OFF THE WALL
a behind-the-scenes blog
STRIKING A CHORD
Composers Set Poems to Music
Posted July 10, 2023
The music we hear and the words we read often strike a chord with us. They resonate because we relate. If music and literature can each produce this effect on their own, imagine what can happen when words are matched with music. Students in Professor Ariel Alexander’s music composition class at Saddleback College created original pieces inspired by the work of two poets featured in WALL 2023. The poets selected student compositions that most closely matched their literary vision, creating a synthesis of sound and sense. What they produced, we hope, strikes a chord with listeners and readers. Scroll down to read and listen to each poem accompanied by original music.
Poem by Paige Kujan
Music by Justin "DaMidul"
Using the metaphor of love as a sickness, Paige Kujan’s poem probes the delicate internal tensions that surface when confronted with romantic inclinations. “Letting a relationship happen, letting the current float me out to sea, it’s never been an easy choice for me, for I believe relationships are a series of choices made with love,” she observes. “So far, I have found myself turning from the deep end, resisting, and developing a sick-like ache for what I’ve turned from. But I wouldn’t trade the ache, the fever, for anything. Not only because it’s foolish to regret, but also because it’s proof of my love, even if it never reached the other person.”
Kujan, an avid reader and storyteller who currently serves as the archivist for the Creative Writing Club at Saddleback College, was inspired to write about the paradoxical torment of cherishing love in all its forms while experiencing the despair of resisting it “for whatever reason.”
Justin “DaMidul,” who composed the musical track that matches Kujan’s vocal rendering, describes "Gentle Fever" as “a piece of art that dives into the painful side of love. I felt it was about knowing that you are losing someone and desperately trying to hold on to something that does not exist anymore.” He aimed to capture “the push and pull of love” by playing the piano and guitar against each other to “symbolize the power dynamics of a one-sided love.”
Kujan selected DaMidul’s track because its tone, characterized by a distinctive synth and echo, conveyed a sense of “tumultuous despair that felt right with the intention of the poem.” Noting the resonant impression left by listening to the sounds, she connected strongly with the way DaMidul’s music complemented the subtle tensions within her lyrical lines: “A tonal crescendo rises with the last stanza that is so satisfying to listen to. If I had spoken with no emotion, this part could certainly express it for me. But my favorite part of the track is hands down the guitar riff that flows through it all. The way it trails off at the end is the exact kind of haunting that the last stanza needs. Despite the last stanza’s steadfast hold in its circumstance, it is still achingly ‘feverish’ and the track expressed this in a way that I really appreciated and simply couldn’t get out of my head.”
While new to the music scene as an artist and producer, DaMidul is striving to balance his passion for art with his long-term dedication to sports. He plans to continue releasing new tracks on SoundCloud and can be reached for production inquiries at email@example.com. In the meantime, he hopes that the musical composition he created for “Gentle Fever” resonates with listeners as a complement to Kujan’s emotionally impacting poem. As he notes, “Dealing with failed relationships and lost love is part of the human experience. Everyone will go through it at some time.”
SURVIVING THE SCROLL
Poem by Kelly Daub
Music by Anthony Aguilar
Scrolling through social media posts, tweets, and reels is an integral part of the modern lifestyle. For many people, it’s a daily ritual that allows them to catch up in an instant with friends, family, news, trends, causes, and hobbies. However, the habit can be harmful, as Kelly Daub has discovered. A part-time photographer, digital designer, and writer who served as a Personal Narrative Editor for the 2021 edition of WALL Literary Journal, she was inspired to write her poem when she noticed the negative effects of social media on her emotional condition as well as her children’s mental health. “I was suffering a wave of anxiety at the time I wrote it, and I observed how my desire to scroll through Instagram was exacerbating it,” she explains. “In my children's social media usage, I noticed a similar effect of distraction, depression, and fear of missing out.”
In response, she uninstalled social media apps from her phone and started a six-month “social media cleanse.” So far, the experience has been liberating. “In this digital age, where everything is accessible at the touch of a screen, it is important to acknowledge that while technology offers convenience, it can never replace the significance of genuine connections,” Daub remarks. “It is these authentic connections that truly foster positive mental health and well-being." She chose Aguilar’s track because of its rhythmic quality, which “really draws your attention.”
Aguilar, who took music production classes at Saddleback College prior to transferring to California State University, Dominguez Hills to study audio engineering, focused on using instrumentation that matches the melancholic tone of the poem. He also paid close attention to the emotional resonance of Daub’s words, striving to capture the vibe through precise tonal echoes. In the midst of the ups and downs of the rhyming lines, he found a strong sense of “determination and motivation” that he sought to convey as a struggle to emerge from the despair and darkness described by Daub. Aguilar hopes that listeners will take inspiration from “Surviving the Scroll,” which conveys the universal experience of facing obstacles and being able “to push through those obstacles in the best ways possible.”
PUBLIC READING FOR WALL 2022 ON OCTOBER 27
Lizeth Tello, Editor-in-Chief, and Brandi Michele Ortiz, Fiction Editor/Art Editor, will participate in the public reading for WALL.
Writers and artists will take viewers on a journey IN AND OUT OF THE WOODS during a virtual public reading for WALL Literary Journal on October 27. Poems, stories, artwork, and photography by Saddleback College students featured in the pages of the award-winning campus publication will be the focus of the 7 p.m. event, which airs on YouTube.
WALL is produced by students in English 160 (Literary Magazine), who work as staff members of the journal, reading and selecting the submissions, editing them, and arranging the layout and design of the publication. The staff for the 2022 edition includes Lizeth Tello (Editor-in-Chief); Chelsey Bennett, Rachel Dahlquist, Alicia Marie Glass, Fern Helsel-Metz, Kat Johnson, Renee Le, Sophie Matossian, Brandi Michele Ortiz, Birute Ranes, Nathan Richmond, Victoria Romero Castanon, and Alani Walraven. Professor Gina Shaffer serves as faculty advisor.
