Morrison’s Mystery Flavored Prose

By: Traci Parker

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(Creative Commons/ Google Images)

Remember mystery flavored candy? When you were little, you and your friends would take turns tearing a piece from a mystery Airhead, and fight over what the flavor was. You used to roll white DumDum pops from cheek to cheek, closing your eyes as your mouth discerned hints of strawberry from notes of lemon.

For me, reading Toni Morrison is just like eating mystery candy; when I crack the spine of each new book, I never know just what to expect, but I know it’ll be something that will invigorate my mind. The very first book I read of Morrison’s was Beloved, and the first line of the novel packed a punch full of literary notes, “124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.” Immediately my brain was throttled by wonder, alarm, and a haunting intrigue that would stay with me far after I had finished the book. My brain felt the way my tongue did when I chewed on off-white pieces of Airheads—confused, inspired, and clamouring for more.

I haven’t read all of her novels yet. I’m savouring them, spreading them out so that I can enjoy the sweetness of her unorthodox prose in waves. Although I have countless favorite quotes from Morrison, I’ve compiled a list of ten quotes that speak to my soul, and I hope they are able to remind you of mystery candy.

  1. “Nuns go by as quiet as lust…”

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Like a welcomed slap in the face, the opening lines of Morrison’s work surprises you, and the sting of her words linger long after you turn the last page. This dichotomy between nuns and lust is the slap in the face at the beginning of The Bluest Eye, my second favorite Morrison novel. The opening line is just the tip of the iceberg; this novel is packed full of thought-provoking, and at times, excruciatingly uncomfortable narratives. It’s a harsh read, but that’s why I like it so much; it shows how much literary prowess Morrison has, to be able to make me physically react while reading her novel.

  1. “But they do not want the yellow heads—only the jagged leaves. They make dandelion soup. Dandelion wine. Nobody loves the head of a dandelion. Maybe because they are so many, strong, and soon.”

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Another important quote from The Bluest Eye, and in this one the moral of the novel shines through. Beauty is the major theme of the novel, perceptions of beauty, European beauty standards, and how beauty is often used as a weapon. One of the main characters, Pecola (who is considered ugly by both European and African-American beauty standards), likens the heads of dandelions to beauty, but is perplexed as to why people call them ‘weeds’.

  1. “Only her tight, tight eyes were left. They were always left…They were everything. Everything was there, in them…Thrown, in this way, into the binding conviction that only a miracle could relieve her, she would never know her beauty. She would see only what there was to see: the eyes of other people.”

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Pecola Breedlove is the complete opposite of the Eurocentric standard of beauty; she is dark-skinned with kinky hair and black eyes. She spends the novel wishing to have blue eyes, which she believes will make her beautiful. In this quote, Pecola is trying to make herself disappear, but she can never get rid of her eyes. I find this part of the novel so relatable; growing up as a black girl in a society that holds Barbie as the standard of beauty, the pain of wanting to be considered beautiful struck me particularly hard. I think Pecola’s blue-eyed complex is a conversation that contemporary American society still needs to have, not just for black girls, but for all girls who feel pressured to be Barbie’s version of beautiful.

  1. “This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live.”

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

This is a complex quote. What I love about Morrison is that I don’t always understand her, even when I think I do. That might seem counterintuitive, but her prose has always forced me to think about my own perspective, sometimes to the point of headaches. I feel that this part of The Bluest Eye holds an enormous amount of meaning, but to relate it to the present day, it reminds me of the ongoing conversation about police brutality in America. When a victim of police brutality dies, “we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live,”  regardless of the situation. Criminality is inexplicably linked to race in American society, and this quote highlights that this reality needs to be expelled.

  1. “When you gone to get married? You need to have some babies. It’ll settle you.’

‘I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.”

