The independent student newspaper of Goucher College

Category archive

Arts

It’s More than the Title – Crazy Rich Asians

by

For the first time in a quarter of a century, Hollywood has made a rom-com movie with an all Asian cast entitled Crazy Rich Asians. Starring Constance Wu, Harry Shum Jr, Awkwafina, Ken Jeong, Remmy Tan, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding and so many more, the lineup is breaking grounds. This book turned movie is hitting the big screen on August 17, 2018 and is one of the few blockbuster films starring Asians in lead roles (but the only one with a full Asian cast) this summer. Backed by Warner Brothers and directed by Jon M. Chu, known for Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Step Up and Now You See Me 2, the trailer for the highly anticipated movie dropped on April 23 on The Ellen Show.

Now, for some, the plot may seem a bit too generic. Rich man falls in love with a poor woman, decides to introduce her to his family, his mother doesn’t think the woman is good enough, and hilarity/drama ensues. But for the Asian American community, this is a huge deal. For, in Hollywood, Asian American representation is not very common since the practice of whitewashing of roles in major films is very frequent. With the most publicized of these being Emma Stone in Aloha, Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange, Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in a Shell, basically the whole cast of The Last Airbender, and Matt Smith in The Great Wall. Even Crazy Rich Asians and the soon to be made, live-action Mulan, almost became the victim of whitewashing too. And so, while YouTube creators like Wong Fu Productions, Anna Akana, and Domics produce lots of stories about the Asian American/mundane experiences of life, and television shows like Fresh Off the Boat, My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Dr. Kim and Master of None fill in some of the gaps with regards to representation for Asian Americans, the impact is not the same.

However, with all the fanfare around this film, it should be noted that the movie does not represent every Asian American experience. I mean, how could it? It’s an hour to two-hour long film! But if anyone wants to hear more about this topic, the YouTube channel FUNG BROS did a video called CRAZY RICH ASIANS – WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WATCH IT AND WHY YOU SHOULD.

This conversation about what the movie means is only a small part of a much larger discussion. No matter how one spins it, Crazy Rich Asians is a step forward towards representation in the media for Asians and Asian Americans.

Photo Credit: Google Images

The Webcomics Vacuum

by

The Webcomics Vacuum

Webcomics are amazing medium, filled will all sorts of experimentation, talent and a diversity of stories, people, and topics that make it wholly unlike any other sector of comics. These comics, though, are severely underrepresented in the wider comic journalism world. Webcomics just aren’t given the space alongside their print counterparts on sites such as IGN, CBR, or the site I work for, Multiversity Comics. The question remains then, why?

Well, that’s what I’m going to try to talk about in this article. Before I try to tackle that, I want to give you an idea of what the webcomic review landscape actually looks like instead of making broad, seemingly baseless claims.

(My Best Approximation of) The State of the Industry

Regardless of what my prior statements may have implied, webcomics are not invisible to comic review sites, as evidenced by the multitude of “best of” webcomic/digital comic lists, and even a category on NPR’s yearly summer series, “Let’s Get Graphic: 100 Favorite Comics and Graphic Novels.” Yet, once the award season has come and gone, they disappear into the ether, with nary a discussion to be see. We hear all about the fantastic in blurbs and yet we come away knowing only a title, a small description and the knowledge that it has caught the attention of enough people. Where is the breakdown, the lengthier analysis of what makes them award worthy? For those that aren’t on the lists but are no less good, where are the highlights of these? Where is the coverage of the new, the strange, the historic?

On sites with recognizable names? Nowhere. Or, more specifically, nowhere prominent or dedicated. Gizmodo has a webcomics tag but it’s sparsely populated. One of its sister sites, Kotaku, has one as well, although it hasn’t had an article since 2016. Newsarama had a column called “The Wild World of Webcomics” which only ran for one, possibly two, years (2011-12), according to the tag on their site. The most recent, and most consistent, webcomics column is from The Beat, though even that one is inconsistent in its updates, with last year being an obvious push to cover more webcomics than in previous years as a part of the site’s “A Year of Free Comics” series. While it seems to have shifted to a bi-weekly schedule since the start of the new year instead of the wildly ambitious attempt at DAILY REVIEWS FOR A YEAR – an attempted feat to be commended – this still isn’t close to the coverage that “regular” comics get.

