It’s Dictionary Day!

Snip20140915_1Let me guess, you didn’t know that today, October 16th, is the day where avid dictionary-lovers cling to their dusty tomes and reminiscence about the days when students were taught how to decipher the pronunciation key and how to use catchwords as the ‘quick search’ feature before there were such things a ‘quick search’ features.  But don’t worry!  You don’t have to be a lexicographer to enjoy today.

noahDictionary Day shares its day with one of the celebrities of the dictionary world (the word celebrity, of course, is always relative: look it up!): Noah Webster, a man largely responsible for causing fights between family members when playing Scrabble (“What do you mean hollar isn’t in the dictionary?  It’s a word.  Like down in the hollar!”).

441820You probably don’t remember the days before Google or Dictionary.com when if you wanted to know how to spell something or needed to find its definition that you had to lug out the big red book with Merriam-Webster emblazoned in gold on the cover like the seal of some secret society whose sole mission was to protect words from an oncoming apocalypse where only cockroaches and antiquated words hither swithly avaunt into the sunset.

So, why should we continue to celebrate a piece of writing that is more likely to be used as a doorstop rather than be read?  Because, like most things, it’s not about the packaging: it’s about the contents.  Words!  Beautiful amazing words.  Webster devoted his entire professional career so that you could call your favorite professor’s voice sonorous; your least favorite cafeteria item odious; and the odd day when you get out of class five minutes early exhilarating.

And digital dictionaries have actually brought more people to these words than the printed loadstones that Webster had to work with.  You can now get a ‘word of the day‘ that will tell you divarication means on one day and flapdoodle means the next.  There are even ‘word of the day’ apps that will send fantastic words to your phone, so you can impress everyone you know by correctly using indemnify in a sentence.


Flapdoodle


There are no rules for celebrating Dictionary Day (none that I could find at least in my albeit very cursory internet search), and rather than tell you all to pick up your dictionary and start with aardvark, I would encourage you to find a couple of new favorite words and use them liberally: lascivious, masticate, garrulous, bellicose, egalitariancaveat.

So go on and engage in some word play!

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Poetry Submission: Deje Butler

Poetry is the music of our soul here at The Central Pen, and we have a fantastic community of lyrical artists. From free verse to spoken word to slant rhyme, we love it all, and we are here to share our creative energies with you.  Enjoy this submission from one of our homegrown poets.


About the writer.

Deje ButlerDeje Butler is  19 years old.  Born in Washington, DC, she was raised in Dale City, Virginia. She has recently changed her major to criminal justice (originally business administration).  At CPC, she volunteers at the writing center and will be a part of the college’s new drama club. She loves writing and art as well as meeting new people. She also enjoys going to museums of any kind and reading.  She says, “I feel like I’m going on a adventure when I do so–its exhilarating!”


Summers End

Its ending…
As the sun kisses my face goodbye,
feeling its embrace.

 

Its ending…
This firery relationship between us,
is slowly becoming memories,
memories that once was reality.

 

Its ending…
The laughs, the smiles,
the love for the blaze.
Rubbing my bare feet on the grass,
watching the leaves changing colors
like an adaptive reptile.

 

Its ending…
Feeling the greet of a cool breeze.
Here you are again, stepping back in my life.
Fall,
We meet again.

 

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Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner’s Poem on Climate Change Shows the Power of Poetry

kathy_jetnil-kijinerKathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a 26-year-old poet, writer, artist, and journalist from the Marshall Islands, recited her poem about climate change and its effects to a delegation of world leaders at the United Nations who had gathered for the Climate Leaders Summit earlier this week on September 23.   Jetnil-Kijiner had been chosen to perform her piece alongside the impassioned speeches of presidents, prime ministers, and celebrities, including Al Gore (Chairman of Generation Investment Management and the Climate Reality Project) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Actor and UN Messenger of Peace).