Toni Morrison, Sula

Sula is a story about womanhood, about the societal traps women can fall into, and the resistance thereof. It’s about friendship and understanding oneself fully, and being okay with the formation of that identity. That being said, this quote speaks to my soul. I’m a twenty-one year old woman with ambitions to travel the world, to write, and to achieve my PhD. Amidst all of this, I’m always wondering when I’ll find time for a relationship, marriage and children. It’s often unclear when I’ll even find the right person to start this type of life with. With all of my aspirations floating around, I tend to feel extreme pressure to assimilate to the idea of “settling down.” But as Sula says in Morrison’s novel (my third favorite), “I want to make myself.” Day after day, I remind myself that boyfriends will come and go, but what I put into the world, my memories and achievements, and general content, that will stay with me forever.

  1. “Lonely, ain’t it?

“Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A secondhand lonely.”

Toni Morrison, Sula

5 and 6 go hand in hand. Often times, seeing other couples happy and together can make me feel more alone; as if these examples confirm that I’m missing out on something amazing. However, I’d rather have to find contentment in my own loneliness than experience the pain of being lonely with someone else. That is to say, for now I’m happy with being surrounded by people who are genuine to me, my friends and family that help to ease the sting of the single life.

  1. “Some things you forget. Other things you never do. But it’s not. Places, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place—the picture of it—stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened.”

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Let me start by saying Beloved is my all-time favorite book, period. I think it should be a requirement of all Americans to read this novel, since it so hauntingly illustrates the devastation and trauma of American slavery.

This quote is something I’ve ended up living by; the idea that everything we do is stuck in some kind of perpetual way. I’m graduating soon, but I think of this quote when I consider what it will be like to move on—even when I’m no longer at UConn, the memories I made here will remain, and when I go back, the memories will still be there. I love the idea that our memories are like footprints. When you make a footprint in sand, the wind might blow it away, but you’ll always know that you walked there.

  1. “By and by all trace is gone, and what is forgotten is not only the footprints but the water too and what it is down there. The rest is weather. Not the breath of the disremembered and unaccounted for, but wind in the eaves, or spring ice thawing too quickly. Just weather.”

Toni Morrison, Beloved

This quote comes at the end of Beloved, and I’m still grappling with what it means. Beloved is dedicated to “6 million and more”, which accounts for all of the souls lost during the middle passage, or the trans-Atlantic slave trade. My best interpretation revolves around the “breath of the disremembered”, the “and more” or Morrison’s dedication. It reminds me of the cycle of rain; how the souls unaccounted for at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean are recycled into weather. Morrison provides an achingly beautiful depiction of this historical amnesia by fusing images of nature into the memory of the forgotten.

  1. “This is not a story to pass on.”

Toni Morrison, Beloved

At the very end of Beloved, Morrison writes this and the lack of a decisive meaning behind this quote is what makes me love it so much. Is the legacy of American slavery the story that we should not pass on, or something we should not pass on – as in, ignore? After my third time reading through this novel, I still don’t know.

1.“You your best thing”

Toni Morrison, Beloved

This last one is the best; a principle I keep with me on the day-to-day. Morrison focuses on the experience of black Americans, black women in particular, in this country, throughout history, the good, and the ugly. Sethe, a woman who escaped from slavery, is told this quote near the end of the novel, when she feels as though there is nothing left for her. Here, I believe that Morrison has embedded a message for all of her readers, regardless of their background: You are your best thing, through every hardship that you may face.

10 Poems for Graduating Artists

By: Taylor Caron

 

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(Creative Commons/ Google Images)

I often think that I am the only second semester senior with artistic ambitions who is realizing that the coming months may not perfectly correspond with my long-held fantasies as a post-graduate. Maybe all of you, loyal readers, are ecstatic to begin working with one of the four big publishing houses on your first novel, your prestigious MFA program, or the reveal of your first exhibition in the MoMA. If so, that’s wonderful and I’m really happy for you. But unfortunately, this list was not compiled with you in mind.

Recently, I have had the pleasure to interview award-winning poet Kimiko Hahn due to my gig as Interview Editor for the LRR, and she offered some extremely succinct and helpful advice for aspiring poets: “Abandon the roadmap.” This was great news to me considering my roadmap is becoming increasingly less clear as graduation day approaches. It’s helpful to know that a certain aimlessness is necessary to create art, and maybe even just to live well. If nothing else, hopefully these ten poems can help remind all of us non-prodigies of that truth.