There are, however, a few dedicated webcomic review sites. These sites tend to be lone blogs run by one person or, in rarer cases, a small team of people. Some are now defunct, such as Wild Webcomic Review, while others, like The Webcomic Overlook, are still alive and kicking. These are also examples of blogs that take a broad, general look at webcomics while there are others take a more specific look. For example, the blog Yes Homo boosts and talks about webcomics that contain positive representation of queer characters.

The only problem here? As is the case with every other site I’ve highlighted, their output isn’t exactly consistent or wide reaching. This shouldn’t be surprising, as they are run by one individual, in their spare time; one cannot expect a single person to be able to comprehensively and consistently review webcomics. The methodology with which these blogs approach webcomics plays into this as well but that is a topic for another day.

As with everything on the internet, I’m sure this doesn’t even come close to touching on the wide variety of smaller blogs that look at webcomics or the scattered posts among other comic review sites. That being said, this is it. These are the biggest, the most comprehensive, the most…well, professional places to find webcomic reviews/analysis on the internet. Again, it’s always possible I’ve missed something but in terms of widespread coverage, there ain’t much.

So, What’s the Deal Here?

My best guesses, and yes, these are just educated guesses, are that there are five major reasons for this lack of coverage. One is that webcomics are a tough medium to review in any sort of regular capacity due to a lack of consistent methodology. Do you review it one chapter at a time? What happens if a chapter is hundreds of pages long? Do you do it by month? Or by number of pages? If something updates frequently, does that mean it gets reviewed more? These questions, and so many more, have to be asked by each reviewer and picking one changes the frequency one can review a webcomic or set of webcomics.

The second is that due to the nature of the medium – lone creators working in their free time on passion projects instead of professionals with an editorial staff – there is a resistance to taking a critical eye to these projects and rightly so. It’s one thing to critique a professionally published DC or Marvel or Image comic and it’s another to critique a single page of a new artist who may or may not be young and just messing around in the internet age.

Third, webcomics are the new kids on the block. They’ve been around in their “modern” form since the publication of Scott McCloud’s fascinating, divisive, and wildly, hilariously outdated yet still relevant book Reinventing Comics in 2001, according to The Comic Journal’s article “The History of Webcomics.” I do realize this article is from 2011 making it, much like Reinventing Comics, wildly and hilariously outdated near the end but it still gives a good, brief look into the webcomic world as seen from over half a decade ago.

But I digress. Webcomics, despite being new, have found their ways in my and many other internet denizens’ lives. Yet they are still fairly niche, more so than “regular” comics. This is in spite of having been around in a similar format for nearly a century and currently seeing a golden age in the public consciousness. The market for reviews of a niche part of a niche medium isn’t exactly a large one.

Hell, even indie comics, as in unconnected to a named publisher like Black Mask or Aftershock, have a hard time finding space alongside the other “floppies” on review sites. You have to have a big name – Terry Moore, Jeff Smith, Carla Speed McNeil – to even be considered for the list.

Fourth, due to the lack of centralization I touched on earlier, finding webcomics, especially new webcomics, is a difficult task. There are, as far as I’m aware, nothing like the Diamond previews for webcomics. If a new series begins, you have to know someone who knows that creator in order to find out or be trawling through the web/hosting platform to find it.

There is also no list of past, published titles that can be easily searched. It’s all disseminated via word of mouth on the part of the reader, the creator or the collective/platform these comics are a part of. Each webcomic is its own world, sometimes a part of a stellar system comprised of many other worlds, other times all alone in the vacuum of space. Travel between worlds only works if you can see the other planets or take a long, hard look at the stars in the sky. Otherwise, you’ll never quite know what’s out there.

And, finally, it could simply be these sites just don’t have the desire to or the staff to cover a wide variety of webcomics. Here is my most speculative point. I do not know the staff numbers of other sites nor do I know the readership numbers on the sites I have cited in this article. However, based on the volume of articles and the number of different contributor names I’ve seen, I can make an educated guess as to the size of the various, non-webcomic focused sites.

Some sites have a small staff. Keeping up with news, “regular” comics and other content such as comics-adjacent TV & Movie reviews takes a lot of work and there may not be enough time in the day to cover them. Additionally, I’m sure a lot of these sites don’t make a lot of money, what with advertising and the way ads work on the internet being what it is, and so, unlike a newspaper/newspaper site, keeping staff members on retainer that work all day isn’t feasible. Again, this is just an educated guess. I don’t know how much money these sites make nor who is full-time nor who gets paid per post.

