Category Archives: Poetry

Poets, poetry, spoken-word poetry

Not one breath was restored

On Being Asked To Write A Poem Against The War In Vietnam
By Hayden Carruth

Well I have and in fact
more than one and I’ll
tell you this too

I wrote one against
Algeria that nightmare
and another against

Korea and another
against the one
I was in

and I don’t remember
how many against
the three

when I was a boy
Abyssinia Spain and
Harlan County

and not one
breath was restored
to one

shattered throat
mans womans or childs
not one not

but death went on and on
never looking aside

except now and then
with a furtive half-smile
to make sure I was noticing.


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My first spoken-word show

First of all, let me say that I know I’ve let this blog fall by the wayside a bit. I just started with my last semester of college, and I’m knee deep in classes like Communication Law and Theory–not to mention interning and running another blog for a local economic development council.

So, busy as a bee, that’s me! Too busy to even think of a less cliched metaphor. However, I fully intend to start keeping up with this blog again, especially because I’ve found some recent inspiration for posts. But first, one of the topics I promised you weeks ago: The Asia Project.

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A lanky light bulb

"My father, the long-winded student with a penchant for sexual innuendo, meets Reiko Hori, a well dressed banker who forgets the choruses of her favorite songs. Twelve years later they give birth to a lanky light bulb." - Phil Kaye, Teeth

I have found the love of my life. No need to look any further, because I know who he is, what he does and how lovely his poetry sounds.

Okay, maybe that’s a tad much, but listen to this guy! His name is Phil Kaye, and he is actually quite good friends with my other favorite spoken-word poet, Sarah Kay. No relation, but the two are both Japanese American and Jewish, and they have the exact same type of loveliness. Seriously, look at these two together!

I didn't realize that combining Japanese heritage with Jewish heritage made THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE EVER.

They’re such good friends, in fact, that they sponsored Project V.O.I.C.E. together. Phil and Sarah go around the country spreading spoken-word poetry to people who may not have given it a chance yet. They also teach workshops for aspiring poets. Needless to say, I’d sell my right arm to be able to attend one of these workshops (not my left, though–I’m left-handed).

Seriously, if my obsession with Sarah Kay hasn’t prompted you to at least watch “B” or “Hiroshima” yet, you should give her a listen now. And if you trusted me then and I didn’t fail you, check out Phil. He’s just as talented, his delivery and material are wonderful, and did I mention he’s a-freaking-dorable?


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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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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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Starting over, and over


My name is Kelsey, and I’m a writer. It almost sounds like a 12-step program, doesn’t it?

“Hi, Kelsey!”

“It has been a week since I last wrote a story, but I think about it every minute of every day.”

I’m a print journalism major, English minor, and I’m about to graduate and sink deep into the real world. Terrifying thought, I know. Writing is something that I just have to do—I never really had any choice. I love finding kindred spirits who understand the gritty hard relationship writers have with their writing. We will never be completely satisfied with anything we do, no matter how much the world shakes at our words. So agrees poet Sarah Kay, who says, “My self-confidence can be measured out in teaspoons mixed into my poetry, and it still always tastes funny in my mouth.”

Kay is a stunning spoken-word poet, and in the same poem she talks about how people were disintegrated to ash during the bombing of Hiroshima. Watches and diary pages were the only surviving mementos of these people. So, despite her insecurities (which exist in every writer, ever) she says she keeps writing because, if she ever crumbles and slips like dust through slats in the floor, she wants to be proud of the piece of paper bearing the poetry she leaves behind.

My poetry professor tries to convince us every chance she gets not to be writers. She scares away the ones who don’t really need it, who don’t feel the vibrating echo of words deep in their souls. The die-hards, though, we just suck in our complaints and write anyway, which is what she expects us to do. She knows that real writers never had any choice. We want to leave something behind.



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