Moth Radio Hour

While I spent my Tuesday night listening to an informative, yet noticeably long, two hour speech on risk management throughout a business career, a weekly edition of mandatory sessions for all Ross BBA Sophomores, I’m sure my peers were enjoying the interesting stories being told at The Moth Story Slam at Zingerman’s Greyline. I had to opt to listening to The Moth Radio Hour podcast. I listened to the episode “Something Borrowed, Something New” which consisted of four stories, each revealing personal hardships faced by an individual, which appears as a common theme for this medium.

Nacho Challenge by Omar Qureshi

Omar shares his story of growing up as a Muslim in Missouri, and the complex relationship that formed between himself and his home, dealing with both good and racist people. He speaks towards the difficult situation his father was placed in, as his main priority was to keep his family safe, and in certain restaurants or barbershops the animosity was apparent. Omar faced racism himself while attempting the Nacho Challenge at his favorite restaurant, as the waiter doubted his ability to eat 8 lbs of nachos since he was “an Arab.” This fueled Omar to accomplish this challenge. Omar then dives into the growth of the Muslim community during his time in Missouri, and how they even built a mosque for the community. When that mosque then was burned down, Omar fears for his family, who he knew were worshipping there the prior evening. They were okay but he doubted if the Muslim community as whole was safe in his town anymore. This doubt was relieved when he got a letter from a stranger mentioning how the Muslim community was there for the rest of the town after a tornado hit, yet the town wasn’t there for them after the mosque was burned down.

Love You Like a Hurricane Etsy Wedding by Kari Adams

Kari shares the story of her disaster wedding in which everything that could go wrong practically did. She planned so much and cared about every little detail, but then a hurricane came and destroyed those plans. Still, they ended up making the most of the wedding, and she realized the little things aren’t as important as the people there. Her story then counters unexpectedly as she reveals a divorce followed, and her distraction with the wedding probably kept her from realizing her ex-husband and her were not ready for marriage.

Tantric Body Paint by Donna Otter

Donna’s story also involves divorce, this time after 21 years of marriage. To try to put herself back out there she accepted an invitation to a naked body paint party with complete strangers. When she got there, however, her ex-husband was also in attendance. She describes the awkward, yet spiritual experience of being forced to connect with her ex-husband for the first time intimately. In a series of exercises before the party began, each woman had to connect individually with each man. When she was forced to come across her ex-husband the moderator asked the couple to pretend they had a complex past and embrace each other to move towards the future. It was fitting, and emotional, and she gained a sense of closure to move on.

Pregnant Man by Trystan Reese

Trystan shares the story of his journey of giving birth as a transgender man. It’s a story of great difficulty, as after his story went viral, his facebook messages and twitter feeds were filled with hateful attacks from strangers. Still, Trystan overcomes the doubt and fear he felt throughout his pregnancy to successfully give birth to a baby boy.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to these stories as they were heartfelt, personal and surprising. It’s easy to forget how everyone we encounter, every stranger we walk by, has their own story and has gone through their own challenges in life. From listening to these four stories I realized some common elements of a powerful moth story. First, all of them are very therapeutic, as the storyteller is opening up to complete strangers. It’s an opportunity to vent to a group that won’t judge and is eager to listen. This aspect of the moth story-telling format makes story-tellers more comfortable and raw. Another common theme is the use of humor. All four of these stories were about hardships and emotional challenges that took a toll on the story-teller, but, like any human, the authors often times resorted to humor to poke fun at a certain situation or person. This relieved the audience during some difficult topics, and again, made all the stories feel more real and raw. Finally, these stories all shared a similar ending in which the story-teller reaches a lesson to be learned, or a takeaway they now carry with them. For Omar it was the need to continually make an effort to understand others and for them to understand you; for Kari it was that the details aren’t as important as the people, and people’s actions matter greatly; for Donna it was about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and moving past pain; and for Trystan it was about facing your own fears and maintaining focus on what you believe in.

I’m glad for this introduction to Moth stories and I plan on listening to more.

Moth Story Night

Unfortunately I could not attend the Moth Story Night, so instead I listened to one online. I decided to listen to the podcast titled “Confidence: Too Much, Too Little.”

I really enjoyed this podcast. Some features that stuck out to me throughout all five of the stories are that there is so much raw emotion. The stories are all so honest and I feel like I know the person after hearing his or her story. Additionally, no matter how serious the topic, there are aspects of humor. The humor allows for the audience to be more involved, since these stories are told to a live audience.