STRIKING A CHORD
Composers Set Poems to Music
Posted July 26, 2022
The music we hear and the words we read often strike a chord with us. They resonate because we relate. If music and literature can each produce this effect on their own, imagine what can happen when words are matched with music. Students in Professor Ariel Alexander’s music composition class at Saddleback College created original pieces inspired by the work of two poets featured in WALL 2022. The poets selected student compositions that most closely matched their literary vision, creating a synthesis of sound and sense. What they produced, we hope, strikes a chord with listeners and readers.
Poem by Kelly Daub
Music by Frederick Caballero
Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. Most of us can relate to the feeling of not being able to get to sleep and lying awake, completely aware of time passing us by. That’s the premise behind the poem by Kelly Daub, who suffers from occasional bouts of insomnia. “One night while lying in bed, my mind racing a thousand miles an hour, I had the sudden thought that I should write down what it feels like,” she observed. “I wanted to be able to explain to my husband, who can seemingly shut down like he has flipped a switch to ‘off’ as soon as his head hits the pillow. As I started writing out my stream of thoughts, they just sort of flowed out like poetry."
Daub, a part-time photographer and digital designer, enjoys writing short stories, plays, and poetry. She served as a Personal Narrative Editor for WALL 2021. Caballero’s music seemed like the perfect fit for her kinetic stanzas. “I liked the quiet intensity and the build,” she said. “It fit well with my words and I like the way it added a hint of suspense."
Caballero, a professional musician, music producer, and entrepreneur who is studying music production and global business at Saddleback College, listened closely to the story within the poem and identified with its themes. “I can relate to it,” he observed. “I had insomnia when I was younger. Sometimes, you worry a lot and you can’t really sleep.” Those precious minutes and sometimes even hours spent trying to sleep end up being wasted time, he adds.
When composing music for “Insomneurotic,” Caballero, who has been working abroad as a drummer, percussionist, and vocalist for almost two decades, tried to capture the poet’s spoken phrasing. “I continually played it in a loop,” he explained. “It’s kind of hypnotizing.” He chose a thumping bass to create a dark, brooding mood typical of film noir. While he stressed that the poem and the voice of the poet are “the most important part,” he believes “the music can elevate your imagination.”
Poem by Lizeth Tello
Music by Duke Etherton
Grasping claws and a gentle hand. Despair and hope. Dark and light. These contrasting images and concepts are interwoven throughout Lizeth Tello’s compelling poem. A lot happens within the thirteen lines of “The Light.” Tello, who serves as editor-in-chief of the 2022 edition of WALL Literary Journal, sought to capture the universal experience of struggling to overcome hardship and trauma. As a journalism and English major, she also has served as editor-in-chief of the Lariat, Saddleback’s newspaper, and the Orange Appeal, the campus magazine.
Duke Etherton, a high school incoming senior who is studying Liberal Arts at Saddleback College, interprets the poem as “an analogy for the persistence of hope that humankind exhibits in difficult times.” He composed his track with the goal of ‘’complementing and accentuating the emotion of Lizeth's beautiful poem. I tried to convey an ethereal and sincere feeling, which I think embodies the message of the lyrics well."
Etherton, who works as a clubhouse attendant for the Louisville Bats, a Minor League Baseball team in the Cincinnati Reds organization, spends his spare time playing lots of indie and "freak-folk" music on his guitar. He hopes that listeners are “emotionally touched” by the composition he created to accompany the poem. “Through Lizeth's words and my music,” he observes, “I believe we showed that we all have the opportunity to bring light to darkness, and that is something that should be celebrated.“
STRIKING A CHORD
Composers Set Poems to Music
Posted July 6, 2021
The music we hear and the words we read often strike a chord with us. They resonate because we relate. If music and literature can each produce this effect on their own, imagine what can happen when words are matched with music. Students in Professor Ariel Alexander’s music composition class at Saddleback College created original pieces inspired by the work of two poets featured in WALL 2021. The poets selected student compositions that most closely matched their literary vision, creating a synthesis of sound and sense. What they produced, we hope, strikes a chord with listeners and readers.
Poem by Adriana Rivas
Music by Katie McColm
In a yearly summertime ritual, monarch butterflies, their delicate wings fluttering in the breeze, drifted toward the milkweed in the backyard where Adriana Rivas grew up. She watched with admiration as the gentle creatures evolved from eggs to butterflies. “Every step of the way it seemed that the insect had to make a decision, but it always knew the right thing to do: which direction to fly each season, locating the milkweed plants, finding a safe place to form a chrysalis,” she recalls. “Witnessing this cycle every year made me think of how uncertain I feel about my life and my future. I sometimes wish that I had the natural instinct to tell me exactly what I need and where to go. But there is no built-in guide to human life. At least I don’t think there is.”
Her recollection of the familiar ritual inspired Rivas to write her poem “Ancestral Compass,” which compares the instinctual rhythms of the natural world with the chaotic and unpredictable course of human lives. An English major who aspires to become a professional writer or editor, she found a compliment to her verse in the dramatic lofi music composed by Katie McColm. “Her piece is subdued but intense, which evokes the contemplative and sulky qualities of the poem,” Rivas observes. “I think the energy of the music and the poem are perfectly matched.”
The first time she listened to the poem, McColm immediately felt a connection to it. The philosophical pondering leads her to describe it as “a message of the soul, a deep reflection of the spirit.” Drawing her inspiration from spoken word and Def Jam poetry, McColm created a beat intended to “feel like slow rapping.” While letting the words “resonate in my heart and mind,” she composed the music “soft enough to not overpower the words and message of the poem.” She hopes her music will transport listeners through the poem so “they can experience in sound what I experienced in my mind’s eye when I first heard the poem read.”
