by Rebecca Green
I was hesitant, but I knew my students deserved the opportunity to write about themselves, to be creative, to take risks and not feel restricted by strict project expectations. I prepared them as best as I could: we spent weeks close reading, responding to sources, discussing our topics, and partaking in creative free-write exercises as a class. We talked about writing as a process, instead of a five paragraph formula. When that fateful Friday night arrived in which students were expected to hand in their essays, I sat by the computer anxiously waiting for a disaster to take place.
by Courtney R. Hall
Celebrity memoirs and autobiographies are nothing new. They act as a fruitful branch of a celebrity’s branding arsenal and are a cash cow for publishers. Spanning decades, it’s been a commonly held belief that many, if not all, of these memoirs were written by an unnamed third party, a ghostwriter. These publications would be seen as a piece of PR material created for super fans, full of fluff like a celebrity's go-to salad that they would consume daily on the set of the television program that made them famous. However, there is a shift occurring in the world of celebrity memoirs and those with fame taking control of their own narrative. Some celebrities have raised the bar for what constitutes a great celebrity memoir in an era where social media blurs the distinction between privacy and publicity and shortens the gap between stardom and the unfamous. In a post #FreeBritney culture, the public is aware of how destructive and misleading both the paparazzi and media are towards celebrities, especially those that are women. Fans are tired of being spoon fed fluff. What they now crave is authenticity.
by Daniel Hewitt
To offend or not offend—that is the question—and it’s an important one when it comes to comedy. It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine, and the goal of comedy is to make people laugh whether it’s comedy in literature, stand-up comedy, or sitcoms. There are times when we all need to throw our heads back and laugh out loud. Comedy’s use of language, wordplay, innuendos, and puns can all be used effectively--without being offensive.
by Amanda Smera
Few things make me angrier than when people read something I’ve written and point out my talent. The intentions, of course, always come from a good place and they mean no harm. And yet the bitter taste in my mouth never fails to feel discrediting. I want to scream from the top of my lungs: “I’VE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR A MONTH STRAIGHT, FOR YOU TO DARE AND ASSUME IT WAS JUST ‘MY TALENT’?!”
It feels like an outdated myth that talent is a bigger force, that either you’ve got it, or you don’t. I have hundreds of thousands of school essays, Harry Potter fan fictions, and journal entries that prove that I was no Jane Austen at the age of five or fifteen.
by Ariana Tucker
Go onto any major book-selling website and you’ll probably find a section dedicated to Black authors in the list of genres and subcategories. Amazon calls theirs “Amplify Black Voices” and lists it among other popular keywords like “Award Winners” and “Celebrity Picks.” Barnes and Noble calls theirs “Black Voices” and lists it among other browsing options such as “Large Print Books” and “Trend Shop.” Click on either link and you’ll see popular books written by Black authors, most of which are the same books we’ve been talking about for the last five years.
Barnes and Noble is the worst offender of this. On their featured page of “Fiction: Black Voices,” only four were published between 2020 and 2021 (Colson Whitehead’s Harlem Shuffle is their featured book from 2021). The rest are classics by Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison and books by authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Sister Souljah, which were published in the 2000s and 2010s. Amazon at least offers a more up-to-date list of recently released books by month and recommendations from editors and Black icons like Billy Porter and Rick Ross. You can find almost any genre and any subject here, the only difference is that the authors are all BIPOC.