My mother told me early when I was young that what’s most meaningful in life are the relations you have with other people. In this book, what I really wanted to explore was the part of life we have — the part of life we live — when we’re not with other people. The part when we’re alone.There’s the cliche that we’re born and we die alone, and I take that quite seriously, and I believe that our most powerful and profound experiences in many ways are solitary experiences, and I believe that computer games, like literature and like some other devices in my life, were a means of training me for that kind of solitude.Though I did play videogames as a child, it wasn’t a large part of my life. Solitude, however, was. And just as Clune said, it was suggested to me that solitude was a negative thing. Though my parents and teachers praised me for reading and writing, I was also made to believe that I was abnormal for indulging those pleasures at the expense of playing outdoors with other children.
Happy National Coffee Day!
…Just don’t post a photo of your coffee or you might anger Rant Chic. Although, apparently there are coffeehouses that “print” your selfies into your latte with edible brown powder. The latte selfie is real!
I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season on Sunday. Oh how I love my Barnes & Noble Cafe discount!!
What I really want to tell you about, though is that I discovered espresso cheese!! I road tripped out in Connecticut with two of my very dear friends whom I’ve known forever and ever, and we went out to Stew Leondard’s. Have you been there? It’s amazing. Maybe it’s all my city living, but grocery stores in suburbs amaze me with their wondrous wide aisle lit with bright lights showcasing jalapeño potato chips and refrigerated dog food. This one was one was particularly exceptional. They have cupcakes shaped like cheeseburgers and animatronic butter.
The employees are all super nice too. One saw me pondering an espresso cheese. I was so curious, I immediately answered “yes” when he asked me if I’d like to try it, even though I normally bashfully say no because I don’t want to bother them or appear greedy. Let me tell you: I am so glad my eagerness betrayed me. Made by Sartori, Espresso Bellavitano is earthy and sweet, decadent, and complex. It’s the perfect cheese to impress guests. I’d pair it with red grapes, raisins, currants, and cherry chutney. A hearty red wine would go well with it.
Here are a few of my past coffee-related posts to celebrate @NationalCoffeeDay:::
The Coffee Habit of Jack Kerouac
Kerouac Opened a Million Coffee Bars
Caffe Reggio is one of my favorite coffeehouses in all of New York City. I recommended their cup in my Beat gift guide.
Places to drink coffee in Grand Rapids
From the Ottoman Empire to Greenwich Village: Coffee Houses’ Literary History
What’s Your Coffee Personality? Get Greek-American author Dean Bakopoulos’ take
Not to be outdone by my Greek side… The Starving Artist Gulps Down Konditori’s Swedish Coffee
A habit I got from my mother.
Coffee not your drink of choice?
Stir up Kerouac’s Big Sur Manhattan
Or toast to Ernest Hemingway with a Daiquiri Recipe
Take a road trip to Monterey and visit Bargetto Winery for an apricot wine
Or hop on the subway and try the orange wine (not orange flavored!) at Brooklyn Winery
Go Greek with Pindar’s Pythagoras Wine
Speaking of lemonade… How ’bout some Champagne Pink Lemonade Punch?
Want something sans alcohol?
Hibiscus Nectarine Tea: A Trip to Hawai’i in a Glass
Holla for some Jalapeño-Infused Lemonade
Or if you’re a starving artist, Jazz Up Your Tap Water
Benedict F. Giamo’s Kerouac, the Word and the Way: Prose Artist as Spiritual Quester
Pope Francis is in New York City. There are cops everywhere. Everyone I know, Catholic or not, is excited. I’ve never quite seen so many people excited over a religious figure’s visit.
In light of all the enthusiasm over the pope’s visit to America, I thought it would be enlightening to close the week out with a few articles exploring Jack Kerouac’s Catholicism.
- The American Conservative’s “The Conservative Kerouac” says: “Yet this bopping, scatting, mystical jazz poet who almost singlehandedly willed the 1960s counterculture into being was himself a political conservative and a Catholic.”
- The George Bulletin‘s “Discovering the Catholic Kerouac” says: “At the core of ‘On the Road,’ and at the heart of all his work, is the Catholic and Beat insistence upon an underlying spirituality that inhabits all creation. Kerouac saw the world, and everything in it, as Holy.”
- Culture War Magazine‘s “The Apocalypse of Jack Kerouac” says: “The Catholic overtones of Kerouac’s thought are as obvious as a notion of his not utterly incompatible with Catholicism, but occasionally mistaken for it….”