Storytelling has the ability to bring so many different types of people together. It is a legitimate genre because it is a real genre. Storytelling is genuine and a part of life. Many times we don’t even think about it as a genre because people tell stories in every day life. I was moved by how real and genuine the stories I heard were. My experience with the Moth reminded me that writing does not have to be done in the academic setting. Writing is everywhere.

I think it is so inspiring that people are able to get up in front of a group of strangers and tell such personal stories. I do not think I have the courage to do that at this point in my life. I hope that one day I acquire the courage to do so.

Here are summaries of the five stories I listened to:

Aleeza Kazmi tackles difficult questions when working on a self-portrait.

  • Used peach pastel to fill in her face when making a self portrait
  • Teacher said that is not your color
  • “How can colors belong to people?”
  • Couldn’t find the pastel color… teacher went to the gross crayon bin
  • Now the portrait is a mess with pastel and crayon.. teacher still hangs it up on the wall
  • Identity crisis- she asks why can’t I be peach
  • Finally came to terms with who she was… said she black
  • This was my favorite story to listen to

Dante Jackson comes out of his shell at his 8th grade prom.

  • Nervous to dance at prom.. shy
  • Gradually starts getting more into it
  • Turns out was one of his best nights
  • “He was locked in a dark room and took a step out and learned how to dance”

David Crabb celebrates an anniversary with a trip to the spa.

  • Went to spa with partner… not nice.. east village
  • Make-shift spa.. sketchy
  • He goes in room with attractive man
  • Awkward massage…
  • Ran away with his partner
  • Said will never do that again and they still laugh about it twelve years later

Sam Shepard brings his personal horse to the set of “The Right Stuff.”

  • He is an actor
  • Wanted to use own horse for a sequence of filming
  • Didn’t have another horse like that to use for the stunt double
  • Horse does the stunt with stunt double
  • Horse looks down and sees a black cable cord
  • Maybe he thinks it’s a snake.. big jump.. stunt double flips off and is dragged
  • Sam went to guy in hospital and apologized… stunt double makes a joke about the horse

Sarah Lee Nakintu fears her dream of education has been betrayed

  • Grew up in polygamous family
  • She wanted to be like her aunt… a business women
  • Always dreamed of the day she could graduate from university
  • Instead of farming one day, her dad asked her to do some house chores
  • Father said aunt was going to take her to boarding school
  • But she didn’t want to leave her mother
  • But she knew that if she wanted to liberate her mother she had to go to school
  • Her mom told her that her father is actually sending her to get married
  • Aunt said this is the best option for her… she felt betrayed by her aunt–who she looked up to and admired
  • Mother then said no she is not getting married until school
  • Father yelled at her for giving her opinion
  • In her culture, women are supposed to be submissive to the men
  • Mother who was always submissive had finally gathered the strength
  • She went away with her mom
  • Her mom was the only provider of the home.. did whatever she could to get money
  • She finally got enough money to send daughter to school
  • “Brought my dreams back alive”
  • “At first I thought I’d liberate her, but she liberated me”
  • “She gave up her marriage in fight of my education”

Introduction to Photo Essays

For my final experiment, I am going to experiment with a photo essay. I had no idea what genre to pick for this last round, but Julie suggested a photo essay and I thought I would try it because a photo essay can be a pretty creative genre and flexible genre. While I’m not sure what I want the subject of my photo essay to be yet, Julie thought of doing something with tennis fashions, so I am considering that!

Hopefully I will be inspired over the next few days and come up with a great subject. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comment or in class!! Especially am open to ideas that might be more out-of-the-box with respect to my origin piece, which discussed gender equality in professional tennis. I want to do something more creative/fun/light/apolitical.


In the meantime, here are some conventions and examples of photo essays:

  • A photo essay focuses on a particular theme, story, or subject
    • Experiences are often the subject of photo essays, from what I have seen
    • Usually, the author of a photo essay will introduce their work in the beginning, maybe telling the reader what inspired them and what they hope to accomplish
  • They have a title
  • There are several photographs and they are usually accompanied by text
  • The amount of text can vary, from shorter captions to a longer essay
  • Photo essays are often meant to evoke emotions in the reader/viewer
  • There is some type of conclusion or resolution to the work

I found through my research that photo essays can be very diverse in subject and message. This article describes a famous photo essay/book called 42nd and Vanderbilt by photography Peter Funch. Funch captures pedestrians on the street on their way to work over a span of years, which I found super cool.

