A Very Fine and Outdated Rabbit Hole

I took my first trip to the University of Michigan online library resources the other day to attempt to narrow down my focus for my big writing piece this semester. As soon as I entered the database I was immensely unimpressed with the barebones appeal going on with the site. I mean, I get that its a professional tool used to transport users to outside articles but please, this is 2015.


One of the first things I saw when skimming for interesting, broad topics was something about Detroit. The specific link is not important. What is important is that I followed that link. I am from the metro Detroit area and have always been intrigued by Detroit and its incredibly rich history. From there I kept clicking links to funnel my interest until a particular link really lit up the bulb in my head. I was taken to the website of an organization dedicated to the upkeep and restoration of historic Woodward avenue. Woodward has always been a necessity to me my entire life. It runs right through my cozy, upper-middle class city of Birmingham and I use the road so frequently that sometimes I forget that the 27-mile long stretch of pavement touches way more than high class clothing boutiques and the Little Caesars where I had my first summer job. The history of Woodward is as full of stories as the cities it runs through. I think dedicating my capstone writing project to this historic roadway/landmark would be a great experience and would allow me to learn a lot more about the avenue on which I grew up.

Words of Advice to Future Minor in Writing Students

Hey there. My name’s Phill and am just completing my Winter 2014 Writing 220 course with the one and only T Hetzel, the greatest teacher ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH. Seriously, I love her. I am not saying you have to take her, as I am sure there are other fantastic Writing 220 teachers here at U of M, but if you do have T as your instructor…cherish every moment. She’s a hoot. Anyway, what other advice do I have for you about the Minor in Writing? First off, take advantage of the unbelievable resources we have here. Spending time in the minor you will encounter experts on every sort of writing, peers eagerly available to critique your work, and plenty of people with influence in the writing world. We have our own publishing office at U of M. Take note of that. If you have an idea for your writing, any idea at all, GO FOR IT. Use these resources we have at our disposal, many of which are free, the best that you can. More specifically about Writing 220, I’d say my most important piece of advice would be to learn about yourself. There are lots of opportunities to explore yourself  as a writer in this class. I have written three or four drafts on the first project of the class, “Why I Write”. Don’t treat this like just an assignment. Learn about yourself! I wrote my final draft the other day and just let it flow out of my brain as I wrote. It was peaceful. The writing repurposing and remediation projects are something to really envelope yourself in. The whole idea seemed weird at first but now, looking back on what I have done with one, silly poem, it is extremely cool to see the creative process as it progresses.


As class ended today, I realized one more piece of advice to share with y’all. You are going to make some homies in this class. Like, real homies. These are students with goals similar to yours, imaginations as big as yours, and hearts open to making friends (at least in my case on that last one). I have made a ton of friends in my little Writing 220 class. This was easily my favorite class I have taken at Michigan so far. Take advantage of the great people that are probably in your class.

I hope this advice is a little helpful to you as you enter what is the single greatest academic minor that has ever existed in the history of the University of Michigan. Go do big things and write until your hand falls off.




Phill Di Censo

You know what really grinds my gears?

Hey everybody. This weekend’s blogging assignment was to write about grammatical/punctuational techniques that really piss us off and also the ones that keep us writers loving what we do. Personally there are a few things that really get me worked up inside, though they seem pretty small. The one that comes to mind first is the careless use of the #. Specifically, I hate when people use Twitter-like hashtags on Facebook. The hashtag is a Twitter staple and when I see people throwing them around willy-nilly on every social media outlet it makes me feel gross inside. Maybe it’s just me but I only want to see #(anything) on Twitter. That’s where it fits and that’s where it should stay.

On a brighter note, I love the Oxford Comma. I know I’m not the only one out there. That little thing before the “and” in a list of things is one of the best pastimes in English language punctuation of ALL TIME. My goodness I can’t get over the subtle beauty in a list with one more “optional” comma. Why the people in charge of English still call it optional is beyond me. There are plenty of jokes on the internet about the awfully ridiculous world that would be the one without the Oxford Comma. In all seriousness  though, the Oxford Comma is cool, sexy, and necessary. So use it.

Major Project – Repurposing

I’ve had a certain poem in mind pretty much since this assignment was explained to the class. I will be using the poem I read in the first round of the poetry slam I talked about last time. I’m not sure how much I explained it in that post but it’s a goofy piece about a kid volunteering at his local elementary school who gets hit on by one of the teachers. I knew right away I could take this in a bunch of different directions. For this first part of the project I think I’m going to turn the poem into a short story. The poem itself already tells a story though so I’ve got to put a twist on it. I’m thinking a vampire story. The teacher is going to turn out to be a bloodthirsty seductress out to suck blood from the young man. The school environment will definitely be something I want to keep in the story because she obviously will have to keep her secret safe around the kids as she tries to get the boy alone. Anyway, that’s my plan for this first repurposing. For the next one I’m thinking… a musical? We’ll be in touch.