- Patheo‘s “5 People It’s Easy to Forget Are Catholic” says: “He was no angel, and certainly not a practicing Catholic (he stopped attending Mass at 14), but it has been rightly pointed out that Jack Kerouac never left his Catholicism.”
- The Arts Fuse‘s “Visions of ‘On the Road,’ the Movie” says: “Kerouac’s Catholicism is just one of the elements that’ve been ‘cropped out,’ so to speak, from a new film version of On the Road, directed by Walter Salles and written by Jose Rivera.”
- Hermit’s Thatch‘s “Kerouac’s Buddha & Jesus” says: “Personal experience can play into this identification of religious or psychological style.”
- CThe Merton Journal’s “Visions of Tom — Jack Kerouac’s Monastic Elder Brother” says: “Having been baptized, brought up and educated a Catholic, by the time he was 19 he had serious misgivings though he continued to have conversations with a local priest, Fr ‘Spike’ Morisette who also had his own struggles with his faith.”
- atholic Culture‘s “Three American Sophomores: The Restlessness of Thomas Merton, J. D. Salinger & Jack Kerouac” says: “This is where Kerouac’s religion and pursuit of detachment fails—and fails hard. Taking drugs is one of the most self-centered actions possible.”
- The Eponymous Flower‘s “Jack Kerouac was Catholic” says: “Indeed, he was eager to attack the Communists like Ferlengetti and Ginsberg, from whom he disassociated himself from several times in the interview. Despite being terribly drunk, he has moments of clarity and makes one of the most sartlingly accurate description of the false prophets… “
- Livemint‘s “Hit the road, Jack” says: “Many readers never get beyond that party-hearty surface and the book’s confessional stream-of-consciousness style. Leland draws a much more complex portrait. Despite the myth that the writing of On the Road was the next thing to speaking in tongues, a laying down of ecstatic inspiration by a Beat young savage, Kerouac was in fact a meticulous, driven writer, a man who “worked hard on his spontaneity”.”
That’s barely scratching the surface. Kerouac’s religious has been dissected by scholars and laymen alike for decades.
Last month I had the exciting opportunity of reading at WORD bookstore in Jersey City with my friends and colleagues from the Hobart Festival of Women Writers. One of my very best friends, Sue Jin Chang, came out to support me and took me out for a drink at Barcade to calm my pre-reading jitters. I was, after all, reading with highly esteemed writers whom I admire.
Poet and cofounder of the Hobart Festival of Women Writers, Cheryl Clarke, PhD, emceed the reading.
Cofounder of the Hobart Festival of Women Writers, Breena Clarke read from her novel Angels Make Their Hope Here.
E. J. Antonio, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at last year’s festival, read her powerful poetry.
Evie Shockley performed her poetry, including a provocative piece on the recent events in McKinney.
It being a reading featuring women authors, I decided to go the feminist route and read a selection from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” about the woman who was a catalyst for On the Road.
And here is a video of me reading a snippet!
I just returned from a fantastic time teaching at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers, and now this Saturday is the writing retreat The Redeemed Writer: The Call and the Practice. I was one of the organizers of the one-day session of panels, and I’m thrilled with the fantastic lineup we have scheduled. All our welcome to attend. Info below.
Join Christian writers and industry leaders for a day of professional and spiritual development hosted by the Redeemer Writers Group. Aspiring and accomplished authors, poets, journalists, playwrights, novelists, and wordsmiths of all sorts are welcome to embrace and hone their God-given gifts.
When: September 19 @ 9:30AM – 4:30PM
Where: Redeemer Offices, 1166 Avenue of the Americas, 16th Floor
Cost: $10, to cover food
9:30 : Registration
10:00-10:20: Opening remarks
10:20 – 11:00: Seed to Harvest
Opening sermon by Pastor David Sung of Christ Resurrection Church
Opening prayer by Anita Sung of Christ Resurrection Church
11:00 – 11:30: The Call to Write
“That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of thy wondrous works.” ~Psalms 26:7 (KJV)
“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” ~ Matthew 10:27 (NIV)
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”~ I Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Thomas Estler, graphic novelist to help homeless people avoid being trafficked
Brooke Obie, digital editor for GuidePosts.org
Ted Scofield, novelist
Moderated by Margo McKenzie
11:30 – 12:00: The Practice of Writing
The Parable of the Talents ~Matthew 25:14-30
Jakki Kerubo, on MFAs
Jane Park, on writing colonies
Ted Scofield, novelist
Moderated by Angela Allmond
12:00 – 12:30: Idea Lab
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” ~ Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)
Moderated by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Lunch
Grace and timekeeper: Maurice Boyer
1:30 pm – 2:15 p.m. The Business of Writing: Submissions and Rights
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline.” ~ II Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
Liz Davis, associate editor at Workman Publishing
Carl Dobrowolski, rights management
Paul Glader, journalism professor at King’s College
Moderated by Maurice Boyer
2:30 pm – 3:15 pm Finding Your Flock: Marketing
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond, on readings
Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy, on the power of being a member of a collaborative
Greg Wong, on social media
Moderated by Stephanie Nikolopoulos
3:30 pm – 4:30 p.m.: Themed breakouts
“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” ~ Proverbs 19:20 (NIV)
Nonfiction: Maurice Boyer
Fiction: Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
Writing exercises: Peter Kong
Moderated by Stephanie Nikolopoulos
4:45-5:00 p.m.: Closing remarks and prayer
About our Moderators & Panelists
Angela Allmond is an educator and artist, as well as a writer. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Art and Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her dissertation topic and scholarly writing are related to examining the intersections of art classroom design, optimal learning environments, and human flourishing. As a Christian, she also enjoys personal reflective writing as a means of processing through her faith, life events, and relationships.
