Oyez Review Reading Series: Erika T. Wurth

Erika T. Wurth Photo

Roosevelt University’s Creative Writing program and the Oyez Review are proud to present author Erika T. Wurth. Join us for a live reading and discussion with Erika T. Wurth, on Monday, March 19th, 6:00 p.m. in the Spertus Lounge.

Wurth’s published works include a novel, Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend, two collections of poetry, Indian Trains and One Thousand Horses Out to Sea, and a collection of short stories, Buckskin Cocaine. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Boulevard, Drunken Boat, The Writer’s Chronicle, Waxwing and South Dakota Review.

She teaches creative writing at Western Illinois University and has been a guest writer at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Please join Erika T. Wurth and the Roosevelt University writing community Monday, March 19th at Roosevelt University’s Spertus Lounge (AUD 241).

Location: Spertus Lounge, Auditorium Building, Chicago Campus

Date:  Monday, March 19th

Time: 6:00 p.m.

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Juan Martinez Comes to Oyez Reading Series

Martinez (1)

We are very excited to co-host Juan Martinez, author of Best Worst American,  with the Roosevelt University MFA program! Join us for a live reading and discussion with Juan Martinez, this Thursday, February 22, 5:00 p.m., Wabash 1315.

Juan Martinez is the author of the fiction collection Best Worst American. He was born in Bucaramanga, Colombia, and has since lived in Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas, Nevada. He now lives in Chicago with his wife, the writer Sarah Kokernot, and their son and two cats. He’s an assistant professor at Northwestern University.

We hope to see you there!


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Roosevelt MFA Program Reading Series: Camille Bordas

Camille Bordas Image

Roosevelt University’s Creative Writing program and the Oyez Review are proud to present author Camille Bordas.

As part of the Fall 2017 Reading Series, Bordas will be reading from her first English language novel How To Behave in a Crowd, which was recently published by Tim Duggan Books (Penguin Random House) in August 2017.

Born in France and raised in Mexico City and Paris, Bordas now lives in Chicago. She is the author of two previous novels in French, Les treize desserts and Partie commune. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker.

Please join Camille Bordas and the Roosevelt University writing community Tuesday, November 7th at Roosevelt University’s Spertus Lounge (AUD 241). The event begins at 5:00 PM with doors opening at 4:30.

Location: Spertus Lounge, Auditorium Building, Chicago Campus

Date: November 7th, 2017

Time: 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

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Eduardo Rebasa Joins Roosevelt for a Reading and Q&A!


The MFA Program Reading series, in conjunction with Roosevelt University, the MFA in Creative Writing Program, Oyez Review, the Department of Literature & Language, and the Lit & Luz Festival, is proud to present Eduardo Rebasa!

As seen on the Lit & Lutz Festival participants page:

Eduardo Rabasa is the founding editorial director of Sexto Piso Editorial, the winner of the 2004 International Young Publisher of the Year Award. He writes for the newspaper Milenio. His first novel was A Zero-Sum Game (Deep Vellum 2016). Rabasa was named one of the top 20 Mexican writers under the age of 40 by the Mexico20 project.

On Wednesday, October 18,  please join Eduardo Rabasa, Roosevelt University, and Lit & Luz at Roosevelt University’s Spertus Lounge in our Auditorium Building. The event begins at 5:00 PM with doors opening at 4:30.



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Roosevelt MFA Program Reading Series: Jac Jemc


New semester, new Reading Series! Roosevelt University’s Creative Writing program and the Oyez Review are proud to present the first visiting writer of our Fall 2017 Reading Series: Jac Jemc!

Jac Jemc lives in Chicago. Her novel The Grip of It was published by FSG Originals (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) in August 2017. Jemc is also the author of My Only Wife (Dzanc Books), named a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award; A Different Bed Every Time (Dzanc Books), named one of Amazon’s Best Story Collections of 2014; and a chapbook of stories, These Strangers She’d Invited In (Greying Ghost Press). Jac’s nonfiction has been featured on the long list for Best American Essays and her story “Women in Wells” was featured in the 2010 Best of the Web anthology. She was named as one of 25 Writers to Watch by the Guild Literary Complex and one of New City’s Lit 50 in Chicago. She’s taught English and Creative Writing at a number of universities and currently serves as a web nonfiction editor for Hobart.

