History Poetry Forgotten History Lost in History

You probably don’t know about Hettie Jones, a crusading Beat poet

You’ve heard of a Jack Kerouac, but have you ever heard of a Hettie Jones?

The Beat Literary Movement of the 1950s is coined for its explicit subject matter and bohemian lifestyle. Americans in the 1950’s lived in largely suburban towns and felt threatened by things like communism. Men went to work in suits and women stayed home to cook, clean, and tend to the children.

The rebel, beatnik, group of authors that made up the Beat Generation were iconoclastic. Much of their work explored and influenced American culture and politics in the post-war era. They experimented with form and structure while writing about sex, drugs, and religion. Traditional literary houses rejected them and looked down on them as a group as being defiant, untalented, and unprofessional. 

I think that their being unconventional was the whole point, though.

They were the antithesis of mainstream American life.

They wanted to publish anything that was deemed inappropriate by society. These people were tired of the routine, and frankly, felt beaten down by the conservative lifestyle that they were stuck in. They were highly controversial in that they were the antithesis of mainstream American life and writing. Many of their works of poetry and prose focused on shifts of consciousness and escaping “squareness.” The stereotype around the Beats is that they were not in favor of what they considered to be straight jobs. Instead, they lived together, packed into small and dirty apartments, sold drugs, had sex with each other, and committed crimes. They are also known for exploring homosexuality, which was a highly taboo topic in 1950’s America.

Though they set many precedents together, the Beats still succumbed to the blatant sexism of the time. Most, if not all, of the women involved in the Beat literary movement were overshadowed by their male counterparts for no particular reason other than gender. These women were just as intelligent and qualified to question society as the beatnik men who have become well-known poets and activists.

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One of the most iconic, and downplayed, female poets of that time who deserves righted acknowledgment is Hettie Jones. 

Hettie Jones published 23 books- and yet, we forgot her

Hettie Jones is most known for her marriage to the famous Beat Poet Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones). Few people know that Hettie helped run Totem Press, one of the more important beat publishers, along with her husband. She went on to publish about 23 books, one being a memoir of her time spent with Amiri and the rest of the Beats titled, How I Became Hettie Jones (1990). She has also written for many prestigious journals, lectured writing across America, and began the literary magazine “Yugen.”

Hettie is one of my favorite poets, so I think that her writing deserved to be at the forefront of the Beat movement, right there with the boys who got so much praise for their work. 

Hettie’s writing is rooted in practical idealism. She left her family home in Long Island to go to college and to fully discover herself. When she graduated in 1955, she never turned back, and moved to New York City. She met Amiri while working at The Record Changer, a jazz magazine. He was a young, black poet with just as much intelligence and intensity as Hettie. They quickly fell in love and moved in together. They would go to poetry readings at cafes and bohemian bars, where they met many of the other Beat poets.

Hettie deserved to be at the forefront of the Beat movement.

When the pair founded their own magazine, they published the writings of many of the iconic beat players who could not find a home for their writing in the traditional sphere. Hettie was in charge of editing the works that were to be published in the magazine. It was here that she honed her craft and found power in the refined writing that makes her work stand out from the rest. 

By 1960, Hettie and Amiri had two children, were married, and lived in New York City. Being a biracial family, though, countless bigoted remarks were directed towards them regardless of the Beat scene. Hettie was on the receiving end of most of these cold stares and was able to see the world through the eyes of her husband and children. This affected her incredibly and eventually became a recurring theme in her writing.  

When Amiri became tightly involved with the Black Power movement, he was criticized for having a white wife. They divorced in 1968. Hettie thrived on her own though and made a living with her children while teaching and editing. Her separation from her husband also gave Hettie an outlet to speak up and finally publish works of her own. She has been quoted to say, “Without a him in the house, there was more space/time for her, and I tried to redefine the way a woman might use it.” 

To this day, Hettie’s writing is compassionate. She writes about her own experiences in a compelling manner while weaving in the issues that she cares about. Currently, Hettie lives in New York City, and is a writer and lecturer. In addition, she runs a writing workshop at the New York State Correctional Facility for Women where she recently published a volume of writing by incarcerated women.