Poem by Brianna Blashill
Music by Euan Tandiono
In and out. Inhale and exhale. Beat. Beat. Beat. The rhythms of breathing and a beating heart bring a pulsating energy to Brianna Blashill’s poem “Echoes.” The diction and imagery capture the contrasts between light and dark, companionship and solitude, life and death. Intimations of grief and hope collide within the lines of the poem, penned by Blashill, whose work is informed by her appreciation for the contradictions and ambiguities within enduring literary works.
Blashill, an English major who recently graduated from Saddleback College and is transferring to San Diego State University to prepare for a teaching career, found a lyrically resonant complement to her words in the musical track by Euan Tandiono. “I loved that his composition had notes of both sadness and optimism—it really resonated with me,” she observes. “It has been a beautiful experience to see my poem given new life through music.”
When listening to a recording of the poem, Tandiono interpreted the rising and falling rhythms as representing “a clash between nature's beauty and solitude's pessimism. I wanted to create a feeling of uneasiness, emphasizing ambiguity during the journey but resolving with optimism. I hope that listeners enjoy my interpretation of the poem and experience all the emotions that I felt when reading it.”
SPOTLIGHT: A Literary Podcast
FEATURED WRITER: Poet Seadona Taloma
INTERVIEWER: Karlee Quinn, Poetry Editor, WALL 2021
PODCAST PRODUCER: Kelly Daub, Personal Narrative Editor, WALL 2021
UNSCRAMBLING THE UPS AND DOWNS OF LIFE
Posted June 30, 2021
How does cooking breakfast relate to finding an escape from existential despair? A seemingly mundane domestic task becomes emblematic of recovery from depression in poet Seadona Taloma’s poem “Egg.,” which is featured in WALL 2021. With its distinctive blend of heavy subject matter and lighthearted imagery, the verse captures the struggle to overcome mental illness. “Life can hurt less—or life can even be beautiful,” observes Taloma, a philosophy major who plans to become a professor and conduct sociological research. In this podcast, she reflects on the process of creating the poem, struggling with depression, and connecting with people through her art. “It breaks open my heart to think that other people are reading this, relating to it, having any sort of hope because they read it," Taloma remarks. "I believe that I have this one human life and the best thing I can do with it is affect people in a positive way, to give people a little bit of hope on their journey.”
SPOTLIGHT ON Poet Seadona Taloma
Image by Fernando Andrade
WALL 2020 NAMED OUTSTANDING LITERARY-ART MAGAZINE
Posted February 10, 2021
WALL Literary Journal has been named Most Outstanding Community College Literary-Art Magazine for 2020 in a nationwide competition. This is the third time the campus publication has been honored with this prestigious designation by the American Scholastic Press Association, the New York-based sponsor of the contest.
Produced annually by students in English 160, a class that meets every spring, WALL features short stories, poetry, personal narratives, art and photography by students at Saddleback College. The following students served as members of the staff of the award-winning 2020 edition of WALL: Gabriella H. Palazzo (Editor-in Chief); Evangeline Brennan, Lydie M. Denier, and Aubrie Fuster (Fiction Editors); Dylan Robinson and Tania Y. Solano Cervantes (Personal Narrative Editors); Beau Hein (Poetry Editor); Brett Cervantes and Harrison Webb (Art Editors); Noosha Golab, Matthew Morris, and Vishalsinh S. Solanki (Graphic Designers/Layout Editors): Fern Helsel-Metz (Photography Editor); Isabella Arnett and Cy Hill (Literary Associates). Professor Gina Victoria Shaffer serves as faculty advisor for WALL.
STUDENT WRITERS HONORED IN ONE BOOK, ONE COLLEGE WRITING CONTEST
What does it mean to be “educated”? That was the question posed to students participating in a writing contest sponsored by the One Book, One College Committee as part of the campus-wide reading of Educated, a best-selling memoir. Students at Saddleback College were invited to share their responses to this question, inspired by the book, which chronicles Tara Westover’s persistent quest for knowledge. Her commitment to education led her from an isolated life with her survivalist family in rural Idaho to completion of a doctoral program at Cambridge University in England. She writes, “I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create.”
Taking these words to heart, Haining Zhou produced a memoir titled “Self-Creation: A Critical Response to Educated," Toni Selman penned a narrative titled “Necessary Family Education,” and Andrew Carter composed a literary analysis essay titled “Education: Freedom through the Pursuit of Truth.” Each student received a $100 scholarship from the Friends of the Library. Read their award-winning essays by clicking below.
Annually, the One Book, One College Committee selects a book for the campus community to read as a way to promote multidisciplinary dialogue about local and global issues. This year’s committee members included Ryan Brook, Leah England, Catherine Hayter, Jonathan Luque, Shellie Ochi, Lydia Tamara, Larry Radden, and Christina Smith.
PUBLIC READING & PERFORMANCES FOR WALL 2020
A virtual public reading featuring works from WALL 2020 is scheduled at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 29 on YouTube.
It will also be broadcast on the campus TV station (Channel 39). The event, sponsored by the Liberal Arts and Fine
Arts divisions at Saddleback College, includes oral interpretations and dance performances as well as writers
reading from their stories and poems and artists discussing their creative process.
STRIKING A CHORD
Composers Set Poems to Music
Posted June 22, 2020
The music we hear and the words we read often strike a chord with us. They resonate because we relate. If music and literature can each produce this effect on their own, imagine what can happen when words are matched with music. Students in Professor Ariel Alexander’s music composition class at Saddleback College created original pieces inspired by the work of two poets featured in WALL 2020. The poets selected student compositions that most closely matched their literary vision, creating a synthesis of sound and sense. What they produced, we hope, strikes a chord with listeners and readers.
