I am writing this post pretty much in real-time right now as The Dollhouse Reading Series #31 just took place; the writer in me just can’t avoid procrastination of deadlines… but, let me preface my thoughts by saying that I am new to the literary community, and I really enjoyed this reading, and would love to attend these sort of events more regularly. Good people, good vibes, cool though provoking poems… “That’s that shit I do like”, in the words of contemporary poet Chief Keef, sort of… The reading took place in some very nice people’s apartment, which is cool because they invited tons of people–it was pretty packed in a decently big Chicago apartment— purely because they love poetry. Unfortunately, Peter Davis, who wrote the book of poems I just read, Poetry!, Poetry!, Poetry!, couldn’t make the event due to an illness, but, they started the reading with one of his poems discussing his idea that saying “Happy Thanksgiving” has perverse and grotesque undertones.
The second reader was Sarah Fox, who read a lot of feminist poems, with a comedic nature that empowered without sounding repetitive and extreme.
The reader who followed was Tony Trigilio, who teaches at Columbia University in my hometown of Chicago. Tony read poems discussing his re-watching of the series Dark Shadows, which he first encountered with his mother at a young age, and it gave him nightmares.
The last poet to read was Hoa Nguyen, who had a very eccentric and exciting sort of reading style. She read poems discussing her children, and raising them in a sort of frightening and decaying society, and also poems about her awesome mother, who apparently was a Vietnamese motorcycle stunt woman.
It was interesting to hear all of these poets from a seemingly very different background, read poems that hit close to home to them. It lends a certain kind of understanding to the audience of the author’s true intentions of their poems.
I find it thoroughly impossible
to arrange my words beautifully enough
to accurately convey my feelings for you.
I like to think that as my words pour onto this paper,
my soul pours onto it too, and engulfs it with the essence of my being.
Giving you this poem is giving you a piece of my soul,
for you to keep safe, cherish, and love
until our consciousness’
dissolve into thin air.
When I first heard about the George Zimmerman vs. DMX fight, I thought I was a joke or an Onion article but nope it’s real life… What the fuck America? This is absolutely disgusting. We are making a murderer into a celebrity for profit! Has the Martin family not been through enough yet? They lost a son/grandson/brother all to a senseless act of violence, and their heartbreaking loss was used as an image to fuel a race war and political agendas, but that’s not it. Now they have to watch their son’s MURDERER be immortalized on TV, and hear about people making bets on him. Now I understand the want behind it, to kick George Zimmerman’s ass because he deserves it, but this is just ridiculous; there has been enough violence, when will it end? Read the rest of this entry
The creative writing community is a tight knit one, and an experience that each member can identify with is that of Writer’s block. It’s terrible, especially the anxious feeling of doom that comes with an impending deadline. Even as I’m writing this right now, I’m finding trouble in getting my words to flow because it’s 7:39 on a Saturday and due in a few short hours. So it’s time to practice what I’m preaching, and relay to you a list of techniques I find helpful to get rid of my Writer’s block.
1) Get Out Of Your House
It is impossible to do work in a room where you sleep or eat, and most of us don’t have the pleasure of living alone, so there is the perpetual distraction of roommates as well. I always go to the library of a coffee shop to get things done. Leaving comfortable surroundings and traveling to one that is associated with quiet and work is the first step to climbing the wall of Writer’s block.
2) Turn Off Your Phone, Deactivate Your Facebook
The constant distraction of the constant connection of the world is one of the most detrimental factors to the hindrance of the creative process. Restrain yourself from the petty distractions of real life! Reading, “Alex Smith wants to be you’d friend!” Or “heyyyyyyy wut r u doin 2nite?”, does absolutely for your writing, so just stop it, seriously.
3) Listen to Calm, Thought Provoking Music/Block Out All Sounds
I guess this tip is kind of relative to the person and type of writing. When I write creative writing, I always like to have headphones playing music quietly (sometimes mellow chill beats, sometimes classical musical), but sometimes with academic writing I just need silence; but some people can’t write with music under any circumstances. Do what is most conducive to your own creative process, while taking the type of writing into consideration.
