5 Authors to Read Year Round

  1. AUDRE LORDE- One of the pillars of queer literature, Audre Lorde is famous for her many works in poetry, her invention of the biomythography, and her essays. A self-described, “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” Lorde dedicated both her life and her talent to addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classicism, and homophobia. Each of her works remain relevant and tackle social issues that are still found today.

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“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde

2. JAMES BALDWIN-An American novelist, playwright, and activist. One of his novels If Beale Street Could Talk, recently won an Academy Award. His works delve into the effects of racism for both the oppressed and the oppressor. Unlike other authors, Baldwin’s slow approach to revealing racism is at first subtle, but as you travel deeper into both his essays and novels, you are transported into a realistic interpretation of racism–– that racism is not just a black or white area, but a complicated and messy grey web of multifaceted and harmful philosophies that need to be carefully analyzed to understand.

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“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” – James Baldwin

3. ELIZABETH ACEVEDO-   Elizabeth Acevedo is an award-winning slam poet and bestseller of her novel The Poet X. The book has gone on to receive: the 2018 Boston GlobeHorn Book Award, the Walter Dean Myers Awards for Outstanding Children’s Literature, the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and the Michael L. Printz Award for 2019. It was also a finalist for the Kirkus Prize. Her works not only blur the lines between prose and language, but they also question today’s philosophy of racism, physical presence, sexuality, and religious faith.

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“Burn it! Burn it. This is where the poems are,” I say, thumping a fist against my chest. “Will you burn me? Will you burn me, too?” – Elizabeth Acevedo

4. ALICE DUNBAR NELSON-Poet, essayist, diarist, and activist. Her works exploring racism were largely rejected by publishers during her lifetime. As a highly successful journalist, she fought against the male-dominated field and was often denied recognition or payment for her articles. Her first collection, “Violets and Other Tales” (published in 1895), is referred to as the first-ever short story collection ever published by an African-American woman. Best known for her prose, Alice Nelson is one of the few authors of her time to portray the complicated reality of African American women during the Harlem Renaissance. Her portrayal includes women as intellectuals, addressing topics such as racism, oppression, family, work, and sexuality.

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It is dark, like the passionate women of Egypt; placid, like their broad brows; deep, silent like their souls. Within its bosom are hidden romances and stories, such as were sung by minstrels of old. From the source to the mouth is not far distant, visibly speaking, but in the life of the bayou a hundred heart-miles could scarce measure it.

– Alice Dunbar Nelson

5. OCTAVIA E. BUTLER-

A multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, she became in 1995 the first Science-Fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. Her work changed the very grounds of Science Fiction. She shifted the idea of white male heroes saving other people’s, to allowing the reader to see people of different class, ethnicity, education, and gender and to contemplate them in new contexts. Her work often reflected contemporary issues, such as California Prop 187 which attempted to deny immigrants their rights before it was deemed unconstitutional.

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The thing about science fiction is that it’s totally wide open. But it’s wide open in a conditional way.” – Octavia E. Butler

Please comment and tell us your favorite authors below!

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The Epidemic of Dead Print Publications and the New Digital Age

By Anne Jonas

Image Source: https://bit.ly/2Xsk4xR

Could closing bookstores be an indication of the rise of digital media? This question came to mind as two major events shook the BU Humanities Community. The first event being the closing of our Barnes & Noble in Kenmore square, and its relocation in West campus. The second event being the reduction of our newspaper, The Daily Free Press, from a weekly print publication to a predominantly digital version, with printing only occurring along with paid advertisements. While our Barnes & Noble has not closed, it’s relocation made me think about the notion that bookstores are fragile, dying creatures under attack by our new digital age. Moreover, the DFP’s shift from print to digital raises important questions and queries about how journalism is using–– and promoting–– digital technology over its print counterpart. This article, therefore, seeks to understand the ways in which the internet is simultaneously a kiss of death for bookstore chains and print publications, and a breath of life for journalism.