Poem by Yasmeen Sheik
Music by Sam Burrell
When Sam Burrell read the poem “Bitter Sweet,” Yasmeen Sheik’s powerful diction and imagery brought to mind the traumatic experience of a romantic breakup. “She’s remembering the good times with her partner, and the good memories taste sweet,” he observes. “Then she tastes bitterness in her mouth, which expresses the bad and painful memories with her partner.” Burrell, who is majoring in music production and dabbles in graphic design, chose to convey the mood of the poem with a dramatic/melodic instrumental, hoping listeners will feel like “they just listened to an epic short story.”
Sheik, who will attend UCLA in the Fall as an English major with plans to become an editor, wanted to emphasize the sensation of being speechless and feeling physically ill in “Bitter Sweet.” Burrell’s composition “perfectly captured the defeated feeling of being at a loss for words,” she observes. Though reading and writing are her passion, she enjoys playing the flute and piccolo, giving her an added appreciation for Burrell’s instrumental accompaniment. “The echoes and the melancholy tone gave me chills. In a strange way it relaxed me, as I remembered how crushed and fed up I was when I wrote this poem.”
I DROPPED MY PHONE IN OATMEAL TODAY
Poem by Alyssa Shishkov
Music by Sam Iacometti
Alyssa Shishkov, an avid animal lover who plans to pursue a career in cognitive science researching mental disabilities, actually experienced the unfortunate mishap chronicled in her poem. After laughing over her smartphone submerged in the mushy mess, she realized “this silly act of negligence” could provide an opportunity for lyrical commentary. “I don’t think social media is inherently bad,” she explains. “Rather, my dropping my phone into my food as I attempted to scroll through Instagram and eat simultaneously as well as the poem produced from this event are meant to comment on the power we have to portray ourselves one way on the Internet, make others like that version, and the dangers entailed in this dichotomy when we begin to love that version of ourselves more than our true selves which only exist in the moment. That idealistic portrayal of reality – albeit a beautiful escape – is fleeting and will one day ‘die’ along with the adoration we and our followers have for it, whereas the beauty and sweetness of life – and of a bowl of oatmeal – will always exist in some form or another.”
While not a heavy smartphone user himself, Sam Iacometti could understand the frustrations that accompany overreliance on digital devices. “I understand the feeling of not wanting to deal with it,” he explains. “When reading and listening to the poem, I visualized an image in my head and tried to bring that image out in the form of sounds and music.” Iacometti, who enjoys listening to and composing music as a break from studying design and architecture, incorporated the sounds of an iPhone camera shutter, keyboard clicks, and electronic sounds—all culminating in what Shishkov considers a perfect musical complement to her philosophical musings on modern technology.
WALL STAFF BREAKS BARRIERS THROUGH CYBERSPACE
WALL 2020 staffers Brett Cervantes, Gabriella Palazzo, Tania Solano, Evangeline Brennan,
Lydie Denier (front), Beau Hein, Dylan Robinson, Harrison Webb, and Aubrie Fuster strike a pose on Februrary 12, 2020, six weeks before the campus shut down due to COVID 19.
It all began with spectacular visions for the 20th edition of WALL Literary Journal. At the start of Spring Semester, staff members peered intently at stacks of submissions, on the lookout for compelling words and striking images. Eyes wide open, they scanned pages and screens for promising works worthy of being featured in WALL 2020. Clad in T-shirts with WALL’s signature logo, the enterprising crew roamed the Saddleback College campus, inviting writers and artists to share their talents.
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Aubrie Fuster, Brett Cervantes, and
Tania Solano invite students at
Saddleback College to submit their
literature and artwork to WALL.
Beau Hein and Evangeline Brennan take a break from promoting WALL to scan the pages of last year's issue at a campus Club Rush.
Gabriella Palazzo and Lydie Denier help spread the word about
WALL during Club Rush.
In the blink of an eye, everything changed. A microscopic menace labeled a coronavirus changed the lives of people around the world, sickening and killing hundreds of thousands, keeping people confined in their homes, shuttering businesses, and closing schools, including our campus. As of March 23, that meant the staff of WALL could no longer perform their editorial duties within the classroom space where they’d face to face shared the glories and gruntwork involved in producing an award-winning literary journal.
Undaunted by the stay-at-home restrictions, staffers convened in cyberspace through Zoom, the popular online platform being used in boardrooms and classrooms worldwide. Interacting through the medium of digital boxes, editors, literary associates, and graphic designers found a method within the madness. With pluck, determination, and persistence, their floating faces joined forces to embark on a virtual endeavor. The result: WALL 2020 will see the light of day with a planned release by mid-August.
WALL WINS NATIONAL AWARD
A poster featuring the cover of WALL 2019 now hangs among the lineup of journal covers in the Saddleback College Library, each one commemorating the creative work of writers and artists on campus. The 2019 edition was recently honored with a First Place award by the American Scholastic Press Association in a national competition among college literary magazines. The staff was led by Charles H.M. Foster, who served as editor-in-chief for WALL 2019. Foster, a Marine veteran and English major at Saddleback College, will transfer to Columbia University in Fall 2020.
Last fall, more than 100 spectators experienced life through the lens of writers and artists featured in the 2019 issue in a public reading on campus. Writers read their poetry, short stories, and personal narratives, while artists discussed the creative inspiration behind their works.
The visionary leadership of Editor-in-Chief Charles H.M. Foster (better known as Harry) guided the WALL 2019 staff in producing another award-winning edition of the literary journal.
It's a wrap: WALL Staffer Cy Hill
WALL 2019 Staff
Now in its 20th year, WALL is created annually by students enrolled in English 160, a 3-unit class devoted to production of the journal. Students are involved in reading, selecting, and editing submissions as well as layout, design, and publicity. The journal is produced during the Spring Semester and distributed on campus in the Fall Semester. For further information about the class, please contact Professor Gina Shaffer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
STRIKING A CHORD
Composers Set Poems to Music
Posted June 27, 2019
The music we hear and the words we read often strike a chord with us. They resonate because we relate. If music and literature can each produce this effect on their own, imagine what can happen when words are matched with music. Students in Professor Ariel Alexander’s music composition class at Saddleback College created original pieces inspired by the work of two poets featured in WALL 2019. The poets recorded their voices reading their own verse and then selected student compositions that most closely matched their literary vision, creating a synthesis of sound and sense. What they produced, we hope, strikes a chord with listeners and readers.
