2015 Slam Champs Ignite the Mic then Walk Away with Cold Hard Cash

Winners with swagOn Thursday, September 3rd The Central Pen Literary E-zine and Professor Maria Thiaw’s ENG330 Contemporary American Writers of Color class coordinated Central Penn College’s 3rd annual Poetry Slam. The event was hosted by activist poet and entrepreneur Jubair Yother and ENG330 student, Daouda Bamba.  Professional spoken word artist “The Gingerbread Man” made an appearance, and the event was judged by students, faculty and staff.

First prize weAmanda2nt to Amanda Khloer, a 2014 graduate and founding member of Knight Writers Creative Writing Club   . The second went to Rob Hollenbach, a student inspired by ENG330, who gave a powerful and poignant message of love in the face of racism, war, and homophobia. Knight Writer Teta Gaye walked away with 3rd place for her poetic statement of cultural pride. Each student received cash and a Central Penn cinch sac.

In addition to the art of spoken word poetry, the audience was exposed to visual art displays featuring contemporary writers, including Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, Joy Harjo and others. These colorful displays were created by ENG330 students.

For more information about upcoming literary events, keep visiting The Central Pen Literary E-zine. You can also join The Knight Writers, an organization of students that enjoy creative writing in all of its forms. Their first meeting is the S’mores Social at 3:45 on Thursday, October 8th in the Writing Center.

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Indulge Your Writer’s Cravings!

Snip20150702_48Of course, you want to write.  Everyone wants to write.  But there’s a difference between wanting to write and actually doing it.  There are a thousand excuses why we don’t start writing projects, and a thousand more for why we don’t finish them.  More often than not, the easiest way to jump start a writing routine is to indulge one of your writer’s craving for the things that writer’s love most: pens, papers, books….coffee.   Here are some of our staff’s best picks for indulging your dangerously creative self.


133744_411_2Of course, this list is going to start with a pen because of course it is.  And not just any pen.  One of the most sassy writing pens you can get.  Made by kate spade new york, the Nom de Plume ball point pen will set you back a cool $36, but it’s worth it.  Besides, that won’t like very much at all when you are sitting on top of the New York Times‘ bestseller’s list.  (Also, when you get to the number one spot, don’t forget who told you to pick up that lucky pen.)

il_570xN.494221209_pbw3There is nothing quite like beautiful stationary to get you excited about putting pen to perfect paper, especially if that paper is wonderfully illustrated.  Get in the mood to explore the realm of fantasy writing with this lovely stationary set that features all the whimsey of a magical faerie folk, and at just $15, you can travel to the other world without stopping at the ATM along the way.

5b0e7efffb47f77094df3370f872d59e.f4f4967b4463258f8415f3e665aa0ac6While there are journals of every shape and size, the Classic Travel Journal from Rouge Journals will make you feel like you have just stolen a magical adventuring book from Biblo Baggins library.  Whether you are stealing magical rings from wicked creatures or burgling the treasure hoard of a fearsome dragon, this leather bound journal will make sure that all of your adventures are kept safe there and back again.  (Also, for only $50, you will still have enough of that dwarf gold to buy a much bigger hobbit hole.

o-WHATWOULDJANEDO-570If you find yourself sitting along in your study, thinking about which suitor (if any) would be most socially acceptable for your polite if eccentric heroine should settle on, then this aptly titled book What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen is exactly what you need for your book shelves. “My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”

il_570xN.791965194_1bjcWriting is half inspiration, half coffee.  Satisfy both the cravings of your imagination and your body with this mug.  Whether it’s coffee, tea, or a delicious mug-brownie, grabbing a cup of inspiration will certainly make the difference between thinking about finishing that last chapter and actually doing it.

il_570xN.682157818_o70qFor most writers, where they do their writing is just as important as what they’re writing about.  Having a comfortable, ‘noise free’ space allows you to focus more on the page and less on the piles of excuses sitting on your desk (and probably also your floor).  Removing these distractions with something like this lovely, literary inspired piece will make sure you hit those daily word counts.

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The Central Pen Staff

[Images from featured vendor’s websites.]