4) Take a Damn Break
Sometimes I see people in the library who look like they’re strung out on heroin because they’re so exhausted, physically and mentally, from the work they’re doing; don’t do that to yourselves. Take the appropriate amount of time away from your writing, though not too long to the point of procrastination. In certain situations it’s good to just walk down the street and get some coffee or something, but in others just get some sleep; writing that comes from an exhausted mind can be down right haggard, so save yourself the time it would take to edit, and just don’t do it.
5) Sensory Deprivation?
If all else fails, it might be time to take out the big guns and deprive yourself of all your senses. Sounds a bit extreme I know, but I’ve been doing research into the topic and it seems to be a really enlightening experience that provokes the mind. How one goes about doing this is to go to a place that offers the service, and you enter this giant tank that is both sound and light proof where you float in body temperature water. The point of it is to deprive your body of all of it’s senses, so nothing is distracting the mind from thought. I think this is awesome and I really want to try it. I found a place called Space Time Tanks, that is right by DePaul University, and offers this. I think I am going to try it and I am really curious if anyone reading that has. If depriving the mind from every humanly possible distraction doesn’t cure your Writer’s block, I don’t know what will.
Lately, I can’t stop thinking about the nature of existence. I mean, it’s fucked up if you think about it, have you ever? We’re just like a fish bowl, you know, the little ones for fucking goldfish or betas or whatever—my friend used to have a beta, it would eat all the other fishes we put in with it… we would take bets on how long they would last before they became a sort of Silence of the Lambs style sushi… we’re JUST like a little fucking fish bowl, sitting on some snot-nosed kid’s desk (the kind of kid whose OCD parents eat Xanax for breakfast and think having a dog in the house is just too messy), but walk down the stairs, past the “open-concept modern blah blah bullshit modernist kitchen/living room”, out the door, and down the block and what do you see? A fucking OCEAN… Did you know that we still haven’t figured out what dwells at the depths of our oceans? Our world is a grain of sand on the beach and we’re still not even familiar with our own grain… We might be as insignificant as the fish bowl in size, but surely not in being… We are billions strong, spawned from the most perfect coincidental accident, interwoven in degrees of separation throughout time and space; we ponder the beautiful, form unions, deceive, invent, destroy, and dream… Or are we? We could be as meaningless as the fish bowl that sits on the desk of your distant cousin’s neighbor’s friend’s snot-nosed little kid; you are as indifferent to that as the universe is to you.
I love re-reading books. I always pick so much more up the second time around. I just finished reading one of my favorite books A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce and I am once again finding myself thinking intensely about my path as an artist. The novel is written in a stream-of-consciousness style and goes through the life of Stephen Dedalus from boy to man. As a whole, the book is sort of hard to digest, and you’ll spend a lot of time on one page, but definitely worth the read. Stephen’s journey to an artist begins as a boy at Clongowes Wood College, he later transfers to Belvedere College after having to leave Clongowes because of financial constraints. The book has strong connotations of religion, as Stephen is taught by the Jesuits, and on track to become a priest. He excels at Belvedere, but there he discovers his love for prostitutes. At the urges of his parents, he returns to the church after straying, but after seeing a beautiful girl, he decided he must describe her beauty. He decides to leave Ireland to be an artist. A beautiful quote from the book is
The ambition which he felt astir at times in the darkness of his soul sought no outlet.
Thinking about ones path to an artist is interesting, as it varies so much from artist to artist. Stephen Dedalus’ path stems from the strife in contradiction and the detriment of hypocrisy on his soul. If you think about it, the path to an artist is never-ending as the artist is constantly growing and evolving with every experience that sparks inspiration. When can one consider oneself an artist? I guess there is really no definition. But I think one becomes an artist when one makes an attempt to translate the ambition within their soul into words on paper.