5 Facts About Zelda Fitzgerald

On Friday, January 27, Amazon Prime Video will be releasing a 10-episode bio-series on the life of writer and icon Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. The Amazon Original, titled “Z: The Beginning of Everything,” stars Christina Ricci as Zelda Fitzgerald and follows the Southern Belle turned flapper on a wild ride through the Jazz Age.

The series, loosely based on Therese Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, gives Zelda the spotlight instead of her husband and acclaimed novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald (David Hoflin). While the series recounts the romance and the turmoil, it also allows attention to be on the immensely talented, ambitious, daring individual that inspired countless heroines. Before she has her chance to shine, here are some interesting facts about Zelda Fitzgerald.

1. Zelda was a rebellious, free spirit

Named after Robert Edward Francillon’s gypsy heroine in the short story “Zelda’s Fortune,” Zelda Sayre was the pinnacle of rebellion in her hometown of Montgomery, Alabama, often sneaking out and anxious to be on her own.  After her high school graduation, Zelda’s live-for-the-moment spirit shined when she wrote: “Why should all life be work, when we can all borrow? Let’s think only of today, and not worry about tomorrow.”

2. Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald frequently stole from one another

They stole ideas that is. There was no question that Zelda was her husband’s muse. Several of Fitzgerald’s heroines were based on Zelda as well as the couple’s interactions and experiences. In The Great Gatsby, for example, Fitzgerald wrote Jay Gatsby’s first encounter with Daisy Buchanan to fictionalize his own first encounter with Zelda. However, eventually the line has to be drawn, especially when lifting diary entries nearly verbatim. According to The New York Times, Fitzgerald often drew “freely from Zelda’s diaries, letters and experiences…for his own work.”

Zelda fought back and within two months her autobiographical novel, Save Me the Waltz, was published detailing such themes as “a married couple in free-fall; a wife hospitalized.” Fitzgerald later accused her of stealing the ideas he was going to use in Tender Is the Night as well as the name of a previous character.

3. Zelda was an artist

In addition to being a strong writer, Zelda Fitzgerald was also a gifted artist. In 1996, her granddaughter, Eleanor Anne Lanahan, compiled 140 illustrations and 80 paintings all done by her grandmother into Zelda: An Illustrated Life: The Private World of Zelda Fitzgerald. Her artwork includes paper dolls crafted for her daughter, Scottie, illustrations from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and many scenes from New York City where she resided with Fitzgerald for some time.

4. Zelda was a ballet dancer

Adding to her list of talents, Zelda decided to pursue ballet with acclaimed Russian dancer, Madame Lubov Egorova. Though nearing her 30’s, Zelda was determined to reach professional standards, the pursuit becoming an obsession. She practiced for hours to reach perfection until ultimately suffering from a mental collapse.

5. In 1948, Zelda was killed in a fire

Following her mental collapse in 1930, Zelda was in and out of facilities for mental illness. She was maintaining residence at Highland Hospital in Ashville, North Carolina when a fire broke out March 10, 1948. Zelda and eight other women were killed. She was laid to rest with Fitzgerald who passed in 1940 from a heart attack. Inscribed on their tomb is the very last line of The Great Gatsby. It reads:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Written by Carlie Sisco

 

 

 

2016 FUSE Conference Addresses Literary Citizenship

Since 2012, Widener students have been attending and presenting at the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE) national conference. This year, students and advisors from fifteen schools from South Carolina to Pennsylvania to Michigan to California came to Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio to present on the conference theme of literary citizenship. Widener University was represented by junior English majors Emma Irving and Jennifer Rohrbach and senior creative writing and communications double major Kelsey Styles, along with creative writing professor and faculty advisor Dr. Michael Cocchiarale.

20161103_101402

Literary citizenship is, to put it quite simply, the act of creating a more positive community with stronger writers and editors. It can also include the acts of maintaining diverse journals, teaming with other publications and organizations on campus, communicating effectively among staff and writers, and encouraging participation from all students—not just English or creative writing majors.

Widener students presented a panel about how four campus publications tackle this issue.
Widener’s The Blue Route, a national undergraduate literary journal, publishes interviews with local authors and poets. Widener Ink and the Blue & Gold both sit down with students and work together to improve that student’s writing. The Chester Magazine connects Widener with the surrounding community, and works to bridge Chester’s growing arts scene. All three of Widener’s student representatives collaborated to create this panel.
Here are personal reflections from two Widener participants at FUSE:
Jennifer Rohrbach

Working with Widener’s dedicated community of writers, editors, and readers gave me the opportunity to hone my own writing and editing skills through publications such as The Blue Route, the Blue & Gold, and Widener Ink. My three years at Widener have shaped me into a literary citizen without me even realizing it! But the literary community is so much larger than what we see on Widener’s campus. Attending FUSE at the wonderful Bowling Green State University opened my eyes to the national literary community, what it has accomplished, and what it can become.