So, if a site doesn’t have the staff to spare to diversify their content to cover a notoriously tricky, decentralized and niche piece of a market, it stands to reason that there isn’t any desire to push for any consistent or comprehensive – an impossibility, I know – or critical webcomic representation. It isn’t worth it to delve into the history of anything webcomic related or do a retrospective on something like “Digger” or “8-bit Theater.”

If it sounds like I’m being too harsh on these sites, believe me I’m not trying to be harsh or critical of them. This is just the reality of the situation. I could also be wrong about these reasons, although I suspect that some combination of these factors is the truth. Motivations are a complicated and many times subconscious thing, guessing at them is a shot in the dark. Do not think ill of them for their mistakes, they are only human.

Photo credit: Google Images

Goucher Poet: Rowan Youngs

by

As a part of this semester’s theme of community, the Kratz Center for Creative Writing sponsored an event series called “Poetry as Community,” bringing local poets to campus. In conjunction with this theme, the Q has asked student poets to send in their own poems. This issue features a poem by senior American Studies major Rowan Youngs.

Lamp in Three Parts
1.
My friend was born with a lamp for a head.
She has lost the ability to discern between people who truly care about her and those who simply need the light.
It gets worse during the winter months—she’s almost no fun at all.

2.
First and foremost: you are not valuable in isolation. It’s important that you learn this now, so that later when the sadness arrives it can operate un-impinged. Confusion clouds the waters, muddies that which is and that which could be. It’s important that you know this now, before you start to get any bright ideas haha, because the truth is that it can’t. Be, that is.

Without the detritus of the life you cast yourself upon there is simply no need. The necessity for your illumination comes with a qualifier, and it is everything aside from you. See the photo, strangled behind warped glass? See the plastic cup of milk, the lavender handkerchief it kisses and the spot on the couch where the cigarette fell between bare thighs? See the bird? That is the family bird. It is the color of bone marrow and it is loved. It must be seen, too.

You are the silent sentinel.
Function and form, at least theoretically. You specifically have not gotten any younger.
More than anything you are provider of choice. Choice. The moment they are not yet ready for the dark—That is your time. You are never to cry (you can’t) but if you have to (it’s not possible), don’t.

You will be positioned inconveniently. Behind a couch, at an oblique angle, half hidden behind the perennially desiccated ficus. You will be installed beneath a draft or by the bedside table of lovers gone sour. As they fuck, tangled in the stained periwinkle quilt she sewed over long nights in a desperate bid for wholeness you will mourn the loss of something vital and unspoken and you will not look away. You can’t look away, but more importantly, don’t turn from them. Never turn from them. After he wilts he will fix his eyes on the oil painting of a little boy, a little boy in a little house with a large dog and he will howl in the space that you yourself brighten. Isn’t that special? Isn’t that wonderful, how needed you are in this moment and all moments to come?

3.
It came on in the night
Some dark summoning
Probably a test
I’ve heard of these things
Happening somewhere else but
Never here.

The next morning, foggy, slide tomatoes and sea salt down my ripe gullet whole.
Gird yourself for the battle
Fall for your queen so that we might rise
Whorled pads against chilled glass
I begin to unscrew, one turn, two
Turn and turn and turn
Days pass and I look around.
Joints ache
There is dust at the corners of my eyes, tiny drifts like
Fallen snow.
Faded curtains hang open
I hope no one has seen me at work.

The Poetry Corner Part Two

by

As a part of this semester’s theme of community, the Kratz Center for Creative Writing is sponsoring an event series called “Poetry as Community,” bringing local poets to campus. In conjunction with this theme, the Q has asked student poets to send in their own poems along with poetry recommendations. Here are student poets Sebastian Bronson Broddie, ‘20, and Thalia Richter, ‘20 on poets whose work they appreciate.

Sebastian’s Poet Recommendation: Gwendolyn Brooks is well known for crafting powerful poems about racial identity and many hold evidence of her engagement in politics, from when she worked with the NAACP in college. What I most love about Gwendolyn Brooks’s work is her ability to make me feel a great deal more like who I am supposed to be, or to feel a greater appreciation for who I am right now. I always feel like she knows exactly who I am when I read her poems, and that who I am is to be celebrated. Her subjects…sometimes seem to leap right off the page and envelop you in a warm, soft, comforting light.

