Book Review

Fahrenheit 451 revolved around a dystopian future where all media was controlled and written literature is banned.  Firemen now possess the job of obtaining and disposing of written literature, and then burning down the house of who had the literature.

The story is about a fireman named Guy Montag who comes into possession of books.  Through interactions with a new neighbor and an old man he met in a park, he discovers the power of literature and finds himself curious as to why the society wants to control it.  One of the key pieces of literature was a King James version of the Bible.  The old man, Faber, used to be a connoisseur of literature.  Guy implores that he help him keep the books that he has taken in secrecy.  Guy is faced with an interesting relationship conflict with his boss, Captain Beatty.  Beatty has employed the use of a robotic dog with venomous fangs.  This dog can hunt down any human by smell.

The neighbor, Clarisse McClellan, was the moral compass.  She died early on, leaving Guy in an internal conflict.  It revolved around the power of literature.  After Guy’s wife ratted him out, Beatty and the rest of the firemen crew hunt down Guy.  He wound up killing Beatty in a heart-wrenching scene and fleeing with some of his books to Faber, who helped him escape the robotic dog.

The robotic dog, while tracking Guy, could not reach him due to Guy being swept down a river.  He then killed a random person, and they pinned it all on him.  Guy then found himself wondering through the wilderness in search of a place that can harbor literature.  He found a group of homeless people who store literature in their minds rather than in print.  Not long after this discovery, the city that Guy fled from is bombed, leaving Guy with his newfound group exploring the enlightenment of literature.

The relationships were complex and thoroughly heartfelt.  The social commentary on how people are so influenced to fight without a cause was tantalizing, and the power of knowledge was evident throughout the book.  Without books and therefore the power of knowledge, the society was left struggling with no way to fight.  Instead, they were easily corrupted to fight against something that they didn’t even really understand.

The only criticism I would have is that the book was hard to read.  It was condensed, and I could only read sections at a time.  However, it was a fantastic story.  The fact that it was told from the point of view from one of the firemen, and not simply a good character who never burned a book, was my favorite part.  Our main character was a part of the problem.  His journey and moral quandaries were what drove this book to be as great as it is.

Be Passionate About Your Art

Most of us here at Mississippi School of the Arts have been asked one simple question: why?  Why are you pursuing art?  Why not do something that is safer, that can guarantee you money?

Art is important for a lot of reasons, and I know we’ve all heard the classic saying that art is what separates us from animals, but it delves deeper than that.  Art transcends us past a point of getting from Point A to Point B, elementary school to middle school to high school and so on, job to promotion, etc.

This is about more than a mundane existence; it’s about confronting fear, life, and reaching into a world that’s different than ours.  A world where, yes, there can be triangles floating behind someone’s head.  Screw it, the triangle can be that someone’s head, and we can make it purple if we want to.

There are plenty of studies out there that art can also physically help you.  It can make you happy, do better in other subjects, and even help your general health.  Even if we set that aside, art makes you connected with not only yourself, but other people.

I wrote a really personal poem when I was twelve years old.  It was pretty good for a twelve year old, if I may say so myself, and my dad was so proud of me.  He started showing it to all of his coworkers, even to our neighbor.  I was so scared because it revealed details about my life that no one knew.  He pointed out that people weren’t actually thinking about me and why I wrote it when they read it.  They are instead letting it reflect inside of them, thinking of their own experiences, and how they can relate to it.  It bonds us together in that way.

It changes your perspective on things.  It can help you back up and look at things on a bigger scale, or get closer and even see tiny little details that you never would have seen.  It can take you to lives that you’ll never have, parts of the world that you’ve never visited, and concepts you never would have thought of on your own.  It can make you feel connected to someone halfway across the world and help you understand their lives.  It makes you nicer, if you let it.

Bad art is important, too.  I might even argue that it’s more important than good art.  I didn’t pick up a pen and suddenly write a wonderful story one day.  I practiced for years, and out of the ten years I’ve been writing, I’d say that I’d cringe at eight and a half of them.

Even if you don’t hone your craft, it’s important to stay bad as well.  Art is about expression, not perfection.  I can’t even draw a straight line, but I’ve started an art journal.  You have to get out of your comfort zone and stop being afraid of feeling embarrassed or not being perfect at something your first time doing it.

