Confusion Avoidance Strategies

Would you like to avoid some confusion and, depending on how sensitive you are, raw terror in the near future? Then keep reading.

This Thursday is Helicon West and we will be meeting, as usual, at 7 pm. But here’s the catch. We won’t be in the Logan Library. Not at all. We’re in the Merrill Cazier Library. On the Utah State University campus. In Room 101, which is just behind the first doors. Someone will forget and show up in the public Logan Library. They will feel all sad and lost in the Bridger Room, and if they’re really uninformed, a bit terrified. Did they forget the day of the week? Are they late? Are they a ghost, lost in this world and unable to see the living? Don’t let it be you! Write it on your hand. Set up a reminder on your phone. Staple a note to your forehead, you habit-dwelling creature. Merrill. Cazier. Library.

“But where will I park?” you ask.

Have a map:

“And why should I come?” you ask.

Because all these USU students who are probably your friends (and if not, you’d like them anyhow) got published in Scribendi (USU’s literary magazine) and we are going to hear them read, that’s why. There will be stories and poetry. Culture. Humor! Depth! Also there will be snacks, and we are food motivated, like dolphins. So come to the Merrill Cazier Library on Thursday at 7 pm.


See you then!

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger


I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I have discovered how to post the Helicon videos to YouTube without glitches. Yay! The bad news is that for this particular video, a certain somebody tried to hand-hold the video camera (okay, that was me). When I watched the bit with Kasandra’s poem, it took about four seconds before I got all seasick. Thanks, past self. Now we all have to suffer.

“After Fifteen Days on the Kidney Transplant List,” by Kasandra Payne, begins at 5:30. Go listen to it first, I’m not kidding. Then we’ll talk. Start listening. Ready, set, go. I’ll wait.

Okay, you’re done listening now.

That last line sucker punched me as well as anything ever has. I suppose I should have seen it coming after hearing the title, but the rest of the poem is so perfectly disarming. You just listened to it, but let’s rehash.

The narrator wakes up, confused. Nothing’s on fire. The poem’s tone is “sheer hilarity with a side of social observation.” Everyone in the Helicon audience laughs (quite audibly, because I was holding the camera right next to the front row. My goodness). Our narrator falls asleep again. It’s not just a weird happenstance that she woke up, though; it’s her phone, and it’s still ringing.

By this point I had completely forgotten the title. If you asked me what it was I would have lied to you. I was just pleased to listen to this waking-up-is-terrible comedy routine. Kasandra includes such accurate details about a disorienting arousal, and she’s so funny. She also keeps everything just confusing enough to leave a bit of tension; the reader continues the poem to figure out what’s happening.Enjoy and learn from this effective writing. 

Then, with elaborate and cinematic slow motion, the speaker moves one arm out of bed to answer the phone…at one fifteen…in the morning.

There’s a kidney for her son.


Whiplash. Like dunking your head into a bucket of ice water, only the ice water represents all the emotions you are about to inhale on accident. There’s no further elaboration, so everything else the reader feels is pure empathy for this woman, her child, this family, the doctors; it’s adrenaline, it’s the end of the fear, or the beginning of a whole new leg of uncertainty that starts with a pajama-clad car ride.

In the actual real life story, Kasandra’s son survived. The medical team had to get the kidney inside him within hours, and there was indeed a hasty ride to the hospital, some confusion about the husband going to work, a successful operation, endurance through the infection that followed. Life. It’s not in the poem, because the poem is about waking up.

The last line is ice water, and it wakes me completely.

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger



Swenson Soiree

Let’s play a guess-who game.

This person had a bachelor’s degree from USU!!!!!!!

They are considered one of the most important United States poets of the last century.

Their first collection of poetry is called Another Animal. 

Quote: “I’m two eyes looking out of a suit of armor. I write because I can’t talk.”

It’s May Swenson! She’s an incredible part of Logan’s literary heritage, a poet known throughout the nation. This evening, we are celebrating the fact that a hundred years ago, May Swenson turned three.

We really just want to have a party, all right?

