Ryan Hodge’s Play/Write column

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-Ryan J. Hodge

For someone who enjoys a great story, is there anything better than a narrative that engages you from the very start? Imagine a world so rich you can almost smell the scents in the air, a delivery so clever it forces you to think in a way you never thought you would. I’m Ryan J. Hodge, author, and I’d like to talk to you about…Video Games.

Yes, Video Games. Those series of ‘bloops’ and blinking lights that –at least a while ago- society had seemed to convince itself had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. In this article series, I’m going to discuss how Donkey Kong, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and even Candy Crush can change the way we tell stories forever.

What Videogames Teach Us About Writing Child Characters

When we imagine the ‘great’ characters of fiction, they don’t tend to be limited by class, race, or occupation. We can empathize just as much with the Corleones of the Godfather as we can with Kunta Kinte of Roots. And yet, there seems to be a strict ‘18 and over’ age limit for these timeless characters.

While we might look upon films like The Goonies or Sandlot with fondness, it cannot seriously be said that these titles delivered stirring, powerful performances from their child stars on the order of Godfather or Roots. Indeed, for a distressing number of works, any story featuring children that aren’t explicitly ‘about’ children have a tendency to turn in monotone and forgettable roles for their tykes.

This, of course, presents a vexing quandary for writers. Given that we were all children at some point; why does it appear to be so difficult to render at least a convincing portrayal of society’s most vulnerable population? And, for that matter, what could videogames possibly offer to remedy this?

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Poetry from J.D. DeHart

Quarreling
They say they are
quarreling, a quaint old
word, which surely must
be some kind of quilted,
ultra-polite argument,
old voices clashing lightly
like wooden swords
in a soft air, kindly slapping
at each other.
Boneless
Quivering mass, no spine
or limbs or life, no rigidity,
a flaccid creature
No structure, just a fluid
personality, sanguine,
agreement and resignation,
spelling weakness and streaming
event to event with a shrug.
Motivators
Prod, electric shock,
the odors of the lab
and scrubs
Buzz,
a salivating cavity,
churning lurching stomach
dissolving all triggers.
Procrustes
His weapon was the comfort
of a bed, a reclining
instrument of ending,
stretching or snipping
to make life fit the outline,
just like we jam our
thoughts into the heads
of others, just like we attack
with an ideology.

Short story from Dami Lare

Zubayat

She tells me it will be alright, I nod my head thrice like I agree; but I know it’s a lie, it would

not need to be alright if things were already alright, and if isn’t alright, why should she think

it will be.

Salome you aren’t a believer like me she says, I ask her what a believer means, she laughs in a

funny way, which makes me laugh too and tells me the story of Babayaga.

Babayaga is an old hag, an ugly Witch she says; she has big snakes for hairs and long thin

claws like Asa. She rides a broom and flies at night. She scares little children on their beds

and cooks those who become scared to eat or sometimes eat them raw, just for the fun of it;

with their limbs crunching like Iyaibo’s chewing stick in her mouth.

“Ugly like her” I point towards a pito seller with long tribal marks.

She laughs loudly, shaking with tears rolling from her eyes. I do not laugh; I am too scared to

laugh.

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Poetry from Adeolu Adesanya

WEAPONISED WORDS
©Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya

Bleed a little you poisoned blood of mine
Into the abysmal valley of my conscience
So that the mixture of half lies and near truth
Can trickle into my heart and wreck fatal havoc.

Let in clammy skin and clutching palpitations
The sinus read a gory details of my troubled past
But take heed to omit the weaponised words
That deliver your pivotal part in the anarchy.

Move back a bit, you ignominious stabbing pain
Rather let the head tilt upward to ease off
On the damages done and certain betrayal
Else the goodness therein titrate with your venom.

How do I go about stopping your flow
Putting a lid on these diluted blood that circulates
Do I bleed out and dry to satisfy your deathly dares
Or simply breathe in long and hard to pacify your thirst.

Bio

An ardent poet and writer for the past 15 years, Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya, the author of  poetry collection titled “Why Ask Why” obtained the degree of Bachelor of Education  from the prestigious University of Ibadan, Nigeria and Master of Science in Business Management from the University of Wales in Cardiff, and currently a doctoral candidate of the University of Wales. He is widely published in several international anthologies and journals.

Artwork from Kathy Montoya, from Melissa Heye’s Fearless Beans

These images come from the new book Fearless Beans, by Melissa Heye and illustrated by Kathy Montoya. Book may be found here and shows Beans’ first day at doggie daycare!

Poetry from Joan Beebe

CELEBRATING HOLIDAYS

The year flies by and all too soon,

we think of so many things we have to do.

The list is long so getting ready takes time,

The kids have their list and I have mine.

We think we will stop all the extras this year,

But suddenly find ourselves the same

As decorations appear.

We run to the mall several times a week

And walk the mall over for the items we seek.

We  promised ourselves to keep the spending lower

But we look at our checkbook and know the marketing power.

So,  sadly we try to sort  our mistakes

Balancing our checkbook, — have we got what it takes?

We promise again that next year we’ll do better

And I know what I’ll do, I’ll write myself a letter

As a reminder of the promise I’ve made

And then make my list before what I will need fades.

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