  1. Robert Frost – “The Most of It”

“He would cry out on life, that what it wants / Is not its own love back in copy speech, But counter-love, original response.”

You were expecting “The Road Not Taken,” weren’t you? Trust me, I considered it. I went with this poem because Frost doesn’t hide from the despair one feels towards the universe when it doesn’t comply with our wishes as artists and humans. Instead, the universe demands something new from us. I found this poem inspiring because it reminded me that there is no set path to take, both roads are the wrong choice. Frost explains here that it takes time to realize that you need to make your own way, to develop your own version of “counter-love.”

  1. Anna Swir – “The Sea and the Man”

“Laughter / was invented by those / who live briefly / as a burst of laughter.”

Here, Swir reminds us of the importance of laughter in the face of the grave, eternal abyss. The “eternal sea” that she mentions in her poem works well as a substitute for the rapid passing of time toward an uncertain future.  As she describes, sometimes the only logical response against this morbid reality is to laugh.

  1. May Swenson – “How Everything Happens (Based on a Study of the Wave)”

Continuing with our sea-as-metaphor-for-everything theme, this beautifully short poem declares that all motion in nature follows a pattern of advancement and recession. I won’t quote from it here since the words are purposefully positioned on the page to emphasize the wave-like nature of the universe, but I seriously recommend that you check it out if you ever thought to yourself: There is nothing happening in my life right now.

Spoiler alert: You were wrong.

  1. Allison Joseph – “Why Poets Should Dance”

“Boogie is both noun / and verb for a reason, blessings / of motion do you both on page / and stage.”

Allison Joseph’s poem from her recent book Multitudes, which you should definitely check out if you haven’t read it already, encourages all writers to remember to live loudly in order to live well. This poem challenges serious, cantankerous artists to get in touch with the poetic spirit on the dancefloor as well as on the page. Joseph implies that good writing comes from a good life, and living well requires dancing to be fully enjoyed.

  1. Pablo Neruda – “Ode to Laziness”

“That night / thinking of the duties of my, elusive ode, I took off my shoes / beside the fire, / sand spilled from them / and soon I was falling / fast asleep.”

This one is clearly a great motivator for anyone suffering from senioritis. But in all seriousness, the narrative of this poem relays the frequent folly of forcing inspiration. Instead of endless planning and scheduling, Neruda tells his audience to find poetry in the small adventures that the everyman will find relatable. So, take it from a Nobel Prize winner: it’s okay to be unproductive sometimes.

  1. Rainer Maria Rilke – “For the Sake of a Single Poem”

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough) – they are experiences. For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly.”

It was very, very difficult for me to choose only one Rilke poem for this list. If I could simply reprint all of his Letters to a Young Poet for this article, I would. Please check out this series of poems if you haven’t already, it’s a timeless book for anyone considering dedicating their life to the arts. This prose poem is effective in it ability to force us to think differently about what qualifies something as “successful” when making art. For Rilke, it’s not about a career or making a profit. Instead, the point of art lies in the work alone. Sometimes it will take a lifetime for an artist to finally create a worthwhile piece. And Rilke assures us that that’s okay. This poem is able to comfort aspiring artists by explaining that we still have time to create something that we will be proud of.

  1. Langston Hughes – “Wealth”

“Goodness becomes grandeur / Surpassing might of kings.”

It’s impossible to have too much Langston Hughes in your life. Poems like this remind me of why I love poetry and wanted to beginning writing in the first place. My first inclination to join this field wasn’t necessarily about me, or about getting published. Instead, I was drawn to poetry by the empathy and kindness that this medium provides. Hughes is a guiding light in that way. This poem claims that muses should always take the form of both tenderness and compassion. This power, when effectively harnessed by poets of Hughes’ caliber, can overthrow kings.

  1. Mahmoud Darwish – “Psalm Four”

“Blessed is he who eats an apple / and does not become a tree.”

