Happy summer, dear readers and authors!

We would like to again congratulate those who were published in Issue 37 this year, and thank everyone for their support.

As we are an entirely student-run journal, we would also like to remind you that we will not be reading submissions during the summer, and will start again in September, Fall 2017, during the academic school year. Please know that while we are happy to receive your summer submissions, you will not receive any responses until September.

May your summers be full of creativity, productivity, and sensitivity! Happy writing, everyone.

— Alagia Cirolia, Managing Editor

Alagia Cirolia, BFR Editorial Staff

College writers are desperate creatures, yearning for attention and audience. Hungry for praise, popularity, and even infamy, we all seek that fix—the sweet glory of publication—to validate those hours upon days upon weeks spent with head bent in humble supplication to whatever god may grace us from within the void of the blank, white page. The arduous journey from intangible thought to published work is wrought with rejection, and yet we must march on. Often, much of this rejection comes from publications that are merely mirages, beautiful traps designed to depress us with their authorial exclusivity. I say, enough of those nights spent checking my email to see if maybe, just maybe, I might be the next up-and-coming college writer published by The New Yorker. Let us march down different roads, all leading to publication.

While it’s still an excellent idea to submit work to traditionally renowned publications like The New Yorker or big names like Huff Post, consider expanding your pool of places to submit, as well as your body of work. I encourage you, my dear peers, to do a little dabbling. Write a short story, write a poem, write a heart-warming personal essay or comedically spiteful political commentary. Write more, and submit more. Cast more lines, follow more paths, and grow. And in the great empathy we all share on this NewYorkerforsaken trek across the hilly terrain of making a name for oneself, I share with you some strange (and familiar) places to take detours as a writer.

  1. Clickbait

As I’m sure you’re aware of, since you’re reading this, clickbait articles are all the rage on social media. Ranging from quippy and provocative to mind-numbingly cute, a good clickbait piece is one of the best ways to get your name on a popular piece,  and is particularly accessible to freelance writers. Although I say “clickbait,” many of these articles are admirably well-versed in pop-culture and artfully crafted with different styles of humor. In an age where cultivating an online personality is an art, writing successful is indeed an envied skill. Consider submitting to places such as Buzzfeed Community, Vice, College Humor, and Cracked. Now, these are pretty big names because, well, social media is everywhere. But they’re an interesting and ultimately valuable exercise in drawing from experience, testing your originality, and becoming internet famous. See: this article on eating steak with G-Unit, written by a boy who goes to Columbia. That could be you, man.

  1. Essays and Nonfiction

As preached in my school’s required 4th grade reading of Dear Mr. Henshaw, though fiction is a wonderful outlet for imagination and fantasy, it is just as important to write what you know. Drawing from experience is always a wonderful tactic, and writing personal essays and nonfiction pieces are an excellent way to hone that skill. Many holistic literary magazines include a non-fiction category, like the famed Emerson publication Ploughshares, which holds an emerging writer’s contest in poetry, prose, and nonfiction every year. Rookie is another site–an online zine by and for young women and teens–that accepts almost all forms of media pitches and encourages personal, intimate pieces. And finally, I suggest the Modern Love College Essay Contest held annually by the New York Times. This contest is begging for your torrid sophomore-year-club-retreat-turned-aching-3-year-sexual-engagement tale, and speaks directly to the principle of turning your personal experiences into art.

*Another mode of nonfiction to consider is science journalism; the scientific community desperately needs poetic writers like you to communicate its ideas!

  1. Non-traditional, Non-college Based Magazines

As a college student, it’s pretty standard to submit work to college publications. However, there are many excellent magazines to publish with that aren’t college affiliated and will add some variation to your published portfolio. Many of theses magazines also deviate from the cut and dry literary magazines produced by most colleges. For example, Brevity specializes in flash fiction that’s only 750 words or less. Or, you could follow in the footsteps of Shel Silverstein and become a Playboy contributor through this college fiction contest. Beyond your local college publication, there are a million amazing independent ones like Word Riot and Drunkenboat that also accept everything from poetry to flash fiction to small press literary reviews.

***

So come on my wonderfully ambitious peers, branch out a little. Give The New Yorker the bird and use other publications, other genres of writing, as training wings. Your work is worth more than a two year wait for a response from the Big Guy. Get your name out there and support yourself through social media, support small press, support the transformation of experience into expression, and don’t wait around for an answer from an intangible entity—get published.

