Feature Story

May 6, 2014

When Will the World Learn?

By Tatiana Smith in Creative Writing Program, Feature Story, LRR, Nonfiction, Uncategorized

When I was in high school, I went to a leadership conference in Washington, D.C. my sophomore year. The experience was truly incredible but looking back on everything there is an experience that sticks out among the rest. When my father and I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

While at the conference, some of my new friends and I had talked about the museum. They told me that the museum was unlike anything that they have ever experienced before. That there was a room full of shoes, and something as simple as that had hit them like a ton of bricks. I had empathized, the way that people do when they hear about a tragedy or think about a past one. I had thought that I had understood. But I hadn’t.

There were three floors to the museum and when you enter you can pick a card. On the card is the picture of a victim of the Holocaust. You find out their name, where they lived and if they had lived or died.

http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/united-states-holocaust-memorial-museum-washington?select=bAbsOtQmqJ8Rs3xaK-PzTQ#bAbsOtQmqJ8Rs3xaK-PzTQ.

It had reminded me of the movie Freedom Writers. I was excited. I know that that’s a strange reaction to a place so representative of a great tragedy in history but I was. I wanted to know more, to really understand and I felt like I would get that from my visit.

We took the elevator to the top floor and began looking around. In all honesty, I don’t think that I can recall exactly what I saw on that floor. My experience left me with a few moments that have stayed with me in the years since my visit. But before I tell you those, I want you to know that my dad and I spent three hours in that museum. I think that we were probably on each floor for about an hour. And at the end of our visit, I’m not sure that we saw everything there was to offer.

I remember three things so vividly it’s like I am standing back in that museum again. I had expected to see the room of shoes since my friends had mentioned it, but I didn’t really. When I walked down that hallway, there a set of railings on either side of me with piles of shoes behind them, it was difficult to not take notice.

http://www.whiteeyebrows.com/washington-dc-day-3/.

There is a poem right above written in English on one side and Hebrew on the other:

We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.

We are the shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers

From Prague, Paris and Amsterdam,

And because we are only made of fabric and leather

And not of blood and flesh,

Each one of us avoided the hellfire

- Moshe Szulsztein

Something about seeing the piles and reading that poem it made you think. It hits you. Further into the museum what I saw next was like a punch in the gut.

holocaust museum dchttp://laurenlikesmuseums.wordpress.com/.

In the middle of the room, with the floor cut out with a space probably at least ten feet high was a cart. One of the same train carts that people had been taken to the camps in. Visitors had to walk through the cart, seen the bare and cold metallic inside and when you walked out, if you looked into the pit, there were scattered pieces of luggage. I don’t know what it was exactly about it but something about it moved me. As unbelievable as it sounds it changes you, at least a part of you. And I couldn’t help but feel that change begin as I walked slightly dazed away from the cart. And the third manifestation that has stayed with me was this clay model of the people.

http://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/holocaust-gas-chambers-were-designed-by-topf-und-sohne-company-who-knew/

The people at the camps, as they got off the buses, as they left their belongings behind, as they were separated, as they were led to a small room, as they were forced to strip down, as they were sent to the gas chambers. Dozens upon dozens and dozens of people led to their deaths: men, women and children. And for what? Because they were different? Because Hitler convinced his army that the people that he chose, that were unlike him, didn’t deserve their lives? What gives someone the authority to decide something like that?

My visit to the museum, just like other aspects of my trip, changed me. It wasn’t an abrupt shift but an evolving change that is always expanding. And that visit, those three hours, upset me. But what upset me more is what I see today. So many lives were taken and destroyed by these camps, by the war, by the man, and yet the world hasn’t learned. There is still racism, homophobia, sexism, religious differences that end in bloodshed, violence; there is still genocide. I look at places like the Congo where tragedies like these are still active and the world drags its feet in their interference and in the meantime, more children become monsters, more women are irrevocably violated and people murdered.

