Sunday, November 22, 2009

Submit to R2!

Monday, November 30th is the last day to submit fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry for R2's 2010 issue. Send your writing to (check the formatting guidelines at first) by no later than 5pm on that day, and all submissions must come from undergraduates at Rice University.

1st place prize in each section: $500
2nd place prize in each section: $250

Submission limits: 3 fiction pieces, 3 creative non-fiction pieces, and 5 poems

Questions? Details at

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tips on Doing Literary/Public Readings

The following are some bits of advice from 4 members of Rice's faculty. If you're nervous or worried about the mic night, take the time to read through this.


1. Make eye contact at the beginning and end of a piece, also (if poems, for example), between individual pieces. It can be hard to make eye contact while reading (try to if you can) so make sure at least a few times you do this.

2. Don't mumble. Check in with someone in the back of the room to make sure your voice carries.

3. Read slower than you think you should. In rare cases, a reader is too fast, but this seem very rare. Speedy is usually the rule.

4. Don't give too much background: just enough. Talk between pieces sometimes, but for short works (e.g. some poems, flash fiction) read two or three in a row just announcing titles. A little mystery can go a long way. But this varies with genre so see what's appropriate for fiction, poetry, non-fiction, etc.

5. Watch the pacing between pieces. For poets, don't rush from one work to the next. Figure out a suitable pause, even between short lyrics.6. Resist the temptation to over-read. Writers are hungry for audiences, but it's always better to leave an audience wanting more. So, if you can reasonably squeeze, say, 12 poems into a reading, try 10 (as opposed to 15). This will also give you the time to practice the tactics I list above.

Sasha West

First off, it's ok to be nervous. The best reader I know gets so nervous before her readings she can barely talk, but she still manages to bring people to tears with her poems (and not because they are sad). Once she is at a podium, she leaves her nervousness behind and reads as if it is the most important thing she has ever done. I've had my voice crack, my throat get dry, my hands shake, and I've blushed so fiercely I've thought people might think I was on fire. Find a way to get past however your nervousness manifests. Accept it if it is there, but learn to concentrate just on the work and on the fact that you wrote it to communicate to someone else. People are mostly at a reading to be the best listeners they can. Your job is to give them your work as clearly as you can. I find it really useful to shift how I think of my work a few hours before a reading. I stop thinking of my poems as things I have written or things I may revise--and I start to think of them as poems that exist in world--poems that I want to do well by as a reader. In other words, I stop focusing on the fact that I wrote them and start thinking of them for what they do in language. For me, this grew out training in theater. Think of it this way: if you were an actor, you would be given someone else's words and your job would be to communicate those words well--to make sure your audience understood the ideas in them and that they felt the emotion in them.Treat your own work the same way. Think about how your pacing and tone of voice and expression can help a listener build images and action in their minds. Vary your tone, speed, etc to suit what is happening in the piece. Read your work like it is the most important thing in the world--not because you are trying to prove to anyone what a good writer you are but because you are trying to help them hear what it is the piece is communicating. Practice your reading a few times, maybe even in front of friends, but once you are up in front of the microphone, have fun, enjoy what you are doing and speak to your audience. You are in conversation with them, and they are waiting eagerly to hear what it is you have to say.

Thad Logan

Stick to time limits. Religiously.

Read with energy and flair, but let the lines themselves do the work. This isn't to say that you can't "do the police in different voices," (from Dickens, cited by T.S. Eliot), i.e. give the characters in a short story or a poem some identity of their own, change tone, tempo, etc. etc. but there is a certain kind of "dramatic reading" voice that is cringe-inducing in an audience. That said, you don't want to just stand there and read as if you were reading aloud to yourself. That is an audience out there. Stand up straight, look them in the eye, and read with enough energy and volume to be heard. Too slow is probably better than too fast. Let the words direct you in how to speak them. And remember you can experiment with different ways to read a line or passage; try varying volume, tempo, intensity, and phrasing for instance.

