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I'm a small-town poet in both written word and performance. I'm more influenced by rock and roll but I am also a lit-chick full of curiosity. My influences are far and wide and I can find writing inspiration in anything, from important matters to pure whimsy.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Better Week? I Hope

Hoping this week is better than last one. A lot of people seemed to be having a horrible week last week. For me it was just an emotionally off week. I made sure to end it on good notes though. Visited the grand opening receptions of two new art galleries in town. Funny that some people are complaining about how all these art galleries are stealing space from more "commercial" businesses downtown. Well there's less empty store fronts, which many of us don't like seeing. We can't say all the commercial businesses have no room when a clothing store just opened and a French style cafe will be opening once renovations are finished. I'm pretty excited about this new cafe.

Yesterday I went to a birthday party for a couple friends whose birthdays are two days apart. Met some new people, got to talk with other people I haven't seen in a while. Steve got to play bass until his fingers hurt. We also had delicious pie. It was a great night.

Now it's back to the grind. Hoping to get another submission out soon. Have school assignments. This submission might be a little delayed because of school, but as long as I'm productive that's okay with me. It's when I start slacking things aren't good. That was my big problem last year, I became too much of a slacker. School was over so I took as much of a real break as I could. Keep myself to be inclined towards productivity.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Existential Crisis Mode

My mind's been in a weird place as of late. Maybe I'm just pushing myself a little too much and have little time to relax my mind. Being driven is a good thing, but I wonder if I'm burning my candle at both ends. Lately my dreams have been weird and my mood has been snappish.

I got my first rejection for "not following directions", and it feels like a slap in the face. And for such a "warm" journal the message I received was rather cold. I'm a bit confused as to what I didn't follow since quantity and spacing were considered as requested, and all fields on the digital form were filled. Only other thing I could think of is some bureaucratic fine print. This led to my first real "drama diva" moment as I felt frustrated the rest of the day and the bitch in me said "they'll regret it when I'm famous". Honestly, I have never shown that before concerning my writing, I have had no acceptances yet, haven't one an open mic and have had nights where reception to my work has been lukewarm and I haven't had a fit. But the thought of my submission being discarded without ever being read makes me feel insulted, even if I have wound up to be at fault. I'll just not send anything to that journal again, simple as that.

Maybe I need a real day off. The self conscious part of me started questioning myself. I realize that I'm in an area where although there are other writers, I'm not taking their approach. I have little to base my performance work off of and learn from what and who I can access. Basically I'm all variable and no control right now. I'm just hoping I'll be over this slump in time for my first summer show in two weeks.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another Education Post: Say No to Retconning

I know my last post became education focused, but now I have another one.

It's funny that a lot of lit. students apparently go into education, I don't want to. If I am to educate I'd rather do so in an unconventional manner. Mainly because I can't stand the bureaucracy of education.

A few days ago I read about some of the new textbook standards for Texas. I've heard the horror stories of poor editing, typos not caught, information that should have been fact-checked. Plus a crap-load of textbooks are published in Texas that are sent all over the country.

Personally, I feel their new textbook standards are unconstitutional. They ignore separation of church and state and freedom of religion. If someone want's to be conservative Christian that's fine by me. If you don't want your kids in a secular public school you're free to send them to a religious private school or home school them. Don't take over education boards to spread your brand of religion to other students. Hell, most schools are okay if parents send a note excusing their child from sex ed. and maybe science class when it comes time to teach evolution. It's disrespectful to other families that don't practice evangelical denominations or aren't Christian.

Too liberal? When I was doing my time in public school as a student I don't think textbooks were all that biased. They weren't telling me who to vote for or which way of life was better. They said the beauty of America was that you as a citizen had a choice in how you lived and America was all about the concept of freedom. Apparently now if you don't go by certain ideologies you can't have that freedom.

Some of the concepts the new standards will introduce in history textbooks:
Teaching the laws of nature vs. God's laws- For one, this is History, not Science class. Whole other subject, get your creationist debate out of US History.

Replacing how we call the government "democratic" and changing it to "Constitutional republic": From what I know, our government is called a "Democratic Republic", so stop being fussy over jargon. Terminologies haven't kept some of my classmates from growing up to be Republican. When I went to high school my region was known for being rather Republican politically.

Focusing on the Second Amendment: Yes the Bill of Rights is an important document on our freedoms. I also find it funny that the people saying that we need to keep our right to guns are also the same people who don't give a flying rat's ass about the First Amendment.

Teaching the students the Conservative Resurgence: Bias, bias, bias. Why do we students need to know about political party "trends". Teach kids that there are political parties, you can even teach the history of major political parties, but please teach students about both major parties, and not just the party of your preference.