We hit the ground running on Thursday, the first day of the conference. After a business meeting and a journal showcase, students from universities across the United States presented panels on how their schools and publications promote literary citizenship. I learned that literary citizenship is a much broader, yet more inclusive term that I’d originally thought. Anyone with a love for literature and a desire to share it can be a literary citizen. One of the most inspiring panels I attended was about representation and diversity not only in the stories published in journals and lit magazines, but also among the editors reading submissions.

On Friday, the group split up for roundtables where students from different schools could more casually discuss topics such as aesthetics and technology and advising student editors. It was a great experience to speak with students I otherwise would never have met, and it was reassuring to hear that they go through the same highs and lows with their publications that I go through with the publications I’m a part of. After the roundtables, I chose to participate in the Guerilla Poetry activity—just one of the various activities for the afternoon. A group of about 10 students and I left sheets of poetry all around Bowling Green’s campus which, for comparison’s sake, is at least three time’s Widener’s size, if not more. We got some weird looks from Bowling Green students as we stuck poetry in random books at the library and in between bike wheel spokes. But not an hour later our ‘tour guide’ Ally Butler (a student at Bowling Green and FUSE attendee) got a Snapchat from a friend who was delighted to have found a poem stuck to a tree in the middle of the quad.

While the conference itself was great, my favorite part was the new friends I made. On a campus as small as Widener’s you can see the same people every day. It was inspiring to realize that there is a community of writers and editors out there in the world who are as enthusiastic about literature as I am, and who are dedicated to instilling that enthusiasm within others to further cultivate literary citizenship.

Kelsey Styles

I attended many panels about literary citizenship. The first panel I attended was run by two students from Francis Marion University in South Carolina. They talked about how to get more majors involved with the literary journals on campus. Editor-in- chief of their journal, Snow Island Review, Anna Jackson, was herself a psychology major, and used that to her advantage. During her presentation, she pulled up scientific theories of motivation, such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and explained how she incorporated them into her campus organization. She explained that by giving editors more responsibility and making them feel like they were contributing to something important, they became more excited to work toward the common goal. Not only did meeting attendance increase for them, their submissions soared from about 75 to about 180.

The next presentation I saw was about Susquehanna University’s literary journal, Flagship. It’s a journal just for travel writing, and it’s open to all majors at their university. At Susquehanna, it’s required that all students study abroad at least once. This journal is not only a collection of some of those stories, it’s a way for students to cope with any culture shock or large experiences they were struggling with since returning from another country.

The final panel I attended before my own presentation was about representation in literature, entitled “Maintaining a Diverse Literary Community.” Camera Martin from Oakland University explained how it was the responsibility of editors to include diverse writers. Editors are the gatekeepers of media, in many cases. By opening the door to writers of color and writers of different sexualities, editors are able to create a more diverse and empathetic audience—and it is their job to do so. Her panel was fabulous. Widener followed her which was both tough because it was such a strong presentation but also a plus because she’d drawn a significant crowd. We basically had a full room to discuss how Widener contributes to literary citizenship—which we do in many ways.

There were more than just panels. I also went to a keynote speech by the very talented Karen Craigo (I know she’s very talented because I attended her reading later that day). I went to a reading by Wendell Mayo, a fascinating author with strong voice. Friday, I attended a discussion about how other schools conducted their literary journals. Widener’s literary journals are extracurricular, though the Chester Magazine had a class element to it and Professor Cocchiarale has taught a Contemporary Literary Scene class that examined current undergraduate journals including our own. All schools who participated in the discussion explained some of the benefits and the drawbacks of conducting their journals in the class format. Some schools, like Susquehanna and Widener, had several journals, and some schools, like Cabrini, only had one. Bowling Green also hosted workshops where students could either work on their writing, post poems around campus, or create their own zines.

Though I had initially been wary about the small size of the conference, FUSE 2016 was ultimately just as amazing as a large conference. I was able to make closer friendships than I would have otherwise made. It’s easier to get to know someone when you’re constantly in close proximity. At a larger conference, I might not have seen the same people twice. This FUSE, I not only saw people constantly, but by the end of the conference we had interacted so much that I could consider us friends.

If you wish to start a FUSE chapter at your undergraduate institution, check out the FUSE National website for more information: http://www.fuse-national.com/.

20161104_134329

Written by Jennifer Rohrbach and Kelsey Styles

Author Patricia Engel Shares Writing Process and Advice During Campus Visit

Author Patricia Engel visited Widener’s Main Campus Oct. 18 and 19 as a part of the English and creative writing department’s Distinguished Writers Series. The visit, scheduled after the recent publication of her novel and New York Times Editors’ Choice, “The Veins of the Ocean,” gave students the opportunity to question Engel about her writing process.

