April 1, 2016

New Contest! Design our Fictional Café Merch Logo!

New Contest! Design our Fictional Café Merch Logo!

Those of you who dropped by the cafe yesterday or earlier today may know we just wrapped up our 100th member contest. Well, we’re excited to announce some new Fictional Café swag on the way. But we need your help, Coffee Club members! We are looking for a fun, eye-catching logo design that we can use for our new FC stickers, mugs and other merch. Here are the contest specs: This contest is open only to Coffee Club members. If you’re reading this and are not yet a member, you can join here for free! All designs must include some play on the “café” theme (see featured image above for an example). Bonus points if you can incorporate “Fresh Java,” the name of our digest email, in the design. All designs must be a high-quality…

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March 31, 2016

100th Member Contest Winners!

100th Member Contest Winners!

Hello Fictional Café patrons and Coffee Club members! You may recall that back in 2015 we ran a 100th member contest. At long last, we are happy to announce our TWO winners (they signed up on the same day, so what the heck!). Congratulations to Karen Huff and Erica Nazzaro!! You’ve won a Fictional Café baseball hat and a Fictional Café sticker. We’ve gotten such a great influx of new readers, we have actually reached (and surpassed) 150 members as well, so we are also going to give that lucky person, Judy Katz-Levine, a hat and sticker as well! Congrats to all our winners and if you didn’t win this time, stay tuned. Right around the corner we have another contest that we are super-excited about! -Your Baristas    

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March 11, 2016

“Rattlesnakes” by Kathryn Holzman

“Rattlesnakes” by Kathryn Holzman

“We also spent entire nights in bed and I told her my dreams. I told her about the big snake of the world that was coiled in the earth like a worm in an apple and would someday nudge up a hill to be thereafter known as Snake Hill and fold out upon the plain, a hundred miles long and devouring as it went along. I told her this snake was Satan. “What’s going to happen?” she squealed; meanwhile she held me tight.” – Jack Kerouac * * * “Rattlesnakes can swim.” Valerie grabbed the nun’s wrist, desperate to get her attention. Thirty demonstrators walked down the highway median with children and dogs in tow. Despite the chilly January wind, the ragged line of walkers was determined to show support for a proposed rattle snake…

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March 7, 2016

Allison Whittenberg’s Politically-Charged Poetry

Allison Whittenberg’s Politically-Charged Poetry

“Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” ― Jack Kerouac     The Quickening Because I believe in perfection I believe in abortion Babies are asymmetrical They/she/he/it squander The silken grammar of routine But, a fetus can be edited Its absence assures a lacy indefectibility In the vacuum, I can breathe It’s not right It’s not the right time I don’t want to hunker down in Staten Island Or be on bed rest Or buy big clothes Or rush to alter with a gown and a groom and a promise With rice raining on me like fallout. I don’t want to be folk like my mother was folk. Children growing out of her hairdo. Dull eyes and unpainted nails. Waking on the hour to feed.  Feeding. Always feeding the hungry….

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March 1, 2016

Steve Sangapore’s SciArt Series

Steve Sangapore’s SciArt Series

“The fact that everybody in the world dreams every night ties all mankind together.” – Jack Kerouac Editor’s Note: I met Steve Sangapore at an art opening last year when he was showing one of his pieces (Virtuality) below. What struck me about his work was the complexity of ideas being communicated all at once. My eye would focus on one aspect of it, only to be drawn away a moment later to another section, forcing me to visually zoom in while I pondered its significance. The interconnectedness of all these seemingly disparate parts – some instantly recognizable, others more abstract – was one of the reasons I put a check next to his name on my exhibition notepad. I’d like to mention that two of the pieces – Virtuality and Omneity – are painted…

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February 29, 2016

“Live, Travel, Adventure, Bless, and Don’t Be Sorry” – March Submissions

“Live, Travel, Adventure, Bless, and Don’t Be Sorry” – March Submissions

I wanted to quote Jack Kerouac in celebration of his birthday later this month and recalled the photo above (in true Kerouacian form, I wasn’t even standing still long enough for the photo to finish taking). Four years ago, at the Harvard Coop bookstore, I stumbled upon this curious sign. I inquired about it as I purchased a copy of “The Sun Also Rises.” The cashier told me that they had this placard made because so many people were stealing these authors’ books as a tip of the cap to the jobless, anti-capitalism, beat generation writers. The staff had to start keeping those books behind the counter a-la cigarettes and scratch tickets. It seems other bookstores have done the same. Maybe Kerouac’s quote should read: “Live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t pay for books.” *…

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February 28, 2016

“We Have a Particular Relationship with Vowels” The BreakBeat Poets Experience

“We Have a Particular Relationship with Vowels” The BreakBeat Poets Experience

I had no idea what to expect when I decided to attend a poetry reading called “The BreakBeat Poets” at an art gallery. So even though everything that followed was, by definition, “not what I’d expected,” that phrase did little justice to my actual experience. As I entered Uforge Gallery on a balmy Thursday night, I was greeted with the aroma of wine and the sounds of hip-hop music echoing off paintings of men without faces and photographs of women sitting on the floor. A panorama of bodies in motion, buzzing, stretched from wall to wall. The organizers of the event, Papercuts J.P., had a table with the anthology of poems by The BreakBeat Poets and the poets’ individual books for purchase along with tote bags, bookmarks and free wine. I found a singular seat along…

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February 22, 2016

“To Write, To Grow Up” by Rachael Allen

“To Write, To Grow Up” by Rachael Allen

Editor’s Note: Guest Blogger Rachael Allen talks about her experience in Creative Writing Classes.   * * * A good creative writing class feels a bit like growing up. You arrive eager and breathy, whipping out efforts that while earnest are lacking. You listen and admire and emulate. You judge and then learn to empathize. You make friends and feel vulnerable and must continually prove yourself. Through these efforts, if you write and write and write, you hopefully come out with a better sense of yourself and a fat folder of writing on your desktop. I started taking creative writing classes in high school, my school luckily being one with the funds and interest to have an arts program. That class didn’t feel like an academic space; rather, it was a space for me and…

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February 9, 2016

A. J. Sidransky On Writing: Crime Fiction or Otherwise

A. J. Sidransky On Writing: Crime Fiction or Otherwise

Editor’s Note: Fictional Café member A. J. Sidransky shares some stories and wisdom from his writing experience. Enjoy! * * * From the time I was a teenager I wanted to be a writer. When I was 17 years old, graduating high school and heading off to college, my parents asked me, “What do you want to do? What do you want to study?” I said I wanted to study English and I wanted to be a writer. “No, no, no, no,” they said. “You need to be able to earn a living and support a family.” I spent more than thirty miserable years in the real estate finance business. Thank god for the great recession. The first thing I will tell you is that a writer, regardless of genre, has to write. If you…

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February 4, 2016

Holly Guran’s “19th Century Mill Life” Poetry

Holly Guran’s “19th Century Mill Life” Poetry

Editor’s Note: I met Holly Guran at a poetry reading one chilly night in December. She told me that she had heard of The Fictional Café because her friend Maria Termini told her about the site. Now, for a literary magazine as small as ours, meeting someone who’s heard of your publication is a pretty big deal. Needless to say, I was flattered and encouraged upon hearing this news. Well it turns out that Holly is a darn good poet herself! After reading some of her work online, I was struck by one of her poems about yesteryear. It was part historical fiction, part lyrical voyage. I was enticed by the visuals her poetry created – of a life so much different than mine in an area I have visited a dozen times (mostly for…

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