Thalia’s Poet Recommendation: My favorite book of [Maggie Nelson] is Bluets, which is written as a cross between poetry and prose, ruminating on depression, loneliness, and love through the lens of the color blue. The book begins, “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color. Suppose I were to speak this as though it were a confession.” Nelson’s obsession with the color blue bleeds into her discussions of depression, sometimes eliding the two, so that emotion gains literal visibility. Loneliness is blue, and perhaps parts of love are red, but no matter what, Nelson made me believe in the tangibility and physical realities of these emotions…Her poetry depicts love and heartbreak side-by-side, as though the latter is inevitable, but worth it for the sake of the former…by articulating her loneliness, Nelson creates a sense of shared sadness, and perhaps that can help lessen the burden.

To read the work of Sebstian and Thalia, look here.

Featured Image: Gwendolyn Brooks. Photo Credit: The Poetry Foundation

Goucher Poets: Sebastian Bronson Boddie and Thalia Richter

by

As a part of this semester’s theme of community, the Kratz Center for Creative Writing is sponsoring an event series called “Poetry as Community,” bringing local poets to campus. In conjunction with this theme, the Q has asked student poets to send in their own poems along with recommendations for poets whose work they appreciate. This issue we feature Sebastian Bronson Broddie, ‘20, and Thalia Richter, ‘20. They’ve also shared what they appreciate about each others’ work.

Thalia Richter on Sebastian Bronson Boddie: Sebastian’s poetry has an undeniable individuality. My favorite poem of his, “the love letters of pretend gods,” is a love story built from imagery, like the sound of the speaker’s laughter and the taste of chocolate. Instead of leaning into cliché, Sebastian creates a specific moment, when this pretend god awakens in their tomb and sees their lover again. This moment is visceral, described through taste and scent and touch. Sebastian’s imagery comes from unexpected places and doesn’t relying on sight alone to carry the reader. He always brings a completely unique voice to his poetry and provides an insight into his own thoughts which is not only accessible to readers, but stunning to read.

the love letters of pretend gods
sebastian bronson boddie

there is nothing sweeter than waking up in my
tomb and feeling around in the darkness and silk for you and drinking in your joy
at our reunion. the black is so different with you in it. nothing is
quite like the way your skin tastes when i bite into the meat
of your hand and smell the sap that rushes out, tasting like hello. we are the same,
cut from jewel and geode, made to reflect back. the sun is sinking into the lines on your palm as
we speak; you break off a piece of the sky and taste it, say it is better than twelve
pieces of that fair-trade, organic, $18 chocolate (Ethiopian?)
we bought at the market in D.C. and my laugh sounds like goats
bleating for their milk back. but even this cannot break the moment, standing
facing one another in the living room, aching to kiss ancient dirt away. perfectly silent
as we trace the lines of each other’s godly faces in
our minds, cataloguing how many laughs these cheeks have suffered. how many tears the
skin has harvested. how many flowers will bloom from wrinkles. morning
is not for some time. that is just fine. the moon gives us a new light.

golden shovel poem
line 15-16 of jack gilbert’s “the forgotten dialect of the heart”

 

Sebastian Bronson Boddie on Thalia Richter: Thalia is really good at plucking a piece of nature that I’ve never seen before in poetry and attributing it to the subject of the poem. The nature imagery that she often uses is really its strongest point, because it’s never cliche, and I’m never expecting it; it’s very fresh. Paired with the way that she always manages to imbue the poem with a mythic air, even if the subject is not myth-related, makes for a poem that feels very holy. The images are never expected, and even if the subject of the poem is not particularly startling, it is profound in its quiet magic and air of mystery. It is always a pleasure to read.

Laura Palmer
by Thalia Richter

The pine trees sway together,
holding each other for company
and dry leaves skim the ground,
never touching, but twirling,
stroking the bark,

and she is here.
She’s always been here.
Hair like fox fur,
and her eyes, blue like stone,
or maybe the way
the mountains rest on the horizon.

Her eyelids never quite close,
and her gaze never quite meets yours,
but you can’t stop looking at her,
at her skin shining in the moonlight,
and she is so beautiful.
She is the only person in this whole forest,
except you of course,
and you’re not really here.

