NJ Writers' Op

Amplifying NJ's Literary Heartbeat


October 2016

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”

List of NJ Writing Groups – With a Map!

Presenting… the Most Complete List of Writing Groups in NJ (Plus there’s a sweet map): Continue reading “List of NJ Writing Groups – With a Map!”

How to Find a Writing Group

Writing groups are ubiquitous. They’re in every city, most counties, and if you look through you’ll be inundated with choices.

Writing groups vary widely in how they’re constructed and what they offer. Some are designed just to set specific times to come and write – Write-Ins – while others are meant to give you feedback on your work, while still others are just unstructured get-togethers.old-school

Before you get started, it’s important to ask yourself, What Kind Of Writer Do I Want To Be? Writing groups tend to split into two categories: those of casual writers, and those of determined writers. However you answer the question, you’re going to want a group of writers with similar habits and goals. The only honest way to figure out the attitudes and writing habits of different groups is… to actually go to the groups.

But to save you the years’ long process of attending every writing group in NJ to find the one that fits you best, we’ve put together an abridged run-down of the different groups in NJ: Continue reading “How to Find a Writing Group”

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