poetry and essays all tend to focus on occult themes, witchcraft, gothic imagery, Catholicism, girlhood, kitsch, and confessional writings. She is most consistently inspired by David Lynch, Shirley Jackson, and the Lizzie Borden trials. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and her work has been written about in publications such as New Pages, Beach Sloth, and others.
Tilde, which was conceived in September 2017, is a new venture of Thirty West. Sporting poetry, prose, and visual arts on a global scale, the themeless first issue received over 500 submissions, containing exponentially more individual pieces. We had no idea what to expect, and read wonderful content enough for an entire year. It was a bittersweet journey, but it is done. Let us tell you how it all ended...
March 23rd, 2018
For the month of March, the Tilde team worked fastidiously to assemble the journal. There were some expected, and unexpected, hold-ups, many rounds of proofing, and bouncebacks from potential venues to host us. Aspirations were dwindling until we got a fulfilling email from a local venue.
Nestled in the heart of the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia, on Cotton Street, The Spiral Bookcase, with its periwinkle brick facade, opened their doors for the release of Tilde. Their intimate setting was inviting for all the attendants, with rows of books to casually peruse through. Occasionally, Amelia, the calico cat, would meow and hop on the lap on an attendee. On top of that, they had friendly and accommodating staff who ensured a perfect event. The dozens arrived, indulged in hors d'oeuvres, and stood patiently for the first word.
Josh began the reading with the editor's note, based off of sea turtles. The patrons, raising their copies akin to hymnals, read along or stared attentively. It was only the beginning of a memorable night with five Tilde contributors that are local to the Philadelphia area.
Our first reader was Heath Brougher based out of York, PA. His work is cerebral and hypercritical to society. He also read from his other collections, which made all of us ponder.
Up next was Randall Brown. He is part of Rosemont College's MFA faculty and a masterful short story and flash fiction writer. His pieces were visually appealing, humorous, and vivacious for life. The occasional chuckle would rise and fall with every beat of his reading.
Arguably the youngest contributor of Tilde, Morgan Smith, a Bryn Mawr college freshman, captivated the audience with a harrowing tale of domestic proportions. Much applause was saved for the end and aspirations of a budding career.
Hailing from Southern NJ, Sunny Reed was next to take the 'corner'. She was elated to read her first publication with us, part of an autoethnography as an Asian adoptee. A heart-warming account of motherhood soothed us all, bringing some to tears.
Our final feature of the night was Oscar Vargas, an MFA student from Brooklyn College. He joked about the bus ride down here before flooring us with a bilingual poetry reading of Spanish & English. His inflections were a light breeze in spring.
The night concluded with good banter, acknowledgments, newfound friendships, and a promising outlook of a new international journal. The lights may have been turned off and the door locked, but Tilde's inaugural debut will remain with us forever.
Thank you, firstly, to our editors, Nick McMenamin, Bob Kaplan, Tara Tomaino, Carrie Soltner, and Alex Breth for making this journal come to fruition with your dedication. Also, thank you to the scores of readers for helping us sift through the madness. Lastly, to every contributor, you had faith in us when we were nothing. Now, we want to share a collective success with you in any way we can.
Want to read Tilde?
A free PDF can be found here. Print editions are available at the 30W Shop and ship internationally.
Since it is John Updike's 86th birthday, a Pultizer prize winning author of fiction , poetry, and criticism, we are happy to share a wonderful interview that captures the essence of his creative pursuits in multiple forms. Hope you enjoy!
Today, we have a stellar poetry reading by highly-acclaimed poet and former TWP feature, Scott Thomas Outlar! Below is his bio for further reading.
Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, live events, and books can be found. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Scott was a recipient of the 2017 Setu Magazine Award for Excellence in the field of literature. His words has been translated into Albanian, Afrikaans, Persian, Serbian, French, and Italian. His books include Songs of a Dissident (Transcendent Zero Press, 2015); Chaos Songs (Weasel Press, 2016); Happy Hour Hallelujah (CTU Publishing, 2016); and Poison in Paradise (Alien Buddha Press, 2017).
It's been over a week since the release of our 10th publication, All the Ghosts We've Always Had, and it has been a big hit! The ghosts have been heard all over the U.S. and into Canada and the U.K. Below, are a few blogs about the book for your reading pleasure; one by Jules Archer herself. Enjoy!
Interested? Intrigued? Hungry?? Grab your copy right here!