You should do something that scares you today.  Try something new.

And by Alan Haehnel is a roughly thirty-minute play that made my jaw drop. The main character, Aaron, starts out on the stage with comparing “the heartbeat of the world” to the sounds “and-and, and-and, and-and.” Actors begin coming in, saying the same thing to the beat. He calls it “the great connector.”

That is enough to compel you to stay interested, but once the plot gets started, it’s amazing. The other actors begin listing their problems, varying from fathers dying of cancer to no one noticing her haircut.

The continuous use of “and-and” in the first section of the play is an amazing auditory effect, especially when they crescendo. Aaron even compares using and to then, but, and because, but he claims that things are happening at the same time. This is the point of the whole play: everything is happening simultaneously. This happens, and this happens, not then, but, or because. He almost tells his story, but changes his mind, and then we get deeper into the other characters’ stories. In between, however, he always says “and” before the next person speaks.

At the end of this, he begins his own story again that happened three nights ago. He changes his mind again, and we are able to dig even deeper into the other stories. It becomes obvious that he is simply dodging the question of what he was doing while all the other things were happening. He even becomes seemingly more frantic as the play goes on, knowing that he is eventually going to have to tell his story.

The use of the auditory sense is only strengthened as the play goes on, as he makes them talk all at once to show how it really is instead of one-by-one like they were all telling the stories. However, it was the only way to make them decipherable. In reality, it is “pandemonium.” He keeps emphasizing how simultaneous everything is: someone having a hangnail, someone’s brother going off to war, someone worried that candy bars are getting smaller, and everything in between.

Once Aaron gets ready to tell his story again, he goes backstage and pulls out his mother, father, a bed with two bodies under the covers, his little sister, and himself (as he was playing video games three nights ago) for visuals! It’s a bit shocking, them all being on separate rolling platforms, but it’s so intriguing. We go through all of the character’s stories again, him still saying “and” in between, and he describes what everyone was doing in his house. What is the most interesting is his sister, Adrian: she was under the covers with someone else.

We then go back to the character’s stories again, which at this point, is getting a little tiring, even with the change of all the stories mixing together in a way that didn’t make sense. Aaron’s slightly ridiculing comments are funny, however. He becomes even more frantic, talking about how smart he is, and he could not have known. At this point, you have a pretty good idea of what is happening under Adrian’s covers.

He then categorizes everyone’s problems with a number, which didn’t seem as important to the play. He ranks and groups them, until his sister comes onto the stage. She keeps asking him what’s wrong, as she still has not told her mother and father what has happened. He keeps apologizing and asking how he could not have known. His sister is obviously strong, remarking that she isn’t as fragile as he thinks. Finally, it is said out loud that she was raped by someone that she thought loved her. This play was just Aaron’s way of processing the fact that he was playing video games, and everyone else in the house was doing something else while she was being raped.

This unique point of view on rape, a little brother the room over, is very interesting. Their moment together was raw, tender, and sweet, as were the moments when he kept trying to talk about his story and couldn’t. This play was a wonderful and unique situation that was a delightful read, even if it did get a little bit repetitive at parts. It was amazing getting to see someone work through something that serious on stage that didn’t even happen to him, but his sister. Seeing his sister at the end was equally amazing. Overall, I recommend watching or reading this play.

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut may be my favorite new book. The way he describes and fully explores each character was a technique that I haven’t seen before. He explored their past and future in a way that didn’t truly move the storyline, but it did make the story the amazing book that it was.

The beginning started off rather slowly, and I almost stopped reading it. He over-explained things that I already knew such as America, but his use of drawings was interesting, especially the crude way that they were done. However, I continued reading the book, and soon, I began to thoroughly enjoy it. Despite enjoying it, I could not read it for long periods of time. Personally, I found that because each line of the book was so packed with information, I could not enjoy it in large amounts.

Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover, the main characters of the book, were not the most interesting characters in the book. I found the other characters to be much more thrilling. However, at times, I found the story tedious whenever it got into a lull. At these points, I would have been much more interested if Vonnegut had compensated with things such as the description. Some parts were incredibly interesting while others simply had to be read through.

