Pink logo for the Publications Unit's Press 254

Join PRESS 254 at the Publications Unit for the Wordbombing Chapbook Launch and Reading event on May 3. 

This semester we will celebrate the publication of two chapbooks by Illinois State University alumni, Lasantha Rodrigo’s Fireflies Can Sing and Michael Gibson Wollitz’s Voids Before the Abyss. Both authors received a doctorate from the Department of English at Illinois State University and both have been involved in the local Wordbombing reading series founded in 2009.

The event will take place at the Publications Unit in Williams Hall Annex on Thursday, May 3, at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:45 p.m.). Light snacks and refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.

“Sometimes the blade caught a stone,
Which flew to Neptune
With his youth,
A better life.”
—Lasantha Rodrigo

About PRESS 254

PRESS 254 is made up of a student staff of publishing studies or English studies students enrolled in English 254: Introduction to Professional Publishing, under the direction of Holms Troelstrup in the spring semester. The students work through the entire production process to publish these chapbooks—from copyediting, designing, and typesetting, all the way to hand-stitching the binding and setting up the reading.

“They sewed her lips shut with what they had extracted from her, and
[No one bothered to ask her what she was feeling. Thinking.]”
—Michael Gibson Wollitz

About Wordbombing

Wordbombing is a long-running local reading series founded in 2009 by Illinois State Department of English alumni Alan Lin ’10, M.S. ’12; Jordan Cox ’10, M.S. ’12; and Evan Nave ’10, M.S. ’12. It’s an informal, rapid-fire reading series that’s been passed down to different curators over its nearly ten-year run, and it’s always been a space where writers from the university and writers from the community can get together and share their work. PRESS 254 aims to honor the legacy of this long-running community event, and provide significant publishing-related experience to students enrolled in English 254, by publishing chapbooks by selected participants each spring semester.

Both of our authors this year have been involved in the Wordbombing reading series: Wollitz, Ph.D. ’17, was a co-curator of the series for three years and Rodrigo, Ph.D. ’14, has been a frequent contributor to the series since its founding.

About the chapbooks

Front cover featuring: stylized cinnamon sticks and transparent green box holding the title "Fireflies Can Sing"


Rodrigo: “Sometimes the blade caught a stone / Which flew to Neptune / With his youth, / Dreams / A better life” (from “Thaththa Cutting Grass”). There is a strong narrative thread that runs through the pieces in Lasantha Rodrigo’s Fireflies Can Sing. Each “piece” attempts to blur the line between genres; hence, poem, passage, or story might not be an accurate name. Because of this narrative thread, each individual piece contributes to the greater narrative arc. Beginning with fireflies, however, the story has a cyclical character, as it ends with fireflies as well. Fireflies are a common motif in Rodrigo’s collection. They are elusive. Magical. And they carry a tiny light in the darkness of the night. They light their own path. Similarly, Rodrigo utilizes this tiny light to guide us through the quagmire of life with all its happy, sad, lonely, nostalgic, daunting, and uncertain moments.

Front cover featuring: Maersk containers overlayed with a shipping map of the world


Wollitz: “They sewed her lips shut with what they had extracted from her, and / [No one bothered to ask her what she was feeling. Thinking]” (from ******). Have you ever: wondered why the world you inhabit is dictated by economic measures alone? Considered what would happen if one set about systematically destroying the local library? Weighed just how loathsome the neighbors are for their denials of our environmental existential crisis? Asserted that revolutionary actions might just be preferable to imperial designs? Dreamed of another life, one spent studying the colors of the sea? From experiences in the life of a random person on the street to the grand stages of the twenty-first-century military-industrial complex, Wollitz’s Voids Before the Abyss explores all these ideas and more. Examining collective political and socioeconomic concerns of paramount importance to our contemporary moment, even as it illuminates the quotidian fragments of individual lives, this collection grapples with crucial issues that (should) matter to us all.

For more information or accommodations, please contact Assistant Director of the Publications Unit Holms Troelstrup at or (309) 438-3025.