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Work Career Now + Beyond

I did not make my career mark at my first internship, but I sure as hell grew from it

When I started my internship at a local magazine, I was very excited. This was my first chance to work in a place like this. I was going to learn so much. I was going to be the best intern! Who cares if it’s unpaid? I would learn how to write, edit and conduct interviews. I would learn how articles go from an idea to a draft to print.

Well, it did not go quite like that.

In the beginning, I told myself that this feeling of exclusion came from the fact that most of the staff were already friends or family. The editor-in-chief was the director’s wife, and the rest of the staff was an indication of blatant nepotism. The staff wasn’t even big, with just about 30 people.

For the first few days, I waited for something to do. When I asked people if they needed help with anything, they told me to go back to my seat. After a few days, I was given a database of contacts and told to call each number and check if it was still valid. I suspect this was to keep me out of their way. I figured I’m the new kid and I’ve got to do the drag work to earn my keep.

The previous interns were taken along to help with articles and interviews. I wasn’t. Management intentionally kept me at a distance because they said, “We don’t do that anymore.” During this period of time, I only got to proofread three articles. I went and proposed ideas to my editor. Se told me to go ahead and write them, but never gave any guidance. Nobody in this place considered my work, nor did they tell me why, or how I could have done better. I still kept telling myself that this was a learning opportunity. It would be worth it.

Meanwhile, I saw two of the interns I worked with being used as fashion models. One was a design intern and the other, an advertising intern.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a learning experience the way any internship should be. The staff gave off serious vibes of not wanting anyone around, knowing-it-all but having no interest in teaching anyone anything, and not liking anyone trying to get involved.

Weeks passed this way until one day the director called me into his office and told me to not come back anymore. Surprised, I asked if someone had a problem with me. Was there was someone I could apologize to, or if there was anything I could do. He refused to tell me anything, refused to give me a reason, or even listen to me. He just asked me to leave and not come back anymore.

When you lose a job it’s common to go down a spiral of self-doubt.  Going over everything again and again and wondering, “Was it my fault? What could I have done something differently?”. I was no different. My mind went around in circles the week afterward. I switched from hating the place and everyone in it, to blaming myself for everything, despite not knowing what that “everything” was.

But this is where it’s healthy and important to realize the difference between a learning experience, and a workplace that isn’t worth your time. This experience taught me to be better at trusting my gut when I sensed toxicity. While some may offer well-meaning advice to stay strong through it, I realized it would have better served me to cut some losses and find a better fit. I took responsibility for not following my gut and leaving when I knew it was the right thing for me to do.

Here’s the moral of my story: know the difference between paying your dues and being taken advantage of. Being an intern, even an unpaid one, shouldn’t make you a doormat. So instead of letting someone else devalue you, walk out with confidence.

It’s important to realize that leaving a toxic workplace – whether it is your decision or your employer asks you to leave – does not mean you are incompetent or unsuccessful. It is a small hurdle that will lead you to something even better. What I went through in this experience has served me much better in years going forward, as I worked in various places and dealt with different groups of people and different kinds of bosses.

I know that a good boss, and a good workplace, is one that might bruise your ego, but still feeds your mind.

Books Pop Culture

5 fabulous zines (and magazines) that you need in your life right now

Zines are making a splash in a big way. They’re self-published, small-circulation little, baby, magazines. Zines are great because they’re easy, informal, creative, and really whatever you want them to be. You can make a zine about fashion and football or a zine for radical feminists.

Bitch Media, the radical feminist media group, started as a zine back in 1996 and grew into it’s current form. Even Frank Ocean released a limited-edition zine. These five zines hit on a range of intersectional feminist themes including culture, fashion, race, and age. While traditionally zines are printed versions, most of these zines have a strong online presence as well.  After looking at these five super engaging zines, you’ll be wanting to create your own too.

1. Sula Collective

[Image description: two men pose for photo that is on The Sula Collective Tumblr page.]