Please join Jac Jemc and the Roosevelt University writing community this October 2nd at Roosevelt University’s Spertus Lounge in our Auditorium Building located at 430 South Michigan Avenue. The event begins at 5:00 PM with doors opening at 4:30.


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Interview with Emanuel Rios

The staff of Oyez Review is honored with the opportunity to foster artists of all kinds throughout the world – of the written word, canvas, and lens. We took the time to sit down and talk with one such up and coming photographer, Chicagoan Emanuel Rios, about his form and inspiration in the Windy City.

Alicia Drier, Oyez Review (OR): What are some of your favorite places to capture in Chicago?

Emanuel Rios (ER): Museum campus has one of the best views of the city year round, but the lakefront in general presents a great juxtaposition. There is a liminal nature to the lakefront that I’ve always found captivating. Otherwise, I think I have a favorite time rather than a favorite place. I love shooting at odd times in order to capture the city during its quieter moments.


I took one of my favorite quiet moment photos in NYC while I was wandering through Brooklyn late one Friday night. It was a part of Brooklyn that must have had a very concentrated Hasidic Jewish population because the streets were eerily empty and then all of the sudden there were scattered clusters of families walking past me. Within what seemed like 15 minutes they were all gone again and I was basically alone, wandering down the street. At the time I was completely confused by the experience. I probably wouldn’t have noticed this shop in the picture had I not been in such a perplexed, yet fascinated mood.


OR: What is your favorite subject to capture in your photography?

ER: I love when a subject makes me feel extremely small, so I tend to seek out views of vast expanses of land or cityscapes. I’ve spent most of my life in the city, so the stars tend to invoke that sensation too, when I get the opportunities to see them.


OR: How does Chicago compare to other subjects you have approached with your camera?

ER: Chicago offers a ton of great street photography options, though I often find myself uncomfortable photographing strangers. The “look up” opportunities are also endless in the city. Most landscapes are about look horizontally, but the city is built on so many different vertical levels that can capture your attention.


OR: How does photography work for you as a form of expression? What sort of dialogue do you hope to develop with your photos?

ER: I work a 9 to 5 desk job, so photography works as a calming escape from the mundane repetition throughout the week. I love to toss on headphones and just wander around the city without any destination in mind. In some sense I guess you could say I take the photos to remind myself to get outside more than anything else.


OR: How do literature and photography connect for you?

ER: I think photography and its relationship to journalism are crucial. National Geographic sparked my interest in photography, but the photos within each article usually served as my motivation to read the contents. There is something about the visceral experience of seeing something that adds a depth difficult to reach through words.

OR: Who are your top three go-to photographers for inspiration?

ER: Ansel Adams is always my number one go to. From a technical perspective, I greatly admire everything he’s done. I sometimes feel lucky that I get to work with modern DSLR cameras, which just makes his photographs all the more impressive to me. Jimmy Chin and Paul Nicklen both photograph for National Geographic and have taken some of the most stunning photos I’ve seen. The lengths they both go to get their shots are astounding. Jimmy Chin and Paul Nicken serve as my motivation to actually get off my butt and go shoot, while Ansel Adams influences aspirations for becoming a better photographer.

OR: How did you develop an interest in photography?

ER: My family had a subscription to National Geographic when I was a kid and even before I was old enough to read the articles, I would flip through each issue just to see their pictures of far off places. I took a few photography courses in high school that focused on developing film shots, but I grew up just as things kind of transitioned over to digital. I’ve always wanted to develop my own film, but it’s a pain in the butt (for me at least), so I committed to digital photography a few years ago. You can do some amazing things with current cameras and editing software, though I try to keep most of my edits simple and capture things as they genuinely exist in the real world.

You can find more of Emanuel Rios’ work on his Instagram.

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Blogging Wins and Losses

by: Melanie Jones

Someone once said to me, “I don’t understand people who consider themselves a writer, but don’t write.” That same day I created a blog and began putting out some work. A lot of it was what I referred to as unpolished rants. I would copy styles from Buzzfeed, like Top Five blah blah. I also wrote rebuttals to the content of other blogs I didn’t agree with, and would link their posts in my own blog.