Poem by Noah East
Music by Jonah Arnone-Crisher
While writing a series of love poems, Noah East decided to experiment with the ending lines of his verse. In particular, he wanted to figure out what kind of effect his work could achieve by leaving out punctuation, including commas, semicolons, and periods. Poets use the formal term “enjambment” to describe this stylistic feature of letting lines continue flowing instead of being stopped by a punctuation mark. East, who served as editor-in-chief of WALL 2018, explains, “Sometimes, it makes sense to ‘read through’ the enjambment, as if it wasn't even there; however, at other times it seems more appropriate to represent the enjambment with a pause when performing the piece orally.” His featured piece, “Corners,” plays around with these possibilities in a vibrant, inviting style that makes the rhythm of the piece “subjective to the way the reader interprets the enjambed lines.”
East, a Saddleback College graduate who is now pursuing a B.A. in English at California State University, Fullerton, found the perfect complement to his verse in the music composed by Jonah Arnone-Crisher. “Jonah’s track best captured the atmosphere and imagery I was trying to portray in the poem: reserved and subtle, but still oddly endearing and romantic,” East remarks. “Most importantly though, the track paid careful musical attention to what I felt was the ‘climax’ of the poem.” Arnone-Crisher, who is pursuing a degree in Liberal Arts with the goal of becoming a music manager, imagined himself and his girlfriend while composing the music for “Corners.” As he explains, “I kind of imagined how after every date, every moment spent with one another, we are forced to retreat back to our ends of existence.” This is especially the case since he and his girlfriend live a considerable distance from each other. Impressed with East’s ability to express these sentiments with vivid words, Arnone-Crisher focused on preserving the narrative flow of the verse. He remarks, “This poem enlightened me in what it is to truly give yourself to someone, while also trying to maintain your own independence.”
Poem by Anessa Rodriguez
Music by Julian Majano
Take an important moment in your life and distill it to one basic component. That assignment in a creative writing class led to the creation of “Vacancy.” Poet Anessa Rodriguez explains, “I chose a moment where I had lost someone important to me and focused on the ‘emptiness’ before and after the moment.” “Vacancy” is the second of her poems to be featured in WALL. Another poem, titled “Dawn,” appears in the 2018 edition of the journal. Rodriguez, an English major for whom writing is a lifelong preoccupation and reading is as natural as breathing, found the perfect match for her moody, evocative verse in the rhythmical rendition composed by Julian Majano. “The music itself perfectly captured the mood of the poem, and the sound effects used throughout complemented and emphasized the words used to such a degree that I find reading ‘Vacancy’ by itself to be a less enriching experience than listening to it with Julian’s composition,” Rodriguez observes. “I also felt that Julian really interacted with my poem, whether that be through the creation of longer pauses, or having a particular phrase be echoed throughout; it gave me the sense of a true artistic collaboration.”
Majano, who enjoys composing electronic music while taking general education classes at Saddleback College, wanted to capture the serious and dark mood of “Vacancy” in his musical interpretation. His process involved choosing sounds that convey a sense of sorrow “while at the same time having these sounds slowly build up to provide a growing tension.” He also developed a pattern of four descending notes to set a mournful mood and vinyl distortion to complement the line “crackles beneath your skin.” Majano also used an echo effect with the recurring phrase “breathe in, breathe out” to “push the feeling of being lost in your thoughts, comparable almost to an anxiety attack or moment of hesitation where you would need to calm yourself internally before continuing. … I just want to create a haunting atmosphere that builds on what has been written.”
STUDENT WRITERS WIN ONE BOOK, ONE COLLEGE AWARDS
Stories Reveal Impact of Drug Addiction on Families
Professor Catherine Hayter with student winners Milli Zunich, Chira Watson, and
Hannah Stone at One Book, One College ceremony.
For the first time, an eight-year-old girl meets a drug-addicted homeless woman who gave birth to her. A daughter watches her father’s radiance fade in the haze of alcohol. A young woman growing up in rural poverty witnesses the disintegration of her parents, both of them hooked on drugs. Chira Watson, Milli Zunich, and Hannah Stone, the writers of these real-life personal narratives, were honored May 1, 2019 as winners in the One Book, One College Student Writing Awards during a ceremony at Saddleback College.
This year’s winners were selected from a collection of 36 stories submitted by Saddleback College students. All were related to drug or alcohol addiction in keeping with the theme of this year’s One Book, One College text, Beautiful Boy, David Sheff’s harrowing account of struggling with his son’s addiction to methamphetamines. “People are relieved to learn that they are not alone in their suffering, that they are part of something larger, in this case, a societal plague—an epidemic of children, an epidemic of families,” he writes. Sheff, whose best-selling book was adapted into a feature film of the same name, shared his insights with students, faculty, and staff members before a packed crowd in the McKinney Theatre on May 1. The event included a dance choreographed and performed by student Savannah Ramirez and a Reader's Theatre performance presented by Larry Radden, professor of speech, and Jaegar Aaron Zenk.
Annually, the One Book, One College Committee, comprised this year of Chrissy Bird, Kim Branch-Stewart, Claire Cesareo, Bruce Gilman, Catherine Hayter, Irene Renault, Lydia Tamara, and Alicia Zach, selects a book for the campus community to read as a way to promote multidisciplinary dialogue about local and global issues. Lectures, panel discussions, art installations, and performances are held throughout the semester, culminating in a presentation by a guest speaker connected to the book.