Teach students about the Black Panthers as well as Martin Luther King Jr.: Okay in studying civil rights I agree that it's good to learn the different facets of a movement. There was a peaceful movement for equal rights and a violent one. Yet I've heard rumors that they're going to put both the Black Panthers and MLK in the same league. Don't do that. They're different entities who had different approaches. If you want to teach both, teach as a way to show things aren't as simple, not as a way to find means to brush aside a movement. That goes for any other social movement, teach it as history and don't just teach the "bad" stuff as a way to push the whole movement aside.

Also state that German and Italian Immigrants were also put in internment camps, so America doesn't sound so racist: Ummm.... don't rewrite history to make this country sound like it's not full of racist assholes. It still is full of racist assholes. It's actually pretty disturbing that people want history to be retconned.

Teaching the history of McCarthyism and why McCarthy was a good guy: Because we don't want all those filthy communists. Kids need to know how to sniff them out. I wonder how some of the conservative nutjobs would feel if it became a more well-known fact that McCarthy liked men. Yes he was gay, gay, and gay. Just like all those other "homophobic" conservatives who get caught in gay sex scandals.(note: I am not homophobic, I just find homophobic paranoia funny) He also a pro-temperance alcoholic.

A focus on "difficult life choices": Okay, this doesn't fit History and politics either. I believe in educating students about issues such as dating violence, eating disorders, and suicide, but not in History class. And the POV they may want to teach on some of these issues may cause more shame than help.

Reducing the importance of Thomas Jefferson: WTF? He wrote the Declaration of Independence and did a lot for our country. He's no saint, but he's still a Founder of our country. Yet it's okay to teach the sentimental smarminess of Thomas Kindade, a charlatan who likes to pee on things when he's drunk. Okay, I have a couple framed Kinkade puzzles, they were free and I got them before I know how much of a hack he really was. I guess I can keep them for irony? Or is that too "hipster" of me.

msnbc article

Guardian article


What can we do? Well not much on an individual level unless we work together. We could do what some are doing with Arizona and have a boycott against the state. Don't give your money to Texas companies, don't visit Texas, etc. Historically they're alright with being seen as not part of the rest of America anyways. Teachers could stop using textbooks from Texas based publishers, even if it means dropping the use of a textbook altogether. Kids would be happy to have one less huge book to lug around anyways. At my high school some of the classes didn't even have enough books to distribute to all the students and for some classes it was okay to do without. The Chemistry book I used was from the 1970s and was only seen as a "study supplement" the material we needed was taught right in class or was given in handouts.

I will admit that personally I'm pretty liberal. At the same time I'm annoyed that bias is being taught in schools, and that bias is coming from actual education boards. Even if they say it's at the teachers' discretion what and how to teach, there's no denying that there's bias in the actual textbooks that most students are told to read from. I want to see kids learn history, not some glossed-over neocon fantasy that both diminishes important parts of non-white male history and covers up the ugly stuff we've done. Students deserve to learn the facts and be allowed to come to their own conclusions.

*steps down from soap box*

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

School's Here Again, Literature and Education

My Children's Lit. course has started. The actual literature focus on this unit is poetry, rhyme and verse. I spent much of last evening reading old nursery rhymes and nonsense verse. It was a pleasant trip down memory lane as well as a discovery as I read rhymes, street games and folk songs from other countries.

I've also enjoyed how my textbooks are encouraging an interest through enjoyment. I feel that is the key to keeping people interested in poetry. All too much, especially later in childhood, we get all caught up in the structures and "deeper meanings" of poems and not the pleasure one can find from reading or hearing these poems. Poetic devices are fine and dandy, but they aren't strictly what makes a poem. To interpret meaning should be left to the individual and not an instructed meaning.

It brings me to a memory of "learning" about poetry in tenth grade. Aside from the stories, I don't remember much from tenth grade literature/english. I read some interesting stories, and some literary canon, but the actual teaching I feel kind of sucked joy from literature. Specifically I'm thinking of a poem about a butterfly on a rock. I forgot the title and author, even though it may be classic. The class was told it is to be interpreted as a message on overcoming life's obstacles because the butterfly is on a rock and not a flower. Like that could strictly be the only meaning to the poem. Fortunately my love for reading overrode my frustration with that particular class.

It also illustrates one of the problems with keeping people interested in poetry as an art. We love it as children and find it pleasant. Then along comes the need to analyze and be uptight on the education of poetry. It is not just an art to be appreciated and explored, but something to be dissected and pored over until it twists your brain into knots. That is also the flaw in teaching interpretation and critical thinking, it's enforced rather than encouraged. Kids get forced to poke and prod a piece and take it to levels that might not be appreciated yet.