(photo cred: http://windowsir.blogspot.com/)

The first thing that’s difficult about having a blog is getting a fan-base large enough that you don’t feel like you’re writing for an empty (chat)room. Gaining followers on outlets like Tumblr is difficult. Tumblr is not Facebook, not everyone and their grandma has one so if you are relying on followers from people you already know, that’s not very likely. If your only purpose in writing is to get your work shared, then you are on the wrong outlet. Writing a blog should first be a form of self-expression that is fulfilling and enjoyable for you regardless of followers, notes, and shares. You might get lucky and be featured on a larger-name site and gain followers for one timely, well-written piece, but that’s a small percentage of people who regularly upkeep a blog. 

If that does happen, you aren’t fully in control of what type of followers you may gain. In my unique case I wrote a rebuttal to a man who complained about doing sexual favors for a woman because he didn’t find them pleasurable. Due to the nature of my blog and the crass language, it was reblogged more times than anything else I’ve ever written. I gained several followers. These followers focused on sexual expression and sex in general on their pages, and some even featured pornographic images. My family asked if I was going to delete my account, but it didn’t bother me. I relay this story just so you are aware of the possibilities.

Another thing to consider before starting a blog is the recognition that any content you put on your blog is considered published work. Many literary journals, including Oyez Review, do not accept previously published work, so if you submit something that’s appeared on your blog for consideration by such a literary journal or magazine, it will probably be denied. Editors and staff will search the internet for works to make sure that it does not appear anywhere else. They want to publish content that’s new, and that could actually lead to more people looking at your blog in the end because they like your writing style. If you’d like to still have a blog then I’d suggest not putting your best work on there, especially if you’d like to submit it to a larger publication.

Having a blog can be satisfying. If you’re not in a writer’s group or a program where you can regularly share your work and receive feedback, a blog is a great option to show your pieces to other writers and receive critiques, or start a conversation about your given topic. Either way, there are gives-and-takes with featuring your work on any site or platform, but regardless of this, if you love writing keep doing it, even if you never plan on sharing it at all.

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Roosevelt Spring 2017 MFA Readings Series begins with Rion Amilcar Scott!


Join us on March 20th at 5:00 PM for our first reading event with Rion Amilcar Scott!

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Graphic Novels for Adults

“Graphic novel” may sound like a fancy name for a long comic book, but thanks to recent graphic memoir artists, this book category is growing up and moving on from super heroes and childish cartoon characters without losing any of its entertainment value. Below are five nonfiction graphic novels to help you revitalize your reading life without sucking away all your free time.

Maus, by Art Spiegelman

Don’t be fooled by the mice and cats on the cover – this is very much a story for a mature audience. Art Spiegelman uses this relationship of the animal kingdom to tell the story of his relationship with his father, a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust, and their mutual struggle to reconcile with the truth of endurance beyond tragedy.

Relish, by Lucy Knisley

One part cookbook, one part personal narrative, this story tells of Knisley’s lifelong romance with food. You’ll love it for its comic-styled recipes from around the world, for Knisley’s beautifully drawn portrayals of herself and those around her, and for the sharing of universal feel-good food love that we’ve all felt in our lives.

Blankets, by Craig Thompson

Arguably one of the longest graphic novels I’ve ever picked up (592 pages!), I promise it’s still worth the read. You will fall in love with Thompson’s portrayal of the Wisconsin landscape in winter and his unflinching record of growing up with his brother, questioning his Christian upbringing, and falling in love for the first time.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel

Known originally for her web comic Dykes to Watch Out For, this graphic novel is Alison Bechdel at her finest. You as a reader will not be disappointed, as you follow Bechdel through a non-linear narrative about her relationship with her father, their mutual struggle with being gay in small Pennsylvania town, and the family “fun home” funeral business.

American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang

This graphic novel tells the story of a young boy growing up in America with two Chinese native parents. Cultural disparities and racial stereotypes quickly leave Yang as a misfit of two worlds and unlikely to ever be given the choice of where he’d like to belong. The novel’s visual journey will take you through the geography of creating an identity for yourself in America.