And the worst part is the ignorance of it all. The information may not be in the paper everyday or on every night’s late night news but it is out there. There are articles upon articles of the genocides, wars, human rights violations and more going on around the world. There are advocates writing these articles, making speeches, mobilizing rallies, writing memoirs, volunteers giving their time and yet so many people are in the dark. The information is out there, there is a wealth of knowledge available to the world, to us. The literature is waiting to be read and still there is hesitation. How can we build a better future, how can we expect the world to heal itself if we only ever maintain the role of bystander? How can the world ever evolve if we never learn from our mistakes?

http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/united-states-holocaust-memorial-museum-washington?select=bAbsOtQmqJ8Rs3xaK-PzTQ#xvx7cqoKHiufmCtd2BzydA

 

May 3, 2014

Community-Wide Poem Continued…

By Kalene Wetherell in Creative Writing Program, Feature Story, LRR, Poetry, Uncategorized

Remember that post about collecting poetry in Teds and how we were going to continue to collect more lines on Fairfield way? Wellll…it happened! I know you guys have been waiting on the edge of your seats to see what other lines your fellow students came up with, and I’m sure you need a somewhat legitimate excuse to take a break from studying from your oh-so-exciting finals! So, here it is.

We posted up right outside the library with our little blue strips and our long river review launch party reminders, and began to chase people down. Our opening lines in the beginning started out a bit, frazzled. “Hey, would you like to write me a poem?” Some people may have thought we were their stalkers and others just plain crazy, but that’s the beauty with a guerilla marketing collaboration like this, or any collaboration really. You start from scratch, adjust and then get the hang of things! We decided our opening line would be better served as, “Can you write?” A seemingly silly and obvious phrase, but it got heads to turn. Remember the initial line, retrieved from Art Spiegelman, and by now has been ringing over and over in my head is…

“It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have lost at all.” 

We also chalked this quote on the pavement by where we were standing.

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…and now a variety of inspirational to funny to witty lines from students and faculty who stopped on their busy days to come up with these…

“It’s better to pick yourself back up than be too afraid to fall.”

“I took the path less paved and that has made all the difference.”

DSC00566

“When your love is lost, your whole world is thrown off.”

“Faith!” (Bold and to the point…I like it.)

faith1-1

Side Note: It was extremely interesting to see the different interpretations people had of our original line we showed them. We would tell people to write the next line as if it were their poem. To write whatever that original line sparked in them. Being a psychology student, thinking of the difference in lines we got. Many of these lines could have been dependent on the person’s mood at the time, showing the emotional connection between one’s current mood and their expression of words or interpretation. A lot of it I felt had to do with the person, who they were and what they have been through. It was beautiful really. To approach strangers, that we know nothing about. Give them lines of paper and some really spilt their heart out. Some directed their lines outward to others in a more advise tone way and others made it personal within themselves. Long or short, it was interesting to see the different takes on handling one set of instructions we gave them, based on the same line. Based on the individual and their experiences, these people became not just random people walking on the streets, but humans with experiences.

“memories of first girlfriend.”

“…because life is full of battles and victories but only the people who tried will come down in history.”

“Don’t be afraid to take chances, don’t be afraid to fall.”

“To love and be loved is the greatest happiness of existence.”

“LOVE IS A GIFT FOR ALL, GIVE LOVE AND YOU WILL RECEIVE.” heart

“We are defined more by our failures than by our successes.”

“…unless that love turns to hate.”

“Not all who wander are lost, and if you’re lost definitely keep wandering.”

“And in Uconn’s case we feel the love, and haven’t lost a championship.”

“because it’s always worth trying isn’t it?”

“Although love is truly never lost.”

“The feeling of loss is a void that can never be filled, an eternal loss.”

“Because you have experienced LOVE.”

“love is one of those complicated things that everyone tries to understand and can’t.”

“What if the heart could remember.”

“time heals all wounds, even when you feel it won’t heal the loss of a loved one.”

“The harder you love the harder you all.”

“When I think about the time he kissed me by Swan Lake, I know why.” (yes I’m saying “AW!”)

“You are so beautiful.”

“NO to graduating…illiterate.”

I lost my universe in a bottle.”

the_universe_in_a_bottle_by_gizmolove20-d6d3tty

“Money and Power.”

“Lost Love Loses the Lover.”

“Jump into emotions without turning back.”

“It’s better to have loved and lost JUST BECAUSE.”

“To lose, helps you you grow. If you’ve never lost, you’ll never grow.”

“I’ve never known euphoria without knowing pain.”