Maybe we need to change our approach a little when teaching literature to students. Teach an appreciation for an art rather than a formula. Fortunately I see more and more of a relaxed approach being taken. Seeing things like high school writers' retreats where students meet and work with professional performance poets. It becomes a place where students learn of the art form outside the classroom, and are introduced to works that can be easily related to or touch on a subject that's close to a person. This is an art form for everybody, not just the small child, the "disaffected emo kid" or the literary scholar. It's for anyone who has a love for expression.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Losing a Friend

After work Saturday I got the call from my Mom that Trixie passed away. She was a very special cat to me. The family's had her, and her sister Alice, for nearly seventeen years. Luckily it was a peaceful passing, age and illness took her. Last fall she had a stroke which amazingly she recovered from, we were afraid we'd lose her then. She's always been tough, even in her last days despite her weakness she was climbing stairs.

Growing up is a strange experience. For me Trixie helped me through many of the rough spots; bullies, my parents' separation, coming home after my first ventures into the big wide world. Whenever I got home from school or visited with my moms she'd be there to greet me by rolling on the floor. I wasn't her only buddy, but we had a special bond.

I've been feeling rather moody the past week because of it. A bit more down than usual. I didn't have a chance to say goodbye between my paying job and all the other things in my life. I wasn't there to get the phone until it was time for burial. It leaves me feeling a little guilty that I wasn't there for her in her final days. Luckily for me my paying job had already scheduled an extra day off for me out of pure luck, so I've had some space for the most part away from all that madness.

I'm carrying on though. Still reading journals for submissions, sent out my first one on Monday and got a rejection (don't worry noobs, it happens to everybody, a lot). I put up fliers around town on Tuesday for upcoming shows. I also got some business cards made, mainly because I need them for the Art O Matic project I'm contributing to. They have my blog url and my professional email address. Soon I'm hoping to get more social networking things set up. I'll be making a facebook fan page, and I'll look into the new facebook alternative Diaspora. For those who don't like facebook's bullshit. I'll upload some stuff to my Viddler too at some point. I'm not going to set up a Myspace though, it's definitely become old hat.

So as you can see, my world has been a mix of busy and dreary. I went to Mom's to celebrate Mother's day early under morose circumstances. There was snow afterward and I've been grieving while working my ass off.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Summer Shows Scheduled!

Next week I'll be posting print copies around town. I'm just waiting on a shipment of color ink since I didn't make it in time for the print shop's 29 cent color copy sale. Unlike last year this flier lists all the dates for the season and I've used the ever-popular Bleeding Cowboys font as a header.

Design is important if you're trying to get something across. Last year's shows were an experiment both in scheduling and design. I experimented with dates and found it best to schedule when there's nothing else going on. When I held a show right after an art walk I found that most people were too tired to trek out and stuck around downtown. I had only one person show up, my last show of the summer was the same way. Now though I've had a year's more experience and more support so hopefully more people will come. I don't care if they're writers or appreciators, everyone is welcome.

My creative mind is loving this little break from school. I have several pieces in the works now and just feel motivated. In my spare time I've been watching Asian horror flicks. The paying job's been alternating between giving me extra space and putting me on whole weekends. The week after next I start my summer class. I should be able to balance work/school/writing though. It's only one class.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Great Show Thursday, feeling pumped

Thursday's show, Word Spring, was excellent. I had a fantastic time. I'm glad the show was packed, it shows how inspirational poetry can be.
It just shows how much poetry can be modern, and how it can be a beautiful and exuberant blend of thought and feeling. It really is all about the art here folks.

Jon Sands and Jeanann Verlee first took turns reading. Jon had us waving our hands in the air, shouting etc, and would apologize for making us do all that "silly shit". Jeanann didn't work the crowd in that manner, but reminded us all it's okay to be crazy. Liza Jessie Peterson had her own little time block since she also performed an excerpt from one of her one woman shows featuring the character Merlina. And Liza wants us all to get out and write!

All three are wonderful performers who can captivate the audience. It's people like this I aspire to be like some day. I want to go out and use my art to encourage others. I want to be using my art to help people and entertain them. I will work my way towards that.

As a medium I've found performance poetry to be very encouraging. While getting my books and DVD signed I mentioned how I'm a performance poet as well whose been reading for about a year and a half, and I got so much encouragement. Like I said above, it really is about the art and sharing it with others.

Speaking of sharing the art I drafted up the flier for my summer series. Once again I want an open reading where I flush other area poets out of the woodwork to share their art. I'll have better promotion this year. The Adirondack Center for Writing will be posting the dates for my shows on their calendar. I'll be printing fliers soon and sharing .pdf copies online.

I should also be able to look through journals this summer and work on submissions now that the homework load has lightened.