Graduation

Photo Credits: MSU Commencement. Year Unknown.

Graduation is here at last. If you needed an explanation to why the Den’s been a little quiet this week – look no further than that. In a wash of green robes and final papers, my week has been a flurry of continuous movement, continuous demands, and this single Saturday stands as the peak at the end of the long crescendo. After this, I still have a few finals (really, whose idea is it to have final papers AFTER your graduation?) but they are merely the final stepping stones bridging the gap between this life and the next – the entrance to reality.

All next semester will be spent hunting down a job, sending out swarms of short stories, poems, and (hopefully) my novel to contests, publishers, agents, and what have you on the march to creative advancement, and preparing my law school applications. Just have to remember to keep telling myself to breathe in the meantime.

I’d like to take the time to thank you all for all the support and kind words all of you have shown here on my blog over the past year. I never would have thought I’d find such a warm reception to this little creative outlet of mine…and it’s been a kindness, truly. I’ll be back soon enough with more. In the meantime, though…excuse me as I step off into reality. Be back in a bit.

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Of College’s End

On Saturday, I will be undergoing my college’s commencement ceremony, and for all intents and purposes in the eyes of Michigan State University, I shall be henceforth a graduate…nevermind that finals aren’t until the week after that. Because that makes perfectly logical sense. Nevertheless, in honor of the day, and the nervousness of what’s coming after, I give you these quotes for the week…

“We acquire the strength we have overcome.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”

~African Proverb

I Still Have a Voice

Just because I cannot hear

Does not mean I have no voice.

My hands are my words

Flowing out like rivers

And these eyes,

They see

Though you look at me as a man blind—

Blind enough to see

Your hands in motion

Signing off my rights

Signing off the hope

That brought me here today.

I am not silent

But you silence me

Bury me in paperwork

Another numerical nonentity

Less a face than a dollar sign—

Black ink rain down

And you break my world

With a pen for a sword—

How can you look at us this way

Hear our pleas, hear our cries

And still sit, as statues

Unmoved, unbroken

Drowning us

With care.

This Wednesday’s post has several dedications. It is first and foremost dedicated to the Deaf Education and American Sign Language students at MSU, who this year, as part of budget cuts, had their programs completely cut from the academia here. I also dedicate this to the deaf community at large, who all have felt the pain of this loss. Eastern Michigan University is the only other University in Michigan to offer such programs to the community.

As usual, it is also for the wonderful One Shot Poetry Wednesdays–once you’ve had a look, check out some of the other One Shot Poets as well– they’re a skilled bunch of poets, looking to form a community and support one another.  Enjoy!

Photos by myself, Chris Galford, from the final MSU Board of Trustees meeting last school year. The alphabet presented below is the alphabet of American Sign Language–a language certain board members previously claimed was “not a real language.”

Contained

The walls arise,

stacked atop a pile of numbers–

lettered maze

enfold the secrets of the world

between thy shifting corridors

of papered thoughts

and novel dreams.

Fight your life to be entombed

in shadowed corner fair

locked beneath the earth–

a cool, a dusted prisoner

handled only vacantly

by young eyes consumed

by deadlines foul.

Birthday Thoughts

“The great challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism after you lose your innocence.” ~Bruce Springsteen

Well, well, the day has come. According to society, I’m a man now.

Twenty one years have come and gone, and while I’ve been able to go off and die now for the past three years, I am now apparently old enough to legally have at the alcohol. Michigan, true to form, however, seems to have little interest in embracing summer just for such a silly little occasion, though. Clouds encompass everything in swirls of gray and black, threatening rain without ever working up the energy to do so. Lovely–I just hope it’s not a sign of things to come.

Regardless, I take this to be a time of reflection. Nearly a quarter of a century has come and gone–and the real world looms so near. College is nearly at its end, and I suppose I’m to be all grown up now. Will I be ready when the time comes?

I suppose many people ask themselves the same question. I wonder how many have the answer.