There are clouds now, rolling over the moon
the hollows below her eyes are shadows
and she is fading, returning to the pines,
their needles brushing her cheeks.
You want to ask her to come back,
but the trees join hands
and she is lost behind them.

To read the work of another Goucher poet, look here.

To read about poets that Sebastian and Thalia recommend, check out The Poetry Corner.

Featured Image: Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks. Credit: Backtotwinpeaks.com

Black Bolt Vol. 1: Hard Times Review

by

While the Inhuman royal family’s live-action debut last fall was, erm, let’s be generous and call it hot garbage left out on a summer’s day, do not fret dear Marvel fans! The royal king of the Inhumans, Blackagar Boltington (yes, that is his real name) is fairing much better in the comics. Well, better quality wise as his solo-title sees him suffer quite a bit at the hands of the creative team of Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward and the villainous Jailer.

As an introduction to the character of Black Bolt, you can’t do any better than this volume. Collecting the first six issues of Ahmed and Ward’s twelve issue run, the volume is a thriller seeped in cosmic psychedelia complete with a jailbreak, a colorful cast of characters, a deeply flawed main character, and a heartbreaking redemption arc. If you’ve never had any experience with Black Bolt and the Inhumans, the first issue gives you all you need to know through some truly creative and beautiful panels. One such page is modeled after an MC Escher painting and sees Black Bolt walking through the interstellar prison he’s been trapped in. In the background are bits of who he is and how he got here and, later in the series, we learn more and more about his tragic backstory.

Upon first opening the volume, you are greeted by a fairly simple page. The first panel is a black box with some small, white text. It is short. It gives you all you need to know. The next three panels elaborate, slowly revealing that someone has been bound, chained, muzzled. He has no memory of who he is or where he is. The next page sees a voice yell “Name your crimes! Repent your crimes!” before the muzzled man is shocked.

He remembers that he is not a criminal but a hero. A king. He remembers this as he falls into unconsciousness… or something worse. Upon turning the page, the sequence repeats, albeit differently. We know more information this time and as the repetitions continue, we, along with Black Bolt, gain our footing. We began by being disoriented, stuck in the deep black-blue darkness but now, through the patterns, we are no longer confused, and we are ready to escape the cycle. From there the adventures, or more accurately the trials and tribulations, of Blackagar Boltington, the Midnight King, the Most August Ruler of the Inhumans, begins.

In just these few pages, Ward and Ahmed show their mastery of their respective crafts as well as what a truly magnificent creative team can accomplish. Christian Ward’s art is just gorgeous to behold, and Ahmed’s sharp dialogue manages to be funny, heartfelt, dramatic, and most of all, genuine, all at once. Every character is fully realized through Ward’s command of posing and facial expressions. The prison they are trapped within is ever-shifting, massive, and oppressive which Ward manages to capture and convey perfectly.

The comic is bathed in deep neons, both bright and dark, and Ward’s lineless digital art gives the world that constantly shifting feel I just mentioned. He turns every page into a canvas, from the largest battles to the smallest conversations. What is most impressive about his work, though, is his paneling. Let me give an example from Issue four. Crusher Creel and Black Bolt have been chained up and are just talking.
In this scene, Ward does something unconventional for the series so far – he sticks to a nine-panel grid for the Crusher focused flashback sequences. Anytime Black Bolt or present Crusher are in the panel, the comic breaks from the very rigid grid. Let me explain. On one page, the top three panels are laid out as you would expect for that grid: all the same size, all spaced out the same way. Then we get Black Bolt and Crusher talking once again in these skinny panels that are recessed into the center of the page more than the grid panels. Then, for the final panel of the page (which is a shot of a cop car from the past), it is back to the perfect grid panel, placed as if the whole page were a normal nine-panel grid.

The present is visually distinct from Crusher’s past, as one is constructed, a story that has neat delineations, while the other is the present, a messy and tense time. As such, as the flashbacks creep closer to present day, the grid starts to bend and break. There are still nine panels per page but by the second to last full flashback page, the grid morphs, growing to show the increasingly complex nature of Crusher’s life. When we get Black Bolt’s single flashback page, the panels are a jumbled mess, strewn about the page, reflecting Black Bolt’s own view of himself at the moment. Is he a good man? He does not know. Nor does he know how to arrange his past.

