This title is a haiku. It’s not very good. Love it anyways.

I have a beautiful broadside for your viewing/ reading pleasure! This time it features some angry, sensual poems by Lori Lee and Marianne Hales Harding. Angry and sensual you say? Yeah, they’re both angry and sensual and some other things at the same time. Have a look!

October Broadside

Do you know what ‘broadside’ means? says that a broadside is a piece of paper printed on one side. It also says a broadside is the whole side of a ship that is above water. Just thought you ought to know.

BUT it really means that Lori Lee and Marianne Hales Harding are published authors, and they may now brag about their accomplishment whenever they have the occasion. They can impress skeptical friends, stave off annoying relatives, and woo other publishers who require proof that you are for real.

If you would like to get your work on a broadside, then step one is to come to Helicon West tomorrow (October 8) at 7:00 pm in Logan Library’s Bridger Room. We’ll be hearing from Amanda Luzzader, K. Scott Forman, and Michael Darling. We’re in line for a horror/ Halloween themed Helicon West (I think), so bring someone along whose hand you’d like to hold.

Want more information? Look here: Helicon Oct 8

Step two to getting on a broadside is to bring your own creative work seven minutes or less and read it at Open Mic, the part of the show where you come out and show everyone how wonderful you are! After our featured readers, you have an opportunity to dazzle us all with your talents. Repeat this step as necessary, which is to say, read often. Getting your work out in front of a small supportive audience is a great practice for bigger things–and by itself, it’s still a worthy goal. Share often. Come drink free coffee from Cafe Ibis to pep yourself up.

Step three is to submit your piece to star.coulbrooke@ for consideration. You may also ask her questions, or you can go to USU’s writing center site for more information.

This is another haiku. I’m afraid it’s no better than my first.

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger

The River Offers No Explanation

Okay, internet friends: water is important. Not just for drinking, but for minds. At Helicon West last Thursday quite a few people spoke about their connection with rivers and other bodies of water.

Also, we watched an interpretive fly tying demonstration. What is Helicon West? Basically, it’s a community of creative people who want to laugh and gasp and see the whole world. So we write stories and watch fly tying. Did you know flies are beautiful, works of art?

Today’s post will focus on one particular set of river poems: Star Coulbrooke’s. Go to 5:45 to start her segment.

My favorite line from her first poem, “River in the Night,” is somewhat clipped out of the middle of another phrase. It says “those who dam our history with their thirst, who never understand water, the need for rivers to carry it, to carry us…”

Internet friends, listen to how the poetry wends and flows. Phrases sink into each other, which is why I had to snatch a segment from a larger sentence; they flow and move and join up, each thought hinging on the next and previous thoughts. This poem is fluid. The whole thing makes up a river.

Which is wonderful, because Utah is a dry, dry state. Go spend some time away from air conditioning and faucets, and I guarantee you will crave water that flows and moves on and on and on.

The next poem is called “Snag.” Again, Star has this great strength of making the structure of her descriptions match the thing being described: this one starts out chaotic, a bit messy, objects following one after the other describing the mess around the river…and it ends similarly, but with a gentler touch. People connect with the water. And it is passion for them. I hear an environmental theme in Star’s poems that is more than just “don’t break nature.” She focuses on people’s connection to the environment. It’s for the benefit of our hearts to have a healthy and available outdoors to run to.

The last poem is “Rock Beach,” and I think it’s a gospel hymn. This time the river is “essential as breathing, as sleeping, the river is food for the soul.” And this poem comes with a solution to the previously posed environmental problems. “Innovation: don your swimsuit, go to the river, get in, and float.”

In essence, go out and learn to love what’s there. If people care about something, if you care about something, the you’ll protect it. And if you want to care about something you must know it.

Unintentionally, Star’s poems contrast Justin’s piece (go to 12:45; it’s laugh-out-loud funny…and kind of gross) about his disturbing experience on a cruise ship. Even though he was on a boat, the only water he touched was the community hot tub. I don’t think it healed his soul and mind and heart…at all.

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger

Want Some Dubious Advice?

I have high hopes for a raucous good time tomorrow–because tomorrow, of course, is Helicon West, and authors Chadd VanZanten and Russ Beck are coming. And their flyer–see below–is hilarious (as a side note, Russ Beck’s blog is also hilarious and worth a visit). It looks like we’re going to get some funny stories and bad fishing advice. What more could you want out of life…other than tiny gummy bears? Therefore, I am excited and you should be too. Because if Chadd and Russ say really funny things I won’t have to work hard to think of a title for the next post.


Helicon Sept 24 small

We’ll hold Helicon West in the Logan Library Bridger Room–that’s 255 North Main. It’ll be at 7 pm. There will be free coffee.

Also note that YOU might speak too! If you’ve got a creative piece under seven minutes that you would like to share, we would love to have you sign up for open mic and perform it. It’s your chance to shine, and shine you shall.

…Disclaimer: Perhaps dubious advice about fishing is really, really serious business. I cannot personally guarantee the hilarity of bad fishing advice.

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger

I Can’t Wait for My Poem!

There’s a nice balance in John Engler’s story, currently titled “The First Day of Something,” between moments of humor and stretches of sincerity. The educator has an epiphany that he’s not completing the mission he set out on and undertakes the first steps of a journey to get himself back on course. It’s a really nice concept; many people start out their goals with the best of intentions but get dirtied on the way by expectations and systems and what-have-you. I’m always impressed by people who realize they can do better than meet standard. I also love the wit in this piece. In the first bit John looks over the room and sees people. He bothers to care about them, and cares about them to laugh a bit about their idiosyncrasies. It’s charming. People should be able to enjoy each other like this story enjoys them.