Elva Bonsall, BFR Staff

woods

While it’s easy to forget stories, their details, characters, and perhaps even the imagery so painstakingly created for the page, it’s unnervingly difficult to forget the impression it leaves upon you. Cold, slippery, and often creeping into your thoughts long after the story itself has been filed away and stored in memory, old emotions from stories often appear to the reader in different forms.

Miserable, lost, and fed up with underpowered technology, I once happened upon this little house, deep in the woods somewhere in a countryside far away. There’s no joy in being lost. Nothing wonderful about being late and out of place, either. And while consumed with hunger, disorientation, and a general aura of grumpiness I stumbled halfway up a muddy hill and found this tiny, tiny home.

While it’s easy to forget stories, it’s hard to forget the emotions behind them; what first connects someone to a page. Seeing this tiny house, I was no longer miserably lost but in one of the fairytales that was read to me as a kid. A sense of place from a small piece of literature I had read long ago made finding a random shack, far away from my intended destination, a magical and special happening. My emotional connection to this sense of place from a story meant I was no longer lost, and instead needed a picture to remember it by.

Serge Balassian, BFR Staff

Fuck. Did you fall asleep? You did, you fell asleep. What an idiot. You told yourself you wouldn’t do it. A few hours ago, mom said everything would be fine; there was nothing to worry about. Surely she wouldn’t lie. You crawl out of bed. Just past 2am, Christmas is less than a day away, a time of happiness for a 10-year-old.

Something is odd. An unnatural silence lurks in the air. Yeah, everything seems quiet, but you know better than that. This is the silence you get when the entire world stops and sits on the edge of chaos, waiting for one domino to topple over and set ablaze a chain reaction of terror.

Time to investigate. To the living room you go. Your sister is sitting on the floor, eating Lucky Charms—an image forever engraved into your mind. Why on earth is a 5-year-old awake at this time of night, eating in the dead of darkness? More importantly, what’s all the commotion outside? Before you can even think about these questions, you notice that the windows facing the street are being illuminated by a strong source of light. You hear heavy footsteps and radios, lots of them.

If you take a peek, someone will surely see you. So you run off to your parents’ bedroom and take a glance from there. Squinting through the blinds, the first domino falls over; a long night is set to begin. Outside are more police cars than you can count. A big black van is parked nearby. The fucking SWAT team is here. Mom lied.

Did he pull out his gun? Your dad always had issues with alcohol and anger, but there was no way he was stupid enough to shoot at the neighbor that night, was there? It seemed like nothing more than a simple argument. You tried to stick your nose into the business, but your mom put you to bed before you could get in on the action.

Sprinting back into the living room, you hear voices near the front door. There are people inside the apartment complex. Are those your parents? Only one way to find out. Taking your sister into your left hand and turning the knob with your right, you pull the door and give yourself just enough room to wiggle your head through and glance outside.

As you scan your surroundings, the second domino quickly falls; you realize that Christmas won’t be the same for a while. Much too young, you’re forced into adulthood in this moment, the proverbial cherry on top to an overwhelmingly lousy childhood. You look down at your chest to see a scattering of red dots. Looking back up, you’re greeted by the SWAT team, and you loft your hands into the air, quietly mumbling, “Don’t shoot. Don’t shoot.”

By Georgia Peppe, BFR Editorial Staff

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This charcoal and ink drawing was inspired by Frank O’Hara’s poem, “Lana Turner Has Collapsed.” I had always loved the poem, and was inspired to draw this image when my English GSI this semester said O’Hara was one of her favorite poets. This poem had always haunted me, especially as someone who grew up in Hollywood, California, the place where Turner finally crumbles. I had always imagined a crashing to the floor, a crumpling occurring simultaneously with a curling up into a fetal position. Either way, this collapse is very disorienting to the reader considering that people remain upright for the majority of the day and that with the exception of sleeping, our verticalness somehow embodies both our humanity (animals remain on all fours) and liveliness. O’Hara profits off this association and presents the glamorous Lana Turner who has collapsed and lays there as the poem ends with an address of “get up, we love you.”

Carolyn Insley, BFR Staff

There are a lot of trees in New York City. No, I don’t mean Central Park—of course there are trees in the park. I mean it’s like someone looked around at this dark grey place and thought, “Hey, why don’t we just plant a bunch of shit so that when they try to say New York City is cold and unforgiving, well, they won’t really be wrong but at least they can look up and say it into the trees.” And I’m not saying they’re those beautiful rust-colored trees that line New England streets They’re really just plain, average, nothing special trees, but they live in New York City. They breathe the bad air, endure the yuppie brunch conversations, and live in and around the garbage just like the rest of us.

