Saturday, November 28, 2009

I have a Droid!

Feel free to be jealous.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Grateful for Poetry

I am so grateful for my wonderful and supportive family. I'm really thankful for all my fantastically talented awesome friends. I'm also really grateful for Sal and his love, advice, patience and humor. I am so grateful for poetry and I'm so honored that I get to be a poet.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dear Lady Gaga

I consume a lot of popular culture. I enjoy watching television. I read Harry Potter. I go to movies a lot and I listen to pop music. I also consume a lot of subculture but I enjoy keeping up with the latest in the mainstream. For a while I worked in offices and I found my experiences there more tolerable if I could chat with coworkers about American Idol when I needed a break. It also keeps me from taking myself too seriously. Plus, I have a subscription to Bitch so I'm consuming and then deconstructing.

There is a lot about pop music that is disappointing today. Much of what I hear on the radio is over-produced hip-pop that has been autotuned and has pilfered all the good music that has come before it. For example, singer Jason Derulo's use of a Imogene Heap song in his hit "Whatcha Say" is criminal to me. The best part of his song is her haunting harmonies and lyrics. There is very little that is original to me in popular music. I make a giant exception though, for my lady, Lady Gaga.

I originally heard "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga probably a year ago and I was mostly unimpressed. It did stand out among the landscape of other music being played on the radio; she has a distinct sound, yet it's difficult to tell how good her vocals are on the radio. Everyone can be made to sound like a decent enough singer to get a pop hit. It was some time before I really began to seek out more information on Gaga. In fact, the song "Love Game" and her inspirational lyrics about 'disco sticks' really made me sit up and take notice, if for nothing else but to satisfy my desire to read up on the various lives of celebrities (yeah, I'll admit it: I read People Magazine). But to my surprise, it seemed that Lady Gaga had some real depth to her. While still a rather young artist, she has been performing in NYC's underground music scene for years and has been anything but an overnight success.

There is so much to love about her. She is openly bisexual and a huge supporter of gay rights as well as women's rights. I was disappointed to hear she denied calling herself a feminist in an interview, stating that 'she loves men' (because apparently those things are mutually exclusive). However, I think that was said shortly after all the rumors about her gender identity surfaced, so I forgave her (frankly, it's no one's business what her gender is). Her persona is something that fascinates me to no end. Mostly because I feel like it's not a persona that someone constructed for her, but rather one that is a part of who she is as a real person, who is also a performer. She has said she does not consider herself a celebrity and sings about the perils of fame in her song "Paparazzi". Her performance at the VMA's this September showed her bleeding to death on stage while she sang. She is not afraid to be ugly, even gruesome, in a public space. And her live vocals were strong, haunting and so memorable.

Her latest album entitled The Fame Monster was just released and I am stunned by her latest video for "Bad Romance" - I can't even describe how creeptastic and surreal the costumes and message is. She clearly has a lot going on that she needs to express. And she can articulate what she is expressing. In an interview with MTV Veejay Sway, Gaga responded to his questions thoughtfully, even though it was painfully obvious he was not really that interested in her in-depth explanations of what each song was about. He laughed a number of times when she would discuss something very serious like her fears addiction to sex, bad relationships and alcoholism. Yet, she did not waiver. Gaga spoke her mind and her emotions so intelligently, not just for a pop star, but as a human being. She even mentioned Sylvia Plath in this interview on MTV. I wanted to kiss her!

Lady Gaga mentions a lot that she didn't fit in when she was in high school and she openly calls herself a freak. I hear this a lot from celebrities who want to invoke the "geek-chic" trend that is occuring in popular culture right now. However, I really believe that Ms. Gaga was and is a freak in the best possible sense. She is making really fascinating performance art through her videos and she is singing about though-provoking concepts that are usually missing from pop culture altogether. I cannot say enough good things about this woman. In fact, I'm working on a poem about her and I hope I have a decent draft to read at the TypewriterGirls show on December 4th. She deserves some poetry.

Here is her latest video that's disgusting and fantastic.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Poetry, Criticism and Honesty

I have been getting a lot of feedback on my poetry in the past couple of weeks. I'm surprised with a lot of the responses. Mostly because I am not a good judge of my own work; a lot of people aren't apparently. But one thing in particular people have said is that I'm brave.

Let me clarify: I'm not brave. I'm a coward. Journalists who go to war-zones are brave. Women giving birth are brave. Children trying something for the first time, that's brave. Me and my little words on a page are really not brave.

I don't mean to diminish the things I'm saying. I have some interesting new ideas I'm working with regarding mental illness and the creative mind. I'm revealing secrets, which is exciting, but I don't know if it's brave. I also know what people are saying. They are saying that because I'm being open and honest with feelings and facing the things people shy away from, that this somehow makes me brave. For me, not facing my feelings is not an option. I also prefer being open to a fault. Sometimes I really kill good moments with a blurted-out obvious comment.

On another note regarding feedback: I get a lot of energy when people tell me what they like about my poetry. Getting compliments just makes me soar. However, when I get harsher criticism I swing the other way completely. I feel almost sick. I begin to doubt myself and it really stifles my writing.

A good friend of mine says he prefers harsher feedback because he feels like it will make him a better writer. I clearly don't react the same way. Perhaps different people just prefer different styles of feedback. But I also want to know if something just isn't working at all. Just let me down easy maybe? I wish I wasn't so sensitive about this.