Sula Collective is an online zine for “people of colo(u)r to share both our frustrations and hopes through the most creative mediums.” They share beautiful spreads, opinions and art about being a person of color in the world. Some editions include women’s month and cultural discomfort.

[bctt tweet=”The Sula Collective shares beautiful spreads, opinions and art about being a person of color in the modern world. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

2. Kazoo Magazine

[Image description: cover of Kazoo magazine.]

Kazoo was started by Erin Bried and her daughters Ellie and Be when they realized there wasn’t a print magazine targeted towards 5-10 year old girls. Their magazine aims to “celebrate [girls] for being strong, smart, fierce and, above all, true to themselves.” They started via Kickstarter and in 30 days became the most successful journalism campaign. Their pages included professional artists like xx, candy recipes from professional chefs, and spreads on science from xx.

[bctt tweet=”Kazoo inspires and empowers young girls by showing them that they can be anything and everything they dream of!” username=”wearethetempest”]


[Image description: woman wearing pants and jacket poses for photographs found in spread for SEASON zine.]

SEASON is a hybrid between football (soccer) and fashion. It is a biannual print issue that aims to “empower women in modern football (soccer) culture by giving them an honest voice and sharing their stories, opinions, and style.” This zine is both upscale and well-done but also relatable and real. By combining fashion and football, SEASON highlights that women don’t have to choose between sporty or stylish, but can be both.

[bctt tweet=”By combining fashion and football, SEASON highlights that women don’t have to choose between sporty or stylish, but can be both.” username=”wearethetempest”]

4. Genda

[Image description: cover of Genda zine.]

Genda is a magazine that is a global production of east meets west. With one editor in Italy and one in China, the magazine aims to look for commonality in culture, while also celebrating diversity. Printed in both English and Chinese, Genda is a print magazine as well as online collection of eastern and western artists. Genda aims to use the cultural misunderstandings and complications to spark questions on place, identity, and blending cultures.

[bctt tweet=”The zine, Genda, fuses east and western cultures by using cultural misunderstandings and complications to spark questions about place, identity, and multiculturalism.” username=”wearethetempest”]

5. Womanzine

[Image description: stack of zines with cover of Womanzine on top.]

Womanzine, like it sounds, is a zine created for and by women. They feature: cartoons, jokes (knock-knock or not or whatever), news stories (real or fake), recipes, case studies on internet slang and so much more. Womanzine is self-identified as “too sexy and weird.” I think it’s the greatest. 

[bctt tweet=”Womanzine is self-identified as “too sexy and weird.” I think it’s the greatest. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

I hope these five fabulous zines have inspired you to go out and read some small-scale publications. Got an idea, some old photos or a cool poem? You can turn all your little odds and ends into your very own zine too!

Love Advice

We could all use more self-love, so here’s a 7 day challenge to kick start your journey

Self-love is an integral necessity for life. If you don’t love yourself, how can you expect someone else to? In the rush of day-to-day obligations, the desire to take time out to practice self-love is often lost. By definition, self-love is simply caring about your happiness and well-being. It plays a part in how we handle different situations in life and even who we choose to date.

So how is it done? How do you strengthen your love for yourself? It’s both an internal and external experience, assisted by different physical and spiritual actions.

To help you along the path to self-love, here is a week-long challenge, each day with an assigned task and journaling prompt.

Day One: Declutter your space

clothes in drawer
[Image Description: Clothes in a drawer. Shirts of an array of colors folded and laid vertically.]
For me, cluttered and messy surroundings are often a reflection of what’s going on on the inside. I often start small by cleaning my room. Give it the works: wash your bedding, make your bed, fold and put away some laundry, straighten your dresser, vacuum the floor, tidy up your workspace.

When I really want a cleanse, I’ll take things a step further and declutter my closet. Look at each piece and ask yourself how you feel when you wear it. If the answer is less than great, toss it the donation pile.

Journaling Prompt: Write a journal entry introducing yourself to you.

