Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Please pick up the IUSB Preface (BECAUSE the last, really last story of Empty Suitcase is in it).

I will miss the deadlines...(and someone please give me new deadlines! I mean that I would not like to have deadlines by Dr.S...definitively not. I would like to say "Let me go" to him).

Monday, April 27, 2009

I just found out in Literary Magazine Reviews: New Pages





Review by Sima Rabinowitz

This issue of Slipstream includes the work of four-dozen poets, many of whose bios (though admittedly not all) are among the quirkiest you’ll find. Jane Adam of Buffalo, NY, “is more liquid than solid and leaves behind the hyaline purity to melt under streetlamps.” Jon Boiservert of Corvallis, OR, “throws up a lot.” J. Blake Gordon of Evanston, IL, “sleeps soundly, thinks about music, prepares simple meals, and watches a little television.” Toni Thomas of Milwaukie, OR, lives with “two energetic children.”

Much of the poetry (though admittedly not all) is quirky, too. Here are the opening lines of “Mathematics 101” by Neil Carpathios: “I had a one-legged lover / in college who used to remove / her prosthetic leg and massage / my crotch with her stump / like a third hand” and the beginning of Glen Armstrong’s “Curious Goths Tour the Cheese Factory”: “I compare myself / to the cheese factory;” and the opening of “My Name” by Jane Adams: “The difference between a picture / and tons and tons and tons of words / is enough words / enough turnover of words / enough friction.”

The editors have a clear predilection for unadorned language, casual voices, and narrative impulses, though there are a few exceptions and a few bursts of what I might call lyric emotion or energy. Poems that captivated my attention include Anne Marie Rooney’s “Queens,” in which the particular rhythms and energy of a youthful infatuation unfold perfectly against an urban backdrop; Francesca Bell’s brief and devastating “Why I Don’t Drink” about domestic violence (“Because drink is a man with eyes more ocean / than sky); and Naoko Fujimoto’s “On the Beach,” a poem with a rich sense of poetic expression and arguably the most inventive piece in the issue.

(!!! by nf)

Fall 2009 Undergraduate Course Description booklet for the English department at IU South Bend

Friday, April 24, 2009

Empty Suitcase:
No.50, the Last Story

Naoko Fujimoto (NF)
Thank you for having an interview with me.
Naoko Fujimoto (NF) My pleasure. By the way, you look familiar. Have I met you in an English class?

(NF) I don’t think so, but I know a Japanese girl whose pronunciation always switched “she” and “shi.”
(NF) Then I don’t know you. I speak perfect English. Let’s start the interview!
I wrote all the questions on these papers.
(NF) Could you pass me a shi-t of paper?
Did you say sh*t?
(NF) Do you mean toilet paper?
Whatever…you wrote 50 columns over four semesters. How did you get a columnist position?
(NF) I got the opportunity from a former editor, Eric Gingerich. He read my blog and liked my diary-like short fiction stories. He’s still reading my blog from South Korea. Current editors are looking for new columnist for the next semester. You may contact Brandi Miller or Jason Overholt.
So your stories weren’t non-fiction even though you wrote for the newspaper.
(NF) Why did I have to write truth? Every media lies, doesn’t it?
(NF) Every reader expects you wrote truth because it’s a part of the mission in a newspaper.
(NF) I’m not a journalist. I’m a poet with lots of imagination.
That’s the reason you failed many English papers.

(NF) I don’t find any connections between failing papers and writing poetry.
You just type words without thinking, do you?
(NF) I don’t use my brain but I observe.
You don’t observe! You only daydream. But, writing needs a brain.
(NF) Writing needs food from China House instead.
You wrote about China House quite often. Is it true you only order vegetable chow mein?
(NF) And do I write a column listing to “Suddenly I See” by KT Tunstall hundreds of times?
With the loudest volume; therefore, you lost thirteen roommates.
(NF) It’s not true. I had seventeen roommates.
(NF) They left because you didn’t share a spatula with them.
(NF) They left because I dipped their tooth brushes into the toilet.
They’re not supposed to know that.
(NF) It should be off the record.
It won’t be problematic if you speak the truth.
(NF) I’m still recovering from a bout of Cyanoccus Glycermic Impaction, so I cannot tell a lie.
It’s impossible that you have the impaction. You haven’t had too many blueberries and contacted a neurotic Blueberry dope pusher in the last two weeks.
(NF) Well, tell me about your next project after graduation.
When did you become the interviewer?
(NF) Actually I can answer the question…I’ll keep writing.
Even though your stories are not going to be published?
(NF) Yes.
You’re lying!
(NF) No, I am not.
The publishing world doesn’t publish your stories like the Preface does.
(NF) But writing columns for the Preface is an absolutely necessary step for my writing carrier.
You misspelled career.
(NF) I’m deeply thankful to the editors who trusted and allowed me to write whatever I wanted. And I deeply thank the readers who looked for my stories every Wednesday.
(NF) Right, it was cool to see students who read my story between classes at DW next to me.
(NF) You didn’t write columns. I did!
I proofread.
(NF) No. Amanda Groendyke proofread all my stories for two years.

