Interviewing a Slam Poet

Hello Class! So here’s a fun fact about me: I love slam poetry. When I was in eighth grade, I found a couple of YouTube clips of Def Jam Poetry and I’ve been hooked since then. Based on the slideshows we saw in class last week, I thought I would use this opportunity to ask a slam poet about the first time they performed. I asked Janae Johnson, the Interim Director of the ICC, if I could interview her. She is a national champion in Slam Poetry and she started her poetry career in Boston. However, in case I am not able to interview her, I will interview a poet at an event on campus this Friday, Ebony Axis Launch Party. Ebony Axis is a zine created by Lashawn Simmons, a sophomore at Brandeis, and it is filled with poetry by black women on campus. I think it would be better to interview a student at this event because I could take a couple of pictures of them performing.

The questions I would ask are:

  • Why did you decide to become a slam poet?
  • When did you perform your first poem?
  • How did you feel leading up to your first performance?
  • What is your creative process? How do you find the focus of your poem?
  • Are there any themes or motifs that you gravitate to?
  • Is slam poetry something you do in your spare time or is it more than a hobby?
  • Do you feel a sense of community when you are with other poets? Do you do group pieces?
  • How do you contribute to the poetry scene at Brandeis University?

Interviewing A Waltham Cyclist

Hi all — so I’m going with the idea of writing a story about the challenges and benefits of biking in Waltham, and how Waltham is a reflection of or departure from general biking culture in the greater Boston area. I haven’t exactly picked an interviewee yet but I do have a couple students in mind who I know bike around the area a lot.

These are the interview questions I’ve cooked up so far. I’m looking forward to reading yours and getting feedback!

1) What are the major benefits and disadvantages of owning a bike in Waltham?
2) How does Waltham compare to other urban/suburban places you’ve biked (in terms of your subjective experience)?
3) At what point in your life did you connect with biking?
4) Is safety ever a concern? If so, what makes you feel most unsafe and why do you still bike despite these concerns?
5) What do you wish you could change about the way public spaces, infrastructure, and resources are for cyclists now?
6) Could Boston ever become a real biking city, with large portions of the population commuting via bike? What sorts of obstacles stand in the way of that happening?

Hey! Karen’s 1st Post

My name is Karen Seymour and I am a junior studying Sociology and Film Studies. I like to read and listen to personal idiosyncratic stories, through documentaries, radio specials, and memoirs. Through the journalism program at Brandeis, I think I can hone my skills as a writer, while keeping up with what is going on in the world. I want to learn how to cover art stories–like how to structure an article about a film screening in Boston or a gallery opening.

For an on-campus story, I was thinking about covering the gallery talks in the Rose Art Museum. This Saturday, there is a talk about one of the exhibits on the bottom floor of the Rose Art Museum, The Brood, by Lisa Yuskavage. Yuskavage will be talking about her work on display.

For an off-campus story, I wanted to cover cultural/museum events happening in Boston on the weekend. I was thinking of attending ICA Boston’s film talk about the documentary VIDEOFREEX. This documentary is basically about a group of video artists that want to democratize television. One of the filmmakers and Skip Blumberg are going to be a part of the panel, so I thought I would report the interesting things that come up.



Second Post- Jacob

Hello Mark and fellow El 12B classmates! This is my first post, and the second post to our class blog. What are my interests as a journalist? Generally, I want to rise to the challenge of being responsible for transmitting [accurate] information that people rely on. I am interested in art, culture, and learning about peoples’ individual lives and backgrounds. Furthermore, covering an event or a story as a journalist helps me get a more complete understanding of what I am reporting on because I am forced to gather as many details as possible.

Recently I attended the Rose Art Museum Fall Opening (Basile had the same idea). Instead of merely passing in front of the masterpieces as I normally would have done, I ended up meeting several of the artists whose work was exhibited. I even met a woman who modeled for one of the featured paintings (I felt slightly awkward because her body was very exposed in the painting).

I am still trying to think of an off-campus story. Waltham seems to be a very ethnically diverse city, with large populations of Indians and Latin Americans. Perhaps a piece about how and why certain groups of people ended up in Waltham…?

See you all tomorrow.

Basile’s Post

Hi everyone. I am a senior studying IGS and computer science, with minors in journalism and economics. I am interested in covering any subject, from technology to politics, science to social issues, but not including sports. On campus, I would like to cover the series of concert which started at the Rose Art Museum two weeks ago, and which had its second installment yesterday. I already have an interview of the student who instigated the project, which I had to do for another class. I am still missing a clear idea for an off campus story idea, but I was thinking along the lines of, either low-income housing in waltham and preparing for the winter, or about Brandeis’ relationship with Waltham police.

Elan Post

Hi- my name is Elan Kane and I’m a senior majoring in American Studies and minoring in Journalism. I first became interested in journalism after studying sports journalism freshman year. Since then I have had a number of different sports journalism internships/writing opportunities. Since my focus so far has been on sports journalism, I’m hoping to expand my journalism experiences to cover more general topics.

I’m still looking for some more story leads on campus, but I have had a few ideas for outside-campus stories. One of my ideas is to find out more information about the reservoir that is near Brandeis. Many students go there to swim or hang out, and I would like to find out more about what the reservoir is used for and the history behind it. Another story idea that I had (which is actually on-campur) was to interview a orthodox Jewish basketball player who just recently transferred from Tulane to play at Brandeis.

First Post – Jaime

My name is Jaime, I’m a Senior English major with minors in Politics and Environmental Studies and this is my first post. I guess the title is redundant now. Oops. As a journalist, I’m interested in stories with a strong human-interest angle first and foremost. I prefer stories that use feature-style reporting to humanize policy issues, especially in the areas of urban planning and sustainability. I also love reading non-fiction about subcultures and personal histories–I’m currently reading a fantastic book called Random Family which tracks the lives of two young couples from the Bronx struggling in poverty. And as a campus journalist I’m excited about hyper-local reporting and the role it plays in a community, as well as the first amendment rights issues as they relate to college newspapers.

On the topic of first Amendment rights, the national news story I wanted to mention is about the University of California’s recently proposed, “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance” with the goal of combating intolerance and protecting students from bigotry. It sounds good in theory, but the language of the statement seems to potentially umbrella together acts of intolerance with some non-violent expressions and opinions. I don’t love the idea of Universities micromanaging dialogue and personally I’d rather virulent opinions be thrown in the ring along with productive ones rather then try to devise some way of magically filtering out which is which. That’s free speech. This issue is right at the heart of a conversation we had in Prof. McNamara’s class last week about fostering healthy and open campus dialogue for those of you in that class.

A piece of on-campus news I’m a fan of is the decision to remove bacon from The Einstein’s menu. It might not seem like a huge deal but some people are pretty upset, claiming that it’s kind of unfair for a secular school to make this change for the benefit for the kosher population.  This move is the latest in a long string of decisions that have removed and re-added pork and shellfish products from Brandeis dining menus in varying degrees and I just find the long-standing nature of this otherwise seemingly minor issue pretty fascinating.

Right now I’m deciding between two stories to pursue further. The first would be a continuation of a series I attempted to start with the Justice last year called, “Deis Discoveries.” It attempts to uncover the history of unique campus fixtures like buildings, statues, etc. Right now though, I’m leaning more toward my second idea about biking culture — in Waltham and among students at Brandeis. It would investigate Waltham municipal efforts (or lack thereof) to make the roads safer for cyclists. I’ve already snapped a few relevant photos for that one!