However, whenever Kurt Vonnegut began putting himself in the story and revealing personal aspects of his life and it related to the characters, I became enthralled. The only critique I have of this is that I almost didn’t make it to this point because of how slow the book started out. He didn’t have anything that caught my attention until almost a quarter through the book with the mentioning of how Dwayne’s wife died by eating Draino.

He also built suspense well with Dwayne’s “sickness,” and I loved how the chemicals sometimes kicked in, but all of the information that was revealed about how he would break down lessened the impact of the actual event. I thought it was interesting how Kilgore Trout caused this to happen with his own work, but I also felt like this scene didn’t reach its full potential.

My favorite part of the book was the dog, Kazak. Here, Kurt Vonnegut is on his way to meet Kilgore Trout, but he has forgot the character that he made because he edited it out. However, as he describes it:

“I should have known that a character as ferocious as Kazak was not easily cut out of a novel.”

The dog, his very own character, ends up attacking him.

I thought that it was especially interesting how even though the entire book was about Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover meeting and how Trout’s story would cause Dwayne Hoover to have his meltdown, Hoover simply bit Trout’s finger off. They did not turn out to be epic friends at all; this wasn’t a book about two people who became friends or even enemies. It was a story of life and all of the people we meet along the way, their pasts and futures, and how everyone is affected by everyone else. To put it as the painter did, we are all simply bands of light.

“It is all that is alive in any of us—in a mouse, in a deer, in a cocktail waitress. It is unwavering and pure, no matter what preposterous adventure may befall us.”


Oh my God, I ate.  I ate and I ate, and I ate all of the platters until I was ripe and full, and therefore I was EATEN, but I’ll keep throwing up in this toilet out of nervousness and misery as if it will change what I have eaten.

And the belly of the beast is lonely when it is a friend who has put you here.

It’s sad, you know?  I sat there on Sunday, and I felt it coming.  I stood beside Red Bluff with the love of my life, and I cried.  I sat on a hill, and I cried, and then I laid in the road, and I cried.  I didn’t know it was going to happen.  But have you ever gotten… a feeling?  And I took the rock from the side of the cliff, and it crumbled in my hand.  And it was dust.  Everything is dust, and we all fall down, wE ALL FALL DOWN, WEALLFALLDOWN, AND EVERYTHING IS DUST AND NONE OF IT MATTERS

When we had gotten there, we heard about a woman who had fallen off the edge of the cliff.  Maybe it was an omen.

Oh my God, I just wanted to be.  I wanted to be something for once in my life, I wanted to BE SO MUCH.


If it wasn’t May, then it would be okay.  But April showers can’t fix what flowers died in May.

I ate; therefore I was eaten.  Perhaps I should let it be.  Don’t touch the stomach acid any longer.

But it’s 11:25 am & lunch is coming.  Perhaps I should eat once again.

I have other people who depend on me that I need to do this for, other people that need me there, so maybe I should not starve myself.

Perhaps I should eat.  Eat all of their heads right off.


Bratz Gone Wild

We’re stained glass soldiers, spitting sunflower seeds under
wind chimes. I’m eating lemons whole at dinner tables without
a face to impress and hummin’ in the creak of porch swings, trying
to show you I know your favorite indie band. Fog rolls in because
I like the way my breath looks in the cold— it makes me feel like
a dragon. Wind blows; you’re the big bad wolf this Halloween.

But you’re tired of that Bratz cherry lipstick, you want those
candied toxins. Yasmin can’t save you anymore, it’s all about
spitting tobacco in leather jackets with cigarette holes. Your mother
asks you why? that was a new jacket. Tell her something mysterious,
compare it to the holes in society where our taxes flood into.
Steal street signs my father paid for because you need a spine.
It’s okay. I forgive you. I’m scared, too.

We’re sippin’ Irish whiskey now, one hand on the wheel,
shooting Bambi and smoking cigarettes (because it makes
me feel like a dragon). Your new favorite music is rap—how
do I hum that? Your lipstick is red eyeshadow because
your mother will only buy you Bratz lipstick, she says anything
else is for whores. I promise not to tell. It doesn’t matter,
you leave anyways. I am left to bury Bambi’s body.

