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COLD FEET: Birds take to the ice as winter makes its appearance at Yellowstone National Park. / Photo by Nancy Williams

Today's word on journalism

Monday, November 5, 2007

On Objectivity:

"I still insist that 'objective journalism' is a contradiction in terms. But I want to draw a very hard line between the inevitable reality of 'subjective journalism' and the idea that any honestly subjective journalist might feel free to estimate a crowd at a rally for some candidates the journalist happens to like personally at 2,000 instead of 612 -- or to imply that a candidate the journalist views with gross contempt, personally, is a less effective campaigner than he actually is."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, from Fear & Loathing: CORRECTIONS, RETRACTIONS, APOLOGIES, COP-OUTS, ETC., a 1972 memo to Rolling Stone editor Jann S. Wenner, excerpted in the current (November 2007) issue of Harper’s Magazine (Thanks to alert WORDster Andy Merton)

REVIEW: Helicon West provides night of fun and culture

By Whitney Hancock

October 29, 2007 | I don't drink coffee, but I have always loved the smell. When I walked into Citrus and Sage, a quaint little gift and coffee shop on 100 East, that succulent aroma hit me, and I was immediately glad I had come. I'm also not much of a creative writer, but I have most certainly always appreciated the art of writing itself.

Helicon West is something that I had heard a lot about but only recently took the time to attend. This open-mic reading session is a bi-monthly event, and local creative writers from across the valley attend to read pieces of original work and to hear and support fellow writers.

The venue is charming, a small coffee shop that serves lattes and cappuccinos in mismatched mugs. The walls are a warm burnt orange. A space cleared in the main area of the shop is filled with a few overstuffed armchairs, several café table chairs, and lots of folding chairs, all facing a microphone and an elevated wrought-iron garden table serving as a podium set up before the front bay window.

I arrived just a few minutes early and found a seat on the end of the second row. The main room of Citrus and Sage is distinctive. Next to where I was sitting, there was a small, trickling fountain. I noticed a variety of candles, knick-knacks, and ceramic figurines adorning the mantle and shelves in the room. There is framed artwork on the walls; portraits -- maybe photographs, maybe drawings, I am unsure. The room works together and the effect is pleasing -- a perfect atmosphere for what transpires there.

Thursday night, a poetry group from Salt Lake City was featured at Helicon West. The group was comprised of writers who were previously students of USU poetry professor Star Coulbrooke. Six poets were featured from the group, and each read several of their own original poems.

Following the special guests, those who had previously signed up for open mic had a chance to read. Participants Thursday ranged from USU professors, students, graduate instructors, and also members of the community. Poems, essays, and pieces of short fiction were shared. The subject matter ranged from nature, to love, to childbirth, to autumn. One essay was even a reflection on the varying stages of coolness, which had the crowed laughing throughout. All ends of the emotional spectrum were covered in the event.

It became very clear to me that Helicon West is a safe space where, no matter what your level of skill, your writing is welcome. No judgment takes place there. I was impressed by the attentiveness and respect that was given to each reader, and the enthusiastic applause that followed.

Though I found Citrus and Sage to be a quaint and charming place for such an event, they still certainly have a business to run. The phone rang several times. A number of patrons came for coffee. Machines steamed in the back, and some people in the adjacent area of the shop chatted quietly. I seemed to be one of only few to notice this, as generally, the attention of the Helicon West congregation was rapt upon the reader. However, these might be considered unpleasant disruptions. I would say they were minor inconveniences, however, when compared to the culture and atmosphere provided by Helicon West. But if you are one to be easily distracted, arrive early and get a seat in the front and try your best to focus.

Helicon West is sponsored chiefly by the USU Writing Center and encourages all members of the community to attend. The event is free, and is held every second and fourth Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at Citrus and Sage. For November, however, Helicon West will be held on the 15th and 29th, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Readers are encouraged to arrive a few minutes early to sign up.

If you are looking for an artistic outlet for your writing, or if you would just like to expand your horizons a bit, I recommend Helicon West for an exciting, stimulating, and fun experience.



Copyright 1997-2007 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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