Darwish’s ability to channel the pain of the Palestinian people into stunning, original language is one of the more amazing accomplishments of 20th century literature. The transition from college life to the working world is a frightening one, yet reading Darwish is able to put these fears into perspective. This poet creates a direct link between being a just citizen with the ability to act and think correctly in small situations, and art. I believe that Darwish provides good advice for the struggling artist: remember to pay attention when you’re eating an apple.

  1. Po Chü-I – “Lodging with the Old Man of the Stream”

“In spring he drives two yellow calves. / In these things he finds great repose; / Beyond these he has no wish or care.”

Maybe one of the most important factors in being able to produce good art is being around people who can help to foster that creative process. This poem suggests that this may include rather unlikely individuals. The speaker in this piece is admiring an old man who is only concerned with the simplest and most immediate tasks before him. It’s the kind of concentration that induces a level of ease. I believe that this sense of calm is also needed when applying for internships at magazines and galleries while simultaneously studying for midterms.

  1. William Shakespeare – Sonnet 30

“But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, / All losses are restor’d and sorrows ends.”

This may seem like an unusual pick. However, I’m starting to think that a lot of the anxiety surrounding graduation is not just about the uncertainty of what lies ahead, but rather having to bid farewell to that which is familiar. Shakespeare was good at writing (controversial, I know), and this sonnet ends hopefully by suggesting that the past is always being reanimated through our memories. To me, this is good news. It is encouraging to believe that we will all stay connected in some vague way, regardless of where our lives go after May.

Potato-Ball Days: Spring Cleaning and Rediscovering the Thrill of Pleasure

By: Nicholas DiBenedetto

“Put all your books on the floor.” Marie Kondo The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

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Spring has finally woken up here in New England! Okay, maybe not quite yet, but I’m sure I heard him rustling around in his room. Honestly, I don’t know how he can sleep in so late; I know the paper says teenagers need extra sleep, but it seems unhealthy to be waking up past noon on a regular basis.

With spring comes spring cleaning. It’s been an intense reading season for Long River’s staff this year, and now that we have a brief respite with spring break, I’ve been taking advantage by listening to Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up on audiobook and preparing for my annual bout of putting off spring cleaning until next spring. Although I’m not an avid reader of self-help or instructional books, I’ve been pretty happy with the quality of writing in this book, and Kondo makes a compelling case for tidiness and against “potato-like lumps” in the sock drawer.

There’s even an entire section of the “KonMari” tidying method devoted to tidying up your books. According to Kondo, the best way to decide what books you want to keep and which ones you want to dispose of is to gently wake your books from hibernation by removing them from their place on the shelf. As you take them in your hands, one by one, measure whether or not each book gives you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it. “Remember, I said when you touch it. Make sure you don’t start reading it. Reading clouds your judgement.” This kind of tactile approach to literature is fascinating to me: having read the book in the past, using touch to access how urgently you feel about a book before you can mentally make excuses for or against it feels like a more honest approach to discover what kind of literature has really taken a foothold in your psyche. Whether or not this is actually true, I can’t say for sure, but I like the approach. As Kondo says, “(i)magine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?”

Taking inspiration from this section, I laid out my books on the floor to see which ones caused a visceral reaction in me, and tried to reason out why I might be drawn to them.

Bad Bad by Chelsey Minnis

Even though this book has been on and off my shelf for about a year now, it actually doesn’t belong to me. A professor lent me Minnis’s book of poetry when I was looking for recommendations on contemporary poets. I promise that I will return it when we eventually go out for tea! Nevertheless, I’ve always felt Minnis’s writing bore a heavy weight. Her trademark ellipses have been described as “bullet-holes that remain after Minnis’s speaker takes shots at the reader,” and I definitely feel that. While some might be tempted to skip over the lines upon lines, pages upon pages filled with ellipses, I couldn’t help but feel like I had to trace over each one as it disrupted the white space on the page, somehow making the blankness blanker. This deep silence not only compounds the book’s heartbreak and frustration, but also amplifies its deadpan comedy while Minnis explores her frustration with poetry. In the first of 68 prefaces she writes “(l)ike if I were to carry around a turd and pretend it is my baby…” Poetry is a smelly burden, this book makes me feel like Swiss cheese (in a good way).