I’m sweating off Vyvanse now, screaming thunderstorms
and crying rain over lost love, huddled in blankets as I sob
into friends under bathroom counters at five a.m. I’ve got orange
fingernail paint, but only on one hand— the other is stained
black from dying my hair. I’m the champion of fight club.
I’m still scared.
I’m scared.
I still hum your favorite songs.

A Christmas Poem in April

Tis’ The Season

It’s Christmas time. Pigeons kill pigeons
silent in the night, spilling righteousness
on church steps. A sacrifice, soft and bloody,
right beside sculpted Mother Mary’s
graphic placenta. Watch the blood soak
into the concrete, drizzling off like silky
smooth cranberry sauce.

But we’ve come next door for soy sauce,
entering the restaurant to watch gum
under table top chew spiders. Excuse me,
Aunt Martha, to the intimate mint green
bathroom walls of Chinese Vegan buffets
who know me delicately more so. Undressing
me. Licking my skin clean of clean, suckling
open-toed shoes, mold eating gold
right off painted toe. You cross
my mind here as the lipstick stained kiss
on the toilet seat. Look both ways,
don’t be hit by that nasty train
of thought. You never liked mine.

An old woman bursts in, broken
lock bedlam. She drools the piss
right out of her mouth at the sight
of such intimacy. Sinks can’t wash fake
octopus crumbs off fingertips, but they’ll
hold your hand all nice and well. Go back
to the table. Watch a spider blow
a pink gum bubble, bursting and ripe
with low-hanging legs. I eat spiders
who eat gum who eat spiders because that
was my last piece. The table top underside
is now clean of clean of clean.

I can’t stop writing about the world ending. I’d like to pretend that it doesn’t mean anything.


I woke up today. the doves have been here again. the dust told me so,
outlining their footmarks, all pointed in a circle with me in the middle.
the window is shut, yet the dust bunnies still sob themselves
back to sleep.  I clean away the claw marks at the bottom of my bed.
I swear they get closer every day.

but you & me, we’re screaming about a feeling in a june riverbed
until the crack of dawn, drinking the creek water that’s turned
into wine, our denim dipped legs running as fast as we can,
sun-stained on cheeks and shoulders.  your momma told you
to put sunscreen on those damn shoulders, she’ll beat some more
of your skin raw when you get home, so much so that it’ll peel up
just to run away. or maybe she won’t, i hear she’s been trying
to act real good since the Lord is coming home, the preacher
is awfully excited. and holding hands with you is like
holding a dog’s tongue, sticky and unclean,
but I’ll be holding this dog’s tongue till the end of my days.

eyelashes and dandelion puffs fly through the air,
carrying all of our wishes with them. I laugh. “I bet God’s eyelashes
are made of ours, and he uses these dandelion puffs for nose hairs.”
“don’t be silly,” you say, “God doesn’t have nose hairs.
he’s too respectable for that, bet he has a beard or somethin’.”
all our wishes rise up to the air, but the clocks are chiming loud,
the loudest they ever have, and the dandelions are crying.
they beg, “God, we can’t hear you, we’re lost.”
the clocks beat them down right out of the sky.
chiming, it’s 3:33. halfway to evil.

laughing, tongues out, pink where the sun can’t lick.
God, this wine is great, isn’t it?
I forgot how to eat honeysuckle. I scream at the top of my lungs,
“I bet those angels have a thousand teeth and two jaws,
three jaws, even.” (I eat the flower whole. that’s right, right?)
you spit. “jaws, what do they need jaws for, I don’t think angels
chew tobacco.” the dove behind you winks.

but I’ll never forget when we turned around too quickly
and for a second, saw us, everywhere, with new colors
I’d never even imagined. us, like ghosts, haunting ourselves.
do you think this wine is getting to me? I don’t think
I’ll ever remember how to eat honeysuckle again.
I pet the dove beside me. “what are you gonna do
when the sky falls out, buddy?” it laughs right in my face
and asks me, “what are you gonna do?” its teeth
are a whole new color I’d never seen before in my life.

the window is on the other side of the room now, isn’t that funny?
and I’ve got a stepdad, but my dad never even left.
All the universes are running together, everything is ripping apart.
there are some days that I have blue hair  and some days
that I do not know you and some days where my leg lays
on the other side of the room. But it is every day
that the dust bunnies lay decapitated on the floor.