Honestly, issue four is probably the strongest of all the issues in this volume and considering all six issues have the same level of quality, that is high praise. This volume and this series is an analysis of Black Bolt, of what it means to be a father, of what it means to be a prisoner. Of what it means to be a good person and how one can reclaim goodness for themselves.
Beautifully written, beautifully drawn and heartbreakingly bittersweet, this is comics at some of its finest. Give it a read.

Featured Image Credit: Google Photos

Coachella 2018: 5 Artists That You Should Know

by

The second weekend of the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is here, and people across the world are gearing up for it. If you missed out on the debut weekend performances, check out various social media websites for live streams of artists’ sets. The Coachella lineup consists of talented artists who may be well-known in pop culture, but not all of them have a substantial following. So why not listen to some new music? In no particular order, here are five artist recommendations based on the Coachella 2018 lineup.
First is the female rapper and singer/songwriter Princess Nokia, or Destiny Frasqueri. Frasqueri began her career in 2010, self-releasing mixtapes on Soundcloud and YouTube with her original moniker “Wavy Spice.” In 2012, she released her song “YAYA” which got the attention of people from around the world. In 2016, she released her mixtape “1992”, which was then made into a deluxe album in September 2017 by Rough Trade Records. Frasqueri makes it clear that she sees herself as a feminist, a tomboy, and a queer woman from New York that cannot be held back. This woman is truly an inspiration, and her music showcases that as well.
The next artists are an alternative rock band from Los Angeles called The Buttertones. They were formed in 2011 by the original members, guitarist Richard Araiza, drummer Modeste Cobián, and bassist Sean Redman. The band is now made up of five members, with guitarist Dakota Böttcher and saxophonist London Guzmán joining in 2015. With influence from genres such as surf music and garage rock, the band has released four studio albums, one EP, and one single over the course of five years. If you like The Beatles or The Sonics, you will most likely enjoy The Buttertones.
Next up is a band that embraces indie-folk, and they are called MAGIC GIANT. The band is a trio, and the members are as follows: Austin Bisnow, Zambricki Li, and Zang (Brian Zaghi). Formed in early 2014, they create songs that sound like artists Mumford and Suns, The Lumineers, and Avicii had a music lovechild, combining banjo licks with electronic sequences. It provides for an upbeat experience unlike any other in the scene so far. The band’s single “Let It Burn” was called “a summer festival anthem” by NPR, and in June of 2017, Rolling Stone named them one of the 10 New Artists You Need to Know.
Returning to the punk genre, FIDLAR is a punk rock band formed in Los Angeles, California. Members Zac Carper and Elvis Kuehn founded the band in 2009 after working at a recording studio together. Brandon Schwartzel and Elvis’ brother Max Kuehn joined shortly after, and they’ve been performing ever since. The band has released two studio albums, three EPS, and numerous singles. In 2015, the band debuted on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and played two songs off of their album Too, “West Coast” and “Why Generation,” and in 2016 they performed on Conan. Full of angst, FIDLAR is a band that doesn’t mess around.
For the final artist, we have South African DJ and producer Black Coffee. His real name is Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo, and he started his career around 1995 in a time when the world was just starting to grow interest in the South African dance music scene. And as the years have passed, Black Coffee has grown to become Africa’s most influential electronic music producers. He has released five albums and one EP since he grew in popularity in 2005. Many of his songs are trance-like, emitting a calm feeling when listened to which isn’t very common in electronic music.

Coachella 2018 may be over in a few days, but these five artists will continue to perform and grow. Give them a listen whenever you have the time. Who knows, they could be a new favorite artist of yours. And if you’re up to it, check out all of the artists on the lineup. Each artist is extremely talented, and all of them have an exclusive performing style.

Featured Image: Coachella. Credit: Leonardo Pierce

Charm City Stories Releases First Publication

by

Baltimore’s New Student Art and Literary Magazine of Mental and Physical Health Debuts

You know an event is a success when there are more people than chairs. On Friday, April 6th, Charm City Stories, Baltimore’s first student literary and art magazine of mental and physical health, released its first publication with a poetry reading and gallery showing.

The slim and bold art magazine features the work of at least five Goucher students, including Natasha Hubatsek, ‘21, Michelle Cheifetz, ‘20, Ruth Diaz-Rivera, ‘20, Donche Golder, ‘19, and Sarojini Schutt, ‘18.