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Welcome to the Information Age

Snip20150702_40The internet is the most wonderful thing that has happened for college students in many decades as it allows us to have an infinite amount of information at our fingertips.  Gone are the days of debate about who won the 1998 World Series (New York Yankees) or who won the Best Actress in 2005 (Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby).  Anything we want to know is only a moment away.  Seems great right?

The unfortunate side of the information age is the quality of information our students use in their research.  High school and college students today are so used to using Google and Wikipedia in their personal lives that they transfer that into their studies.  And while technology literacy is a wonderful attribute for them, understanding the pros and cons of the internet when writing and researching is essential to success.

In this blog piece, I’ve decided to take a look at the positive and negative aspects of the internet when it comes to certain aspects of the writing process.  Hopefully, this will make students aware of some of these pitfalls before doing their next paper. Continue reading

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Slam Poets: Tell Us How To Throw Down!

Maria James-Thiaw asked the local slam community advice on how to throw down at a slam contest.  This is what they told us!


“Practice. Some practice is better than none.”–Marilyn Kallet

“Winning the slam will never help you win yourself. Win who you are, your purpose.That will always remain in your hands.  So always carry your purpose to the stage with you. ” –Slangston Hughes


“Romance the mic and believe that no one else can do that better than you! If you focus on your own performance, there will be no room for comparing yourself to anyone else (which is a BIG wagging, shake-a-finger NO NO!).” –Quill Reed

“…Just like entering the hundred yard dash or a boxing match, you go in to win, connect and show them what you’re really made of figuratively.”–Femi Drifish


“Don’t be self-conscious about your performance — don’t even think about it as a performance, but as you speaking your heart to friends. Everyone supports one another in these. Go!”–Michael Lear-Olimpi

“Slam because you have a story to tell. A poem you have to share. An experience someone else might need to hear on any given Tuesday.” —Dawn Saylor


…and of course, don’t forget to sign up for the 3rd Annual Poetry Slam.  Get the details here.

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Get Ready to SLAM!


Come on out to the 3rd Annual Poetry Slam brought to you by the Central Pen Literary E-zine and Professor Maria Thiaw’s Contemporary American Writer’s of Color class to hear some good words or give some- or both! A poetry slam is a bit of a competition, but a lot of love. Poets are judged by their writing style and their performance ability.

Central Penn alumna Shonyah Hawkins will MC the event and poets will be judged by the esteemed spoken word artist Ladi Glori along with other faculty and students.

The slam will be held in the Capital Blue Cross Theatre on the Summerdale campus Thursday, September 3rd at 7:00 pm. Oh yeah, and it’s FREE!

If you’re interested in competing send your name, your contact information, and the name of your poem to thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu. Be sure to hurry, spots are limited! Poets will have 3 minutes to speak. All you need to bring is yourself and your poem.  And as if sharing your poem isn’t enough, $100 goes to first place, $50 goes to second place, and $25 goes to third place.


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Everyday I’m Scribblin’

I was recently reminded of a harsh reality about writing: the only way to write, unfortunately, is to write. An obvious, simple, yet (for me, anyway) an f-ing elusive truth, and always easier said than done.

At the end of May, I experienced a huge setback with my PhD dissertation (a major research project estimated to run 200+ pages), which forced me to draft a lot of material in a short amount of time–40,000 words in four weeks! And I’m proud to report that I met that goal–and then some.

Snip20150709_53Now, what I ended up with wasn’t highly polished, carefully edited prose. Far from it. But I did get exactly what I needed: a finished first draft, always the hardest part of the writing process for me, which I now can spend a few weeks revising before submitting to my dissertation committee at Duquesne University at the end of July.

How did I achieve this Sisyphusean feat–a trip to my local crossroads at midnight? Nope–no Satanic bargains for me, thank you very much. I just stopped thinking (ie judging myself negatively) and started writing. I broke the project into small, daily writing goals: 1600 words a day, every day–no matter how tired, or how frustrated, or how bored, or how anxious I was. Most professional writers I know–and all of the “writers on writing” books I’ve read–say the same thing: daily, regimented writing routines are how writing happens. Continue reading

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$100.00 to go to Poetry Slam Champion – Sign-Up Today!