An article by Forbes describes Barnes & Noble as an “unstoppable goliath” at its peak in 2005. Since then, however, it seems that bookstore chains, such as Barnes & Noble, have been fighting a losing battle. The New York Times reports that Barnes & Noble has “been struggling for many years and has closed about 10 percent of its stores since 2011.” This slow decline is perpetrated by none other than the internet, specifically, by Amazon. Between 2015 and 2017, Amazon has opened 15 of its own bookstores and has taken its place as the number one bookstore chain in America.

What makes this phenomenon perplexing is that indie bookstores, by comparison, are flourishing. NPR reports that indie bookstores are up 40 percent since 2009, and that there is no stopping this new “phoenix rising from the ashes,” reporter Paddy Hirsch remarks. A similar resurrection is occurring in journalism.

While the internet seems to be harming bookstore chains, it is paving a new pathway for journalism. In a report by American Press Institute, researchers say that “the future of journalism will increasingly depend on consumers paying for the news directly, as content distributors like Facebook and Google take up the lion’s share of digital advertising dollars.”

Image Source: American Press Institute https://bit.ly/2oW9ly0

What this means for journalism is that there will be a greater demand from subscribers digitally, as well as a demand for digital news sources. American Press Institute reports that “53 percent of Americans pay for news, including subscribing to newspapers or magazines, paying for news apps, or donating to public media.” Within these subscribers, about 66 percent “of them who use Facebook use it several times a day (compared with half of older subscribers), and many say that discovering a news source through social media was a key factor in deciding to pay for it.”

Social media has become a fully-fledged force that has impacted all parts of our daily lives. From waking to sleeping, we are often glued to our phones and screens, not only as a means to connect to our friends and family, but to stay connected to the world. The report explains that “for both groups, print and digital subscribers, social media is a major part of this frequent news acquisition. Fully 73 percent of news subscribers now say they get news from social media.” The study concludes that “any forward-looking subscription strategy has to lean more digital, even if the current subscriber base is in print.”

The American Marketing Association corroborates this importance of digital media with their review of The New York Times’ 2017 “The Truth is Hard” televised advertisement. The advertisement was “the newspaper’s first brand campaign in a decade.” In just 24 hours the advertisement garnered “more subscribers for The Times than the paper had gained in the preceding six weeks. The first quarter of 2017, when the ads debuted, was the Times’ best quarter ever for subscription growth. In the second quarter of the year, The Times passed 2 million digital-only subscribers, a first for any news organization.”

The prospects of digital journalism are promising and pose new, unexplored opportunities for growth. While members of the BU Humanities Community are deeply saddened by the reduction in print publications, there is hope. The DFP publishes digital content daily and serves as a beacon for independent student-run publishing. I am excited to see where digital media will take this publication. And who knows–– maybe, someday, print publications will rise again like a phoenix from the ashes.

Whether print or digital, connect with Cambridge Editors to help realize your written work!

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5 Exercises to Escape Writer’s Block

Hey everyone! I’m Victoria Valley, one of the two new interns at Cambridge Editors, and a Graduate Student from Emerson College’s Editing and Publishing Program. If you are like me and enjoy both reading and writing, then you may have suffered from the dreaded affliction, Writer’s Block. If you have yet to experience it, allow me to explain: writer’s block is, the inability to write or to think of what to write. Also, some who glare at their manuscripts whilst sitting in the corner of their offices have been known to call it “Hitting the Wall” or “The Pit.” If this is true for you, here are five – yes five ­– ways to cure yourself of writer’s block.

  1. Walk

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Henry David Thoreau, is said to have walked up to four hours a day to help his writing. A leader in the Transcendental Movement, he created an essay known as “Walking” or “The Wild,” which proclaimed that modern people are too distracted by civilization and that allowing our natural side to the forefront of our minds would help create a much needed balance in our lives. So let those juices flow! Get up! Allow yourself to forget the paragraph you desperately need to write and enjoy nature. You don’t need to walk up to four hours a day! A simple 30 minutes might make all the difference. This exercise was a life saver for me as an undergraduate! I found it difficult to start my day and was also extremely shy. Forcing myself to walk outside for at least 30 minutes a day not only helped me with my writer’s block but also helped me to explore my neighborhood. By incorporating walking into your life you not only can escape writer’s block but you can also explore your neighborhood as well!