Never hold for an expected laugh unless you are really really sure that's what you're going to get, and even then only hold for a heartbeat. Audiences are wildly inconsistent and will probably respond differently every time you read. You can learn something from readings if you are willing to be, as they say, "in the moment," always open to finding something new in your work. Audiences like to feel that you are not just reading at them, but sharing in the experience yourself.


- Less is more. You may want to share everything, but in an Open mic scenario, you want to leave people wanting to hear the rest rather than waiting to hear the next reader.

- Practice. Read your piece to yourself at least three times. You'll be able to figure out which phrases are liable to trip you up. You'll be familiar with the rhythm. Practice some more.

- Practice will also get you familiar enough with the piece that you'll be able to tear your eyes away from the page and make eye contact with your audience. This is important.

- Slow the heck down. Write SLOW on the top and bottom of every page. If it feels way too slow, it's probably about right. Adrenaline can get the best of us, and in those cases, we naturally speed up. So fight that.

- People have come to hear you read your work, not to hear you talk about your work. If you must preface your work, keep it limited to the information necessary for the audience to understand the piece.- Most important, HAVE FUN! As writers, we only rarely get the chance to share our work in person. Take advantage of the opportunity, and enjoy it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Open Mic Night and the pre-Open Mic Night workshop

You are invited to R2's Open Mic Night!

On Friday, October 30 at 9 PM, bring poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, flash fiction, short reflections, ghost tales, or anything creative you have written to Lovett Undergrounds to share with us. Refreshments (snacks, beer, etc.) will be provided.
Time limit: 20 minutes/piece, max!

If you're hesitant or embarrassed about reading your piece, we'll be hosting a reading tutorial on Tuesday, October 26 from 5 to 6 PM in Hanszen 201. Coert Voorhees, a visiting professor in creative fiction at Rice, will share his advice about reading your work. You can also practice reading your piece in advance with us and get some great feedback that way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Poetry and Fiction Reading This Wednesday at Duncan

English Department - Poetry and Fiction Reading
Joseph Campana
Assistant Professor
Coert Voorhees

4:00 pm, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009
Duncan College Masters House, Reception following
sponsored by the
Dept. of English, Cherry Series at Fondren Library, and
Houston Arts Alliance

Coert is our awesome faculty adviser, so definitely come and check out his fiction reading! Joseph Campana is an English professor here at Rice, so those of you who are taking classes with him can impress him by coming to his poetry reading.

For some fun, go here to check out this really cool installation of falling books!

(via Black*Eiffel)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Have a wonderful fall break!

Dear readers, thank you to those of you who helped make the reading such a nice experience! Thank you to the speakers as well! We had a great turnout although we ran over by half an hour. We look forward to hearing from you hopefully at the Open Mic Night (Oct. 30th) as well.

If you have any feedback, feel free to let us know. We'd like to do another reading in the spring semester.

In the meantime, we'd like to know what you are reading this fall break and possibly beyond. Just leave a comment below.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Activity!

Hey Everyone!

Got a minute? Then help us write a poem! Here's how:

1. Read what we've got so far in the comments section.
2. Go here and pick a line you like from one of the random poems you find (preferably, one that kind of fits into our current poem!).
3. Continue the poem by posting the line you chose (along with the poem it's from and the author who wrote it) in the comments section.
4. Sit back and watch the poem grow!

Who knows? Maybe if the poem is awesome enough, we'll even publish it in R2!

Monday, September 28, 2009

R2 Reading Series and Free Coffee Night!

Hey R2ers!

On Thursday, October 8 from 7 to 8 PM we will have our first of a series of readings at Coffee House. There will be FREE coffee, iced tea, and snacks, so come check it out!

If you're feeling brave and want to read your work, send us an email at before Tuesday, October 6.

See you there!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another favorite quote post

"You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy."

From Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

I suppose I'm a bit late to the party, but I had a hard time choosing. This has been a favorite of mine since high school, and it's probably the best I'll be able to come up with that isn't a huge spoiler.

-Russ Horres, Assoc. Fiction Editor

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Michelle Phillips - Editor-at-Large, Wiess College Rep)

"Oh, children," said the Lion, "I feel my strength coming back to me. Oh, children, catch me if you can!" He stood for a second, his eyes very bright, his limbs quivering, lashing himself with his tail. Then he made a leap high over their heads and landed on the other side of the Table. Laughing, though she didn't know why, Lucy scrambled over it to reach him. Aslan leaped again. A mad chase began. Round and round the hilltop he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, no letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs. It was such a romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind."

-C.S. Lewis: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Friday, September 18, 2009

Simple Justice (Sunkyo Lee, Duncan College Rep)

The plight of the ageing black railroadmen moved Houston deeply as he threw his energies into litigation to prevent further and faster attirition in their ranks. .....Joseph Waddy, Houston's law partner recalls..."I remember once we were in the home of a lblack brakeman in Roanoke,... There must have been fifteen or twnety brakemen sitting around with us, all of them fifty years old or more, and there was this one old-timer who must have been seventy and was all white-haired, who was carrying on about how they had to save their jobs for their children and grandchildren, so there would be other generations of black men on the railroads. And then the old timer used this phrase that filled Charlie [Houston] up emotionally. He said they also had to save the jobs for themselves and protect 'these old heads blooming for the grave.' Charlie never forgot that. The railroadmen loved him. They'd do anything he asked."

Richard Kluger, Simple Justice

The Great Gatsby (Jasmine Elliott- Editor at Large)

"He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself."

The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Lolita (Jo Hsu, Fiction Editor)

I'm going to break the rules (are there rules?) and post two quotes. It's an oldie, but a goodie. And honestly, I believe, it is the best opening in literary history (at least to the best of my knowledge)

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.

- Vladimir Nabokov

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender (Jo Hsu, Fiction Editor)

"I think of that girl I read about in the paper - the one with the flammable skirt. She'd bought a rayon chiffon skirt, purple with wavy lines all over it. She wore it to a party and was dancing, too close to the vanilla-smelling candles, and suddenly she lit up like a pine needle torch. When the boy dancing next to her felt the heat and smelled the plasticky smell, he screamed and rolled the burning girl up in the carpet. She got third-degree burns up and down her thighs. But what I keep wondering about is this: that first second when she felt her skirt burning, what did she think? Before she knew it was the candles, did she think she'd done it herself? With the amazing turns of her hips and the warmth of the music inside her, did she believe, for even one glorious second, that her passion had arrived?"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Still Life with Oysters and Lemon by Mark Doty (Lissa Glasgo, Managing Editor)

...and that is what I feel Paul and I are doing today, taking in and taking in, joined to a brethren of the lovers of this world. Who go about their seeing -- by lens and by canvas, by microscope and camera obscura, by notebook and daybook -- as if it were the most crucial work we could choose.

An Essay concerning Human Understanding (quote provided by Vanessa Johnson, Associate Poetry Editor)

"A studious blind Man, who had mightily beat his head about visible Objects, and made use of the explication of his Books and Friends, to understand those names of Light, and Colours, which often came in his way; bragg'd one day, That he now understood what Scarlet signified. Upon which his Friend demanding, what Scarlet was? the blind Man answered, It was like the Sound of a Trumpet. Just such an Understanding of the name of any other simple Idea will he have, who hopes to get it only from a Definition, or other Words made use of to explain it."

--John Locke, Book II Chapter iv Section 11 of An Essay concerning Human Understanding

[Thought I'd share a bit of poetic philosophy.]