This website chronicles the past and present of Detroit through photographs, and struck me as pretty remarkable. There are many longer pieces of text scattered throughout this website. The theme of this website seems to surround the “fall” of Detroit, as most images show the dilapidated buildings and other abandoned sites.

Here is a photo essay from The Boston Globe website that has little text, with only captions excluding the introduction. In the introduction, the author explains her motivation for the work, which was to try to rediscover the city for herself and learn to appreciate it in a new or different way.

I am looking forward to exploring this genre further over the course of my experiment. Again, if you have any suggestions, please please send them my way!


Intro to the Photo Essay

Returning back to my original piece and its focus on hegemonic masculinity in American football, I decided to flip the script: I will pursue a photo essay surrounding the evolution of women’s professional football in the U.S.

Did you know the U.S. had women’s professional football leagues? Did you know there are multiple? 

I didn’t, until my favorite Big Brother contestant Kaycee was one.

The general conventions of a photo essay are according to my personal favorite and always reliable source, Wikipedia, are as follows: a series of photos, made to evoke emotions for the viewer; can be purely photographic, include small captions, or full text essays that include photographs.

I am not a regular consumer of photo essays; therefore, this will be a bit out of my comfort zone (not as far out as a podcast would be, but definitely not as comfy as the op-ed). I found some really incredible examples to help me in this endeavor:

Brief captions:

A more interactive, multimedia approach:

Because I cannot travel to these games, nor travel back in time, these will have to be photos that I obtain from various media outlets. I still do not know exactly what the structure of the essay will be – this is something I could use all of your help on. Initially, I wanted to focus on the Legends Football League – former title, the Lingerie Football League. I worry, though, that a photo essay will play into the sexualization of these players and not tell the full story. Many are women who genuinely love the sport of football, and I do not want to contribute to a narrative that reduces these women to their uniform. If I focus on this league, I want to be sure to tell the whole story – how this is a product of American society, not the women’s autonomy. There are other leagues that I can focus on, that do not have quite the same, let’s say, controversial overtones: the Women’s Professional Football League, the Women’s Football Alliance, the United States Women’s Football League, among others. I want to do my best to portray the current status of women’s professional football in the U.S, something that I’m assuming most of us don’t know too much about. Any input you guys have is welcomed, and frankly, necessary. Plz help me.

Introduction to the Daily article

Going into Experiment 3, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. I felt really great about my open letter last time around, and I wasn’t sure how to follow that up with a new idea. My original plans were to write a photo essay about certain works by Manuel Alvarez Bravo (he is the photographer of the image I analyzed in my origin piece). After researching that a bit, I had difficulty articulating my thoughts about each photograph and how they related to one another. I could not think of a way to move forward after that. Well, at least until I saw Julie’s comments during my workshop. She suggested figuring out my explicit audience for the open letter and writing an article based on what that person/organization was doing (or failing to do) about the current state of mental illness on the Michigan campus. I thought about doing a news report, but that seemed too broad for me. So I decided to do the next best thing, one that is directly tied into University of Michigan’s lifestyle: the Daily article.

Now, I’m not a writer for the Daily, so I am unfamiliar with how they do things over there. So, instead of researching typical conventions of the Daily article (not even sure that exists), I decided to read a few political pieces of the Daily to see how student writers would go about tackling those sorts of issues. The first thing I noticed was the episodic framing of each article. The authors usually insisted on basing the article around a personal anecdote or story of a student or faculty member. I’m not sure how I would go about talking to faculty members if this were my final project, but let’s take things one step at a time. Next, there was a consistent theme of policy focus. Each article not only referenced specific policies that the University has instated, but also discusses how faculty and staff fail to adhere to these policies/ what would be done differently if the policy was followed correctly.

Those are the main conventions I noticed in the articles I read. If anyone actually works for the Daily (or knows someone who does), let me know. I’d love to hear their experiences! Also, I’m pretty tired right now, so please enjoy this picture of some puppies!