Maurice Boyer is one of the coleaders of the Redeemer Writers Group. He is a content coordinator for the corporate marketing unit at Simon & Schuster. Previously, he served as a digital editor/producer for FOX News.com, AOL News and Essence.com. He is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and the Network Journal business publication. He has attended Redeemer Presbyterian Church since 2007.
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is one of the coleaders of the Redeemer Writers Group. She is the author of Powder Necklace, which Publishers Weekly called “a winning debut.” Named among 39 of the most promising African writers under 39, her short fiction was included in the anthology Africa39: New Writing from Africa South of Sahara. Most recently, she was shortlisted for a 2014 Miles Morland Writing Scholarship. She has contributed fiction to African Writing, Los Angeles Review of Books, Sunday Salon, and the short story collection Woman’s Work. Her think pieces have lent page views to online destinations including EBONY.com and TheGrio.com; and she has contributed commentary on everything from Michelle Obama’s role in the US President’s campaign to Nelson Mandela’s legacy on MSNBC, NY1, Sahara TV and ARISE TV. In April 2015, she was the opening speaker at TEDxAccra. Also noted for her personal style, a host of photographers have captured her looks for the street style slideshows and print editions of outlets including New York Magazine, Essence Magazine, TheSartorialist.com, and The New York Times. She is currently at work on her next novel.
Liz Davis is an Associate Editor of adult non-fiction at Workman Publishing, an independent, family-run publishing house in the West Village. She is the editor of the New York Times bestselling cookbook Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day, but her list is comprised of a wide range of lifestyle books, from inspirational gifts (100 Illustrated Bible Verses) to quirky science humor (WTF, Evolution?!), and even a wall calendar featuring the adorable sloths of Lucy Cooke’s bestselling The Little Book of Sloth.
Carl Dobrowolski has 29 years of experience in religious publishing, with the last 19 focused exclusively on rights sales, acquisitions, publisher relations and contract development. Carl’s specialty is bringing publishers together through leveraging relationship asset management and creating opportunities for the publication of theologically inspiring content. For over 12 years, he has served as President of Goodwill Rights Management Corp, www.goodwillrights.corp, a leading rights agency, working with over 15 publishers , ministries and Bible Societies.
Thomas Estler is Founder and Director of Freedom Ladder an organization whose mission it is to protect children. He collaborated with the FBI to create the comic book series, Abolitionista! which educates children about human trafficking and empowers them with tools to protect themselves. He takes his comic book workshops into schools, libraries, homeless shelters, and churches. His passion for ending human trafficking has also energized his novels, plays, and screenplays, and he was recently named one of New York’s New Abolitionists. When he’s not writing, Thomas teaches yoga, Zumba, and other fitness disciplines.
Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy is an actress, playwright, and producer. As an actress, she was most recently seen in Resonance Ensemble’s world premiere of The Truth Quotient at Theatre Row, and Retro Productions’ An Appeal to the Woman of the House. As a playwright, her work was most recently featured #StandUp: The Street Harassment Plays and in “Flux ForePlay” (both with Flux Theatre Ensemble) in NY Madness’ “Radical Bias” (with guest Chisa Hutchinson), Flux Theatre Ensemble’s “ForePlay” (appearing before Jane the Plain), and in The Brick Theatre’s “Cleverbot Plays.” Shaun is also, a contributing writer for NY Theatre Review, was one of WRITEOUTFRONT’s 2014 playwrights, and is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She lives in Brooklyn with her dog, Bentley. AEA, DGA www.shaunbfauntleroy.com.
