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Issue #28 Is Live!

Issue #28 of The Blue Route is live. The new issue features excellent poetry and prose by undergraduate writers from Ahmadu Bello University, Ursinus College, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Kenyon College, University of Benin, Pittsburg State University, University of Ilorin, Berea College, and SUNY Brockport. Check it out here:

Why The Surrender Theory Poems Make Me Cry

By Skylar Hart

Poetry is so beautiful to read because it is art. There is so much to it yet it is so simple. In the book of poems, The Surrender Theory, by Cailtin Conlon, she discusses heartbreak, love, grief, and healing in the rawest way. Conlon does not shy away from the hard parts of life, and it makes her poems feel like you are talking to a friend or maybe you are talking to yourself, trying to figure out who you are and what you are healing from. My favorite poem in the book is entitled “You Cooked For Me.” This poem is clearly told from the point of view of a person who once loved someone and is looking back on this love wondering why they loved so hard or why they held on. A passage from the poem that really stuck with me is,

“It felt like the kindest thing anyone had ever done

for me — mixing handmade pesto in a white bowl.”

These lines are so important and memorable because they are relatable. Everyone who has loved someone has had that moment where they watch the person they love doing something kind for them and they think that that kindness is the nicest thing anyone has done for them. They believe that these actions are the most loving thing they will ever receive, much like the author felt here. When the author looks back on the relationship she realizes that that moment was really the most her lover ever did for her. She says,

“In retrospect I can see that you gave me very little

and I tried to build an entire future with it.

You must understand, I had never been remembered

like that, before.”

This poem is beautiful because it is human. It evokes feelings that feel so familiar. So many women in my life often talk about how they look back on their relationships and their breakups and they cannot believe how blinded they were by love alone. They cannot believe that they set their standards so low because they were in love and that is all they wanted. They wanted to be remembered, much like the poet in this work. My favorite part of the poem, however, is the last line: “I took what I was offered and ran.” This feeling is so real. When someone does one nice thing for you when you are in a vulnerable state, you believe everything about them is good. You take what they give you and you run with it, because it is human.

Every friend that I have had that has broken up with their significant other since owning this book, I have read this poem to them. More often than not they cry because they feel so touched by the piece or maybe because it feels so familiar to them too. The beauty of Caitlin Conlon’s book is that it touches you. It is so human, so raw, and so absolutely heartbreaking that it makes for one of the most beautiful collections of poetry that I have ever read. If you get the chance, pick this book up and prepare to cry.

Conlon, Caitlin. The Surrender Theory: Poems. Central Avenue Publishing, 2022.

Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory

by Ryley Harris

One of the things that makes Ernest Hemingway such an amazing fiction writer is his use of ambiguity. “Indian Camp,” one of his famous earlier stories, is especially difficult to figure out at first. This is due to the fact that Hemingway writes according to what he calls the iceberg theory. As he explains in Death in the Afternoon,

If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.

This approach can lead to some difficulties since Hemingway omits some useful information that would help advance the reading to fill in the gaps. On the other hand, omitting the information makes the readers infer what is happening and create new theories or ideas of what’s happening. One notable instance of the iceberg theory in “Indian Camp” has to do with Nick’s Uncle George, whose connection to the native woman in labor is suggested in several ways.

There are several different moments in “Indian Camp” that suggest that Uncle George is actually the baby’s father. The first moment occurs when Nick and his father come to the camp to help the pregnant woman give birth. When they arrive, we read that “Uncle George gave both the Indians cigars.” Traditionally, this is something a father would do. The second moment occurs when everyone is holding down the pregnant woman, and “[s]he bit Uncle George on the arm…” This action could be read as revenge against the man who impregnated her. This reading can be supported by the fact that the “father” of the baby killed himself when the baby was born, as if he knew that the baby was not his own. The last bit of evidence that supports Uncle George

being the father of the baby is that he stays behind at the Indian camp, which can be seen as a sign of fatherly love or obligation .

A story written according to the iceberg theory creates a lot of ambiguity. If the writer knows what they are doing—it can lead to fascinating fiction that makes the reader more involved.

If you want to read “Indian Camp,” click on this link:

Click to access Hemingway%2C+Indian+Camp.pdf

If you want to read Death in the Afternoon, click on this link:

How Holly Jackson Wrote the Perfect Mystery Novel

By Skylar Hart

Over the summer, I indulged in reading many books; however, Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was one I could not put down. The young adult novel follows a 17-year-old girl, Pippa, who decides to dedicate her school project to diving deep into a local murder-suicide that took place and was considered a closed case by her town. While the story is primarily a thriller or perhaps, a murder mystery, it also remains heartwarming, sweet, and somehow still leaves you guessing the killer with Pippa until the very end.

I believe the true power of Jackson’s writing lies in her ability to keep the reader in a position of just enough “not knowing.” While we get the thoughts and dialogue of the protagonist, Pippa, and those around her, we are left in the dark about the world around her and the truth of the mystery she is trying to solve, who killed Andie Bell and why? Pippa believes the boy accused of her friend’s sister’s death is not to blame and she becomes more sure of this when bad things begin to happen in her own life as she slowly uncovers more. At one point in the story, Pippa grows closer to uncovering the murderer and soon, her dog is found killed in the woods behind her home. Bad things begin to follow Pippa, and she cannot help but believe she is getting warmer to the truth. There are so many moments you think you figured Jackson out and suddenly, you are thrown for another loop. You have your narrative in mind and you are sure of it and suddenly, you are wrong.

