From the Stacks: J Journal


| 7/2/2008 3:54:45 PM


Tags: creative nonfiction, essay writing, From the Stacks, J Journal, crime writing, Jason Trask,

lady justiceFrom the John Jay College of Criminal Justice comes the new J Journal: a strange and delightful hybrid of literary, creative writing on crime, criminal justice, law, and law enforcement published by the college’s English department. The inaugural issue contains a fair amount of poetry in addition to the expected prose—which, alas, is not classified, making it difficult at times to distinguish between short stories and creative nonfiction.*

One of the standouts in the issue is Jason Trask’s “New Plantation,” a frank recollection of teaching writing to high school students on Rikers Island. In his first week, Trask tries to earn cred by doing a lesson on the origins of profanity, an attention-grabbing routine that opens with writing FUCK, then INTERCOURSE on the board:

I picked up the chalk again and wrote “INTERCOURSE.” I waited. “You guys know this word?”

“Intercourse,” a couple of them said.

“Right. Now is that a bad word?” I asked.

“It mean ‘fuck.’ ”