Introduction to the How-To Article

Today, I’m going to describe how to… write a how to article. I know, it’s ironic, but bear with me. How to write the how to might be helpful for all of us to see the origin of the content when we google “how to cook an over easy egg perfectly” (thanks Alton Brown!) or “how to fix the thing that is broken.” I love how-to articles, because it’s like calling my mom but in detailed, written form!


Thanks Alton Brown for your step by step guide that helped teenage Mary Jo perfect making an over easy egg! (My mom makes perfect over easy eggs and tried to teach me, but somehow this article stuck more.)

After talking with Julie, I realized that I needed to narrow my focus for this experiment. In Experiments 1 and 2, I focused on overarching ways activist work could be done and how it could help. We realized that I needed to focus on my own personal experiences to make Experiment 3 something that had meaning to me and could develop into a final project.

I am a facilitator for Feminist Forum, a one-credit course in the RC that is very activist based with the topics we discuss. I was very much thrown into being a facilitator of Feminist Forum, with a short online course my only training. This led to some confusion and growing pains among me and my co-facilitators in the beginning. Now, having a year under my belt as a facilitator, I want to write a how-to article to help future facilitators of Feminist Forum (and other forums) be the best they can be. This can include simple aspects like leading a discussion, and more complex ones like dealing with students who dominate the discussion.

According to Writer’s Digest, a how-to article requires 6 steps:

  1. Select Your Topic – Pick a topic that interests you and write a rough draft!
  2. Address Your Audience’s Needs – Decide who your article is intended for – is your rough draft appropriate for this audience?
  3. Research – Look for facts, statistics, definitions, and quotes that can make your article more authoritative
  4. Tighten Your Draft – Write another draft with the information you’ve found in steps 2 and 3
  5. Make It Specific – Make sure your article stays to the point and includes thorough information
  6. Read, Revise, Repeat – Keep revising, get advice from other people, and try to make your article the best it can be!

WikiHow is a website that has an array of different how-to articles on what seems to be every subject imaginable. The front page of WikiHow gives a multitude of examples of how-to articles, with everything from How to Boil Carrots, to How to Create an iOS Developer Account, to the Halloween-themed How to Hide Candy in Your Room. This shows the breadth of the topics how-to articles can cover. How-to articles also have room for fun and creativity! Related to my topic, NBC had an article titled How to be an Activist for Causes You Believe In. My how-to article will probably be more nuanced than these examples, but these provide a good starting point for me to see the basics of how-to articles. I’m excited to write this!

Intro to the live blog

I’ve finally done it. I managed to get away from writing about sports. Big day. Couldn’t have made it this far without you all.

After talking with Julie, I’ve figured out how I will do this — centered around the election and my interest in politics. My origin piece was the article I wrote from the Final Four. My first experiment was a short story, in which I wrote about two characters on the team and about the events that lead up to the emotion seen in the game. My second experiment was a journal about my own experience. This time, I’m switching it up.

I’m going to take that experience — covering a team in a short period of time and issuing immediate reaction — and turning it into a live blog about my experience following the election. I told you it’d be different. Here goes nothing.

This genre will be akin to what most news outlets will do tomorrow on their websites: a live, running blog, with time stamps and reactions. This is a new era genre — one that probably didn’t exist 10 years ago, but one that is highly prevalent with major events these days Theirs often highlight what the results are telling us, and how predictive they will be about any big-picture trends that are developing through the night.

— Here’s an example:

— Here’s another:

Mine won’t exactly resemble that. It’ll be less strictly analytical and will be more a personal stream-of-consciousness rant. Buckle in. I have no idea how this is going to go.

Introduction to Blogs

For my first two experiments, I did an op-ed and a photo essay. These experiments focused a lot on what college essays are, specifically if they accurately represent people and if the questions and the nature of college essays as a whole give students the opportunity to present themselves as complex, honest individuals.

For my third experiment, I want to move away from exploring the intent and results of college essays and focus more on the content of my college essay itself. I wrote a lot about anxiety and how it has made me a stronger individual, a more capable leader, and a more empathetic person to help others deal with their anxiety. All of this is true, but the nature of the competitive college application process encourages people to present obstacles as ones they have fully overcome and are better because of. In reality, anxiety disorders are often chronic and lifelong. People in my group suggested I annotate my college essay to comment on things that were unsaid then and now. Incorporating this idea, I’m going to write a blog discussing this.

Blogs are a pretty versatile genre and allow for individual expression, but there are a few general guidelines to follow.