White Noise by Don DeLillo (Coert Voorhees, Parks Fellow)

He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced at once by others.
"We're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies."
There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.
"Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. This literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism."
Another silence ensued.
"They are taking pictures of taking pictures," he said.
He did not speak for a while. We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.
"What was the barn like before it was photographed?" he said. "What did it look like, how was it different from other barns, how was it similar to other barns? We can't answer these questions because we've read the signs, seen the people snapping pictures. We can't get outside the aura. We're part of the aura. We're here, we're now."
He seemed immensely pleased by this.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Welcome (Again) / Deadline Update

To all you Ricers stopping by:
Welcome to R2! We want to get to know you. If you've got some free time, pick a passage you like from a book you love and post it (and your name, if you want) as a comment to this post. If this activity doesn't tickle your fancy (you don't have anything in mind, you don't read, you hate books, you don't feel like searching through Wikiquote), check back later for some creative writing ideas and our next activity. We'll update the blog fairly frequently, and maybe you'll find something to spark your creativity!

Also, an important note:
The deadline for cover art submissions has been changed to November 6.

Catch-22 (Stephanie McLeod, Publicity Manager/Assoc. Fiction Editor)

"'Who is Spain?'
'Why is Hitler?'
'When is right?'
'Where was that stooped and mealy-colored old man I used to call Poppa when the merry-go-round broke down?'
'How was trump at Munich?'
'Ho-ho beriberi.'
all rang out in rapid succession, and then there was Yossarian with the question that had no answer:
'Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?'"

-- Joseph Heller

Friday, September 11, 2009

This is What We're Into...+ Cherry series

Hello lovelies,

To showcase our literary interests as well as to get to know each other, we're starting a series of fun activities on this blog for R2 staff and the rest of the study body. This first one will be an informal introduction to everyone in R2. It's all about...what books we like. Just leave an excerpt/passage from a book (nonfiction/fiction) you've enjoyed with the title of the book, the author's name, your name and your staff position. It's that easy.
If you're not a staff but just want to contribute as a fellow Rice community member, feel free to leave comments about your favorite passages in the Comments section of this post!

Also, John Pipkin, author of Woods Burner, is coming to Rice on Friday, September 25 to give a reading. It will be at the Duncan College Masters' House at 4PM. Here is a little info about him:

John Pipkin currently lives in Austin, Texas, where he has worked as the Executive Director of the Writers’ League of Texas, a non-profit, literary arts organization. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, he attended Washington & Lee University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received his Ph.D. in British Literature from Rice University in 1997. He has taught writing and literature at Saint Louis University, Boston University, and Southwestern University. Woods Burner is his first novel. His appearance at Rice is sponsored by the English department’s Minter Endowment and the Fondren Library Cherry Series.

I haven't read his book which is based on the life of Henry David Thoreau during the period when he was writing Walden, but words are it's fabulous. Here's a link to Boston Globe's review of his book:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Welcome Back!

Hey R2ers!

Welcome back for a brand new year! This blog is where you can find information on R2's meetings, deadlines, and general happenings, as well as some literary events you should know about around campus. More details on R2 can always be found on our website,

Here's what you should know:

Our first meeting of the year is Friday, September 4 from 4 to 5 PM in the RMC's Meyer Conference Room. If you're interested in becoming involved in R2, you're welcome to come by and check us out!

If you're an artist, you should be working on an awesome cover for R2 this year! Submissions will be due on October 19.

If you're a writer, it's never too early to start picking out or working on your submissions! They will be due on November 30. For more information on written submissions, check out the Submissions section of our website.

If you're looking for something to do, check out Brazos Bookstore. It's very close to campus and often has stuff going on.

If you're just looking for some inspiration, try this:
Go here and click on Random Poem. Use the first line of the poem to write your own poem, story, journal entry, or whatever. If you don't like the poem, try again until you find a good first line.

We're all excited for the upcoming year and can't wait to show you what R2 can do!

"The king's a beggar, now the play is done:
All is well ended, if this suit be won,
That you express content; which we will pay,
With strife to please you, day exceeding day:
Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts;
Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts."

Shakespeare, All's Well that Ends Well