Associate Professor Paul Glader teaches writing, journalism and business-related courses at The King’s College. He also directs the McCandlish Phillips Journalism Institute, The NYC Semester in Journalism program and is adviser to the student online newspaper/ print magazine/ video platform, The Empire State Tribune. An award-winning journalist, Glader spent 10 years as a staff writer at The Wall Street Journal, covering a variety of beats including technology, travel, metals/mining, health/science and finance. He’s worked for and written for countless other publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, TheNewYorker.com, The Indianapolis Star, The Associated Press, Der Spiegel Online, FastCompany.com, USA Today and ESPN.com. He’s appeared on national TV and radio programs including CNBC, Fox Business, and WSJ Radio. He currently writes for several national magazines including Bloomberg BusinessWeek, ChristianityToday, The American Legion and is a regular contributor to Forbes.com. Glader received an MS from Columbia University in New York as a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and Graduate School of Business in 2007-2008. He is currently an executive MBA candidate at The Berlin School of Creative Leadership at Steinbeis University in Germany. He lived in Germany from 2011-2013, first as a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow and then as a European Journalism Fellow at Freie Universität in Berlin. His research and writing interests include the startup economy / technology innovation; journalism ethics and history / the new journalists; urban planning / transportation; Europe / Germany / Scandinavia; parenthood / fatherhood; creativity in leadership and media entrepreneurship. He enjoys surfing, reading and traveling with his wife and daughter.
Peter Kong is one of the coleaders of the Redeemer Writers Group. He is a writer, musician, and software developer living in New York City. His current literary project is an epic adventure novel that takes place in post-war Nepal and the Near East. His EDM band, Lava Levels, released their first single, ‘Just Let Me’, in August 2015 (lavalevels.com).
Margo McKenzie is a wife, mother and grandmother with two adult daughters and two grandsons. She retired as an educator after thirty-two years of service and now channels her creative passion for writing to bring hope and light to others while putting a spotlight on God. She is currently working on a novel entitled When Anchors Sway about how the loss of support systems cause the smooth-sailing life of an immigrant family from Barbados to turn upside down. Her other faith-based writings can be found at: www.giftofletters.blogspot.com, www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=54907, and http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/biography/thomas-dorsey. She is a member of Bethany Baptist Church, Brooklyn, Rev Dr Adolphus C. Lacey, Pastor.
Brooke Obie, JD, MFA, is the Senior Digital Editor for Guideposts.org. She was the first Editor-at-Large for EBONY.com where she wrote the column, “The Spiritual Life.” Brooke is also the creator of the two-time Black Weblog Award-winning blog DistrictDiva.com, named one of Essence Magazine’s “Best Online Sites.” Brooke is a graduate of Hampton University, summa cum laude and Mercer University School of Law where she was the Eleventh Circuit Survey Editor of the Mercer Law Review. She also received her MFA in Creative Writing at The New School, was a 2014 finalist for the Fulbright Fellowship award in Creative Writing and is the author of a forthcoming novel series and essay collection. Brooke has a certificate in advanced legal research, writing and drafting and has worked for CNN Entertainment and on HLN’s Showbiz Tonight. She has written for NBC BLK, TheGrio.com, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The National Book Critics Circle, and Vibe Magazine, among other publications. Before becoming editor-at-large for EBONY.com, she served as a contributing editor (2013-2014) for the site and its interim News & Lifestyle editor in spring 2013.
Jakki Kerubo has an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU. She’s currently working on her first novel, and moonlights as a PR person in the healthcare industry.
Jane Park lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Prior to 2015, she lived in Brooklyn, New York, and worked in the fashion industry. Her fiction has appeared in Echoes Upon Echoes: New Korean American Writing and Han Kut: Critical Art and Writing by Korean Canadian Women. She has attended residencies at the Banff Centre and the Macdowell Colony and is working on her first novel.
Ted Scofield: St. Martin’s Press published Ted’s debut novel, Eat What You Kill, in 2014 and released the trade paperback in May 2015. Described as “American Psycho meets Wall Street,” Eat What You Kill is one part financial thriller and two parts morality tale. Famed Hollywood producer Edward R. Pressman (Wall Street, American Psycho, The Crow, etc.) purchased the film rights and is developing the screenplay. Ted is currently writing the sequel and releasing, in serial form, a book on greed. Much to his dismay, when he is not writing, Ted is a securities attorney, with an MBA in finance thrown in for good measure. He is a three-time graduate of Vanderbilt University. Ted lives in Manhattan with his wife, contemporary artist and consumer products genius Christi Scofield, their palm tree, Spike, and their little money tree, Benjamin. They have been attending Redeemer since 2002. www.tedscofield.com.