(NF) So you didn’t write any stories.
(NF) Yes, I did. Amanda is my proofreader.
(NF) What a coincidence! She is my maid of honor.
(NF) Can a writer get married without breaking salad bowls?
Of course. I’ll write about my marriage life in my blog:
(NF) I just saw Naoko Fujimoto, who was chasing the king of centipedes with a half-shattered measuring cup.
Did you see a black cat following her?

(NF) Yes. I also saw her car wiper blades were replaced by black Twizzlers.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Empty Suitcase:
Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love ya Tomorrow!

Last week, I felt life. It was hectically speedy and with the most dramatic moment. Analecta: a journal of art and creative writing at IU South Bend was published and I was nervous as hell being the editor in chief. I believed that it was full of fantastic artists and writers, but what would the readers actually think about the magazine, photos, stories, and cover art? Analecta is a small magazine so it is not going to be criticized by academia; however, I know some writers would talk about it at least.

After the first week of publishing, I would like to thank those who picked up the magazine because Analecta is already out about 200 copies! It is not about quantity and quality should be focused on most, but it is delightful to think about 200 people reading the magazine and holding the eye-catching cover photo by Ashley Hartsough.

I met Ashley at the Analecta Art Exhibition during winter break, and I immediately fell in love with her style of portrait pictures. I would say that “crazy in silence” is in every photo. She was an absolutely fascinating photographer who listened to all my desires for the cover.

I requested such as “Could you use phone cords and plugs tangling around a model?” “Well, plugs are not necessary on his nose,” “I would like to see the model’s eyes,” “His mouth should be more open than the right eye” with my Japanese attitude. She worked for me for two months listening to my impulses and taking hundreds of photos. Thank you Ashley, without your cover, the magazine would never be the same.

Artists and writers, who missed the deadline or recently learned about the magazine, please submit your work next time. I deeply believe that IU South Bend needs your creative work for broadcasting the university’s possibilities to the world. The next editor has not been selected by the English Department; however, editorial positions are opened to everyone during the summer and submission usually starts around October (contact the English Department).

Before the Analecta ceremony, I could not calm down, so my death metal guy took me for a walk in downtown South Bend. It was the coldest night and I stuck my right hand into his pocket and held his cellular phone— I thought it was a phone— when we walked by the St. Joseph River. The path behind the art museum is the darkest and most frightening walking path ever and he found out that I was holding “the phone.” He twisted away so quickly that his jacket stripped my glove off of my hand.

I was not happy at all with two hands in one glove; therefore, he bought me a hot chocolate and led me to brighter place, a small park in front of the Morris Theater. Annie’s neon advertisement was sparkling in bright red.

While I talked about Annie being the very first musical I went to with my mother, he suddenly kneeled down— it is very personal and I usually wrote 3% of the truth and 97% of my imagination for the Empty Suitcase, but this moment is 100% truth— he proposed to me when hundreds of children exited from the theater singing, “Tomorrow.”

Aha! “The phone” was actually a ring box.

I said, “Yes” (because I wanted to see the diamond ring). I am satisfied by the ring as a collector of shining stuffs like a crow.

Over the week, with Analecta and the diamond ring, I felt that I am going to have a new stage of my life (in addition, Empty Suitcase will end in the next issue!) It is exciting but also anxious, which reminds me of the feeling when I decided to come to America six years ago. Speaking through the thin layer of a glass window at the airport, I said good bye to my family once again thinking, “Is it the right decision?” And now, thinking about divorce rates and looking at people around me, marriage is sometimes not the best decision in their life.

But I realized that I want to see how my marriage is going to be and what I am going to learn though life with my death metal guy. I can not predict the next six years but I keep moving step by step with my writing carrier, death metal guy, and the cat. Please wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Two hundred copies of Analecta are already gone! I am very, very happy about the number. Thank you for picking up the magazine (I did not keep 100 for myself, just in case people are suspicious : )

AND thank you to Nicole, Eric, and Jeff who came to the open-mic event. We had a good time (right?) reading own poems (imitating the voices of Priscilla Becker and Ashley Capps.) I liked your poems, Jeff; of course I liked Nicole's and Eric's.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Open Mic sponsored by Analecta - Join us!Bring something to read, or just come to listen.Tuesday, April 14th3:30-5:00 p.m.3001 Wiekamp (Lounge)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Contributing authors include:
Vince Bauters
Josh Bisig
Dane Blue
Susie Bower
Jenny Bucksbarg
Eric Duenez
Naoko Fujimoto
Rebecca Gibson
Jenna Gensic
Paul Guillaume
Kamika Guthrie
Ashley Hartsough
John Higgins
Amy Pfiffterling-Irons
Jake Jones
Catherine Kelly
Nicole Koroch
Adrienne Latson
Glenn Lyvers
Brandi Miller
Tyler Moore
Rebecca Pelky
Laura Pimienta
Samantha Plute
Mitchell Robinson
Ryan Smith
Jeff Tatay
Gregory Warrell
Rachelle Witter
Erica Wood
Marian Zuehlke