TOP AWARD FOR WALL 2018
WALL Literary Journal has been selected as Most Outstanding Community College Literary-Art Magazine for 2018 by the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA). The ASPA, based in College Point, New York, annually honors excellence in campus publications in a national competition.WALL’s 2018 edition was singled out alongside two other literary journals, the Phoenix of Clark College in Vancouver and Facets of Butler County Community College in Butler, Pennsylvania.
This recognition is the latest in a series of awards giving WALL national prominence among student-produced literary journals throughout the United States. From 2012 to 2016, the ASPA has annually honored WALL with a First Place Award for the quality of its content and style. The 2017 edition was named Most Outstanding College Literary-Art Magazine by the ASPA. The Community College Humanities Association, another organization that sponsors a national competition for college literary magazines, has also honored WALL with a First Place Award in the Pacific-Western Division.
WORDS & WORKS: A PUBLIC READING FOR WALL 2018
Join Noah East, editor-in-chief of WALL 2018, and Gina Victoria Shaffer, faculty advisor for the journal, as they host the 2018 public reading for WALL Literary Journal.
Go beyond the pages of WALL to experience Words & Works by the contributors to the 2018 edition in our public reading from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, October 18 in Health Sciences 145 at Saddleback College, 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo. The event is free and open to the public.
Student writers will read their poems and excerpts from their short stories and personal narratives while artists and photographers reveal the creative process behind their works. Some of the works will be performed as oral interpretations.
WALL WINS NATIONAL AWARD
The Community College Humanities Association has selected the 2017 issue of WALL as Best Overall Magazine in the Pacific-Western Division of its national literary magazine competition. The CCHA, a Baltimore-based organization that supports the teaching of the humanities at two-year colleges, sponsors the contest annually to recognize outstanding work among campus publications around the country. The work of Individual students has previously been recognized by the association, but this First Place finish is a first for the journal.
STRIKING A CHORD
Composers Set Poems to Music
Posted August 25, 2018
The music we hear and the words we read often strike a chord with us. They resonate because we relate. If music and literature can each produce this effect on their own, imagine what can happen when words are matched with music. Students in Professor Ariel Alexander’s music composition class at Saddleback College created original pieces inspired by the work of two poets featured in WALL 2018. The poets recorded their voices reading their own verse and then selected student compositions that most closely matched their literary vision, creating a synthesis of sound and sense. What they produced, we hope, strikes a chord with listeners and readers.
Poem by Frances Klocke Fullwood
Music by Emily Dickinson
Thoughts of Martin Luther King and his dream of equality, justice, and liberty (made famous by his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963) were on Frances Klocke Fullwood’s mind on February 17, 2018, during Black History Month. “I went to bed that night and had my own dream,” the poet recalls. When she awoke, the words to her poem were in her head and she wrote them down. Fullwood, also a songwriter and artist who is taking English and graphic design classes at Saddleback College, observes, “The struggle continues, but I hope the day will come when we realize we are one. Human beings – individuals worthy of equal respect and equal human rights.”
Fullwood selected Emily Dickinson’s music as “the perfect backdrop” for her seven-stanza verse. When Dickinson read Fullwood’s poem, she wanted to capture the inspirational mood by introducing sounds and instruments that complement the words. She also adjusted the audio, adding pauses to maintain the musical flow. A marine biology major whose interest in music includes playing in wind ensembles in high school and at Saddleback College, Dickinson hopes that her composition “amplifies the expression and message the poem is trying to get across to its audience.” She adds, “I interpret the poem as every single person being different in the way they look but, collectively, we all are humans making a difference that will impact generations to come. So why not throw away all the things that break us apart from each other and just look at the big picture that everyone wants to see happen? It's a dream for all of us alike to live in a world that makes peace and loves everyone for how they were designed to be.”
WINDED BY THE SEA
Poem by Blake Burris
Music by Lindsay Frederiksen
Blake Burris, a history major and aspiring musician, wrote his poem as a tribute to his father, who died from cancer when Blake was in his early twenties. “I think about him every day and I wish I took advantage of spending more time with him,” the poet observes. “He especially loved to fish and my poem is in regards to all the times I declined the invite to head out for a day of fishing with him and his buddies. I could really use his guidance and insightfulness as I struggled to find myself as a man for some time.” Burris found a perfect match for the mood of his poem in the musical piece created by Lindsay Frederiksen: “She nailed the feeling, tempo and sense of acceptance to a harsh reality. The composition had the ‘it’ factor that accompanied the feeling that I intended to portray.”
Through the nostalgic lines and wistful rhymes of “Winded by the Sea,” Frederiksen sensed that Burris was writing about a male family member whose passing had left a mark on him. To capture the spirit and essence of the poem, she incorporated waves and “chose a simple melody to let the verse shine through. I did not want the accompaniment to be too distracting.” Frederiksen, a lifelong musician and vocalist who is transferring to Cal State Dominguez Hills to study audio engineering, added drums to build energy and the sound of a fishing reel in keeping with the narrative actions of the poem. “I hope listeners will experience the progression of the story that the poem tells,” she notes. “I just wanted to put the listener into the space of the memory that inspired this poem.”
WRITINGS ON THE WALL: Last Call for Submissions for 2018 Edition
Wandering students scrawled words on makeshift walls as cardboard-garbed staff members of WALL spread the news about submission deadlines for the 2018 edition of Saddleback College's award-winning literary journal. The February 7 promotional event, dubbed "Writings on the WALL," drew the curious and creatively inspired to scribble messages of hope, peace, and optimism as they learned about the compelling stories, poetry, art, and photography contained within the pages of the 120-page plus publication, produced annually by students in English 160. For information on submitting, please click here.