  1. Outline Your Ideas.

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Now let’s change the format. Instead of re-writing the same five sentences, draw a picture. Start by drawing a circle and writing your idea on the inside. Create five outer circles with arrows pointing to each of them. Now set a timer for one minute. In the span of one minute, write every random word that comes to mind in each of the outer circles. Repeat this process three more times. The first few bubbles tend to hold little meaning for me, but the more concepts you create, the easier it is to form new strings of ideas.

  1. Experience Art.

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Go out and find a local art gallery. As you walk around the exhibit, write down a few lines of your first impressions on each piece. If you are unable to walk through a gallery, find an art website and write down your first impressions. Writing will always inspire art and vice versa. By focusing on visual thoughts, your mind will hopefully explore new inspirations and ideas.

  1. Use Writing Prompts.

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Writing challenges can inspire new ideas and allow your brain to work outside the box. These challenges come in large variety and are available for every genre. Writing prompts are easy to find over the Internet and are generally free as well.

Here is one to get you started: Pretend you are the owner of a large company. You are forced to fire one of your top executives. For ten minutes, write in letter format why you are removing this person from your company.

  1. Play Story-Telling Card Games.

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If your Writer’s Block is contagious and your friends need inspiration as well, then I suggest story-telling card games. These games typically consist of a box of cards that have been illustrated with pictures or words. When laid out on a table, they allow for a narrative to be created. The person who produces the best narrative from the cards wins the game. Some story-telling card games are: The Hollow Woods, Once Upon a Time, Above and Below, and The Machine of Death. This last suggestion is my personal favorite way to shake writer’s block because you also get to relax with friends!

Writer’s block happens to all of us, and with some time and patience anyone can escape it. Hopefully, one of these options cures your Writer’s Block and you can continue your project. Is there a routine I have not mentioned? Please, comment below sharing what you do to escape writer’s block!

 

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5 Books to Keep You Company on Valentine’s Day

Hello Readers! My name is Anne Jonas and I am a new intern at CambridgeEditors. I am an English major at Boston University, with a double minor in French and Women’s Studies. When I am not in the classroom, I enjoy exploring Boston, smashing the patriarchy, and binge-watching French TV shows on Netflix.

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If you are a single lady like me, then you know that Valentine’s Day can make you feel a little isolated or left out. But I’ve got just the fix! I have chosen five books that transform romantic clichés into awe-inspiring narratives. These books are not your typical Nicholas Sparks heartthrobs or your Fifty Shades of Grey heart-racers. Rather, they are books that look at love through different and unconventional perspectives, which made me think about the genre of romance and why we read it in the first place. So, I challenge everyone out there to find company in a book today. Get into some comfy clothes, make yourself a big cup of tea, find a cozy nook, and grab one of the five books below!

  1. Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel Fun Home

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Fun Home is a graphic memoir written and illustrated by Bechdel, following her relationship to her father from childhood to adulthood. Self-described as a “tragicomic,” the graphic novel addresses the innerworkings of a dysfunctional family with the witty humor of an angsty teenager. The book explores themes of father-daughter love, self-love, and first love. If you like visual aids while reading and a quirky, nuanced sense of humor, I would highly recommend this book.

  1. Ian McEwan’s Atonement

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Ian McEwan’s Atonement follows a tragic love story of mistaken identity in WWII-era England. The book centers around Briony, who, as a young teenager, falsely accuses her sisters love interest of rape, thereby separating the two for life. The novel explores themes of guilt and shame, as well as the “happily-(n)ever-after” trope of postwar fiction. The book has been adapted into a movie featuring Keira Knightly and James McAvoy (*swoon*). For those who love a moving, Titanic-esque tragic love story, this is the perfect book for you.