“…for to love is to have all needed in life.”

“Just dance, it’ll be okay.”

Two_dancers

“In loss and pain, we find happiness.” (wise words)

“Taking a chance is better than not trying at all.” (wise words again)

“For to lose is to understand what you had. And that just may have been love.”

“Believing is important!”

“It’s better to have lived and lost than never to have lost at all.”

and for comical relief… “My heart goes th-thump when I look at your RUMP!” (phew, we needed that.)

“For that what is lost never has a chance to dwindle and die.”

” Love is everywhere. Take a second and check it out.”

“COURAGE.”

“love is powerful.”

“Work hard and aim for the stars, but don’t forget to kick back and chill at the bars.” ;)

“Fear is not a good enough reason to not do something.”

“Because without sadness how do you know happiness?”

“…said the bitter rose to it’s many thorns x.”

“…unless it’s a Monday.” (And it was! hah)

“Always be a winner, never lose.”

“Love is Kind Love is Patient.”

“Without love there is no peace.”

“Unless your only loss is your calculator right before you calculus final.” (oops)

AND FOR OUR BATHROOM MONOLOGUES…

ISj51LIVAv0eIbXdUiig2dM3KYvR6_4c2_9b5z8CIL4 Hey… guerilla projects can get a little hands on, down in the dirt, but that’s where you can get the best stuff right?

“Why put off something later you could make happen now?”

“So grasp my hand. Let’s take a journey to the unknown. In love we fall.”

“Celebrate we will, because life is short but sweet for certain.” -Dave Mathews Band

“Cause nobody wants to be alone.”

“You are beautiful, no matter what they say.”

And some comforting advice to our graduates…

“If life gives you lemons, squeeze em’.”

lemon-being-squeezed

I really enjoyed participating in the guerilla art and marketing inspired collaboration and I recommend it to all groups, clubs, and anyone trying to promote or spread awareness about anything important to them. I did not expect to the retrieve the results we did. Sure, you have to be tough and realize there are going to be some people on the street that do not want to participant. But, in a broader spectrum for life, this has taught me you can’t give up hope based on the negative feedback, you have to push through and the positive feedback will be worth it!

Whatever line we got, there was a human behind it, spreading love, spreading advice, spreading emotion. This project also broadened the meaning of “poetry,” for myself and the others I worked with on it. Before form, before poeticism and all the terms that come with it, was just a person. A person trying to express themselves with these words, that are made-up too. Before the words even, everyone is just trying to convey the abstract feelings of love, happiness, sadness, striving, reflecting, defeat, and the list goes on. Even though these words that represent them are made up, the abstract concepts, emotion behind them can not be denied. Expression of oneself, no matter what form, now to me is poetry.

It has also made me realize in interacting with these strangers, had I not tried to interact with these people, I would have never known their sorrow, their hope, their pride. So, before you give the person who got to the coffee counter before you a dirty look, think about the fact that they’ve went through something too. Think about how they can probably relate to one of your abstract feelings of love, sadness or hope. Every single person has loved and lost in some way or another, so smile and acknowledge this “oneness” we all share and remember we are all connected. Thank you for reading and thank you to all that participated in our community-wide poem! And remember, the poem never ends, it just begins with you.

April 24, 2014

We Found Poetry in…Teds?

By Kalene Wetherell in Creative Writing Program, Feature Story, LRR, Poetry, Uncategorized

In honor of the upcoming release of our newest edition of the Long River Review, the team behind the magazine has started a community-wide poem to spread both awareness of this release and to bond our wonderful community by awakening the inner poet, we all have within us. Linked between classes, championships, husky pride, clubs, endless hours sharing the space of good ol’ homer babbige, student union late nights, off-campus, and on-campus activities, the list goes on, why not add lines of poetry to the mix? Doesn’t it sound charming? Well to start off the charm, we decided to kick-start this endless poem at our bar night, at none other, than our very own Ted’s. Some lines are more charming than others. But who said all art is charming? The human psyche is a wide and miscellaneous place capable of creating dark, quirky, happy, and ALL kinds of work. We hope to collect a line of poetry from every Uconn husky on the planet! Aim big right?