The magazine was founded by Johns Hopkins student Arunima Vijay. Through her experience living in Baltimore, Vijay had begun to notice many experiences with illness in the community around her, as well as the abundance of art. She desired to find a way to combine medicine with art, a desire which eventually led to the creation of this publication. Charm City stories is inspired by the field of Narrative Medicine, which is rooted in the idea that effective and humane healthcare relies on the ability to interpret and be moved by the stories of others.

Starting out, Vijay was nervous about how others would respond to her idea. “I didn’t know if I was the only one who thought there was a need for a publication doing this kind of work,” she said.

As it turned, however, Vijay was not alone in wanting a student publication focused on health. She was able to form a team of editors with three other students from Johns Hopkins: Anuradha Haridhas, Julia See, and their magazine and website designer, Coleman Haley. The team publicized through social media, student writing/art groups, and outreach to the heads of the art and writing departments at Johns Hopkins, Goucher, Loyola, UMBC, University of Maryland College Park, and Morgan University. Through these various outlets, they received student poetry, art, creative nonfiction and fiction, all of which was related to physical and mental health. “The most fulfilling part was the overwhelmingly positive response we got from the community,” said Vijay.

In addition to the support of the community, a student publication also requires financial backing. Charm City Stories was fortunate to receive funding by the Mellon Arts Innovation grant from Johns Hopkins University.
Between applying for the grant for funding, contacting writers and artists, designing the magazine, creating the website, and planning the exhibition, Vijay estimates that, altogether, putting together the magazine took several hundred hours. “It’s a year’s worth of hours and effort,” she said.

The publication opens with a poem from Goucher student Natasha Hubatsek entitled “maybe that’s another morning.” Hubatsek’s free verse poem wanders from crisp detail to sensory snapshot, tracing the thoughts of someone asking and answering the question of why they keep on getting up in the morning.
Further into the publication, Michelle Cheifetz’s contemplative poems, “Don’t cry,” “What isn’t,” and “science: Rome,” slide between italics and regular font, images and ideas, beauty and destruction. Cheifetz and Hubatsek both read from their work at the gallery showing and magazine opening.

About halfway through the magazine, Donche Golder’s poem, “This is what you need to hear, and why” speaks directly to the perpetrators of sexual assault. At the end of the poem, the poem’s speaker then addresses a particular yet general “you,” saying, “I could have inserted a name, but this poem isn’t for one person./ This poem is directed at “you,” whoever “you” may be,/ wherever “you” are, for whatever “you” have done wrong./ This is what you need to hear, and this is why.”

Many of the Goucher students involved submitted to the publication because they were in a writing class with Professor Katherine Cottle, and wanted to see how their work would be received outside of the classroom and the Goucher community. It appears that the response was largely a positive one, as the publication features the work of so many Goucher students.

The current team of Charm City Stories editors, consisting entirely of JHU students, hopes, in future years, to have more students from other schools involved in editing the publication. They would also like to have a broader audience, more submissions, a larger event venue…and more chairs.
To read the publication online, visit charmcitystories.com.

If you’re interested in applying for an editor position for next year, click here to fill out an application form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeV8pkhuw70NKOcwf_rL-jcQe-CIFfAuf3sSIrOTzwAHm_TZA/viewform

Featured Image: Charm City Stories Logo. Photo Credit: Charm City Stories Facebook Page

The Way to a Convoluted America’s Heart is Through the Stomach

by

For the older more metropolitan foodie generation of our parents and older cousins, David Chang may be a familiar name because of his restaurants, most notably Momofuku and NoodleBar. For us Millenials/GenZ-ers, David Chang is a bit more well-known because of his appearance in a Buzzfeed Worth It episode. (If you are still unsure, go back to the episodes “$13 BBQ Ribs Vs. $256 BBQ Ribs • Korea” and “$17 Fried Chicken Vs. $500 Fried Chicken” by Buzzfeed Worth it.)

However, the reason that I introduce this foodie to the Goucher public is because of Chang’s Netflix Original show, Ugly Delicious. The show came out in the tail end of February, and I spent one of the days of my spring break binge watching seven episodes of it (I had already seen the first episode). Now, the reason this is a solid show is not due to the influential names like Steven Yuan or Jimmy Kimmel who make guest appearances. Nor because of the mouthwatering foods like dumplings and fried chicken. But because of Chang himself and his unabashed personality as an American with a neo-metropolitan, Generation X outlook on life and food.

