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Life and Literature

Life and Literature: Q&A with Writer Bernardine Evaristo, Women Published in 2014 to Read Now

By Cameron Steele

2015 is well under way but it feels like an appropriate time to reflect on one of my least beloved holidays. I’ll say it now: I am not a huge New Year’s Eve fan. I can attribute this to:

A)    a string of lackluster NYE moments (stuck in a broken-down boat in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay with my family, for example, or stuck in an Alabama newsroom covering the first homicide of 2012), and, more importantly,

B)    the reality that I’d rather be at home reading a good book when the ball drops than anything else.

Life and Literature: Trying to ‘See Difference Differently,’ Writers to Read after the Ferguson Decision

by Cameron Steele

I had Ferguson, Missouri on my mind when I first pitched the idea for the “Life and Literature” column series in early September. 18-year-old African American resident Michael Brown was newly, tragically dead, and the public did not yet know the name of the policeman who shot him. The national media just had begun to turn their cameras to the outrage and the protests on the streets of Ferguson.

I was horrified by what had transpired there – and by the maliciousness I encountered in the social media conversations of friends, family members, and acquaintances. These are people who are, like me, white people of privilege. To see them ignore the racial injustice of Michael Brown’s killing in the days and weeks after it happened was infuriating.  

Life and Literature: Not Mockin’ Ya, More YA Dystopian Novels to Read After the Hunger Games and Co.

by Cameron Steele

Katniss Everdeen was my improbable savior five years ago when I spent three days buried under 19 inches of snow.  I was cold, tired, and unsure if I would survive, but Katniss burned the snow away from my frostbitten mouth so quickly that – even today – I still have scars where my eyebrows should be.

OK, not quite. In real life, my normal eyebrows are really normal. And while I did find myself caught alone in an honest-to-God snowstorm in Virginia, Katniss didn’t save my life. She did, however, set fire to the boredom that had settled under the comforters with me, and I spent my few days without heat, water and electricity with a fresh copy of the first Hunger Games book to read by candlelight.

Life and Literature: On Snap Poetry, #InstaFiction, Creative Distractions, and Prairie Schooner's New Social Media Efforts

by Cameron Steele

I am an unabashed proponent of #instapoetry. There are few distractions I love more than taking pictures with my iPhone, sifting through Instagram filters, and forcing myself to quickly come up with short poems to accompany the posts.

Of course, this #instapoet habit of mine is mostly a way to take a time out from the more hardcore poetry writing and increasingly stressful life as a grad student and freelance reporter. But it’s also, I think, more than that: Combining Instagram fun and poetry has also become a way to share my love of language, to force myself through writer’s block, and – above all – to connect through social media to other writers and poets.

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