  1. Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

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The Color Purple is an epistolary novel, containing letters exchanged between Celie, a rape survivor and social pariah, and God. This novel takes a soulful look into the struggles of navigating trauma as a queer woman of color in the early 20th century. It looks at love between female outcasts, and delves into themes of sisterhood, colorism, and feminism. This book is perfect for those looking for a spiritual, yet contemporary reflection on love, gender, and race.

  1. Toni Morrison’s Beloved

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In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Sethe’s love for her daughter, Beloved, is so great that she kills her in order to save her from the wrath of slavery. The novel follows the chaotic relationship between Sethe and Paul D, who are both haunted by the ghost of Beloved and then visited by her doppelgänger. For those who enjoy a good spook, I highly recommend this novel. This book has also been adapted into a film which features Oprah Winfrey as Sethe. Grab this book if you want a challenging, haunting read on the complexity of maternal love.

  1. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

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Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is a bildungsroman that follows Jane Eyre through her abusive childhood, her education at an all-girls orphanage, and her eventual position as governess to the mysterious Mr. Rochester. The novel explores the social taboo surrounding large age-gaps in relationships, mistresses, and what love is like with a physical disability. If you are a fan of period pieces, this book is a great way to escape into the elusive lives of the 19th century English elite.

If you are writing a novel of your own, or if you’d like to connect with our team of expert writers, check out the CambridgeEditors website. However you spend this holiday, enjoy the best wishes from the team over at CambridgeEditors!

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It All Started with Coffee…

In a time-honored tradition of the literary arts, our latest story began in a coffee shop. CambridgeEditors founder, Harte Weiner, met with Somervillian poet, Doug Holder at Bloc 11 Cafe. Holder wanted to get the inside scoop on the life and work of a seasoned editor.

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These kindred spirits discussed everything from W. H. Auden to the Cambridge-Somerville arts scene. You can find the full article on The Somerville Times.

Doug HolderPhoto credit: Jaclyn Tyler Poeschl

This month, its Holder’s turn to be in the spotlight, as he was recently named February Artist of the Month by the Somerville Arts Council. Holder’s love of poetry was sparked  in the 1970s when he stumbled upon a copy of On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, and he has been writing and teaching ever since.

Bloc 11 2Photo credit: Eater Boston

While CambridgeEditors is proud to work with writers and editors across the globe, it is hard to imagine setting up shop anywhere besides this city by the Charles River. Decades ago, acclaimed poets and editors would gather as part of Boston’s Saturday Club. Holder and Weiner’s meet-up and hundreds more like it prove that same spirit of artistic community pervades this metro area to this day. We feast on coffee, on scones, on Lowell and now on Holder.

To all our Cambridge- and Somerville-based artists, thank you for making this place such a vibrant arts community! We love working with you and living beside you.

 

by Veronica Wickline

 

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A Time for Memory

As another birthday passed me by last week, I sifted through the memories surfaced by my friends and family. My mom calls me every year on my birthday and repeats the same story: “Twenty-one years ago today, I was sitting at the pool wondering if I’d be going to the hospital…”

The cycle of another year makes me reflect back on my past: my sixteenth birthday spent sweating in a humid North Carolinian summer camp, my tenth birthday spent jumping into the icy water of Lake Roaming Wood in Pennsylvania, and my twentieth birthday spent looking out at the Manhattan skyline from a Hoboken skyscraper. I love examining memory, the way we recall individual and collective events. Therefore, I thought I would share some books that deal with memory in unique and interesting ways:

  1. The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

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In The Sound of Things Falling, Vasquez captures the lives of Bogotans and gringos during the Pablo Escobar years in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Colombia’s transition into a modern age after his assassination in the 1990s. Vasquez explores memory and nostalgia in its complete form and in a pre-form, “the nostalgia for things that weren’t yet lost” as he describes it. Piecing together a narrative that won’t conform to linear structure, Vasquez keeps readers fascinated on every page.