Anita Sung began to journal her thoughts and feelings sometime in elementary school when her family was living in Long Island, because her mother told her that if she journaled every day, she would become a good writer. Then in middle school, she began to write poetry, because it was hard to connect with people, and the sunsets in Atlanta were like seeing the glory of God. While in high school in New Jersey, one Catholic teacher loved her poems, because she thought it was unusual for a teenager to grapple with spiritual topics. She also encouraged her to continue developing her fiction writing. At Wheaton College, Anita received a B.A. in English Literature, and then received an M.A. in Church History from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2006. In 2011, as she and a mentor were praying regularly about a Korean drama she wrote, she learned how prayer brings God’s children close to the heart of the Creator and to the Father. Today, she continues to grapple with theological / spiritual topics and ideas in her fiction writing.
David Sung: After having worked in finance for several years and witnessing the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, it was a time for David to rethink his passions and what he believed life was worth living (and dying) for. At that time, Anita was working in publishing and doing all that “artsy” stuff, but after the attacks on NYC, the grind of “making it” had lost its luster and the glamour of the city faded. They decided to take a 6-month missions trip abroad to re-evaluate their lives. It was during that time, David and Anita decided to pursue theological degrees, where David got his Masters of Divinity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. After many transitions since then, from seminary to working as a hospital chaplain, his passion to love and build up the beauty and culture of the NYC, to seek its renewal and shalom through the Gospel of Jesus Christ has led him to church planting, starting Christ Resurrection Church (www.christresurrectionyc.com) in the Upper East Side.
Stephanie Nikolopoulos is one of the coleaders of the Redeemer Writers Group. She has worked as an editor in the publishing industry for more than a decade and is the author, with Paul Maher Jr., of Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” She has an MFA in creative writing, nonfiction, from the New School, a certificate in editing from New York University, and a BA in English from Scripps College. Visit her at www.StephanieNikolopoulos.com.
Greg Wong is passionate about creativity, innovation and growth hacking. As an art director and social catalyst, he activates brands to grow with real impact. Greg works in digital healthcare advertising as a Vice-President, Art Supervisor at CDMiConnect and consults as a Creative Director to startups and non-profits. Greg has consulted to a wide range of Fortune 100 corporations, small business boutiques and non-profit organizations across the country. Greg has degrees in mass communications from U.C. Berkeley and graphic design from the Pasadena Art Center College of Design. Reaching beyond agency creative, Greg consults on social innovation. He serves on the Strategic Advisory Board for Restore NYC, a non-profit that is dedicated to the holistic life rescue of internationally sex-trafficked women in New York City. This summer, Greg married his wife Liz, in a pop-up wedding on the High Line. They now call Long Island City home and are raising their two Aussie dogs, Olive and Ozzy. You can follow Greg on the internet everywhere at @gregwong.
Angela Allmond, Disen Huang, Michelle Kaskel, Margo McKenzie, Jacquelynn Osoro, and Ellen Stedfeld
I had the opportunity to interview Sophfronia Scott for the Festival of Women Writers. She is the queen of outlining, and her discipline makes me realize how structure can actually free up creativity. Sophfronia’s first big publication was writing about Generation X for Time Magazine. Since I am interested in the notion of categorizing people and literature by generations — the Beat Generation! — I was excited to ask her about her role in speaking for a generation.
Here is a snippet from our Q&A:
Nikolopoulos: While at Time Magazine, you and David Gross collaborated on the story “Twentysomething,” about Generation X. From the Lost Generation to the Beat Generation, and from Generation X to Generation Y, society tries to label groups of people based on when they were born and their shared historical and cultural experiences. As a writer, in what ways do you see yourself speaking for your generation?
Scott: The point of the Time Magazine story was that our generation, having observed and taken in the issues of the previous generation, seemed to be proceeding with our lives in a very thoughtful, observant manner. As a writer I tend to pursue my projects in similar fashion. Yes, I want to tell a good story or write an engaging essay but I’m also conscious of the fact that the story or essay has a deeper meaning. The story or essay interests me for a reason—I know I’m trying to say something important even if I don’t know right away what it is. The novel I recently completed explores sexuality, love, identity, and faith and when you read it you may find it challenging to what you believe about these things. In the big picture my writing, I hope, on some level will always leave you questioning who you are, what you believe, what your life is, in a style that will move you in positive ways.
If you missed it, I also did a Q&A with fellow Festival instructor Esther Cohen.
And, Breena Clarke interview me for a Q&A.