IU South Bend Writing Awards
Judge: Susan Choi


1st Place Winner Naoko Fujimoto - Shigeru
2nd Place Winner Jacob Jones - Home in a Coupon
Honorable Mention Jeff Tatay -Imperator


1st Place Winner Eric Duenez - The Emerald Ash Borer
2nd Place Winner Glenn Lyvers - The day I became guilty
Honorable Mention Susan Bower - The Sunglasses


1st Place Winner Catherine Kelly - Black Like Me - My Biracial Journey Through Black and White America
2nd Place Winner Jenny Bucksbarg - Good Hair, Love, Color and the American Dream
Honorable Mention Jenna Gensic - My Life Against the Grain: Surviving the Politics of Prematurity and Home Health Care

IUSB Creative Writing Blog

Friday, April 10, 2009

Aaron K. + Naoko Fujimoto

Straight from the mind of your resident Death Metal Guy, King of Centipedes, or any other nickname I have been called minus the ones directed at me when I am driving, sleeping through lectures/sermons, or rethinking the decision to have onions before a long elevator ride.

I know you have come here for your fix from the beloved Blueberry Dope Pusher, but alas, she is unavailable; still recovering from her most recent bout of Cyanoccus Glycemic Impaction, something that occurs when you put too many blueberries into places they were not intended to go. So I took it upon myself to keep in the spirit of Empty Suitcase and tell of my latest travel experience where I picked up my most… humbling nickname to date.

Last November this long haired, liberal fan of political satires and European black metal ventured to the land of the rising sun to meet the first people that have ever intimidated him. Nevermind the DoD Acquisition Technology Advocate Army Colonel from the Pentagon, Chelsea Clinton, or Mrs. Oran, Warren Elementary School’s former kindergarten teacher; I was meeting Naoko’s parents.

Funny enough, my suitcase wasn’t empty. I had been informed that it was winter in her home city, so it was stuffed with sweatshirts, pants, and two jackets along with the usual essentials (toiletries, gifts, 20-pack of AA batteries, forbidden DVDs hidden in a massive 200 capacity CD book, etc…). To my chagrin, the average temperature given to me happened to be in Celsius, which turned that familiar winter temperature of 15 degrees into a bone-chilling 60 degrees Fahrenheit, something I was far from prepared for with my quantities of polypropylene thermals and quilted leather trench coat.

So, despite the disturbingly enjoyable cavity search provided by the kind folks in the customs checkpoint and my pair of arctic expedition bags weighing me down, I made it to my destination and miraculously avoided any jetlag.

With the concern of my attire pushing the boundaries of appropriate dining material, the ‘Pusher’ and I made way to secure a dress shirt for the evening dinner with the parents before lunch, which featured fried tofu and various green plants I failed to pronounce correctly despite my love for Japanese cuisine.

I don’t care how many articles I find claiming tofu is easy on the unsuspecting stomach, because beneath its smooth textured allure lay waiting a vicious creature of insurmountable destruction. Not but an hour after lunch, in the middle of a five story department store no less, the tofu demanded with a determined roar it be extracted at once, or else it would leave on its own terms, and those terms were not for the faint of heart. So, after a balance battle over the flat, in-floor style eastern toilet with what could be described as an untamed fire hose of death, I returned to a quietly shopping Naoko from the bathroom sweating with a partially untucked shirt and a tell-tale shortness of breath. I prayed this wasn’t just the pre-game show…

The introduction went smoothly with Naoko translating what I couldn’t and her parents being very kind and hospitable. Dinner went smooth as well, though I had found myself at least a full head higher than all of them and a few shades lighter with my naturally pale complexion. The funny thing is: the term Shiiroi Ponyo (pronounced sheeroee pone-yo) came up repeatedly in reference to yours truly. Translated, this means ‘whitey chubby’.

I immediately recalled the Ace Ventura sequel where the Wachootoo tribe referred to Ace as Equinsu Ocha (White Devil), and his translator, instead of defending him, used the name as well with the excuse, “This is how they know you…” While my continued defense is that my body fat rests between 14% and 16%, I have accepted the conclusion that it was meant as a harmless term of endearment and, as the movie stated, this is how they know me.