My First Try With The Ann Arbor Poetry Slam

After talking to my teacher about the experience I had this weekend, she recommended I dedicate this post to sharing it with my fellow bloggers. So I shall. I had been looking up poetry slam events for a while and the only one that seemed to show up in my Google searches was the weekly Ann Arbor Poetry Slam. It seemed legit and like a fun, relaxed slam environment for a rookie slammer. I had told myself for about three weeks “This Sunday is the day I finally compete!” and then, of course, I got too nervous or realized the morning of that I hadn’t spent enough time preparing. Well this Sunday, February ninth, was different. I took out a few poems and picked the one I knew I wanted to use. I spent much more time than I should have memorizing it and simultaneously psyching myself out. Anyway, the slam was only an hour away and I remembered that I would need to read a second poem if I made it to the final round! Quickly I pulled out one that I had sort of had memorized for a while because my friends always liked to hear it. Being pretty sure I wouldn’t need to read that second poem, I skimmed over it once or twice and I was on my way. I walked with two of my fraternity brothers, both eager and supportive, to Silvio’s Pizza on North University here in Ann Arbor. I got to the nice little organic pizza shop and quickly realized that I might be out of my element. The small room was glowing with the essence of “hipness”. Cool, cultured looking people with tattoos and dreadlocks illuminated the restaurant with a rather liberal feel. While nervousness was definitely my main sensation, I quickly felt welcomed and even loved by the people there. The host, Garret, is a dreadlocks sporting young dude who came up to me and my friends to meet us right away. That really calmed me down and made me feel right at home.

Anyway, the clock hit eight and the event got started. With Garret on the mic, five judges were selected from the audience and a couple of open mic acts got everybody in listening mode. The ten of us who were competing  then picked numbers from a jar to determine the order in which we would perform. I got eighth. I sat down and tried to study my first poem from my phone without being rude to the other slammers going before me. Seventh came and went and I was up. Trying to force myself to feel confident, I walked up to the mic and read that first poem. I won’t get into details but it was a piece that told a story about hormones and scandals. My brothers had always liked it so I figured it’d be the right one to start with. I got through it without a hitch, though I held my phone at my side just in case I needed a quick refresher. Anyway, I got a nice scatter of laughs throughout the reading (in a good way) and when I finished and sat down, I received surprisingly favorable scores from the judges. They really liked it!

After the last two performers went Garret quickly counted up the points and announced the finalists. I became overtaken by happiness when he read my name. Whether or not I won from then on didn’t matter. I really felt like I could hang with those people up there. Anyway, the final round was five people…maybe six? Well, it was my turn again and I felt a lot more relaxed this time around. That second poem, the one I thought I knew so well, had one minor pause in the reading, but I quickly figured out where I was. I felt more audience appreciation and enjoyment out of this one but, probably because it was the final round, it received slightly lower scores. One more person went after me and I realized I couldn’t win but I really didn’t care. I watched the rest and enjoyed. It came down to a tie breaker slam-off between two great poets and even the tie breaker ended in a tie! They both left champions. I felt like a winner too, as cliche as it sounds.

It was a lot of fun to get up in front of those people and read my poems. Sharing something I like to write with people who know a lot about it, and being judged well for it is something that still leaves me smiling today. After the event Garret came up to me and said he enjoyed my stuff, we hugged, and I was on my way back home. It was a great experience and I plan on going back very soon!


Just Write




Write because you want to, write because you need to

Write because you love to and write because it feeds you


Write whatever feels right, write the things you can’t say

Write the things that piss you off and write the things that make your day


Write about the ending, or how it all started

Or when the time came to leave her broken hearted


Write about the joy of life, write about how much you hate it

Write about your future wife, or that dude you always wish you dated


Write about cooking things, write about killing things

Write a bunch of books and things about a bunch of silly things


Write the things you want to share, write what lives within your brain

Write the who, the when, the where, and write the sun and write the rain


Write a movie with some words

Write what’s soothing, write what hurts


Write with your heart and all your might

All you need to do…..


is write

You’ve Probably Never Heard of Phill Di Censo

Who is this kid, you ask? Phill Di Censo is far from a household name in the literature world but he likes to think that he is on his way. The tuba playing, fraternity brother, and self-proclaimed “horn-dog” hails from Birmingham Michigan and has been captivating small audiences with his poems for years now. Raunchy and uncensored, Di Censo has been know to offend older women with his work since 2011 at his high school’s poetry slam. Phill knew from an early age that writing was his destiny and he is hoping to publish his first book in the near future. Until then, his only taste of fame comes from humiliating all his friends in Madden.  I hope you all enjoy reading his work throughout this semester and beyond.