“And if i’m lucky some student will…point out…how they feel like mindless drones in a soulless maze of someone else’s system, packaged in an intimidating apparatus of GPA’s and graduation requirements.

…Maybe that student will overstate it a bit.

But I know there’s a certain truth behind the exaggeration.”

Also keep listening to hear some cute and equally sincere love poems.

Lisa Roullard reads poems along a theme that she’s collecting for a book called “The Mailman in the Forest.”

You know, I really like mail. I like the way the box smells, ink and paper, and I like waving at the people delivering mail, if I see them–but really, that world is a ghost to me. I don’t think about mail except for a few minutes a day when I go through it. So, you know, there’s apparently a universe of “delightfully absurd” things you can say about mail delivery. Lisa Roullard’s poems have an almost spiritually quiet feeling, like you’ve entered a realm of myths through a mailbox. Here’s some of my favorite lines.

“A bird walks underwater, upstream.”

“For sunken ships, no responsibilities remain.”

On the intimacy of being a stamp: “Before the mailman, before the recipient, the letter writer set eyes on my gentle electric scene and saw what my artist saw, felt what isn’t shown, sunlight on shoulders, and thought of the one he’d written…then pressed fingers against me.”

On the kinetics of being a dog: “Liquid leaps…a self commanded up and he was into a space that almost wasn’t…greyhound of angles, four paw pivot, a vertical disappearance…he unhinges, expands; very proper, his origami…”

On the tranquility of being a mailbox: “I am suited to this solitude, this stillness…I’ll be a nest or a harbor, galvanized…Single wing of a bird, my flag.”

Delightfully absurd indeed.

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger

Open Mic 9/10

First off, thanks to everyone who read. Most people who do probably land somewhere on a scale from denial-of-nerves to repressed terror. Everyone on this video is worth watching, every single one of them, and I picked two people out of an amazing group to discuss how wonderful their creations are.

Brittany McDonald’s poem starts at 3:45. It’s called “In Response to My Dog Having Cancer, I Light a Cigarette.” That title deserves applause by itself and it perfectly sets off the rest of the piece. It’s exposition, mood, brilliant word choice, like a mini-poem of the poem itself. And her first line carries such weight: “Cremation is the endgame of the universe.” That is so punchy. The whole work has this quiet fogginess. It’s sad, but more than sad; it’s poignant, but more than that too. There’s despair, but that’s not all. The details that Brittany chose give off an ambiance. The universe is cruel, life and death are cruel, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it, so all these feelings turn into smoke…or smoking a cigarette. It’s defiant and defeatist at the same time (due to cigarettes aiding the cremation of everything).

And then there’s the dog, too tired to move, sharing death with her best friend.

Haley Tanner’s poem “Conscious” begins at 28:40, and tears immediately into a fantastic extended metaphor/ personification of a relationship/ something literary like that. Different body parts represent the feelings of a relationship: the need, the damage, the things a person does to stay connected even when it hurts. Haley uses ribs and arms and brain to describe a broken love. “Don’t forget about my arms, please, my arms, make sure that they get circulation…” It’s so plaintive. And her blood is like their love, coming out of wounds. And her blood is like her conscious, directing itself to every place. It’s both at the same time. It’s a striking example of ambiguity used not to confuse but to entice. I also enjoy the play on the title. While the speaker is trying to be more conscious and noting the places she’s hurt, tracking the progress of her own loneliness, the other person is not conscious at all of the wounds he inflicts.

Again, thank you for giving your hard work and your bravery to Helicon West so we get to experience things with you. You are all magnificent.

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger

Oh Yeah!

Hey, Internet!

(Now imagine the internet smashing through a wall, sloshing red punch and saying “oh yeah”)…(But don’t imagine it too hard just in case of copyright)

The day is nearly upon us! Helicon West is tomorrow, or, more specifically, September 10th. I shouldn’t use this many exclamation points, I know, but it’s kind of exciting. Finally, we’re all back in Logan and we’re ready to leave our summer jobs behind us and get back into the spirit of poetry-community (that’s a thing, I just know it). As such, Helicon West deserves the care and tender emphasis of this most overused punctuation mark–

Because tomorrow at 7:00 pm we get to hear from John Engler and Lisa Roullard. Their profiles are promising: between them, we’ve got poems, essays, screenplays, articles, stories, more poems, life experience, love of humanity. Just check out the flyer from the last post and see what great talent and enthusiasm we’ve got coming…and you can listen to them. No charge. Oh, my dear internet, I’m offering you free entertainment. If you like coffee, I am also offering you coffee. If you want to share your own creative works without fighting to get into a magazine or publication, I am offering you a supportive and fairly beatnik audience (I can imagine everyone wearing berets and hanging around London). Just bring your poems or short stories or the first pages of your novel or whatever you’ve got. Read for seven minutes or less. Let us tell you that you are wonderful.

So…now that you’re interested, this event will be in the Logan City Library Bridger Room (255 North Main Street). It’ll be as much fun as an advertisement you might see in the summer, featuring a friendly animate pitcher of liquid breaking architecture.

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger

In case you don’t get it, it’s Kool-Aid. Helicon West will be as much fun as a Kool-Aid advertisement.