  • Find a focus. This allows you to target and retain a certain audience that is consistently interested in the content you’re discussing. It also gives you more credibility, rather than dabbling in various areas that you might not know that much about, or write or think about often.
  • Make your blogs interactive. Using links, pictures, gifs, and other interactive elements make blogs more interesting and informative. Links provide more information for people who may be further interested in a topic you’re discussing and give credibility and support to what you’re talking about. Graphics make your blog more interesting, fun, and easy to read.
  • Be relatable and authentically yourself. Blogs are supposed to express the voices and opinions of individuals, and the best writing is when it is authentic.

The most important part of blog writing is to be yourself and talk about things you’re passionate about. If you do this, your blog will attract people who are interested in what you have to say. And since everyone here has gone through the college application process, and many college students experience chronic anxiety, I’m hoping this will be interesting.

Introduction to Memoirs

What, Briana’s talking about herself…again!? 

Listen folks, it’s what I do best.

(Also…bare with me through this post, I’m functioning on a whole 4 hours of sleep and 3 coffees)

And what better way to describe my overly complicated, extremely diverse experience with the male gaze, and as a woman of color in the LGBTQ+ community (hi! I’m the B!). I found that with each experiment cycle, my ideas started to become more and more narrow, as I found that a lot of my experiences and the theories I discussed overlapped (not to mention my dying love for SZA’s music and how it literally helped me get out all my frustration about a shitty relationship).

There are moments where I’m overwhelmed with my relationship to men, so much, that I want to delete every single one from my life. Like not in a “I want you dead way” but in a “I probably would not be bothered if you just fucked off right about now” way. And how that ties so heavily to my identity, how it shaped who I pursue, and how I’ve begun internalized all of it.

So what better way to do that than within a genre where my experience becomes the authority…within a ~memoir~?

Image result for its me gif

A memoir is a collection of experiences coming from an one individual’s perspective. Specific moments are described in great emotional detail, describing the moral or immoral conflicts the author had at the moment. Ultimately, they come to a resolution during some portion of the memoir, or frame it as though they are “still growing”. Think, like, Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. She reveals the difficulties of poverty through an emotionally narrow lens, since her life speaks to broader truths about poverty in America.

Often authors utilize creative writing techniques to evoke stronger connection to places and characters in their stories. By doing so, allows their audience to view them as human, rather than a writer. Unlike a autobiography, a memoir is not just summary of someone’s life, but specific moments are picked apart in order to find the bigger truths behind huge life events, and how they string together.

My story probably isn’t as heart-wrenching and tragic as Walls’, but it definitely would help others understand what it means to be a “victim” of the male gaze, whilst navigating the world as a minority. Julie helped me find a lot of great authors to base my piece around, as well as ones I could reference to give myself a bit more credibility. I enjoyed the passages I read from Brittany Cooper’s Eloquent Rage and believe that a more comical (or, I probably should say relatable), upbeat beginning to my story can show off who I really am, while providing a solid background for my personal accounts. By specifically doing so, I can lay the foundation to explain my dissonance between projection by self and perception by others, and how my race and sexuality effect how males view me, and how I view males.

Introduction to Genre 3- Interview Based Article

I believe the topic behind my two experiment cycles this far has been trying to understand myself in different spaces and what my identity exactly is as a junior at U of M. For my first two experiences I used genres that required me dissecting my personal experiences through writing. However, for my third experiment I am going in with the goal of writing about the identity discovery experience of a different college student.

I decided the third genre I want to practice is an interview based article. I think I will gain a lot of perspective through understanding the challenges with identity someone else in a very different space is having throughout college. I feel this will give me perspective on my own identity challenges and struggles.

From the article I pasted above I learned that it is very important that interview based articles have a main focus and go beyond just surface information. One of the biggest tips it gives for conducting the interview is that you don’t just write the answers down physically but also utilize a voice recording, so you can utilize every detail when you go back to analyze the interview. It then recommends that after you review your transcript you narrow in on what the focus is of you article and pick the relevant details/information from there.

I think when considering my interview I want someone not involved in similar social organizations on campus. Additionally, I want them to have different challenges in regard to their ethnicity, skin color, sexuality, etc. I am hoping through my interview to discover some identity challenges that I take for granted and never have to think about.

Right now I am not sure who to go about finding this person to interview. There are definitely different pros/cons of knowing who I interview.