And it’s going to be a great party! Herm’s Inn will be providing refreshments, and you can BYOB. We’ll read Swenson poetry, write poetry, have an open-mic portion…it’s going to be great. Other than food, history, culture, poetry, and a lively good time, you should come because I helped make up the name for this party and I’m super pleased with it. Listen to that alliteration. Swenson Soiree. Say it slowly. Enjoy it.

Anyhow, the party is tonight, at 6:30 pm, in Herm’s Inn (1435 Canyon Road, Logan). You and everyone you know are invited. Check out the flyer for more details: Swenson Soiree April2016 (1)

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger

Sea Otters

A sea otter is cute.

But two sea otters are cuter. They’ll hold hands to keep from drifting apart in the waves when they sleep. Think about two best friends drifting in the ocean, paw around paw, content to keep each other’s company, afraid of nothing save loneliness.


Similarly, this post has two attachments. They are, of course, just like these sea otters. Content to drift the waves of the internet so long as they are near each other. The first is a broadside; a performer, the one who loves the limelight. The second is a bulletin about this Thursday’s Helicon West. It’s more the backstage type, the one who moves the spotlight so its lover can shine. Without the notices, no one would come to Helicon West. If no one came, there would be nothing to publish on the broadside.

HW Broadside57 Apr2016

Poetry at Three2016

They’re only as cute as sea otters if you open them. All their adorableness is contained within their graphic design. Read the poetry. Garner the information.

But just in case you don’t read them, here’s the spiel: April 14 is Helicon West. Meet up in the Logan Library Bridger Room (255 North Main) at 7 pm to hear the featured readers, a fantastic group which has a tradition of reading here–Poetry at Three. And since we’re an open microphone series, bring your own pieces. Sign up before the event. Read for seven minutes or less. Get applauded! Be loved. Don’t be lonely this Thursday. Be like a sea otter with its ocean buddy. Come to Helicon West.

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger

Red Poetry

If I were to color code slam poetry, it would be red.

Red like hot embers, last laugh of the fire, heat seeped into the logs glowing, pulsing, Red like the sunset in a city steeped in its own fumes, Red like the inside of your heart, churning your neverending life into your fingers eyes lungs.

And it’s best heard out loud.

To hear some of this passion-laden and wild raw art, come to Helicon West tomorrow at 7pm. Meet in the Logan Library Bridger Room (255 North Main) to meet the USU Bull Pen Slam Team rip some sick verse. We’ll have free coffee and snacks. Check out this flyer (Bull Pen Slam March2016) to see this information formatted nicely.

If you’ve got something you’ve been working on, stick around for Open Mic. Show up a little early, put your name on the sign-up sheet, and read your piece (as long as it’s seven minutes or less). Does that intimidate you? Be brave. Be red.

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger


What we’ve got is a little college town that never sleeps falls asleep because it’s not big enough yet to stay awake all night. Even so, the people have big dreams. There are people who want to build bridges and robotic limbs, people who want to fly or shoot giant lasers into the sky; there are poets and storytellers, too.

The poets and storytellers gather to a place named for the mountain of the Greek muses. Helicon West. They share and practice their art at open mic readings in the city library, in a room tucked into the back corner. And now the Helicon West crowd is making an anthology.

Over the years there has been some beautiful stuff that has echoed around the back corner of the library. And we’re going to publish it. Show it to the world. In the book you’ll find professionals: professors, writers, writing students. There are also amateurs, the people who just love to write.

“I’m excited about the anthology because it’s taking the intangible sense of community we’ve created and making it tangible.” -Alyssa Quinn

It’s going to give the little college town another thing to be proud of, another dream realized.

Please give us money.

But really, it’s a worthy cause. If you aren’t feeling rich, at least lend your love. Be excited for Helicon West.

“I’m not sure how valuable my humble contribution will be, but I think it is so exciting that students are included and have been encouraged to share in this professional venue through Helicon West. It’s been an incredible experience for me, and I have been able to grow so much as an artist because of it.” -Millie Tullis

-Jessica, your friendly neighborhood Helicon Blogger