Travel in the Mouth of the Wolf by Paul Fattaruso

I stumbled on Paul Fattaruso’s first book by chance: a friend who hadn’t even read the book passed it along to me, and I read it early on during the summer of 2016. I’m ashamed to say that I read the majority of this book on a plane from New York to San Francisco. It may seem like I’m demoting this book to ‘plane reading material,’ but I can guarantee this book goes far beyond that. Somewhat centered around the story of a young man named Iple going deaf and travelling to Antarctica, Travel in the Mouth of the Wolf feels like it defies back-cover synopses. It feels incredibly expansive despite its short chapters, moving from Antarctica to Argentina and, finally, to the afterlife. This is perhaps reflective of Fattaruso’s background in poetry, having received his MFA from the University of Massachusetts in 2003. All I know is that I often find myself thinking of Fattaruso’s ex-president “flirting and dancing a tango, saying, ‘Please, call me Harry. The lady smiled and blushed… (s)he was Valentina Vladmirovna Tereshkova, the first woman in space.”

Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary by Harryette Mullen

I have a bit of a sentimental history with this book. I had a brief stint in the hospital during the spring of 2015, and while I wasn’t allowed much during my stay there, this book was one of the things I got to keep. An exercise in daily writing, Mullen wrote a tanka every day for a year and a day in order to explore the connection she had with herself and the natural world. That collection of tankas became this book. Having access to a book where the author is writing about her own exploration of the world around her was something I was incredibly thankful for when all I had to look at were a few hallways and a window that faced a brick wall. Now, I’m not saying this book is perfect. Given the short form and the daily writing, there are natural ebbs and flows in the book where some entries are more compelling than others; Mullen does resort to the inevitable tanka about writing tankas eventually, but how could you resist if you were doing it daily? The habit of this book, and the faults that come with it, are what makes it a human exercise for me, each tanka an actual piece of urban tumbleweed floating in, then out of the day.

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

This book is sad. So sad. That’s not a bad thing though. If you’re looking for a book on grief then look no further. I remember when I was working my way through the first read of Wave; I made the mistake of trying to tackle it in a public place. I can honestly say this is the only book that has made me cry in public. Wave is the story of Deraniyagala’s struggles with grief and depression after the loss of most of her family—her children, her husband, her parents—to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. However, it isn’t just Deraniyagala’s tragic story that carries the book for me; when she writes about her family, and revisits memories of when they were alive, I feel like I am experiencing the loss of the book all over again, the water taking everything back with the undertow. Deraniyagala’s grief is honest, and her writing teaches me about the power of grief over and over again.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

This is another book with some sentimental value. I was actually really bad at English in high school; like I would fail the practice CAPTs (Connecticut Academic Performance Tests) for reading and writing. I have no idea why, but all of that changed with this book. Suddenly, terms such as ‘symbols’ and ‘metaphors’ and ‘character development’ made sense to me. Either Kate Chopin or my junior year English teacher did something right with me. The Awakening follows Edna Pontellier through New Orleans at the end of the nineteenth century, and details her… awakening, as she begins to struggle against the conventional expectations of her as mother and wife. It’s been a while since I read through this book, but I remember the aesthetic to be particularly engaging: the hermit Mademoiselle Reisz and her devotion to the piano, the hideaway bungalow in New Orleans, the looming threat of societal gender roles as Edna’s husband consults a doctor over her independent behavior. Perhaps I’ve put off rereading it because I want to keep the memory of this book encased in glass, but I know that is not the way.

Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins

Robbins’ collection of poems makes me feel incredibly divided: at times I’m drawn to the kitchen blender concoction of references, such as Whitman mixed with CSI: Miami. At other times I find that making connections between disparate feels somewhat fruitless, and teeters on frustrating in its lack of accessibility. I concede that a lot of Robbins’ poems are most likely too smart for me, and I might pick up on a few more of the references if I was better read or in tune with certain facets of popular culture. While this effort can be frustrating at times, I find myself coming back to this book again and again, like it’s a puzzle I need to solve. Conversely, there’s often a simple pleasure in the humor of this collection of poems, the speaker of “Things I May No Longer Bring on Airplanes” lists “1. Boxcutters / 2. Airplanes” as being contraband, and bemoans the impossibility that results from the rules: “How will I open my box on the airplane??” Although difficult, this book inspires a feeling of challenge in me, one that I want to overcome someday. Until then, I’ll just continue to find myself repeating the couplet from “Plastic Robbins Band,” “I stitched my penis, which I hate, / onto the face of my friend Kate.”

No one belongs here more than you. Stories by Miranda July

One time I went to Cafémantic by myself, planning on reading this book and treating myself to a dinner out. While it wound up being pretty awkward eating dinner out, alone, especially with a large party having fun at the table next to me, which amplified my singular state at the other table, July’s collection of short stories made the uncomfortable experience worth it. Perhaps it was because I empathized July’s speakers, behaving as, if not more, awkwardly. One speaker, describing a dream she had on October 9, 2002, describes how, in a low-ceilinged world where people are forced to crawl on their hands and knees, a member of the royal family “had lifted up the back of my skirt and was nuzzling his face between my buns. He was doing this because he loved me. It was a kind of loving I had never known was possible. And then I woke up.” I often find myself in a similar position. I’m not sure what I mean by that. July’s characters are some of the most human, and most relatable I’ve encountered, and this collection of short stories makes me excited to read her novel The First Bad Man, which is on my shelf, but I plan to read it sometime. Even now I can hear Marie Kondo’s voice in the back of my head: “Sometime means never.” It will happen! I swear!

Point Your Face at This: Drawings by Demetri Martin

Every time I pick up this book I inevitably ‘read’ at least half of it. A collection of drawings, diagrams, and quips by Demetri Martin, Point Your Face at This is inescapably delightful. There’s something both charming and relatable about his simple cartoons, and the phenomena depicted, like the schadenfreude of several people thinking ‘fall, fall, fall’ while a man pilots a unicycle across the page. When Martin navigates the architecture of the letter ‘A’ to find the “(a)ctual A hole” I can’t help but be entertained no matter how many times I see it.

These are just a few of the books that I found sparked some visceral sensation as I tidied up the shelf. I’m sure I could find more if I kept going, but maybe that’s a job better left for next spring…

Oh My Pod! Podcasts to Keep You Entertained Over Spring Break

By: Mairead Loschi

Podcast microphone

(Creative Commons/ Flickr)

Spring Break is finally here and it couldn’t have come sooner. You’re probably off to an exotic location or maybe even your bed (both options sound pretty amazing right now). Midterms are over and this is your chance to relax and get away from all of that reading and studying. On those long flights to Puerto Rico or the hours whiling away in your room (ignoring the dishes and laundry your parents have started to nag you about) I am sure that you will be craving entertainment. Sure, you could binge-watch something on Netflix. However, I would like to offer you a better option… listen to that podcast you’ve been thinking about for so long.

No matter what mood you’re in or what you hope to get out of your relaxing spring break, let my podcast suggestions be your newest form of escapism for this week of leisure.

1. The Podcast(s) for Your Inner Crime Detective

At this point if you haven’t listened to Serial I have only one thing to say to you: just do it! Seriously, do it now. Don’t continue reading this article until you’ve finished it. Okay, you’re back. At this point you’re probably full to the brim with theories and even more questions than you have answers for. In that case, I would suggest that you move from Serial to Stranglers, a new podcast from Earwolf. Strangles investigates the Boston Strangler murders that occurred during the 1960’s. If you can get past the strained Boston accents and old-timey sound of some of the voice actors, I promise that you’re in for a real treat. I enjoyed it because of the New England elements of the story, the mystery and theories I developed along the way (more than one killer?), and the larger social dialogue it fosters about the general populist’s fascination with serial killers and violence against women.

