Tag Archives: Storytelling

Remembering Grant Hart’s Musical and Literary Legacy

On September 14, musician Grant Hart passed away from liver cancer. The former drummer and singer was a vital part of the punk rock band Hüsker Dü, which helped revolutionize alternative and rock and roll music. Hart left the group in 1989, subsequently creating another band, Nova Mob, before pursuing a solo career.

Hart released his last completed solo album, The Argument, in 2013. The Argument is a concept album based on John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, which depicts the Biblical stories of the rebellion of Satan and the fall of man in twelve books of blank verse. Hart’s take on this iconic epic was inspired by an unfinished stage play called “Lost Paradise” written by Hart’s friend, the late American writer William S. Burroughs. From 2008 to 2013, Hart developed his double LP, The Argument. “From the outset, knowing it was a mighty piece of work made it more challenging,” Hart said in a 2013 interview with Clash Music.

With 20 tracks and 74 minutes of heavy guitar and drum, mixed with electronic riffs, beeps and even xylophone, The Argument breathes new life into Milton’s centuries-old poem. The second track, “Morningstar,” is a favorite of critics. Ryan Bray for Consequence of Sound aptly describes the “essential track” as “flower child ruminations,” while AV Club points out that it “frames Satan as, alternately, a hypnotic Pied Piper of chantlike hooks and a sly, Rudy Vallée-esque crooner.” “Run For the Wilderness” is an especially upbeat, lyrical track, one I could see being performed in a Rent-style Broadway setting. Opening with the literal roar of a motorcycle, and the rapid drumbeat conjuring images of a hurried escape, Hart sings, “We kissed the fruit forbidden / we smelled and tasted it / no difficult conditions / he gave us open wide / we disobeyed now we got to run / for the wilderness / well it’s the only place we can escape to now.”

The first notes of the final song on the album, “For Those Too High Aspiring,” recall the 1998 hit “Closing Time” by Semisonic. Hart’s punk ballad features a sentimental harmonica layered over guitar and prominent drum as his lyrics depict the exile of Adam and Eve from Eden and of Satan from Heaven: “For those too high aspiring / here’s to you / you bit off more than you could chew / now you know / sadly how far you could go.” The last 30 seconds fade off with a high-pitched whirring noise, like a motor slowly failing into empty silence, as the album—which is more of an aesthetic experience than anything—winds down to an end.

Hart’s talent and originality is a loss not only to the music industry, but also to the literature community. His former Hüsker Dü bandmate, Bob Mould, put it best: “Grant Hart was a gifted visual artist, a wonderful story teller, and a frighteningly talented musician. Everyone touched by his spirit will always remember.”

To listen to The Argument click here!

By Jennifer Rohrbach

Image courtest of: The Current (MPR/Nate Ryan)

Top Destinations for the Perfect Literary Adventure

Looking for something to do this summer?

Check out these awesome literary destinations courtesy of Verily magazine and Flavorwire!

Take a trip to Long Island, New York and feel the inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby or venture to Hartford, Connecticut to visit the Mark Twain House & Museum. The literary adventures are endless!

For destinations in the United States, click here.

For worldwide destinations, click here.

 

It’s Happening Again…Books Every ‘Twin Peaks’ Fan Should Read

After 25 years, Mark Frost and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks returns to television with an 18-part third season. The two-hour premiere debuts on Showtime May, 21 at 9 PM ET/PT. Details on the revival have remained a mystery, but fans can expect to see a great deal of the original cast returning to reprise their roles, including Kyle Maclachlan as Agent Dale Cooper.

If you love Twin Peaks and you’re looking for some new summer reading material, Lincoln Michel has compiled a list of books, both wonderful and strange, that capture the “Twin Peaks feel.”

Check out Michel’s recommendations here!

There are also numerous books dedicated the televisions series itself. If you’d prefer to read within or about the world of Twin Peaks check out this list of official and unofficial releases!

 

 

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.

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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.

Reflections on the Managing Seminar for College News Editors

English and Creative Writing students often have so many opportunities to show off their skills in various university clubs and organizations, including school newspapers! Here, Kelsey Styles reflects on a journalism conference she attended in July and gives us a peek at the interesting world of college journalism.

I never would have considered breaking news to be something I, a mere student, should be thinking about. However, two weeks ago at the Managing Seminar for College News Editors (MSCNE15) in Athens, Georgia, I realized that I could make an impact. Were something to happen on campus, students could be the first ones there—we could beat NBC and CNN if we’re fast enough!

Going into MSCNE, I wasn’t sure how to feel. My brain was stuck on the concept that attending would mean I’d have to do work (in the summer, no less). Even up through the orientation dinner, where event coordinator Cecil Bentley explained that sessions would run from almost 9 am to 9 pm each day and that we’d need to complete projects in our free time on top of that, I was concerned. What had I gotten myself into? But by the end of the next full day, I knew I was in the right place.

Despite one or two bores, most seminars were entertaining, informative, and eye-opening.  One session, “Journalism of Ideas” by Dan Reimold, was an hour and a half of generating stories worth reading. What I loved about his session was that he didn’t just stick to traditional storytelling. He discussed ideas that could create a buzz, like short interviews with students that could be posted to social media, picture galleries of the weirdest graffiti on campus, and professors reading reviews (like the ever-famous “celebrities read tweets about themselves” video series).

Of course, the conference wasn’t just about fun with social media. The advising professors spent a lot of time discussing the proper execution of a breaking news piece and students got to explain some of their proudest investigative pieces. Throughout the week, we were expected to write a feature piece on the city of Athens using several multimedia tools. My group’s site, found here, has a full-length story along with a map, infographic, picture gallery, and video. We were told to play to our weaknesses, so I learned how to make an infographic, and made both on that website!

On Thursday, we had a breaking news exercise where we had the chance to, as one speaker put it, “get it first; get it right”. This was especially cool because it was my first experience covering an event in real-time. I had a chance to play photographer while others conducted full interviews and wrote pieces. My phone was constantly buzzing as members on the scene relayed information back to the office, while the students there fed us questions to ask.

In another room, MSCNE15 advisors continued refreshing our sites to see who had the most up-to-date information and who was first to complete their articles. At the end, a mock press conference was held, and then a press release was finally sent out. After the exercise, we were all called in for “the beat down,” as one staff member called it. The professors ripped our sites to shreds, telling us how many things we’d messed up or gotten wrong. Though the actual breaking news exercise was exhilarating, the end was sobering; as the professors explained, we only get one chance in the real world.

At the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia!

At the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia!

Though the breaking news exercise was perhaps the most informative of the entire week (the hands-on aspect of the experience was so valuable), I also feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to visit the CNN World Headquarters. The conference we had with Paul Crum, the CNN Vice President of U.S. news operations, as well as various other official CNN reporters, was truly gratifying. The conference was one of those experiences that almost didn’t seem real—am I actually in a room with the best of the best in this business? – until the head of internships came out and began answering questions about how to apply. I know I have a lot to improve upon, and I may never be accepted to work for CNN, but the opportunity to be in that room and have the head of CNN’s internship program offer insider information about how to get involved there made me feel like I was worthy—like I could actually do this for a living one day.

I absolutely loved attending MSCNE15, more than I can explain here. Not only was it informative and exciting (which are two things every good conference should be), but it was almost a relief. My absolute delight with everything – even the boring two-hour seminars I sometimes had to struggle through – was an affirming sign that I’m in the right place and doing exactly what I love to do in life.

By Kelsey Styles