I also think that at some point you have to stop accepting criticism about a poem. You have to decide that as a poet, you have done your best work and that you have a vision and you believe in it. Or that you know you need to scrap the whole damn thing and start again. Sometimes you might need to just take the poem, light it on fire, bury the ashes and grown a new poem from that earth. But we need to trust ourselves as artists. I think that knowing yourself, believing in your vision and deciding that your work is worth the effort can be the most difficult battle.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reading: Dec 4th with The TypewriterGirls!

I'll be a featured reader at the next TypewriterGirls show along with poet Karen Lillis on December 4th. Show begins at 9:30 and will of course include mayhem and debachery. And poetry! I will unveil my poem "Dear Outer Space" which may or may not be accompanied by a musical saw. Info below.

I've been doing more readings lately. I read for The New Yinzer in August and I read for Six Gallery Press this past Saturday (photo to the right). That reading went really well actually. I got to unveil my recitation of a poem entitled "And Maybe Dat's Your Pwoblem Too" by poet James W. Hall. Check out the blog post he wrote about his poem. I hope to post a video of a recitation of this poem here soon. Perhaps from the upcoming show. I really enjoy doing readings, especially now that I'm more and more excited about my writing. I feel like I'm hitting my stride with my voice and style lately. And I'm learning about what makes a poem a poem. More on that in another post.

So yeah, come hear me read sometime! Hope you can make it on the 4th.

The TypewriterGirls will be hosting Remedy Bar and Lounge’s “Speak Easy/Talk Dirty” every other first Friday. In addition to their famed writing and whiskey games, they’ll be bringing along with them a diverse array of local dance, poetry, and music.

This December 4th, they’ll be featuring the cross-genre writers Laura Davis and Karen Lillis, burlesque dancer and performance artist Cuntess Von Tella of the Bridge City Bombshells, and experimental musician Dean Cercone. Dance party mayhem will ensue when the TypewriterGirls’ favorite DJ, Randy Spinster, takes the stage.

Show starts at 9:30 pm. Cover $6.00

Another Poetry Blog

I've gone and gotten a little blog happy.

In September I began a new adventure. At 28 I started a new job, began my MFA in Creative Writing and moved into a new apartment. I also began a long distance relationship. I have another blog that I started back then (so so long ago) where I examine the overlap between being a student and a teacher at once. I found myself rarely writing there because it was so narrowly focused. I believe blogging to be a good tool for reflection and I certainly need to reflect on my experiences as a teacher and a student. But it felt incomplete or strange to write about poetry or the artists lifestyle in that space.

I know now I was leaving out something important. What does my life look like as a writer? More specifically, a poet? How can I present myself as a writer to the world? It might seem odd that I'd leave out this large detail, but it makes sense to me that, a few months ago, my focus was more centered upon learning to be a teacher. I've been a student before and the student aspect of those two roles was attached to being a writer. But I had never taught and I couldn't fudge that role. I had to know my lines.

I've got a good grasp of the job now and I know I have a lot to learn as a teacher, but more so lately I am fascinated by this lifestyle I have chosen. Being a writer is confusing. We are sort of the odd-ducks of artists, both inside and outside of a particular lifestyle. People do not perceive writers as artists. We can get away with seeming mainstream. We can pass as journalists and editors. We can be professionals.

Yet, I have chosen a subgroup of writers that people understand even less so, perhaps because of it's more obvious association with the role of an artist. Poets can't pass as mainstream. Automatically you are thrown into a category where assumptions are made (and some of them are true) and those assumptions may make us unrelateable to mainstream society.

So here I am, a writer, a poet, an artist of words, of language (yes, I said it) and I'm trying to figure out what that means.

I've been writing poetry and stories my entire life. It wasn't until this past year that I realized I have some real talent for writing. Recognizing that in myself was a long time coming. Like many people, I don't see myself as I am. However, I've set up a life that includes art and poetry and creativity around every bend. I've started a literary magazine, I run workshops, I organize poetry readings and I read my own poetry. I am well connected with my city's literary community and I feel at home here. I know writing is my calling and the literary artists are my tribe.

I had some big realizations this past week. After my boyfriend had to take a job in California, I was left to my own devices the following weekend. I wasted away (not just hours but) days of my week watching television, surfing Facebook and Twitter, sleeping and talking on the phone. I did a lot of crying and beat myself up for "being a writer" - whatever that means. After realizing that my behavior was a response to two things: the loneliness I felt after my partner left for the other side of the country and also to the lack of control I felt in my life. I finally had a job I enjoyed, yet I could not put the time into it I wanted to. I finally had the chance to delve into my writing, yet I found myself avoiding writing at all costs. Work was demanding. School was demanding. My relationship was now also demanding. I felt I had no time for any one thing, as I should always be working on something more important.

After realizing that television and the internet were distractions I was unable to discipline myself to avoid, I had my boyfriend permanently block my access to certain time-sucking websites. This past week I was forced to reconstruct my time and use it wisely. No distractions. Many questions came to mind. What was I doing with my life? What did being a writer mean? How should my life change? How should my day be organized? How should my writing and space and home be organized? How does one live like a writer? These questions only spawned more questions. I've been writing rather prolifically this past week too, beginning a number of new poems and voraciously editing many as well.

So here is where I will be discovering what it means to live like a writer, a poet, an artist. I have titled this blog "Dear Outer Space" after a new poem I've written recently. I feel like it's my strongest poem to date and marks a turn in my writing process. I am looking forward to beginning the process of getting my work published. I will examine the concept of space(s) in future posts, both outer and inner.

I like transparency. I like processing experiences in words. I like sharing said processes and experiences with others. I hope you like reading about them.