1. I Start realizing something is wrong around age five. It’s late 2001 and mother keeps acting strangely. For months mother has been having ‘episodes’ as father called them. I don’t remember much from that time. I remember brief moments. I remember what I was told after the fact, years later. The memories are mostly fuzzy, but what I am told helps me form a clearer picture. I remember that mother’s episodes seemed to be more prevalent after that day. That day when her, and all of the other mothers, and fathers, and grandparents, and guardians pulled us from Kindergarten after only being there for an hour. I was just getting into the groove of finger-painting too.
2. Keep forgetting those moments. I don’t remember them because mother’s episodes became less frequent as time passed. I do remember that in 2001 we’d spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices, and emergency rooms, where Mother would be panting like how Keisha –our Siberian husky– would when she ran after a Frisbee. She’d be panting, and gasping, and crying. I’d tell her mommy, don’t cry. I didn’t know why she’d be crying, but I knew she shouldn’t be. I didn’t know why. I still don’t know why.
3. Everyone Stayed silent about what happened. Mum was the word about mom. Every once and a while it would happen again—the crying, the panting—but she’d crack open a bright orange bottle from Eckerd and down two little white Lego-shaped objects with a swig of San Pell. Everything would return to normal after that. Then she would become quieter, and more removed from the world around us. Nothing would be said. Father was silent. Mother was silent. Aunts, Uncles, Grandmother, Grandfather, all silent. I’ve learned throughout my life that when they are silent, it’s best not to question. Even in my adolescent years, I knew not to ask when silence was present. I knew not to ask even if I did not fully understand. Because in this family silence was, and has always been greater than understanding. There’s nothing to argue with silence. No concern. No disagreement. No agreement. Silence helps fill a void of emotions that otherwise might create murky situations. Silence is a form of complacency that I had grown to live with. The silence was, is, and always will be, easy.
4. Then I realized that something is wrong at age 18. It’s late 2014 and I keep acting strangely. For months I have been having ‘episodes’ as father called them. Episodes like what I saw happen to mother thirteen years ago. I have moments where I start thinking about things. My episodes seemed to be more prevalent after that day. That day when I went to a new city. A new place by myself 600 miles from home. A new place where I knew no one, and nothing. In this strange new place, my mind would wander, I would have moments, episodes. About anything. Boys. Classes. Boys again. The Future. I start crying. Crying more than I had ever before. My chest begins to compress as if something or someone put all its force against me. I gasp. I gasp, and gasp, and gasp, and grasp for my throat as if in thirty more seconds I will no longer be able to breathe. I put my head on my pillow, and blare Stevie Nicks, the feelings slowly begin to subside. I stay silent.
5. Continue to pretend that everything is fine. I continue to stay silent. Not tell Mother or Father, or Aunts, Uncles, Grandmother, Grandfather, no one. Continue to partake the inherited action of silence. All while continuing to feel the same. Continuing to have these episodes like mothers. The episodes got worse. It wouldn’t just be moments where my face would fill with tears and my chest with a suffocating substance. It’d be moments when I’d walk down the street and a car would honk and I’d jump. A siren would blare out of nowhere and my breath would be taken away.
6. Then I said something. About what had been happening. About how I had felt. I couldn’t stand to live a day after day, after day, unsure if I would have a moment where tears would start streaming down my face and I would be gasping for air. And the silence suddenly disappears from everyone. From mother, from father, from Aunts, Uncles, Grandmother, Grandfather. The silence is replaced with looks of concern. Replaced with statements of, ‘oh you are an anxious body too.’ Statements that say things like: panic attacks, anxiety, panic disorder. Panic disorder is the one used most frequently. The phrase that is said b
7. My mother, grandmother, and especially the doctors. Apparently, it’s what mom has. It’s what caused her to act the way she did back in 2001. Apparently, grandmother has it too. Her episodes, they came far before I was born. Now I get help at doctors’ offices and emergency rooms’ like mother had. Now I get told that I too have panic disorder. That these will help. The silence returns as slowly but surely my episodes appear to disappear.
8. Stay silent now though. Now that I’ve gotten help like mother did like grandmother did. Stay taking your medicine. Stay thinking positively. But that’s hard, so just stay taking your medicine.
9. Take my Xanax when needed and all this will be healed. All the panics will seem to fade away. Take my Zoloft daily, so I don’t jump from a truck, or a car, or a bus, a siren. Take my Zoloft so I, become quieter, and more removed from the world around me. Because the world around me is what causes me to feel this way. So that’s got to be the best solution, right?
10. Arrive at a place where you constantly feel like you can’t live without a little 25-milligram pill. A place where you feel as though you’re a failure because you’re at the whim of your panicking body.