Unlike all other food shows on TV, Ugly Delicious does not have Chang teach the audience how to make obsessive and obscene foods. Nor is he trying the craziest of concoctions out there, giving a bad reputation to food joints and countries around the world. Instead, what Chang does is ask blunt questions about food and cultures, giving way to a thinly veiled political exploration.

To give the run-down as to why this is a political show that is not to be ignored is because when one delves deep enough into the food culture and the culture of the food, there comes the point where one must discuss racism and appropriation and wars and bloodshed. And in this day and age, when food seems to be the only thing worth bonding over, us inhabitants of the 21st century should know more about what we put into our body other than the calorie intake or dietary status. Now, as for Ugly Delicious, Chang overtly confronts the political issues. Sometimes it is addressing the unknown but omnipresent biases and racisms that plague the consumption of food. Such as why when eating Chinese food, one may feel as though MSG is destroying the body but when gorging on a bag of chips the only thing felt is that New Year’s resolution slipping away. But other times Chang outright asks political questions, giving insight as to why some people in the world think a certain way, such as when Chang talked with a Vietnamese restaurant owner who was a refugee in the 70s, over a meal with shrimp and crawfish. They discussed at one point how 40 years back the Vietnamese were fighting the KKK for their ability to work but now were hesitant when it came to wishing for a less complicated way for other refugees to go to America or other democratic nations. Chang has a way to get people to open up, be it pit masters in Tennessee or sushi masters in Japan, and while he challenges his audience’s beliefs, at no point does he try to change those ideals. However, ever so slightly he gets one to think and see things from a different point of view.

America is a melting pot. School House Rock sang about it; teachers teach about it, writers write about it. However, even with that, we have barriers to the type of foods. Everything is of a particular category, and when arguing against those put in place boxes, questions emerge. What qualifies fried chicken as authentic? What makes a pit-roasted pig BBQ but a Peking Duck not BBQ? What Chang does so honestly, is that he tastes, learns, watches, talks, and asks the questions that aren’t always asked but may be at the back of our minds.

So, while it is not the food itself that kept me listening for most of the day, I’m okay with that because the conversations that were going on about the food, cultures, and politics behind everything made the show a success.

Featured image: Chef David Chang. Photo Credit: Google Images

Goucher Students Published in Charm City Stories

by

On Friday, April 6th, Charm City Stories, Baltimore’s first student literary and art magazine of mental and physical health, will release its first publication. The magazine will feature the work of at least four Goucher students: Donché Golder, Natasha Hubatsek, Michelle Cheifetz, and Ruth Diaz-Rivera.

Print copies of the free publication will be released at Johns Hopkins University at a gallery exhibition in the Second Decade Society Room of the Center for Visual Arts from 7-9pm. The publication will also be available online at charmcitystories.com.

Charm City stories is inspired by the field of Narrative Medicine, the idea that effective and humane healthcare relies on the ability to interpret and be moved by the stories of others. The first annual publication builds on the collaboration of writing departments at Johns Hopkins, Goucher, Loyola, UMBC, University of Maryland College Park, and Morgan University. The first annual publication of the free magazine is sponsored by the Mellon Arts Innovation grant from Johns Hopkins University.

One day, Goucher writing professor Katherine Cottle asked her writing students to submit at least one piece for publication before they left class, and this was the assignment that led to the publication in Charm City Stories for Donché Golder. Golder, ’18, submitted a poem, entitled “This is what you need to hear, and why.”

Through his poem, Golder explores themes of healing and accountability. “Without beating around the bush,” he said, “the poem is about sexual assault. The bulk of the poem addresses the agony of those who have been effected by sexual violence/abuse and the last four lines drive the point home: ‘I could have inserted a name, but this poem isn’t for one person./ This poem is directed at “you,” whoever “you” may be,/ wherever “you” are, for whatever “you” have done wrong./ This is what you need to hear, and this is why.’”

Golder, a 4th year English Major, Professional Writing minor, was inspired to submit for Charm City Stories because, he admitted, he hadn’t been published since seventh grade. “I’ve come a long way since then and I think it shows in my work,” he said.

To find out more, visit charmcitystories.com.

1 2 3 6
Go to Top