Monthly Archives: December 2011

If it doesn’t smell like a book or look like a book, is it still a book?

Yikes! I signed on to WordPress today and was shocked to realize my last post was on December 23. I have no excuse, except for the fact that Christmas break (and Christmastime in general) is like a vacuum. But never fear, I’ve returned! And with a review of my brand spankin’ new Kindle Fire.

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This world is made out of sugar

Hello, all! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

One of my gifts came early, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a book called “B” by Sarah Kay, who’s a spoken-word poet. It’s a really small book; just one poem of hers. She performed “B” for TED Talks, so it’s one of her more well-known works, and that prompted her to release this illustrated book. I’ve posted Sarah Kay on my site before, so if you watched “Hiroshima” then you’re already a bit familiar with her.

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Can you open it?

Photo courtesy of Katie via Creative Commons

Hello, all! Today I’m posting a response to a challenge I found on susanwritesprecise.

The prompt is to write a story about a bus ride without using any adjectives or adverbs. It’s a great way to prune down writing to the bare essentials. That being said, if I let a few slip–well, I’ve never been a huge stickler for the rules anyway. So, without further ado, enjoy my little short story!

“In Hell, there is no other punishment than to begin over and over again the tasks left unfinished in your lifetime.”
– Andre Gide

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Crybabies in Literature

Recently, I heard a story about a boy who found a lost kitten. This boy took care of the animal, fed him milk and watched over him, but unfortunately the kitten was just too little, and he didn’t pull through.

The young boy cried when his little cat died. And when he cried, his father told him, “Stop being such a pussy.”

I apologize for the language, but I want to put this out there as plainly as I heard it. I’m completely infuriated on behalf of this boy, who experienced what it’s like to love something and have it slip away despite his best efforts. Of course he was sad about it!

I wonder what kind of person he’s going to be, with a father who not only won’t allow for weakness, but who also uses derogatory terms and basically makes fun of his son.

In society, there has always been a huge dichotomy between masculine and feminine. Men are taught they have to be stoic, emotionless creatures in order to be “manly.” They are also taught that open affection between two men is something to be avoided.

With all these messages being shoved at boys from a young age, it’s no wonder there’s rampant homophobia and sayings like “no homo” slipping out of the mouths of boys afraid of being labelled “gay” or “unmanly.”

Now, I don’t know much else about this family aside from this little story, but even so, it inspired me to make a list. The men on this list are great, manly characters, and most importantly, they cry.

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This poem will be read in July (or October)

And so… the time has come. I’m posting my own work on my blog for the first time, and I decided to make it my newest one, which I wrote because of a challenge put forth by my family. “Write a Christmas poem!” my aunt said, but I could not think of anything to write about Christmas that hadn’t already been done. So, I decided to write a not-a-Christmas (but really a Christmas) poem. Enjoy!

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I keep thinking about this river somewhere.

Florence and the Machine, one of my favorite artists, recently released a new album called Ceremonials. It’s fantastic, but lest you think I’m jumping topics, the reason I’m writing about her on a literary blog is because of track number four, “Never Let Me Go.”

Fans of Kazuo Ishiguro will automatically make the connection. if you haven’t had the privilege of reading any of Ishiguro’s work, he released a book of the same name in 2005. It’s one of my favorite books, but I’d almost forgotten about it until I looked at the track list for Ceremonials.

Naturally, “Never Let Me Go” was the first song I listened to, and I admit I was looking for an obvious connection. Ishiguro and his novel are well-known and respected, and a movie has been made featuring Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley. I didn’t find the obvious link, though I still remain convinced Florence had some knowledge of Ishiguro’s work.

Despite the lack of an obvious connection, the song still reminded me of the novel, and I picked up the book and started reading it again. It’s a tragic story about Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, who are actually clones that will have to donate all of their organs by the time they reach their mid-twenties. Weaved into the novel is a beautiful love story between Kathy and Tommy, which started from the time they were children. The tone of longing and the idea of being helpless against the powerful forces around you—their lot in life, the gradual way people change and time itself—is certainly echoed in Florence’s song.

Kathy, Tommy and Ruth cannot control the situation they’re in and do not try; Florence similarly sings of letting the ocean sweep her away and take her under. Both works build a certain kind of peace in letting go; in letting themselves follow the river instead of fighting against the current.

If you’ve read the book, use the song as a soundtrack and read it again. If you haven’t, do so immediately. You won’t be disappointed.

“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart. That’s how it is with us. It’s a shame, Kath, because we’ve loved each other all our lives. But in the end, we can’t stay together forever.” – Tommy, Never Let Me Go

“And it’s peaceful in the deep,
Cathedral where you cannot breathe,
No need to pray, no need to speak
Now I am under.”
– Florence and the Machine, Never Let Me Go

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It was seven minutes of the worst kind of hell—Seven. And she stopped believing in Heaven.

I like the idea of writing for a purpose.

Let me be clear: I don’t like being preached to. In fact, if I catch scent of a self-important message in the subtext, I’m probably going to reject whatever book/poem/short story/movie/television show I’m reading or watching (looking at you, Seventh Heaven).

I have a particular problem with religious messages, because they all wind down to more or less the same point: you have to believe in God and surrender yourself to Him to be saved. I’m not knocking religion, but neither am I a religious person, so I always feel vaguely condemned when reading these types of works (though I did feel obligated to capitalize “Him”—make of that what you will).

Anyway, I’m not really for stories and poems that lay out exactly how people should live their lives, but I love when authors use creative writing as a way to draw attention to serious situations, especially when the authors themselves have experienced those situations. Love poems are fantastic and hate poems are equally great (and probably still love poems in a way). But there’s something special about moving people, about riling them up enough to look into a subject they hadn’t really thought of before.

A fantastic example of this is Andrea Gibson’s “Blue Blanket,” which tackles the subject of rape and sexual assault. This poem is the kind of masterpiece I’d die to write.  She’s got a lot of other great poems, and I’d strongly encourage anyone as enamoured of spoken-word poetry as I am to check her out, but I think this one is her strongest.

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