What’s a manifesto?

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan. Photo Credit: Catherine Keefe

The most memorable manifestos have altered the way we think and do. A manifesto should be a declaration of war against complacency.

Steven Heller, design critic.
To read Heller’s introduction to an art exhibit dedicated to manifestos, click here.

According to ENG 103 students, with a little help from Google, Wikipedia, and dictionary.com, here’s a rudimentary definition of manifesto. (And yes, we know those are not solid sources, but they are where we began our exploration.)

A manifesto:

  • Is a written document that pertains to an individual’s belief.
  • Is written with an aggressive or passionate tone; it’s used to spark social debate.
  • Is a proclamation of one’s set of beliefs arranged in order to prove his or her point.
  • Is a personal opinion, expressed through strong thoughts that turn so persuasive they become fact. POV is key.
  • Is a public declaration, supported by facts, statistics, history, background information and examples.
  • Is a declaration of a set of morals that provides alternate solutions to what exists.
  • Originated from words: Latin manifestes, and Italian manifestare . “readily perceived by the eye, evident.”
  • Can be written about anything, but the central idea must be supported by evidence.
  • Makes use of emotion, or pathos, to persuade.
  • Must be strongly believed in by the author(s).

Students’ list of famous manifestos throughout history:

Tell me a story. Read me a poem.

Fall may not be the traditional blooming season in North America, but when it comes to literary events, opportunity springs up everywhere for the Chapman community.  All events listed are on campus.


The Big Orange Book Festival runs this weekend on Friday, Sept. 21 from 1 – 9 p.m. and on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Hundreds of great books, discussion panels with accomplished writers, live entertainment, delicious food and welcoming neighbors under a perfect California sky.

You’ll find a complete schedule of events here.  I’ll be there on Fri. at 4 p.m. and Sat. at 3 p.m. for the “10 at the Top” reading series with a mashup and resurrection of poetry lines from dirtcakes, the literary journal I edit.

Monday night Sept. 24 at 7 p.m., author Richard Bausch will be the featured speaker for this year’s Lectio Magistralis: The Chancellor’s Premier Lecture Series.  Bausch’s talk, “Why Literature Can Save Us” grew out of his experience as a “workshop leader in Operation Homecoming, a joint project between The National Endowment for the Arts and the Department of Defense to help returning military personnel and their families write about their experiences.”  This free event will be in Memorial Hall, Chapman Auditorium.

And last, but not least, Tuesdays are poetry days throughout the fall as the Tabula Poetica series presents poetry lectures and readings on Oct. 2, Oct. 16, Oct. 30, and Nov. 27.    All information can be found here. 

If you don’t know what to expect from an author reading or a book festival, here are three things to do.

1) Go with an open mind.  Check out the authors who will be reading. Of course you may want to see one of your literary heroes, but you also might want to pick out a name you’ve never heard before. Sit in on a short reading.  Experiment by listening to an unfamiliar genre.  Ask questions like, “Usually I read X, but you’ve gotten me intrigued with Y, do you have any suggestions of which authors, besides you of course, I might read to familiarize myself with the genre?”  After the reading, stand in line and introduce yourself. Tell the author one thing you’ve taken away from the experience.  Trust me, this little bit of gratitude will make both your days.

2) Talk to the authors standing in booths where books are sold.  Truly there’s nothing worse than standing in front of a booth or a room dedicated to a reading and having no one acknowledge your presence.  So say “hi.”  Ask, “What’s new in your writing world? Which writers inspire you?” “If I could only read or purchase one of these books, which one would you recommend and why?”

3) If you really want to be a good literary citizen, buy at least one book or literary magazine. When you’ve finished reading, donate it to your local library with a little note inside explaining that you purchased it from a book festival or author reading.  Encourage the reader who finds the note to attend the festival the following year.  Maybe you’ll meet up with this stranger. Maybe you’ll talk. Maybe you’ll discover a new book pen pal.

Have fun. Be inspired. Engage your brain.

Watcha doin?

Photo Credit: New York Times

If you’ve got nothing but spare time this weekend you might want to read a few (entirely optional but wholly interesting) things that came across my desk today and yeah, I do read and write on Saturdays too.

If you’re in the “Writing About Food” class, check out this editorial in the New York Times.  It begins:

FOOD can be depressing. If it’s tasty, it’s carcinogenic. If it’s cheap, animals were tortured.

But this, miraculously, is a happy column about food! It’s about a farmer who names all his 230 milk cows, along with his 200 heifers and calves, and loves them like children.

You can read the entire, “Where Cows Are Happy and Food is Healthy” by Nicholas Kristof  here.

Don’t worry “Intro to Creative Writing” students, I’ve got something for you too. Actually, it’s also about food, so if you’re in the “Writing About Food” class you might keep reading.

Photo Credit: The Awl

The Awl, a frequently hilarious and always interesting on-line roundup of news, politics, and culture bits organized around the motto, “Be Less Stupid,”  posted a list titled, “Writer Food From A To Z.”  It’s an alphabetic catalog about writers and what they dor or don’t, did, or didn’t eat.

For example:

F is for FRITOS

Food can serve as creative incentive for the writer. Years ago Neil Simon mentioned a habit of rewarding himself for completing a difficult scene with a bag of Fritos. (He also pays homage to the chip in his plays, such as when it pops up as an important plot element in The Sunshine Boys.)

You can read all of “Writer Food From A To Z” by Jane Hu here.

How do you reward yourself after a good day’s writing work?  I hope you get a chance to find out this weekend.