The 3rd Annual Poetry Slam will be held on Thursday, September 3rd in the Capital BlueCross Theatre on Central Penn College’s Summerdale campus. This event will be hosted by the Central Pen Literary E-zine and Professor Maria Thiaw’s Contemporary American Writer’s Of Color class. The first place slam-master will walk away with a cool $100.00. There are second and third place prizes as well.


The Slam will be judged by students, faculty and Baltimore spoken word powerhouse, Ladi Glori. Central Penn alumna, Shonyah Hawkins will M.C. the free event.  Performers must be students or alumni of Central Penn College and can sign up by emailing thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu no later than August 15. Spots are limited, so don’t delay.

What’s a Poetry Slam?

A poetry slam is a contest in which poets are judged by both their writing style and performance ability. Poets don’t merely ‘read’ their original work, but they deliver it with dramatic flair. Since no one sees the work on paper, slam poets don’t have to worry about being grammatically correct or holding to a traditional form. Poetry slams are a national pastime that has brought the art of poetry off the page and out of the classroom for regular people to enjoy.

Are there rules?

Although the rules of grammar and form are relaxed in a slam, wordsmiths must remember these tips for success:

No props but the poem and the mic!

The first rule of a poetry slam is that there are no props allowed. You can’t talk to an empty chair, hold a dummy, or throw a paper airplane. It is just you, the word and the mic.   For this particular slam you are allowed to have your poem on paper, however most slam champions memorize their pieces and perform them with power.

No disclaimers!

Do not explain your inspiration, apologize, or give a soliloquy about the piece you are about to perform. You only have 3 minutes and the timer starts when you open your mouth.

Respect the Mic!

Although a vast array of once taboo subjects are welcomed in poetry slams, hatred, misogyny and homophobia are not. Please stay away from racial slurs, anti-gay rhetoric or religion bashing. This is a multicultural event. Let’s celebrate the art of the spoken word together!

How Can I Be Down?

So you want to watch the slam? Show up to the Capital BlueCross Theatre in the Underground on the Summerdale campus on Thursday, September 3 at 7 pm to support your friends. Give them lots of love, snaps and claps when they’re on stage.

Oh, you want to walk away with $100.00 and some Central Penn swag? Sign up to perform by sending an email to thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu by August 15. Send us your name, contact information and the name of your poem.

Got Any Tips?


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Send us your seasonal shots!

Spillway; Pine Grove Furance State Park

Spillway; Pine Grove Furnace State Park; Dr. Melissa Wehler

At The Central Pen, we are committed to all types of art and artists, including the visual arts.  We believe that creative expression, no matter the medium, has an important place in our education and in our lives.   Use our ‘Submission’ page to submit your best seasonal shots!


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by | August 1, 2015 · 8:00 am

Paperback Book Day

National Paperback Book Day

Join The Central Pen in celebrating Paperback Book Day!  On July 30, pick up your favorite paperback (or maybe choose a new favorite!) from your local library or bookstore.

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by | July 30, 2015 · 8:00 am

The Professional Writer: Bridging the Gap between Page and Stage with Carla Christopher


Central Pennsylvania’s arts scene is alive and thriving because it is held up by pillars like professional writer, Carla Christopher, York city’s Arts & Culture Liaison and host of Culture & Main. Carla is no stranger to Central Penn College. When she was Poet Laureate of York, PA she performed here in celebration of “Poem in Your Pocket Day, 2013.” Her small press, Poem Sugar, has published the works of some of our faculty and staff and she even gave our Corporate Communications students a taste of real world broadcasting by inviting them to a taping of her TV Show, Culture and Main. One of those students, Amanda Kloehr, read her poetry on the show.

This artistic entrepreneur is the glue that keeps Central PA’s cultural scene together. That is no easy task, especially when there are conflicts even within specific artistic genres. Take poetry for example, where traditional “page” poets and stage performers fight for domination, each one seeing their style as the only right way to do poetry. Regardless of this ongoing debate, Carla Christopher is a bridge between the two.

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