“Not knowing” has a power of its own. “Not knowing” leaves the reader guessing and coming up with a narrative of their own that makes it interesting to figure out the truth. In the how-to book The Making of a Story, Alice LaPlante writes, “All this, of course, is simply another way to say that we should write about what we don’t know about what we know. Without using this sense of not-knowingness, or mystery, as a starting point, anything we write will be lifeless and predictable.” Jackson’s emphasis on not-knowingness makes the reader want to keep flipping pages and reading lines. I quite literally wanted to jump into the book and start filing through cold case files myself. The “not knowing” almost puts you right there with the protagonist and leaves you just as unsure as them.

If there is one book I wish I could unread so that I could read it again and get the same experience, it would be A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder in a heartbeat. It is funny, charming, thrilling, and truly a book to be read by true-crime lovers (like me) everywhere!

Jackson, Holly. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. 2019.

LaPlante, Alice. The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing. Langara College, 2019.

Literary Themed Fun Facts

  • Fahrenheit 451 was originally supposed to be titled The Fireman
  • Charles Dickens was a firm believer of the supernatural and was even a part of a Ghost Club. He was also known to sleep facing North as he believed it would improve his writing.  
  • The world’s most avid readers come from India, which has an average reading time of 10.7 hours a week. 
  • In the Victor Hugo novel Les Miserables, there is a sentence that is 823 words long. This is the longest sentence written in a published novel to date.  
  • Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has been banned in China since 1931 because the governor of the Hunan Province believed that allowing both animals and humans the ability to speak was “disastrous.”  
  • The first public library opened in America was located in Charleston, South Carolina in 1698.  
  • Some of the strangest objects found inside library or secondhand books include a butterfly, lizard, polaroid picture of fried eggs, matches (hidden in the book by removing several pages), and spectacles from approximately 1930.  

Blue Route Call for Art!

Though the deadline has passed for poetry and prose submissions, the Blue Route is still seeking art submissions for our 28th issue! We welcome works of any medium from all undergraduate students so long as they can be converted into a digital format for publication. In the past, we have incorporated gorgeous photographs, paintings, sketches, and digital art among many others into our issues. There is no theme for this issue, so the sky’s the limit! If you or someone you know creates art and is interested in publication, please feel free to submit any and all pieces to us at! Thank you and we cannot wait to see what you come up with!

REMINDER: Submission Deadline is November 15

JUST A REMINDER: The Blue Route will be accepting submissions until November 15. If you are an undergraduate student, we encourage you to submit you poetry, prose, or art. For more information, please see our submission guidelines. We look forward to seeing your work!

Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors Conference

Widener University is hosting this year’s Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE) conference on Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5. The conference is virtual this year and will feature undergraduate student panelists from PA to CA. There will also be a panel of FUSE alumni, an open mic, and a 24-hour literary magazine challenge.

If you work on undergraduate publications at your school, you’ll want to make plans to Zoom in. The conference is quite affordable. Institutional membership in FUSE for 2022-2023 costs only $50.00 and grants unlimited access for students, faculty, and staff to FUSE 2022. The fee for individual attendees is only 25.00. For the conference schedule and registration information, check out the FUSE National website:

The Blue Route editors will be there. Hope to see you as well!

Dissociation in “Some Spring Girls do Die” from Love and War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez 

By Gabby Norris

“Her steps must’ve been light today. Death always seems to come heavy in the night, but it awoke her with a kiss this morning” (77). 

What struck me most about this quote, and this piece in general, is the switch between first and third person at the start of each new paragraph. Given the title and content of this work, the first thought that came to my mind was the concept of dissociation, where one experiences an out of body moment brought on by intense feelings of depression. In these moments of severe depression, the brain chooses to separate one from the body they are in in hopes of minimizing the trauma that they experience. The narrator in this story might feel like herself one moment, and then feel forced to refer to herself as “she” the next because she doesn’t even identify with the body she’s in.  

Another idea that entered my mind is the existence of another girl, as hinted at by the plural “girls” in the title. Perhaps the narrator’s story is being intertwined with that of another girl who has already chosen to end her life. In this reading, there is an eerie foreshadowing that follows the unidentified girl’s last day alive before committing suicide as we are also brought along on the narrator’s day, insinuating that is is also her last. Perhaps neither of these readings are correct and perhaps the truth is something else entirely. Rodriguez could very well be intending to leave it up to the best guess of each reader, allowing them to pick the version that best suits their interests. Either way, I think this is a fantastic piece that is a part of an even better collection that’s both truthful and entirely compelling.  

Issue 27 now live!

Announcing issue 27 of The Blue Route, featuring undergraduate writers from Bellevue College, Berea College, Boston University, Cal Poly SLO University, Central Michigan University, Pittsburg State University, and University of Mississippi. Read it now at Thanks to all contributors for sharing your work.