“Hey”

“Hey, what’s up?”

“What can I get you?”

“Oh, uh, coffee. Iced. Black. A morning bun too.”

The disinterested barista scooped ice into a clear unmarked cup and contemplated quite philosophically the grit beneath her nails. She held the lever down with the other hand until the cup was brimming with overpriced stale coffee. She didn’t look once at the cup and yet, managed to avoid spilling a single drop. Her name tag read “Kate.” Kate seemed like a pretty average girl, working a pretty average job. Minus the transition metal addiction.

“Hey, lady, are you gonna stand there and stare at me all day, or are you gonna pay for this?”

“Sorry, Jesus. Here.”


“Is anyone sitting here?”

The small Asian girl barely looked over her hip, square glasses before refocusing on her fancy tablet decked out in indie label band stickers. Granted, she had large headphones on and couldn’t have heard the woman who asked. Not that it would have been polite to take her headphones off when she saw someone mouthing words at her so he or she didn’t have to feel like a total idiot and look like they were talking to themselves. God.

“Okay, taking that as a no. Thanks.” She said under her breath as she sat down at the little corner table for two. It was raining outside and her coffee was ice cold as it warmed the palms of her hands as she peered outside at the soggy grey people on this soggy grey day. >>(Too Dr. Seuss-y?)

“Hey. Is anyone sitting here?”

“Oh, no go for it.”

“Actually, I just needed the chair. Sorry.”

The tall and unusually broad-shouldered man stopped, hand on the chair, and contemplated the potential immensity of the situation. The girl sitting before him, now slightly embarrassed (in the cutest possible way), was looking to him for his next move. He didn’t particularly consider himself a determinist, but maybe this was it. Maybe this was her, the girl of his dreams…

The low, slow hum of the chair dragging across the “distressed” wood floor was excruciating.  

Marie Maier, BFR Staff

BLOG PHOTO

When you spend your days following train tracks, the past of your surroundings is unveiled quietly, laid out around you. The tracks run through the land, the ones safe to explore, or safe enough anyway, don’t lead to your future; they are a sidewalk for window-shopping through the past. You can follow and follow the paths that have been trail-blazed by others, without seeing anyone. But the remnants are there. The marks left by the ones crazy enough to have gone where you are now. The ones that started this hidden-treasure, hide-and-seek game. The tracks stretch on for a mind-numbing forever, they lead to the secrets that the earth holds. You have to follow them to find your way there and home. But maybe the tracks are your home.

Hiba Ali, BFR Staff

Sitting in front of the computer, you’re only trying to finish that last assignment for the night. You have been struggling to keep your eyes open and can feel the heavy weight of your day slowing your fingers.

PING

You get a desktop notification for Twitter. You quickly look around to make sure no one notices you leaving your Word document. It’s a well-deserved break! You’ve been working hard and just need two minutes away from academia.

What is it? A funny video? A vine? 140 characters that speak to the very depths of your soul?

A hashtag.

#ChapelHillShooting

What? Wait a minute. You have to Google this…what are the facts. Is this some stupid joke?

Two articles. TWO ARTICLES.

This is all you can find.

Three human beings were executed in their home and that is all you can find. No mention that they’re Muslim Americans. No mention of how they were killed. NO MENTION. Jon Stewart is trending at the top in your area. People died and Jon Stewart retiring is more important in the media. Major news networks haven’t even reported on it! Where are the shocked citizens? Where is the outrage?

This was my Tuesday night. I’m a Muslim American, and I honestly thought that meant something. I thought being American afforded me the rights of protection and validation. That was until Chapel Hill. I realize I will always have to prove myself as worth it. Deah, Yusor, and Razan are still trying to validate themselves from the grave. No one wants to call this a hate crime or an act of terrorism. The world lost three people who exemplified what it means to be a good human being. Regardless of what you do or don’t believe in, never forget that they only got a line at the start of this. They weren’t afforded the basic human decency deserved by all. The rest of the world was outraged and I didn’t know until almost eight hours after the fact. My religion is not my only identity, just like it wasn’t the only identity Deah, Yusor, and Razan had. They were so much more than one word. I will never forget that moment Tuesday night when my stomach dropped, and my exhaustion was replaced by fear, anger, and loss. Incredible loss. Loss of lives and loss of security. That is what weighs heavily on my fingers now, and I don’t know if what I type matters or what backlash I will face.