“Sometimes I have a sense of where the story is going, but it changes,” she said. “Once you lay down the groundwork for a story, the story starts to speak to you, and you have to give it that freedom to go where it wants to go.”

Published by Grove Press in May of 2016, “The Veins of the Ocean” details a “riveting story of a young woman’s journey away from her family’s painful past towards redemption and a freer future.”

Prior to “The Veins of the Ocean,” Engel published two other novels with Grove Press, including “Vida” in 2010 and “It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris” in 2013. She also has work appearing in the New York Times, The Atlantic, A Public Space, Boston Review and Harvard Review, among other publications.

“Each book is its own animal,” Engel said. “As I’m beginning a project, I really have to listen to it and feel what its needs are. Very often I have to change as a writer and as a person to meet those needs.”

Engel has already started thinking about her next novel focusing on a much broader and bigger family saga, though it is still considered to be in the very early stages. It will include similar themes to her previous novels, highlighting an interest in family and immigration.

“In order for me to actually finish writing a book, I have to be obsessed with it,” Engel said. “When it comes down to books that I think people love, that stay with them, that you remember years after years, it’s not a sentence, it’s not an image, it’s not a character, it’s the feeling that the book left you with. That’s what I aim for.”

Words of Wisdom for Widener’s Young Authors

During her Widener visit, Engel individually met with several students for tutorials and visited creative writing and English classes on campus.

“Having someone from a totally different background come in and look at my story offers new perspective I wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Kelsey Styles, a senior communication studies and creative writing major who met one-on-one with Engel.

The author concluded her Widener visit with a public reading of an excerpt from “The Veins of the Ocean.” She also answered questions. Speaking to aspiring writers, Engel emphasized, “Read absolutely everything you can get your hands on. Seek out books nobody is telling you to read. Feed your creative spirit in different ways. You have to be diligent about showing up for your writing. There’s a lot to be said for daydreaming, but it’s worthless if you don’t get it on a page.”


Written by Carlie Sisco

Content and image originally published by “What’s Up @ Widener.”

Meet Local Writers: Dr. Kenneth Pobo

As part of a blog initiative started by this year’s FUSE conference on literary citizenship, The Blue Route is beginning a series of short author interviews with local writers. Our first interview begins as local as we can get, with Widener University’s own Dr. Pobo!

pobo

Dr. Kenneth Pobo is not only an English and Creative Writing professor at Widener University—he’s our self-proclaimed poet-in-residence! After receiving his PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Pobo taught at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville before joining the Widener faculty in 1987.

Throughout his career, Pobo has published more than 25 books of poetry and short fiction in addition to countless poems and flash fiction pieces in literary journals and magazines such as Indiana Review, Mudfish, The Cider Press Review, The Fiddlehead, and Hawaii Review. In 2008, Pobo published Glass Garden with Wordtech Press followed by When The Light Turns Green with West Chester: Spruce Alley Press in 2014, and Bend of Quiet with San Francisco: Spruce Alley Press in 2015. He is the winner of the 2009 Main Street Rag Poetry Chapbook Contest, the 2011 Qarrtsiluni Poetry Chapbook Contest, and the 2013 Eastern Point Press Chapbook Award for his manuscript Dust And Chrysanthemums from Grey Borders Press, and has a new book of ekphrastic poems coming out in 2017 called Loplop in a Red City, from Circling Rivers Press.

Though he is not fond of machines, Pobo notes that he usually writes on the computer, finding it enhances his process. Some subjects are often present: the garden, music, environmental and human rights issues, particularly LGBTQ rights, his past, and art. “Inspiration for me is getting my butt in the chair—something will happen. I rarely have writer’s block, unless I’m just too tired from the day to focus,” he said.

Currently, Dr. Pobo is working on a few manuscripts, one of which, Sore Points, began as an exercise in one of his creative writing classes. In addition, he is revising Loplop in a Red City. “It may be a common misconception that once a book is accepted, the revision process is over, [but] this is not the case,” Pobo said. “Often, the most demanding revision occurs after acceptance.”

To creative writers struggling to find their voice Dr. Pobo emphasizes the importance of reading. “READ,” Pobo said. “Read for improving your thinking process. Read writers who can be guides for your own work, but not only them.” He also urges “to keep writing and don’t get discouraged. Don’t let the voices that say ‘There are many writers who are much better than I am’ block you. You have observations and things that need to be said—and only you can say them.”

A perfect Sunday afternoon for Dr. Pobo involves getting muddy in the garden and topping it off with Widecast Internet music show, Obscure Oldies. His favorite song of all time is “12:30 (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon)” by The Mamas & The Papas released in 1967, however, he recently bought Micheal Bublé’s Nobody But Me. Dr. Pobo is also a tie-dye enthusiast and on the matter says, “I love color and I want color to slide all over me. Clothes should dream in color. No more coffin-esque flat colors afraid of their own energy.”