WALL WINS TWO LITERARY MAGAZINE AWARDS
WALL Literary Journal has received top honors in two national competitions for college literary magazines. The American Scholastic Press Association, which annually honors excellence in campus publications, selected the 2017 edition of WALL as Most Outstanding Community College Literary-Art Magazine as well as recognizing the journal with a First Place with Special merit award for excellence in content and design. The judges cited the "superior efforts" of the journal staff and described it as "a model for those up-and-coming magazines." The 2016 issue of WALL has also been honored with a Second Place Award for Best Magazine in the Literary Magazine Competition sponsored by the Community College Humanities Association.
WORDS & WORKS from WALL 2017
Public Reading Celebrates Literary and Artistic Talents
More than 120 people paid tribute to the writers and artists featured in WALL 2017 at a public reading on October 19 at Saddleback College. Writers read poetry and excerpts from short stories and personal narratives, while artists, graphic designers, and illustrators discussed the creative inspiration behind their work from 6:30-8 p.m. in Health Sciences 145 on the campus at 28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo, CA. Some of the works were presented as oral interpretations by speech students. Among those attending were Dr. Gregory Anderson, the new president of Saddleback College, and Jordan J. Larson, the student trustee who serves on the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.
Since 2012, the Liberal Arts Division, under the guidance of Dean Kevin O'Connor, has hosted this popular literary event, which brings together students, faculty, staff, and administrators for a stimulating celebration of words and images within the pages of the award-winning campus publication. WALL has earned a First Place Award for five years in a row -- from 2012 to 2016 in a national competition among literary magazines sponsored by the American Scholastic Press Association.
Soulful vocalist/guitarist Charles Fullwood, pictured second from left, shared his musical talents with WALL staffers and students on campus during the February 7 promotional event at Saddleback College.
Fiction Editor Cy Hill wears WALL art on his sleeve while encouraging passersby to submit their masterpieces.
Photos by Ali Marcotte
Interviews with WALL Contributors
Q&A with Featured Artist: OLGA PERELMAN
Olga Perelman, who earned an Associate Degree in Fine Arts at Saddleback College, is a Russian graphic designer, illustrator, and printmaker. She recently started a company selling hand-drawn designed T-shirts, stickers, greeting cards, and handmade prints. You can follow her creative journey at www.innerpeach.co. Her linocut print is featured on the cover of the 2017 issue of WALL.
Q: What inspired you to create "Epitome of Olga"?
This piece “Epitome of Olga” actually stemmed from a previous self-titled three-color reduction print. I’m not exactly sure where the idea of the original reduction print came from. A lot of my print designs seem to be very whimsical and bright. I think I welcomed the challenge to carve a human character, which I had never done before. I also like creating images that make people think; in this case, people would question “Are the dandelions really big or is she really small?”
This blue printed image was the last color of my original print, so I thought it would be interesting to try to print it on various paper surfaces. During one of our class critiques, some students said that the character in my print looked a lot like me. Maybe it was an intentional but subconscious influence, or maybe it was pure coincidence... Either way, I took it as a compliment.
Epitome of Olga
During the time I was making this reductive print, my mom was visiting family in Russia. I knew that she would be bringing home a whole suitcase of Russian chocolate, so I was already thinking about how interesting it could be to print on the candy wrappers somehow. And after I accepted the character resemblance, I had an even stronger urge to print this carving on the candy wrappers. This piece really is the "Epitome of Olga." The candy wrappers point to my
Russian heritage and how I've grown up eating these chocolates that remind me of my parents' home. And, like the flying girl, I have long flowing hair and I seek adventure.
Behind the Lens: FIRE FALL
Flaming water spills down a mountainside. That's the image captured by the lens of Ken Formella's camera as he snapped the famous Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park in February 2017. During a two-week time frame that month, the sun hits the waterfall at just the right angle to produce an impression of golden water flowing like lava. “It is a unique opportunity that requires a confluence of conditions to occur in a relatively short window of opportunity," observes Formella. “I just had to shoot it when I had the chance. It looked to me like molten metal flowing over the edge and I hoped to capture that perception.”
Formella, a private portfolio investment manager, is pursuing a degree in photography in order to improve the quality of the works he creates from his life and travels. A retired Army officer, he received his BS degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse in 1986 and an MBA from Webster University in 2015. Photographing “Fire Fall” was an inspiring moment: “I am always amazed at the vastness and beauty of the world we live in. Places and events like this underscore the awesomeness of something greater than you and I.”
Photo by Ken Formella Horsetail Fall, Yosemite National Park
Here Comes the Sun, the Moon & WALL
Celebrate two spectacular celestial events on one day: the total solar eclipse and the release of WALL 2017. Copies of the latest journal will be distributed
from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on August 21, the first day of the Fall Semester, in the quad in front of the Student
Services Center at Saddleback College. Visit the WALL table as part of the Welcome Week festivities, which include music, ice cream, and an obstacle course. Submissions for WALL 2018 are now being
accepted. The deadline is January 25, 2018. See
Submissions page for more info.
STRIKING A CHORD
Composers Collaborate with Poets
Posted July 7, 2017
The music we hear and the words we read often strike a chord with us. They resonate because we relate. If music and literature can each produce this effect on their own, imagine what can happen when words are matched with music.
Two aspiring musical artists in Professor Ariel Alexander’s music composition class at Saddleback College collaborated with two poets featured in WALL 2017. The poets’ voices were recorded while reading their own verse. The composers then took these recordings and layered their own original music onto the voices to create a synthesis of sound and sense. What they produced, we hope, strikes a chord with listeners and readers.
Poem by Brooke Campbell
Music by Kevin Katzman
Kevin Katzman, who is studying music and commercial media, strives to create compositions that convey a message with a positive effect. He mixes music at parties and on SoundCloud. Katzman was struck by the poem’s depiction of a girl who shifts from feeling alone, abandoned, and “in a dark place” to fixing herself, “sometimes in an explosive way.”
His mission in composing the accompanying music was to create “a sound that matches the sad and reflective theme of the poem.” In order to match the poem’s intensity, Katzman experimented with finding “the right synth and beat,” exploring various melodies and drum samples before hitting the perfect blend of sounds to enhance the impact of the poem.