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http://www.pinterest.com/pin/278167714457760295/

Our starting line to inspire us is a quote we retrieved from Art Spiegelman, an extremely talented cartoonist, who just recently came to speak at our very own Uconn Jorgenson. The quote is…

unnamed

“It is better to have loved and lost than never to have lost at all.” – Art Spiegelman

I know. Well, I don’t really know and I think that’s the point. The quote can be open to interpretation. It’s one of those quotes that you read once and you love, but you don’t quite fully understand it and the depth it contains. It sits with you and everyday it resonates a little more and you start to understand it in different ways. Feel it in different ways. For the people I approached at the bar though, they didn’t have much time to let it resonate. So, you guys are getting a little preview here. What I asked people to do is, read the quote, and then as if it were the starting line of your poem, what would your next line be? Bounce off the words, let them inspire you and whatever feels right, comes next. Some people said, “I don’t write poetry. I’m not a poet. I’m not a writer.” “Should I rhyme?” “I don’t know what to write!” In which I replied, “write down whatever it makes you feel.” It doesn’t have to continue on from that line. Writing down whatever this line sparked in you, even if it didn’t spark anything at all. Just blurt out the next thing thats comes to you! That is art sometimes. And that is a little bit of you, on paper. There is no “correct” poetry. It can be subjective. Being a “writer,” can be a subjective role in itself. Writers don’t wake up one day with a little man holding a scroll next to them saying, “congrats! your now an official writer.” Writing is expressing yourself. A line of poetry can be pretty much anything. And these are some of the lines we got…

unnamed-1

“The things that I’ve lost are the things that I miss the most.”

(Yes, we are handing out wavy blue paper to write these on, and yes they will be arranged in a ‘river-like’ fashion placed somewhere flowing around campus. So, if you choose to participate in which I will disclose your next opportunity to at the end, you can find your quote and say hey friends! that was me! I’m so poetic. hehe. Or you can remain ~anonymous~ which oh so poetic in itself.)

Now more lines! So, remember it starts, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have lost at all…

Except when you loved poop…then it stinks either way.” (my personal fave)

lvstk

 

“It’s better to have loved and lost than to have loved and lost your keys.” (ha!)

“It is better to have gotten lost than to have never gotten at all.” (Ow Ow)

“But Mac and Cheese was always there for me.” (true)

“To not love is to not know thy self, to not know thyself is to not THINK.”

“…said a man who always lost. He had not a single competitive gene in his system.”

“Unless it’s losing that creepy guy and then you’re in the clear blue sky.”

“For to have lost is to learn that if you have loved enough you had never lost at all.”

“The crash of the wave is not the end, but merely a reflection of the past, present, and future.”

“Truth. I had a boyfriend I loved but then I cheated on him. But I learned alot about myself. We dated for 3 and half years.”

“Is there a difference between love and loss.”

“…and Ted’s bar should be your only cost.”

teds3_487547

“I never knew her real name, but she reminded me of the wind.”

freedom-wind

(THESE ARE YOUR FELLOW UCONN STUDENTS REMEMBER! SOME NON-ENGLISH MAJORS TOO)

“Let love last in the spring, summer, winter and fall.”

“So lose me now or choose to have never met me.”

starting quote: “to have loved and lost is better to have never lost at all…

a sorrowful smile in a happy place.”

“If you ain’t named Spiegelman than you really dropped the ball.”

“I sure drank a lot, I hope I don’t fall.” (getting later in the night.)

“Did she notice me? Would it matter if she did? Would it matter if she didn’t? Of course it does, she’s buying.”

meeting-a-boy-in-a-bar

“Losing something sucks a lot. Especially when you love them.”

“But the first love is always the hardest fall.”

“The chardonnay barked at the wall.”

“The batch of straws groaned heavy with malice.”

“I’m not feeling creative at all. Also said by Poll Wall.”

“But if I have to lose it all. I hope I lost it all on you.”

“Life is like water going down a drain, swirling around the void.”