After good food, many laughs, and some group photos after a walk on the town, I considered the night a success, finding it a little easier now to mentally digest those roller coaster trips by acknowledging a fact of life: Sometimes the ponyo gets you…

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


A Q & A discussion with Susan Choi:
Saturday, April 11
3:30-4:30 p.m.
1270 Wiekamp Hall classroom

Monday, April 6, 2009

Natane Tsuyu and A Battery are accepted by RUNE: the official literary and art magazine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology!


Natane Tsuyu:
an unexpected rain, perhaps sleet, on a green spring day.
It embraces me with gray clouds. Flower buds shrivel,
turn brown like my grandfather’s toe nails.
The rain: the murder.

When I think about yellowish
natane-flowers, I submerge in a glass of fizzy

lemonade like a broken heart. Gutters bubble,
puddles reflect the magnolia trees, whose white petals with ocher edges—
frost bites— are pressed on a wet gravel path.
A brownish line is cut through the white
petal even though I’m careful

careful as when I clean a pearl
blue contact lens. You sometimes
wear them instead of your dragonfly eyeglasses.

I want to fall in love with your eyes,
thin blue layers over brown irises. My cheeks will dye pink with
sky in the western horizon after natane tsuyu

stops. Between your eyes and mine—
..............................................always blue layers of hesitation.



My grandfather spent his last months at a hospital.
Two nurses treated him when his toenails
festered, when his jaw hardened
because my grandmother spent an extra
ninety-seven dollars every day. She refused

the rationale: when a baby zebra cannot walk

it dies on the savannah. It becomes bones and returns to the earth.

Even a student knows this.
And my mother stopped teaching them. Instead, she watched a homeless

man from the hospital window. He slept on a bench
all afternoon. When he was hungry
he found tobacco in the public ashtrays. He needed
that bench. Not some bowl of noodles.

.....Once, my grandfather talked about a friend.

They went to a French restaurant and ordered
champagne because they could not read French. They toasted
first glasses, shared two cigars.

During the war, his friend died two
miles off the Philippine coast..........In China,
my grandfather received
a letter from Japan; “Don’t eat meat.”
He saw malnourished men smoking

morphine in the coldest winters. They dragged
dead bodies. A man
stopped. His thighs were broken in half and fell
down to the ground. His last breath into the night.

My grandfather was attached to three
tubes. His mouth was open wide, inhaling

no air. My grandmother asked for an oxygen mask.

The two nurses said, “If he has a surgery to open
his navel, they can connect two more tubes. Then he will live.”

The next room; a man slept.
His wife wanted the battery
changed in his pacemaker. His brain was dead.

A battery will keep his heart pumping for the next seven years

into dreams and dreams.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Empty Suitcase: My Yesterday

“Daz, daz, daz, daz, da…z?” My silver car suddenly stopped in the middle of the street, Ironwood. I was on the way home from the Preface journalist’s meeting. I took a deep breath and recited, “Not for me, pleeese!” Sadly, my prayer disappeared into the cold, rainy afternoon. I could not turn the car on and move an inch toward the curb.

Before my car stopped, I was thinking about the Preface meeting. My column is going to end after four more stories and I felt accomplished writing “Empty Suitcase” for two years. Then, I was thinking of how I had a horrible job interview that morning. My critical thinking process was completely off; perhaps, I do not efficiently use my brain every moment of my life anyway, so I could not speak in English well. My brain, mouth, and facial muscles decided to be a Picasso painting. They just did not cooperate by moving together for a good impression on the interviewers.

With my luck of knowledge of automobiles, when my car was stopped, I thought that something was wrong with the battery, so I needed jumper cables to jump it. Thankfully, a Marathon gas station and service center was 500 yards away, around a corner and up the hill. Holding an umbrella, I called the IU South Bend Library, where I work and hang out all day long like staying at home. My friendly co-worker, (Thanks Mike!) had jumper cables and he immediately came and helped me.

While he tried to jump start my car, my death metal guy came for support. Both of them left work to help my crisis across town as knights in shining used cars.

My car had to move to avoid the intersection, which meant it had to move three corners, up the little hill, and across two parking lots. Yes, it was quite a journey to push a 3600 lb rock with myself inside it.

Thankfully again, a man in a red truck and couple in a van helped push it the last 200 yards after my death metal guy followed my car’s shining example and nearly broke down in the middle of the road with it from exhaustion. I had the critical responsibility of steering, something I was so careful about that I needed to have the directions shouted to me several times over labored breaths from the people behind. I almost felt like the first lady, riding in the car with my entourage working so hard and me waving to the passing crowd behind my Picasso smile.

My car was serviced but the worst part hitching a ride in my death metal guy’s car the next morning to work. He tried to clean it out, but the effort couldn’t have possibly matched the task. Not many people have experienced a mountain of socks avalanching onto the street after opening a car door before, but at least it helped me laugh off the day before. Feeling the wind through his car windows, I realized that I live in a little bit of a wonderful life with fantastic people in South Bend.