The poet, Brooke Campbell, who is also editor-in-chief of WALL 2017, appreciated Katzman’s ability to capture the competing tensions within the poem while slowing it down and adding an upbeat tempo. “It had a very distinct beat” that “dramatized the poem,” she observes. The theme of extremes applies to her own personal tendencies: “I tend to give everything my all or nothing.” Campbell, who majored in English Literature at Saddleback College, is transferring to California State University, Long Beach, in the Fall with the goal of becoming a writer and English professor.
Poem by Chris Lee
Music by Jake Dyer
Jake Dyer is transferring to California State University, Dominguez, in the Fall to pursue a major in music technology with the objective of composing music for movies, television, and video games or producing in a recording studio. In response to closely reading “Twang,” Dyer says, “I felt a strong emotional connection of love and natural comfort. I admired Chris's thoughtful word choice as well as his use of symbolism.
“I knew that I wanted to use a variety of natural sounds in order to give the poem a vivid atmosphere that matched the emotion and themes that Chris portrayed. After creating the setting for the words, I spent some time editing a short string sample (which repeats throughout the piece). As I was finishing up the project, I felt that there was one last detail missing, which led me to compose the short piano passage that can be heard during the second half of the poem.”
The poet, Chris Lee, was inspired to write “Twang” from a photograph he took of a sculpture of Diana, goddess of the hunt, at the Huntington Museum in San Marino. He was working on a research paper for an art class at the time. “I thought about Eros, the bow and arrow, and how the arrow of love can strike the heart,” he recalls. “The sound of the bow, the ‘twang!’ that it makes, came to mind, so I started writing the poem based on that.”
The music Dyer composed to match his poem, Lee reflects, “has a very beautiful timing and flow to it. The notes are gentle and soothing, and I like the way he mixed the poem with the music. It fades in a very nice way.”
Lee, who is transferring to California State University, Long Beach, in the Fall to pursue a B.A. in arts education, plans to teach photography, art history, and art appreciation in high school. “I would like to teach students the old-school classical arts through seeing and appreciating art in their everyday lives,” he remarks. “Our children need art (we ALL need art, really), and not just for making pretty pictures or as an investment. Art is a vital aspect of humanity, and we need to support that ideal to the fullest.”
STUDENTS WIN ONE BOOK, ONE COLLEGE
WRITING AND ART AWARDS
Legacy of Henrietta Lacks Animates Poetry, Prose & Art
Five students inspired by the story of Henrietta Lacks have been selected as the winners of the 2017 One Book, One College Student Writing & Art Awards at Saddleback College.
Reed Grable and Luke Hardy received special recognition for their writing during a visit to the campus by two members of Lacks’ family on May 3 at the McKinney Theatre. Noah Barrett, Laney Bahan, and Allie May were singled out for their artistic depictions of HeLa cells, the label researchers attached to the tissue taken from Lacks (using the first two letters of her first and last names).
HeLa by NOAH BARRETT
In 1951, cancerous cells removed from Lacks’ body – without her knowledge or consent – became a medical miracle when they began ceaselessly multiplying. Although her cells helped scientists develop the polio vaccine and contributed significantly to research on in vitro fertilization, cloning, gene mapping, and many other advancements, Lacks’ personal story as an impoverished African American tobacco farmer remained obscured until decades later. Rebecca Skloots’ bestselling nonfiction book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, adapted into a recently aired HBO movie starring Oprah Winfrey, reveals the compelling narrative of her personal story and family legacy while probing the intersections of race, science, poverty, and geography.
As she handed out award certificates to Grable and Hardy, Catherine Hayter, a professor of English and member of the One Book, One College Committee, remarked, “It is our sincere hope that these awards will inspire you to continue writing and being engaged with social issues.”
As winner of the Creative Writing award, Grable produced a poem titled “A Message in Sequence” that intricately weaves emotionally expressive lines into a strand of DNA from Henrietta Lacks. The verse is meant to capture the enduring bond between Henrietta and her son Zakariyya despite the fact that she died only months after his birth from the cervical cancer that produced her immortal cell line. As he received the award, Grable noted, “My poem was inspired by a scene in the book when Henrietta Lacks’ DNA is given to her son, who was known to be an angry and rage-filled person. Upon being given a photo of her DNA, he began to cry.”
Selected for the Academic Writing award, Hardy’s essay explores how socioeconomic disparities place many African Americans at a disadvantage in trying to obtain a quality education. “With less money to spend, African American families have no option but to settle for an education that they can afford, not an education they deserve,” he writes, in a paper titled “Underrepresented Race: The Effects of a Quality Education.” While receiving the award, Hardy observed, “Had they had the opportunity to access a quality education, Henrietta and her family would have benefitted greatly.”
To read the award-winning poem and essay, please click the buttons below.
Jessica Pham holding ceramic
sculpture as prize in the "Read
by Red (Shuttleworth)" Poetry Contest.
WALL STAFFER WINS POETRY AWARD
Twenty-seven lyrical lines titled “For Her” led Jessica Pham, a member of the WALL 2017 staff, to the top prize in a poetry contest at Saddleback College.
Red Shuttleworth, an award-winning poet and playwright, judged the contest as part of his visit to the campus in March for a staged reading of his full-length play Tumbledown at the McKinney Theatre. Shuttleworth, who has been named “the Best Living Western Poet” by True West Magazine, shared his insights on the writing life with WALL staffers. (Please see accompanying story below.)
A poem titled “Night” by Kat Zamani, another WALL staffer, was among the four finalists in the “Read by Red (Shuttleworth)” poetry competition sponsored by the Theatre Arts Department at Saddleback. Zamani, a Fiction Editor and Copy Editor for WALL 2017, and two other finalists, Courtney Berry an