A New Kind of Home


Logan, Utah has the best group of writers ever. I’ve seen it in all different forms–Helicon West (of course), the writing department on campus, the Cache Valley Writing Center, etc.

I’ve known for a while that we have the greatest people in this area, but last night that sentiment was reaffirmed. A group of us gathered at a fire pit to roast s’mores and read our writing, and a storm came rolling in.

Really, thunder boomed it’s very loudest, there was lightning in the distance, and all our various fliers advertising all things writing flew away in the huge gusts of wind.

Did we give up? Did we say, screw it, let’s all go home?

No. We went inside a random dorm building.

The whole group came inside, regardless of the lack of s’mores, and the strange venue, and we read our writing and enjoyed each other’s company.

Because writing bonds people. The writing community here gives you a place that feels like a new kind of home. A place where everyone collaborates and cheers for each other and maybe we even snap instead of clap. Depends on the day.

So Helicon West isn’t this week, but next week we will be excited to see new faces in the Logan library. Come and feel the good feelings for yourself.

:’) All the cheesiness in one post. But you know you needed to hear it.

Pen Pals


Today at about 11 am, I sat in my Folklore class to discuss humanity (in a general sense).

As my professor began to make a very important point, the pen she held flew right out of her hand and landed on the floor in front of her. She looked at her hand and looked at the floor. We all chortled a bit, because, you know, humans do funny things sometimes.

A boy sitting in the front row laughed the loudest though, and decided to throw his pen on the ground for good measure. (Was it for good measure? Was it to make the professor feel better? Did the professor feel embarrassed in the first place? Where did we come from? Why are we here?)

So the professor and the boy leaned down at the same time and picked up their thrown pens.

While this was mostly just a strange event, it lead me to ponder on the way humans might throw their pen in the ring, if you will. Because here we are, on the brink of the first Helicon West this Fall semester, and I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we all threw our pens in the ring? If we all came and listened and laughed and learned together?

Tomorrow at 7, at the Bluebird Cafe.

Great, I’ll see you there! *Throws pen on the ground.*



Into the West

For the first time in my college career, I wore a hat today. I looked up several different ways to wear fedoras on Pinterest, and ended up going for the “I literally just woke up this way” look, where I put my hair up and leave some curled pieces down, and then gently place the hat on top.

I took the hat off.

I put the hat back on.

I said to myself, “I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of women fails, when we forsake our style and break all bonds of individualism, but it is not this day. An hour of cynics and shattered self esteem, when the judgment of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day!”

More or less.

I said to myself, “Wear the hat, you coward.”

And so I did. I ignored the stares of people at the shuttle stop. I ignored the glowers of everyone on campus. I said to myself, “Wear this hat like you’re proud of it. Wear it like you own it.”*

I walked down the long sidewalk on the Quad, strong and confident, and when I’d almost reached the safety of Ray B. West, where students are encouraged to be unique and proud, my beautiful friend Millie said, “Abi is now my fashion icon.”

The moral of the story is not self confidence! It is not how to get a boosted ego! But it is about trying something new.

And so, my friends, come with me this year to Helicon West where you will feel inspired, welcomed, and refreshed. And you might make a friend or two.

helicon west launch


Join the authors for a Helicon West Book Launch Party

on Thursday, September 8, 2016

7:00 PM

at the Bluebird Restaurant, Third Floor

19 North Main Street, Logan, Utah.

There will be a short reading and a panel discussion (with audience participation) about the value of literary projects such as this one, followed by an open microphone and book signing.

No restaurant service will be offered at the party, but we will have cups for BYOB drinks. Light refreshments and Caffe Ibis coffee will be served. (We hope many of you will order dinner before the event to show your support for the historic Bluebird Restaurant.) Book Launch event is free, open to the public, and uncensored.

Can’t wait to see you there! Maybe I’ll even wear my hat again? Who knows? Either way you’ll find me enjoying myself at this wondrous event.


*I understand that I may sound a bit like I have the beginning signs of Schizophrenia. For your reassurance, this post has been dramatized.


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: https://parking.usu.edu/files/uploads/eveningpublicparking14.pdf

“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