I tried turning around too fast again today. it wasn’t black.
it was nothing, like the universe was a little slow to put on a show.
I watched as the rocks tied to the river, seams being sewed together,
watched as you were sown together, piece by piece.
you tried telling me I blinked. you knew I hadn’t.
I don’t think I’ve closed my eyes for days,
too scared they’ll get sown together.

and I’m screaming in these july riverbeds, screaming, we’ll die here.
we won’t make it, stuck between makeout rock and home,
a dove footprint stained on my forehead.
swimming in lakes— the water that’s breaking me, me and my levies—
and I sob. I don’t want to drink wine anymore.
okay, you say. no more drinking wine.

the stars start falling out of the sky. I hold a dog’s tongue.


That One Time God Hummed So Loud That All the Stained Glass Shattered and Everyone Said, “What the Heck? We Made That For You.”

people are going crazy, god’s back and he won’t stop humming.
he’s trying to show mary he still remembers her favorite songs.
humming, humming, humming all day and every night,
knocking on doors and asking for mary. no, i say.
this is the fourth time you’ve been here, you’re going in circles.

everyone is stumbling, it’s a scary time to be alive.
the rocks are screaming tchaikovsky and puking,
the trees are bumping their roots to the tune of war
and blocking out the sun. the oceans have been crying all their life,
they stopped today. no one can tell whether or not it’s a good thing.

the fish stopped sleeping without the sound of sobbing,
they’ve got red-stained eyebags and everyone’s telling them wow,
you look like crap. those fish are growing teeth and spitting ‘em right at them,
saying wow, thanks for telling me that. how nice of you.
i hear they’re looking at fisherman straight in the eye these days.

the snakes are eating themselves. everyone’s asking them why,
but the snakes know it’s impolite to talk with your mouth full.
frogs are growing into tadpoles and the tadpoles are too scared to grow up,
octopi are climbing mountains. it’s a scary site for hikers,
but it was on their bucketlist, so why not? the world is ending, after all.

every cow turns into a bull. it’s that kind of world now.
the birds stopped chirping. they only scream now,
watching their babies cook in their own eggs. everyone is comforting them,
wow. that must suck. the birds laugh, only if you have bad seasoning.
snails are killing each other for shells. everyone is just looking for a home.

there’s a leech who claims to have fed on every god,
he’s big as can be and old as the heavens, laughing
like the screaming of a thousand gods. he glows at the edges.
we ask, what do we do, all mighty leech? run, he says.
run before it kills you. the milky way is curdling.

everyone’s scrambling for the spaceships, let’s leave
and never come back. elton john, you’re in front, steer the ship
and we’ll pray to the devil, gather all the rocks you can
to cover up a bit of the humming. it’s no use. it’s in the brain.
god shakes us like a bottle rocket, is mary here? no mary here.

he comes into my room again that night.
is mary here?
yeah, i say.
how’d you know.

Reasons Why Orange is my Favorite Color

how to be as passive as orange:
which came first? The fruit or the orange?
“oh, I’m sorry. you can go first.”
bring books to the lunchroom
and hide in obscure color wheels
let bully neighbor red claim to be the opposite of blue
piss your pants in stores because you’re too afraid
to ask your dad to go to the bathroom.
cry, but softly. learn that a warm washcloth
will make your eyes less puffy.
make your pillows run away because they want
to be screamed into, someone who knows
how to speak above a whisper.
write all your fonts in size 11 calibri, all lowercase,
because old red’s gotta monopoly on that times new roman.

blue is looking for you
she’s spewing the advice her grandma told her
about how opposites attact.
she smells like her grandma’s old cats,
and she has a new quilt, too
along with a bit of a belly that wasn’t there before.
do you want her? red wants her more,
he’s the one outside her door,
leaning against mustang car doors,
schmoozing her mother with two bouquets of flowers
and giving her father the best goddamn handshake
he’s ever had in his life.
have you ever wanted anything
more than anyone, everyone else?
have you ever wanted anything?
can you even feel her?
she’s burning summer blues
and you’re the rotten fruit on the ground.
she could be the death of you–
aren’t you excited?