2. The Podcast to Enjoy from Your Bed

In Your Dreams is a hilarious podcast that will captivate all those mystified by the unconscious or haunted by their dreams. Now is your chance to analyze all those crazy nightmares that always seem to pop-up around midterm season. In this new podcast from Earwolf, comedians Chris Gethard and Gary Richardson dive into dreams that have been submitted by their listeners. They provide absurdist analysis, coin new phrases along the way (reality-mare anyone?), and ultimately make you question your own psyche. I’ll freely admit that I’ve gotten inspiration for stories from the strange dreams that have been shared on this podcast. The only downside to this series is the shameless plugs for In Your Dream’s sponsor: Casper mattress. However, the occasional annoying commercial is well worth it for the belly laughs that you’re sure to have. I love that this podcast popularizes dream analysis and introduced me to so many great comedians along the way. It’s definitely worth checking out.

3. The Podcast for When You Don’t Want to Watch the Bourne Trilogy on Its 700th Rerun

Let me tell you about one of my favorite podcasts. Yup, I said it. It’s an amazing series and I will stand by that comment. The name of the podcast is Homecoming from Gimlet media. It’s a radio drama that is so beautifully layered that it creates a completely immersive listening experience. Above all things, this podcast excels at characterization. It has taught me how to write dialogue more effectively than any other medium. This podcast demonstrates that what is unsaid can create both mystery and be more impactful than that which is explained. A few things I LOVE about this podcast are: 1) the voice talent features actors such as Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, and David Schwimmer, 2) the psychological thriller and military elements, and 3) the “behind the scenes look” for each episode includes the books that inspired each podcast. I would classify Homecoming as a must listen. I’ll admit that if you listen to this podcast and nothing else on this list, I’ll be content.

4. The Podcast for When You Need a Bedtime Story

I found Myths and Legends last summer when I was looking for someone willing to read me a bedtime story (and yes I am a 21 year old quasi-adult—what’s it to ya?). The host, Jason Weiser, has an undeniably soothing voice and is as talented at research as Beowulf is at being a bad-ass epic hero. Weiser can weave a tale like an English major (maybe because he was one). His podcast covers everything from folklore and mythology to fairytales. Things I dislike about this podcast: nothing except having to wait a week for the next episode to be posted. Things I love about this podcast: both the incredulous sarcasm (see The Little Mermaid episode) and the nerdy jokes.

5. The Podcast for Laughing with Your Squad

If you love girl power, abbreviations, and laughing until you cry then you’re sure to enjoy 2 Dope Queens with comedians Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams. The tone of the podcast is so seamlessly candid that it’s as if you’re talking with your best friend about each episode’s topic: social issues, angry uber drivers, boyfriend drama, and strong women. Each podcast features three guest comedians who share their own hilarious and relatable stories. I’ll admit that I’ve been inspired to write a few poems from the human stories shared on this series. 2 Dope Queens has also encouraged me to incorporate more comedy into my fiction pieces. The thing that I like most about this podcast is how diverse the voices, stories, bodies, and experiences are while still resonating with the listener. I always feel happier and more empowered after I listen to this series.

6. The Podcast for Fangirling Over Your English Professors

If you want to bask in the creative talent of your fellow students and achieve a more thorough understanding of your favorite professors, I would definitely recommend that you check out Professors Are People Too. UConn’s Ali Oshinskie uses her podcast to interview both her peers and professors, allowing her audience the chance to really get to know the person standing in the front of their lecture hall. Episodes feature Gina Barreca, Cathy Schlund-Vials, and LRR’s fearless faculty advisor Sean Frederick Forbes (O Captain! My Captain!). A must listen for any UConn student!

7. The Podcast for Your Love of All Things LRR Related

The Long River Review has its own companion podcast. The intro episode will be out next week. Listen in for a sneak peek into the making of the Long River Review, hear readings from poets and authors, and LRR staff interviews. Listen to it! Shameless self-plugs for days!