Her performance, which ended with her being joined by her newborn daughter and husband, brought many world leaders to tears:

Snip20140926_1

Jetnil-Kijiner’s home is the Marshall Islands, a group of low-lying coral atolls in the northern Pacific Ocean, which have already witnessed the effects of rising ocean levels.  Her poem, ocean161marisl_003‘Dear Matafele Peinem,’ was written to her daughter: “You are so excited for bananas, hugs and our morning walks along the lagoon.”

The lagoon becomes a key metaphor for her, her daughter, and the future of the Marshall Islands:  “I want to tell you about that lagoon. That lucid, sleepy lagoon lounging against the sunrise. Men say, that one day, that lagoon will devour you.” The rising ocean levels have caused the waters in the lagoon overflow their banks, slowly ‘devouring’ the land around it.’  

But in Jetnil-Kijiner’s poem, the lagoon does not yet win:

“And we are canoes blocking coal ships. We are the radiance of solar villages. We are the rich clean soil of the farmer’s past. We are petitions blooming from teenage fingertips.

 

We are families biking, recycling, reusing, engineers dreaming, designing, building, artists painting, dancing, writing.

 

“We are spreading the word. And there are thousands out on the street, marching with signs, hand in hand chanting for change NOW.”

Her performance received a standing ovation from world leaders and summit delegates, proving (yet again) the power of poetry.  You can see Jetnil-Kijiner performing her piece at the UN Summit here and watch a high-definition video for it here.

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(I) Read Banned Books!

The Central Pen joins the American Library Association (ALA) in celebrating Banned Books Week (September 21-27, 2014) where we pull out all of those so-called ‘naughty’ books that have been challenged, banned, defaced, and sometimes even stolen from our nation’s libraries because of what some view as contested themes, depictions, or characters.

Banned Books

Banned Books Week is an opportunity to celebrate free speech, literacy, and creativity.  It also is an opportunity to focus our attention on an issue that is rarely discussed when we talk about education: censorship.  Literature and censorship have a long, fraught history precisely because the written word is so incredibly powerful.  It can shape ideas and narratives.  It can push political and social issues and opinions.  It can persuade and inform.  It can be used to uplift people and ideas just as easily as it can be use to destroy them.


Here are some of The Pen‘s favorite banned books from the 21st Century:

  1. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    • Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    • Reasons: offensive language; racism
  3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    • Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  4. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
    • Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
    • Reason: sexually explicit
  6. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    • Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
  7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    • Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    • Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
  9. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    • Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  10. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    • Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

Don’t just read banned books–share them!  Leave your favorites in the comments.

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Photography Submission: Jeannette Archer-Simons

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.   With that said, please enjoy the following submission by a member of our creative community.

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About the artist.

Jeannette Archer-Simons has served as an adjunct professor teaching business courses at Central Penn College for the last four years.  She is President of Archer-Simons Consulting Group specializing in nonprofit and small business development, strategy, turnaround and leadership transition.  She is a professional writer for multiple online publications, a national speaker and an amateur photographer.  She has been married to her best friend and husband Bob for nearly 35 years.

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The following photographs were taken in scenic surroundings of Central Pennsylvania and feature the regions famous historical covered bridges.  Please click on an image to see it in full scale.

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Jeannette Archer-Simons

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Jeannette Archer-Simons

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Covered Bridges

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These photographs have been submitted to The Central Pen for inclusion in their e-zine and print editions and have been reproduced here by permission.  To submit your own creative work, see our submissions guidelines on our “Submissions” page.

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Poetry Submission: Tynesha Robinson

Poetry is the music of our soul here at The Central Pen, and we have a fantastic community of lyrical artists. From free verse to spoken word to slant rhyme, we love it all, and we are here to share our creative energies with you.  Enjoy this submission from one of our homegrown poets.


About the writer.

Tynesha Robinson was born and raised in Washington, DC, and graduated from Oxon Hill High in 2013. She attends Central Penn, receiving her associates in marketing in the near future. Eventually, she is hoping to continue her education and start a fashion and interior design degree.