My destination isn’t clear. My destination is somewhere I hope I will never have another moment of crying, and suffocation. A place where the blaring of a siren won’t make me jump and my heart race. A place where anxiety doesn’t come with every crack of dawn. A place where I can talk about this openly with those around me. A place where I don’t need that little 0.25-milligram pill.
If I’m silent, I’ve gone too far.
Wesley Hood is a senior nonfiction writing major at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in writing lyric essays and memoir.
Thirty West collaborated with the Lehigh Valley area to create a chapbook called, Morning Coffee. Now, after the carafes have been emptied, we sat down with the group of creatives to talk about their newfound, and successful, publication…
Josh: Welcome to The Weekly Degree! Today, we have the individuals behind the “Chapbooks Without Limits” series. Tell everyone more about yourselves.
Yusuf: We are three college students! Marissa Pipp, Yusuf Zohny, and Justin Mendoza! Marissa—we just call her Pipp—did all the art for the poems, including a poem. Justin and I did all the poetry for the chap. We all have a passion for art and poetry and we felt like we had what it took to make our own chapbook. We worked on it for about a year and poured our hearts into this. We dedicated ourselves to doing the best work we possibly could. We agreed from the start to challenge ourselves throughout the bookmaking process; we wanted to be more complete poets and artists. We used this as a learning experience and we will be utilizing everything we learned from this experience for a forthcoming 2nd and 3rd chapbook!
Josh: That’s great! What inspired you to create this chapbook? Are there specific influencers in your work(s)?
Yusuf: We wanted to share our art and to get feedback from our friends and peers. Justin and I have been writing poetry for years and when we met Marissa—who has been practicing for seventeen years—we knew the stars were aligned. On the topic of influence, we really didn’t have any; we’re just driven and spontaneous.
Josh: I can see that. Justin was the first to approach me at a TWP reading and that’s what really started turning the gears. What’s your plan for the continuation of the series? Will each chap have different or reoccurring themes?
Justin: A lot of our first book had dark emotions and interpreting personal hardships, so the second will move into lighter themes and more upbeat poetry. We want to focus on doing things we haven’t before. We will probably keep the theme of food in our titles. The second chap, Lunch Break, is already in the works. We are doing this one with watercolor paintings as well, so it will be vivid and fresh.
Josh: Very interesting I’m looking forward to seeing it. So, how has the Lehigh Valley area enriched your creative side? What, if anything, would you improve?
Justin: The artistic community in the Lehigh Valley is incredibly supportive. We had so much help from local poets along the way, too. We all live right by the Cigar Factory Gallery and Coffee House Without Limits. Both are hubs for artists in the area to meet, brainstorm and perform. Because there is such a big poetry community here, it was easy to acquire positive reinforcement and support. If we could improve anything, we would really like to see more young artists and poets making it out to the open mic nights. New voices, new poetry, new art is what the community needs to grow and we hope to lead by example.
Josh: That’s quite noble of you all and I wish you the best of luck. Have you indulged in other poetry communities like Philadelphia or Central Jersey?
Marissa: We haven’t, however, Justin and Yusuf are attending Temple next semester. So, we are hoping to inject ourselves into the poetry and art communities there and all over Philadelphia. We know that some amazing artists have come from this area and we see this as another opportunity to continue learning and evolving.
Josh: I, being a Temple alum, highly recommend taking in the sights and sounds. It’s a diverse and stimulating university. Ok, last question! We ask this among our authors and we’ve always gotten different responses…if you could describe yourself/yourselves as a material, what would it be?
Justin: Mine would be cashmere because it's delicate and rare.
Marissa: I feel like silk represents comfort, luxury, softness. In a way, I see myself as comforting, I would consider what I have now in my life as a luxury, and I also see myself as a kind soft-hearted person.
Yusuf: And I would be aluminum. It’s shiny, versatile, and so useful.
Josh: Wonderful. Well, everyone, I’m glad to have followed-up on your project. Please, keep in touch with updates on the series.
Our second 'The Weekly Reading' series comes from the immensely talented, bilingual poet and friend of Thirty West, Liz Lugo
Liz Lugo, (L.D. Lugo) is originally from Puerto Rico. She’s a microbiologist, screenwriter, TV writer, actress, editor, poet and short stories writer, and founder of the Smaeralit collection. Besides Ahora Toca Desnudarse, she's the author of El Pecado de Callar. She's trilingual in English, Spanish, Italian, and is learning ASL.
For over three years, she was involved in the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) as a treasurer and Vice-President on-campus chapter and nationally recognized member.
Ahora Toca Desnudarse is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1979965048/