Day Two: Meditate

girl in the sun
[Image Description: Girl with brunette hair basking her face in the sunshine.]
Meditation is an underrated form of self-love. Some may see it as just sitting in silence, chanting “om” over and over, but it isn’t about what it looks like on the outside. It’s about what’s going on on the inside.

Find a comfortable, quiet place where you can be alone, like your room or maybe even somewhere outside in the sun. Have a seat, close your eyes, just breathe. I’ll usually focus in on how my breath moves through my body while attempting to quiet my mind. When you feel your mind start to wander, refocus on your breathing. Compared to the way that your mind and thoughts are always racing, this will be a calming change of pace.

Journaling Prompt: Write a letter to your past self. What’s something that you want to tell them? What’s something that they wished for that you have now have?

Day Three: Volunteer

clasped hands
[Image Description: One pair of hands reaching out and clasping another.]
Help others so that you can help yourself. As a college student, I typically volunteer as a tutor and sometimes a mentor for young kids. Maybe you could find a nonprofit that you’re passionate about and offer your talents to the cause. Humane societies are almost always looking for extra hands to help bathe and care for the dogs and cats in their shelters and who doesn’t love a good cuddle from a pup or kitty?

Journaling Prompt: Write about something you’re passionate about and why. What makes your passion the best thing ever?

Day Four:  Make yourself up for no reason

makeup counter
[Image Description: An array of makeup with NYX concealer, makeup brushes, eyeshadow palette, blush, and a purple beauty blender.]
Who says you need to have somewhere to go to have a reason to get done up? Break out the makeup bag, find a few new makeup tutorials on Youtube or Pinterest, and get to work.

Next, go to your freshly decluttered closet and find an outfit that makes you feel amazing. You don’t even need a place to go. When you look good, you feel good; and when you look good solely for yourself, you feel even better.

Journaling Prompt: Pick a physical feature you like about yourself and explain why.

Day Five: Talk to your mom

mother and daughter
[Image Description: Mother and daughter kissing each other on the cheek.]
Who in this world knows you better than your mother? She carried you for nine months, birthed you, fed you, and loves you unconditionally. You can call her just to say hey, catch her up on what you’ve been up to, ask for some advice (because moms always know what to do), or just reminisce about your relationship growing up.

According to a study from 2010, talking to your mother on the phone is almost as good as a hug. If you want, take things one step further and actually go see your mom if you can. Talking in person is way more fulfilling than talking on the phone or video chat, and your mom will be glad to have you there in person.

Journaling Prompt: Make a list of positive quotes or song lyrics. Whenever you need a pick me up, just flip back to that page, or even turn the songs into a playlist you can listen to.

Day Six: Do a social media detox

iphone social media
[Image Description: An iPhone clicked on the social media folder and showing a variety of social media applications.]
Who knows how much time is wasted by scrolling through social media every day? Maybe take a day where you don’t go on any social media at all. If this is too intimidating, you can start small by turning off your notifications for those apps. That way you won’t be tempted to open them in the first place.

Deleting toxic people off of your friend or following list can open the door for a little more positivity on your timeline, and deciding not to take your phone or laptop to bed will lessen the chances of you doing the late night scroll. But these are only a few benefits of a social media detox. 

Journaling Prompt: Think of something from the past year that made you happy and explain why.

Day Seven: Make a mood board

mood boards
[Image Description: A mood board with a multitude of cut and paste images.]
I am a proud magazine hoarder and whenever I’m in a creative funk, I’ll take some and cut them up. Pick out pictures and captions that you like and put them to the side. When you’re done, grab a poster board and a glue stick and start pasting your findings onto it.

When you’re done, find a spot on the wall and hang your mood board there. This way, whenever you’re in need of a little inspiration or get into a creative funk, you can look at your mood board.

Journaling Prompt: What is something you want to accomplish? Make a plan for how you’ll do it.

These are all little things I do when I need to take time to practice self-love and they have yet to fail me. Taking time out to treat and care for yourself is a necessity for a happy life. By the end of this challenge, you’ll have a more positive outlook on your life, where you’re going in it and, most importantly, yourself.

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