NJ Writers' Op

Amplifying NJ's Literary Heartbeat

This Is The End, Perhaps was a project undertaken as part of a class assignment, and, unfortunately for all of us here in NJ, that class has come to an end. Does this mean an end for the NJ Writers’ Op?

I’m not sure. Continue reading “This Is The End, Perhaps”


Open Mic in Maplewood, On The Mic at The Rack

Incandescent bulbs hang over a small stage set-up with a mic, and the only other light comes from the tabletop tea candles and a single strand of white Christmas lights along the wall. There are several couches and armchairs, and the sweet odor of marijuana stuck to a patron’s winter jacket blends with the aroma of fried catfish, which is the evening’s kitchen special. This is The Rack, a café and social space in Maplewood, NJ. For almost two years now they’ve been hosting On The Mic, an open mic event held Friday nights. Continue reading “Open Mic in Maplewood, On The Mic at The Rack”

Classics Bookstore Gives Free Books To Trenton’s Youth

Classics Bookstore is an independently owned used-book store in Trenton, NJ. The shop is small, crowded, and a bit disheveled (just how we like our bookstores). The owner, Eric Maywar, puts a heavy focus on community involvement. Trenton’s youth can stop in and take books for free – boxes full of free books, is how Maywar explains it. He hosts open-mic nights, Scrabble nights, Cards Against Humanity nights, and Knitting nights.


NJ’s Independent Bookstores Bolster Communities

You can download your books from Amazon, you can get your books from Barnes & Noble, or you can walk downtown to a local independent bookseller and find yourself surrounded by excellent people loving the same books as

Bookstores aren’t just rows of shelves, they’re third spaces – those places outside of home and work where we congregate, socialize, hangout. These characteristics are found in all the great bookstores, and can be found here in NJ, too. Continue reading “NJ’s Independent Bookstores Bolster Communities”

Nancy Scott Talks About The Founding of US1 Poetry Co-op

The US1 Poetry Cooperative has been based in the Princeton, NJ, area since 1973. The group publishes annual poetry collections – now on volume 62! The group meets every Tuesday, usually at a member’s house, so if you’re interested in attending one of their workshops you’ll have to sign up for their e-newsletter.

Nancy Scott has been a member of the cooperative since the 1990’s, and took over as the Managing Editor of US1 Worksheets – the co-op’s annual publication – in the early-2000’s. Nancy spoke with me about the early days of US1, and what their hopes are moving forward.

How Ian MacAllen’s English Kills Review Is Saving Literature and the Internet

The modus operandi of the internet is this: publish what gets more clicks. If you want your site to at least power your apartment, you need headlines with big names, clever lists, and farcical concepts. The literary quarters of the internet are similarly affected. But when every Review and Journal is bound by the indomitable Rule of the Click Count, we need someone to remind us there is more to literature than Colson Whitehead’s newest novel, Zadie Smith’s latest doings, and Stephen King’s politics.

With a collective sigh of relief, we introduce you to Ian MacAllen, the netizen helping to save literature – and quite possibly the internet – from itself. Continue reading “How Ian MacAllen’s English Kills Review Is Saving Literature and the Internet”

Colonization of the Eye: A Princeton Discussion by Poets

Last Wednesday, poet Natalie Diaz hosted Colonization of the Eye: A Troubling of Identity, Performance, and Projection, at the Lewis Center for the Arts in Princeton, NJ. The guest poets were Christian Campbell, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and Roger Reeves.

The discussion focused on how stereotypes and preconceived notions can affect the ways in which people experience literature, poetry, and art. The guests took turns presenting their works and addressing the subject, and answered questions from the audience. Continue reading “Colonization of the Eye: A Princeton Discussion by Poets”

Where to Nanowrimo in NJ


shield-nano-blue-brown-rgb-hiresNanowrimo, or, National Novel Writing Month, takes place every November. It invites people to sign up and write a novel – or at least 50,000 words – in one month.

There’s plenty of criticism thrown at Nanowrimo, for instance, that the unstructured write-a-thon churns out a whole lot of slop. Ideally, if you’re going to participate, you should have a novel outlined before November. Whether or not Nanowrimo helps you write a best-seller isn’t much the point, though – if you’re sitting down to write every night, with a goal of penning 50,000 words in one month, it doesn’t matter how awful your ‘novel’ is; what matters is that you’ve been writing consistently. Continue reading “Where to Nanowrimo in NJ”

Jersey City Poetry Slam’s Mark Skrypczak Talks About Coaching and Running the JC Slam

Slam poetry is poetry that is meant to be performed. It’s usually shorter than traditional, page poetry because most slams only allow the poet 3 minutes to recite their work. But within those 3 minutes is the power to move an audience to its feet – tears, clogged throats, and lots of enthusiastic finger-snapping. The same goes for the slam poetry at the Jersey City Poetry Slam.

Walk into the Tea NJ cafe in Jersey City, and twice a month you’ll find the small cafe packed with slam poets and poetry enthusiasts. This is a boisterous bunch. They’re loud, vocal, and full of passion. Most nights you’ll find Mark Skrypczak, a tall, quiet figure, seated at a table against the wall tallying up the scores for each poet.

Mark’s been running the Jersey City Poetry Slam for almost six years. And since then, the JC Slam has evolved from a twice-monthly event with hardly anyone showing up, to a nationally-known group that packs the Tea NJ cafe every other Thursday night, sending its slam poets to national competitions around the country.

I caught up with Mark at the end of the last poetry slam. The cafe was closing – they stay open late twice a month for the JC Slam – so we went outside and found a bench and spent an hour talking about slam poetry. Continue reading “Jersey City Poetry Slam’s Mark Skrypczak Talks About Coaching and Running the JC Slam”

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