  1. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

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The Reason I Jump is a brilliantly touching book written by a then-thirteen-year-old Japanese boy with autism. In it, he answers important questions about people with autism that are never broached, like: why don’t you make eye contact, do you not like being touched, and what are your flashback memories like? In Higashida’s answer to the last question, he writes, “the trouble with scattered memories is that sometimes they replay themselves in my head as if they had only just taken place – and when this happens, the emotions I felt originally all come rushing back to me, like a sudden storm.” A book filled with beautiful illustrations and an intention to connect us all, I highly recommend you read The Reason I Jump.

  1. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

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O’Brien’s famous book about the Vietnam War is often debated over whether it can be considered nonfiction or fiction. Much of the book examines the ideas of truth and memory, and what makes something real. O’Brien discusses the difference between “story-truth” and “happening-truth,” as he calls it, and asserts that fictional stories can tell the emotions of memories better than the actual memory itself. Without a doubt, The Things They Carried deserves a couple reads.

Birthdays, especially milestone birthdays like a twenty-first, are times for reflection and nostalgia. Where did I come from? How much have I grown? I love to look back at books like The Sound of Things Falling, The Reason I Jump, and The Things They Carried during this time because they remind me that memory fascinates us all. Each person approaches it in a different way. Whether it’s nearing your big day or still several months out, I recommend reading these phenomenal books.

-Colleen Risavy, Intern

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A Call to Modernize the Swedish Academy

Swedish Academy

In May, the Swedish Academy, the group responsible for choosing the Nobel Prize in literature, was involved in a scandal that rocked the literary world.

Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of former Academy member Katarina Frostenson, was accused by eighteen women of sexual assault and harassment. Arnault was in charge of a cultural organization called Forum, which received financial support from the Academy. According to reports that are under investigation, Arnault used cultural power gained from the Academy to commit misconduct against aspiring writers.

After the story was released to the public, Sara Danius, The Swedish Academy’s former permanent secretary and first female permanent secretary, was forced to step down from her position, then left the Academy altogether. In the following weeks, eight of the eighteen members, both men and women, left the Academy. As it stands, there will be no Nobel Prize awarded in literature this year.

While this scandal is another sad story of men using their authority to overpower women, it also reveals a need to modernize cultural organizations like the Swedish Academy. The Academy was much respected by the international community, therefore, a lot of work needs to be done before they will be trusted again. Bjorn Wiman, cultural editor at Dagens Nyheter, said, “With this scandal you cannot possibly say that this group of people has any kind of solid judgment.”

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Sara Danius

Some of Danius’s enemies within the Academy claim that the assault allegations are exaggerated and Danius was a weak leader who needed to be forced from the position of permanent secretary. They pointed to the importance of tradition in protecting the image of the Academy. However, others claim that she was ousted because she threatened the male-dominated tradition of the Swedish Academy. The first female permanent secretary introduced initiatives toward modernization that were not well-received by all.

Alexandra Pascalidou, a Greek-Swedish journalist, is a proponent for change in the literary community. She believes that the cancelation of the Nobel Prize this year punishes authors, so she is running her own prize, an inclusive prize. People all around the world are able to vote on the prize’s website for one of 46 candidates. On August 14, the polls will close and a panel of a literature professor, two librarians, and two literary editors will then choose a winner from the four finalists.

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Alexandra Pascalidou

The New Academy, as they call themselves, seeks to be a more accessible space than the Swedish Academy. Instead of a panel of old guard academics, Pascalidou is involving people who interact with literature on many different levels. Although the hope is that the Swedish Academy will take on some of their inclusive measures, Pascalidou is not convinced. “I don’t think they will adopt what we’re doing as these are people who express very elitist views on librarians,” she said. “That’s very sad. Why do they think people in the Academy are the only ones that know about literature?”

Will the New Academy’s winner have a positive impact on the future of literature? Will the Swedish Academy become a more accessible, transparent organization? With the New Academy’s winner set to be announced on October 14, and the future of the Swedish Academy still unknown, we must wait to see how the literary community evolves. I leave with a parting call to action: vote. Go onto the New Academy’s website and involve yourself in the literary world. If the Swedish Academy will not give us room, we will make room.

-Colleen Risavy, Intern

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