E-Readers

The Kindle

The Kindle. The I-pad.  The more time comes and goes, the more of these electronic goodies come prancing onto the market place. Book sales are at a terrible low, profits made only worse by the war raging between the motley crew of national bookstores left and the online sellers like Amazon.com.

So the question I ponder today is: what is the future of literature? The Kindle costs over $200, but if you are a voracious reader, you’re easily paying more than that for your hard copies every year. Books themselves can be cheap, but no book (outside of a penny and dollar shop) are going to top the stories on Kindle. Kindle’s prices are on the rise, but as a whole, its prices remain incredibly cheap compared to its hard-copy competitors. Plus, as long as you don’t drop your Kindle in water, your collection is going to last forever. Wear and tear’s not an issue there.

Another advantage of E-readers? Many books in one. You have a portable little friend that has your whole collection right at your disposal. It’s far easier to keep track of than a stack of bulky books. If you are like me, though, you have a thing for aesthetics. I love the smell of old books. I love the feeling of the paper between my fingers, nor can I focus so clearly on a screen as I can upon a book. Plus, there is nothing quite like the weight of a hard cover well-in-hand.

Still, for those well-suited to the screens, these electronic readers have adjustable fonts, to accommodate aging eyes. They can easily combat the glare of the sun, as well. There are no pages to turn, nor tear, and you can proceed at just the touch of a hand.

Speaking as a college student myself, though, the benefits to us students should be obvious. Supposing the book stores all turned to Kindles with their stocks? Hundreds of dollars are wasted on textbooks every semester. With the Kindle’s prices, imagine how much money we younglings could save?

Yet what do these electronics mean for libraries? Could the future be shelves lined with blank readers, waiting to be checked out? Maybe you would have to bring your own and set to browsing their selection. Perhaps a display—pick your program, what’s your pleasure? Just click a button and download your choice! When the due date’s come and gone, the program/book of your choice will simply disappear again, and you will be ready for another check-out. It’s less personal, but the ease is undeniable. I would be interested to see how they charge you fines, though. Perhaps it would simply do away with them all-together, if the program simply disappears after a time anyhow.

But as an author, I implore you one and all to think on what the e-reader will mean for the writer. We labor over every script, but it is we that are always the first screwed over by the companies, the publishers, etc. When the market suffers, rarely is it the companies that feel the hurt—always the writer. Money is rough to come by in the profession, unless you are one of the lucky ones like George R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling. So when we turn to the even cheaper markets of e-books, how much additional hurt will it put on writers? Are the royalties on a $1 book sale going to keep a writer going? The companies still have to pay everyone that works for them, and at a buck a pop, do you really think they are going to be kind to the authors? That nice little copyright only means so much.

As a practical son of the times, I see the advantage of the e-readers. I see the advancement they embody for society. As a writer, however, I have to side against them. Convenient, yes, but the negatives for authors far outweigh the good. Plus, for me, it all comes back to those aesthetics. I am picky where many others aren’t, I know, but it is simply how I feel.

Think about it. Draw your own conclusions. One thing is for certain, though: the literary world is at a crossroads. One can only guess what might yet come after.

Of Spring

In honor of the now fully arrived Spring here in Michigan (70s in April? This is a miracle for us), a poem about this beautiful season. I can only hope everyone around me is enjoying the day as well, given all the booze that’s already starting to flow. Final Four Championship today–this place shall be a madhouse. Nevertheless, I give my obligatory shout-out to my fellow Spartans: Go Green!

Anyhow, this poem was composed back in High School, during one of my major poetry bouts:

Spring

Look now the snow is fading,

The grape vines now are creeping

And the frogs once more are leaping.

Flowers reach out for the light-

They had put up quite a fight,

Surviving all the winter fright!

Watch the little children playing-

Lovers on the green grass laying

Death’s dark power now decaying.

The sun’s bright light is beaming,

And the choirs take up singing,

As the Poets start their dreaming-

Dreaming of the days long past-

Spring is here at last!