Learn more about Dr. Pobo’s work on the Widener English blog.

Written by Emma Irving.

(Image courtesy of Painters and Poets)

A Scary Good Read: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus

2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the Haunted Summer; the summer of 1816 that Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, John Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley) spent together at Lake Geneva. The group took refuge from the poor weather one rainy June day in the Villa Diodati. Back then they didn’t have Netflix or the internet to occupy their time, so what better activity for a group of intelligent, creative, bored minds to do than write?

Lord Byron challenged each person in the group to compose a ghost story. Despite Byron and P.B. Shelley being well-established writers of the time, they attempted the challenge with little success. Polidori, Byron’s personal physician, would later write The Vampyre, which was then revisited by Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Mary, however, was struck by inspiration. That haunted night gave birth to one of the most iconic, well-known, thought-provoking tales of all time: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. She was only 18 years old during the Haunted Summer and 20 when her novel was published in 1818.

 frankenstein-tl

The first edition left the author anonymous causing many people to attribute the novel to Mary’s father, William Godwin, an influential philosopher of the time (and whose ideals influenced the plot of the novel). The second edition, published in 1822, gave Mary the credit she deserved. Several more editions were published both during and after her lifetime.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to list all the adaptations and creations that Frankenstein has influenced for the past 200 years. Literature, film, plays, television, and dance are just a few mediums by which people have explored the beloved story. In his book, The Detached Retina: Aspects of SF and Fantasy, writer and anthology editor Brian Aldiss supports the claim that Frankenstein is a progenitor of the science fiction genre and counts the novel as an ancestor of future works by the famous science fiction writer, H.G. Wells.

From a literary standpoint, the structure, flow, characterization, plot, and themes of this novel are so complex and interesting that people are still analyzing it today. Mary Shelley’s talent can be overshadowed by the success of her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the works of the male-dominated canon, but it is important to remember this incredible novel and its importance to literary and world history. So, if you’re looking for a spooky read this Halloween, pick up Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. I promise I’m not tricking you—this book is a real treat!

Written by Jennifer Rohrbach.

2016 Banned Books Week Begins!

 

This week marks the start of the annual Banned Books Week! The event was established in 1982 as a way to celebrate the freedom to read and shine a light on the persistent problem of censorship. Organizations across the nation have been participating ever since. This year the celebration takes place from September 25-October 1.

According to the American Library Association (ALA), Banned Books Week “highlights the value of free and open access to information” as well as “brings together the entire book community; librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types, in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”

Since 1982, more than 11,300 books have at least been challenged, meaning a person or group has requested for a book to be removed. In the last year alone, 275 books were recorded challenged by the ALA. Titles of the top ten most challeged books of 2015 include Looking for Alaska by John Green, E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey, and I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings. Books such as these are often challenged for their diverse content.

An infographic on Readers.com explains the reasoning behind these challenges to be primarily caused by books containing offensive language, sexual content, or content unsuited for the age group it is being presented to. Other reasons include violence, homosexuality, religious views, racism, and substance abuse. While some books remain merely challenged, other books suffer a ban from certain countries meaning the book is successfully removed from libraries or being taught in schools.

Banned Books Week celebrates all 11,300 of these challenges. With censorship prohibiting what people can and cannot see or read, it is important to exercise freedom. Turning a blind eye to “diversity” won’t solve anything. This week, and in the weeks following, embrace diversity instead of trying to hide it. Read freely!

For more information on Banned Books Week visit their website or follow their Twitter!

Summer Shakespeare Events

Feeling out of touch with your English friends this summer? Wishing someone would appreciate Shakespeare with you? If you’re in the Delaware Valley area, there are several events worth attending!
Beginning June 10, the Arden Shakespeare Gild presents a new approach to the Trojan War. The Shakespeare 2016 Summer Show includes 9 performances of Troilus and Cressida with a Star Wars theme. Watch a creative take on “Troy versus the Dark Side of the Greeks!” Click here for more information.
Also, on June 25, for those looking or interested to learn more about Shakespeare, Lloyd King will be leading a discussion filled with factual information as well as speculations about an untold side to the playwright. The event is being hosted at Kirkwood Library in Wilmington, Delaware. Admission is free for all ages. For more information click here!
Or you could spend a day in Rockwood Park for the Delaware Shakespeare Festival. This year they’ll be presenting The Comedy of Errors. The festival runs from July 15-31 with a total of 13 performances. Pack a picnic and visit Rockwood’s beautiful grounds and mansion before settling in for some good ol’ fashioned Shakespeare. The festival is family friendly, scheduling a variety of activities including wandering bards as well as a Children’s Activity Tent complete with “Shakespearean-themed arts and crafts.”
 Tickets are on sale as of June 1. For ticket prices click here.
For scheduling and planning information visit their website here.