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Interview with Lucy Knisley

You’re never too old to read comics. Lucy Knisley, an authority on all things food and graphic literature, would be the first to tell you that. From French Milk to Relish to her latest novel Something New, Knisley has made a career out of turning her life of travel, eating, and coming of age stories into art on the page. Recently, Knisley spoke with Oyez Review about her experience as a writer all over the world.

Alicia Drier, Oyez Review (OR): It’s been almost 10 years since your first graphic novel was published. How do you think your concept of art and story-telling have changed in that time?

Lucy Knisley (LK): I certainly have honed my methods and techniques a lot more than they were ten years ago! I think that’s a constant process. But I know that self-doubt was a major motivator when I first started out. I didn’t know if I would ever have the stamina or patience to draw a whole book. With every book I draw and write, I get more confident in my abilities– that I’m able to do more and interesting things with my work– things people haven’t seen before. At first, it was just “can I ever be nearly as good as my heroes?” And now it’s more “What can I make that will inspire people?”

OR: What do you feel the graphic novel genre allows you to do that traditional novel-writing would not?

LK: The interplay between the visuals and the text are really important to how I tell stories– there is so much there that would be missing without one or the other. Humor and pathos and metaphor can be so well conveyed in the graphic narrative, and I love that I’m able to dance the line between the two.

OR: Your work fits beautifully into this nouveau genre of graphic memoir. How does it feel to write so honestly and openly about your life?

LK: I came of age in the time when every teenager had their own blog. The Internet seemed so much cozier, then. Just a bunch of kids on Livejournal, drawing pictures and complaining about school. So it was always pretty automatic, for me to write about my life and share it in this way. I’m very touched and honored when people remember things about me that they’ve read in my work. I have readers tell me “This must be so weird, that I know about your cat!” But all my comics are filtered and edited and shared with purpose– I love that you know about my cat! Let’s talk about my cat!

OR: When was your moment when you felt you had made it as an author?

LK: I think this is an ongoing experience. You can forget, day-to-day, that your work is read and seen by people. It’s easy to become used to the vacuum that’s created when you’re working on your own. Whenever I have a signing or go to a comic show, I’m reminded by the faces and kindness of readers who I meet, that my work is reaching out past my own bubble and touching other people. It’s lovely to get those reminders.

OR: You’ve been honest in your writing about shifting back and forth between New York and Chicago through most of your life. How do these two spaces compare to you?

LK: I’ll always have one foot in New York and one in Chicago, I think. I grew up in Manhattan in the eighties and nineties, and I think that sort of bohemian-art-food-grime-utopia-morphing-into-wealthy-tourist-hub experience of New York has given me some good and terrible views of New York. I love its history and its tradition and arts/culture, but I hate its expense and hype and crowds.

Chicago has a lot going on, but it’s spread out over a lot more space. There’s a tradition of blue-collar hard work here in Chicago, which is different from the feeling of “luck and who you know” success of New York, which makes being an artist here a different story. Here, you can afford to have a house and raise a family as a hard working artist, whereas in New York you have to either come from money or fall into some serious good fortune to afford to live well as an artist.

Sometimes I get sad that I’m so far away from cool stuff happening in New York, but I also looooove that I’m able to have a baby AND go out to dinner from time to time, here in Chicago.

OR: What advice can you give to up and coming writers?

LK: Please take care of yourself. Up and coming anybodies tend to forget that their bodies and minds are their tools, and neglect both. Don’t compare yourself to others too much, or despair over blocks, or get angry that you’re not better/more successful/more adept/etc– it’ll hurt your brain to berate yourself so much. Don’t draw/write until your hands/back are torched– you’ll need them later. Better to slowly build up the strength and stamina you’ll need later on. It can be hard to be patient about these things, but I promise you that the muscle memory– to be kind to yourself, to consistently create work that you’re proud of, to have a steady output– will develop in time.

For more information about Lucy Knisley and her work, check out her website. You can also follow her work on both Twitter and Instagram.

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