My body is the barrier

___
My body is the barrier,
that protects the depth
.
the soul keeps the sweeps, like I’m​ never swept.
.
The newer is the newest
The cooler is the coolest….
.
If I follow the rules
can I still be the nudist.
.
Cloudy with a chance of happiness
thunder with some rain.
.
My body is the barrier
.
Maybe my crutch possibly my cane

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The SLAM Returns to CPC

Slam Audience

CPC was rocked on Thursday night by the 2nd Annual Poetry Slam and Multicultural Celebration.  Students, faculty, and staff packed the dining hall turned slam stage to see who would bring their best game and take over the title of CPC Slam Poet Champion and celebrate our cultural diversity past and present.

Dinner ServiceThe evening kicked off with a very welcoming international dinner sponsored by CPC’s International Society Club and included the handy work of Tynesha Robinson, Christine Fusselman, Kendra Elliot, and of course, club advisor, Romeo Azondekon.  Everyone raved about the international cuisine, going back for second, thirds, and even a couple take-home boxes.   Many thanks to the club’s dedicated members and their unending generosity for our student body.

Special thanks goes out to the Drama Club whose faculty advisor, Janet Bixler, helped to organize the event.  The Drama Club helped with set-up and clean-up, and several of its members performed in the contest.  The Central Pen E-zine would also like to thank Danielle Klebes and Student Activities for helping to plan the event and being the evening’s musical director.

330 Students

In addition to the international fare, students from Professor Maria James-Thiaw‘s Contemporary Writers of Color course created displays representing the writers they had been studying.  Students on hand included Giancarlo VanWright, Tony Noon, Ricky Cousar, Byron GuinyardNathan Reichert, and Michael Troutman, and a special thanks to the rest of the class including Kareem Aiken, Robert Ashkenes, Monica Hacker, Tamirra Milton, and Jamar Royster, for their behind-the-scenes work.


Hosts

The Hosts! Jade and Steve-O


 

Maria James-Thiaw

The Slam kicked off with a short poem from Maria James-Thiaw, “I am a poem,” which immediately set the tone and texture for the night’s contestants.  She welcomed our two hosts, Jade Harper and Steve “Steve-O” Osango, whose enthusiasm, humor, and passion kept the crowd buzzing all night.  The hosts introduced the judges, which included CPC’s own Maria James-Thiaw, local poet Dustin Nispel, student judge Ricky Cousar, and CPC’s Melissa Wehler.

IMG_4695Last year’s winner, Derrick “Muff” Johnson, was on hand to give support to the contestants telling them to ‘be their best’ and ‘have fun.’  We were also excited to have Christine Lincoln, the current poet laureate of York who performed a poem later on in the evening that welcomed new poetic talent into the fold.

Dustin Nispel

Local slam poet and author, Dustin Nispel, blessed the mic with two poems that had the audience snapping, clapping, laughing, and hooting.  Nispel played double-duty as both guest present and celebrity judge.  Nispel brought copies of his new book, The Tower, is a ‘blending of Spoken Word and poetry,’ which was quickly buzzed by the contestants and the crowd.

After Nispel warmed up the mic, the evening was turned over to the students.  One-by-one students stepped to the mic to pour our their passion in the hope of winning the $100 grand prize and the right to the title CPC Slam Champion.

Ayana

Ayana

TJ Blackwell, President of the Knight Writers Creative Writing Club, kicked off the evening’s events followed by a slew of newcomers.  Huge congrats to Sakinah Aziz, Aliah Speights, Ayana Addison, and Cody Robinson for blessing the mic.  Performers talked of love and loss, of growing up and moving on, and of triumphs and struggles in world that seems all too often stacked against them.  The audience gave snaps and claps as the results of the performances were announced.

After a dozen performances, three winners pulled away from the others:


3rd Prize: Lakeia Washington

Lakeia Washington


 

2nd Place: Teta Gaye

Teta Gaye


1st Place: Isaiah Isley

Isaiah Isley


 A special thank you to everyone who helped to bring the event to life whether that was organizing, planning, watching, or blessing the mic!