That’s all the quotes we gathered from that night! Awesome, right? Myself and the Long River Team will be meeting Monday, April 28th, 11:30 AM – 1:30 AM, at Fairfield way handing out more slips, looking for more lines from you! We are also open to students picking out other lines that students have written to inspire their next continued line. REMEMBER POETRY IS ART, AND ART IS EXPRESSION. COME MEET US THIS MONDAY! WERE LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR LINES! WHATEVER THEY MAY BE.

h8qjG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 9, 2014

Battling Birthday Depression: Think Like Your Shoes

By kkaraja in Feature Story, LRR, Nonfiction

Posted on behalf of Abigail Larkin, Guest Blogger.

I am 22 as of yesterday, and I’m wondering what my shoes are thinking.

Yup, you heard me. I ordered these awesome Steve Madden high top sneaks, and they are BALLER. Here they are:

Abby Shoes LRR

According to the tracking number, these shoes traveled from New York to Watertown to Hartford to Cheshire. Lots of driving means lots of time to think and wonder—did they anticipate the moment when I would open their box? Were they nervous when I tried them on to see if they fit? Were they afraid I might think they were too flashy, or that they’d cut me off weirdly around the ankles? Maybe they worried I would return them, unsatisfied.

I wonder how these shoes feel about me. I mean they had to be relieved that I didn’t have athlete’s foot or something like that. They could have gone to anybody, and it’s a known fact that 95% of Americans have really nasty feet.

But aside from that I’m guessing my new shoes think I’m pretty weird, because their maiden voyage was a midnight walk to the cul-de-sac outside my house. I stretched out on my back alone in the dark looking at the light-polluted sky and listening to cicadas.

Everyone knows that birthdays are for celebration, parties, cake, and presents, but they’re also for depression. One of the most effective panaceas for birthday depression is stretching out on the pavement in your brand new sneakers, watching the stars—and if there are no stars because of light pollution, then listening to the sound of cicadas in the summer works almost as well.

So as I was lying on the cul-de-sac outside my house, my birthday depression asked me things like:

“Who are you to be wearing these amazing shoes? I mean, they are so awesome, and you are just another jobless twenty-something living with her parents.”

“Why aren’t you having more fun? Your twenties are supposed to be the best times of your life.”

“You haven’t even been to any Asian countries yet. If you don’t go now, you probably never will.”

“You have no idea what you should do next, do you?”

“You’re right, birthday depression,” I told the hypothetical construct which I imagined in my head as a grimy, overweight clown, “I’m not worthy of these baller Steve Madden sneakers.”

And then I took off the shoes. I had half a mind to put them back in their box, tape them up, and send them back to the Steve Madden factory for a cooler more deserving shopper.

But I didn’t, because later I noticed my old gray Vans peaking out from the depths of my closet. I remember how excited I was when I bought them, and the stiff feeling of the new canvas when I tried them on. I thought they looked pretty darn awesome.

Since then, they’ve gotten worn and dirty. The soles had holes in them from being walked into the ground. There were little pen drawings of flowers and song lyrics on the insides from when I was bored in class.

Those shoes had seen things. They carried me through four years of college. I walked them through snow, sleet, rain, and any other weird mix of precipitation that fell on UConn’s campus. They went to countless house parties and walks through the woods. They climbed up and down dormitory stairs hundreds of times. They survived grease stains from my summer job where I made the money I needed to study abroad, and they survived my exchange in Australia, where I trekked through foreign cities, navigated train lines, and hiked up Mountains Kira and Canobolas. They had been kicked on to giant piles of my friend’s shoes when they were too muddy to be allowed inside the apartment. They have felt sidewalks, carpet, linoleum, grass, dirt, mud, rock, saltwater, fresh water, roots, sand, and the floors of cars, boats, buses, and airplanes.

They were a tired pair of sneakers to be sure. But they were happily retired.

My Steve Madden sneakers are very young. Probably a little bit naïve, expectant of the world. Perhaps they are a little anxious too—maybe they’re not positive that their leather and rubber outsoles will hold up against the different grounds they have to tread. But I know these shoes will hold up to anything I can walk on. They might not know it, but they are made up of some good quality material.

Then my birthday depression loomed up and asked, “What kind of stuff are you made out of?”

And I told it, “I guess we’ll find out.”

 

AbigailAbout the Blogger:  Abigail Larkin is a 2013 graduate of the University of Connecticut. She is an aspiring writer and currently freelances for the Monroe Courier. Her sneakers are still pretty fly.

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