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Six Steps to Awesome: How to Write a Free Verse Poem

Free Verse

Are you struggling with writing a poem without rhyme or meter? Some say free verse is easy, but its not. That’s why I’m here to help! Just follow my simple steps and in no time you’ll have yourself an awesome free verse poem.
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Poetry Slam: Press Annoucement

2nd Annual Poetry Slam and Multicultural Event

Poet Slam[Summerdale]On Thursday, August 28th at 7:00 PM in Scoozis Café, the Central Pen Literary E-zine will present its second annual Poetry Slam & Multicultural Event. This FREE poetic competition will be M.C.ed by 2014 Central Pen Poetry Prize winner, Jade Harper, and Drama Club member, Jamar Royster. Students will have the opportunity to win cash for poetic performances. Local slam winner and published author, Dustin Nispel, will be one of the judges and his new book, The Tower, will be available for sale and signing.


 

“Poetry slams make poems leap off the page! They bring poems to life for the common person. Poems can be about virtually any subject and poets have 3 minutes to drop it like it’s hot,” says 3-time slam winner, Professor Maria Thiaw. “They just have to remember that they’ll be disqualified for going over time, so no disclaimers or apologies!”


 

Poetry Slams were developed in the 1990’s at the Green Mill in Chicago and have since gone international. In a slam, poets perform their work in 3 minutes or less with no props.  In national slams poems are recited from memory, but for this event, students will be able to use a reading script.


 

“I’d just be sure that they can see their poem’” warns Central Pen editor, Dr. Melisssa Wehler, “Small print on a cell phone in a dim room may get in the way of a powerful performance.”


 

Four judges (2 students and 2 professional poets) will determine who will walk away with the prize money and Central Penn swag! The first place winner will receive $100, while second place will get $50 and third will win $25. The winners will be promoted in The Central Pen e-zine and invited to perform their award-winning poems at the [K]Night of Theatrics, on October 9th, the 1st event for the Underground’s new theatre!

The International Society will be providing an assortment of cultural foods at the event, and drinks will be available from Scoozi’s Café, so students can nourish their bellies as well as their minds!


 

Students that wish to compete can pre-register by emailing The Central Pen at thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu.  Registration will be available at the door as well, but space is limited. Be sure to sign up now.


The event is a group effort between the Central Pen staff, the new Central Penn Players Drama Club, the International Society and Professor Maria Thiaw’s HUM330 Contemporary American Writers of Color Class.

The Central Pen is a literary e-zine edited by Dr. Melissa Wehler and Professor Maria Thiaw. Check out the latest issue here.  For more information or to reserve your performance spot, contact thecentralpen@centralpenn.edu today.

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The Central Pen Rocks the Mic at Common Hour

1st Place Derrick "Muff" Johnson

1st Place Derrick “Muff” Johnson at the 2013 Poetry Slam

At the SGA’s common hour on August 7, 2014, The Central Pen rocked the mic with performances by our own Maria James Thiaw, faculty advisor, Jade Harper, 2013 Poetry Contest Winner, and Derrick “Muff” Johnson, 2013 Poetry Slam Winner.

Professor Maria Thiaw hit off the presentation with her ‘Wordaholic’ spoken word piece to an enthusiastic applause.

Thiaw was followed by Jade Harper who read her award winning poem, ‘I Am.’  Harper’s self-affirming poem won her the Academy of American Poets University Prize back in April.

The presentation was rounded out with Derrick “Muff” Johnson delivering his winning poetry slam piece from last year.

The crowd was also invited to join us for our 2nd Annual Poetry slam where Johnson will defend his title against all challengers.  The Slam will take place on August 28th at Scoozi’s cafe.  Performers should arrive by 7 pm to get their names on the list.  The slam will start at 7.30 sharp.  Prizes will be awarded and winners will be crowned!

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