New Poems Published

I’m so pleased to announce that three of my poems, “Slots,” “Scraping” and “Make a Decision” have been published in Barking Sycamores Literary Magazine Issue 13.

Barking Sycamores is dedicated to neurodivergent literature and its craft. I’m so honored to be a part of this project.

Barking Sycamores Issue 13

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A Family of Poets and Writers

As odd and unlikely as it sounds, I come from a family of writers and poets. Both my mother and father are published authors. My sister is the editor for her college’s literary journal, Miambiance, a blossoming poet herself.

And today is Arts & Letters Day. We were invited to read our work as a triad of poets– each of us from a different generation. For the first portion of the reading, we each shared our own works individually. First my sister read, then I and then my professor/poet mother. Each of us presented not only our work, but also our own presence, energy, sense of self.

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After a ten minute break, we came back on stage to share the second batch of fruits from our endeavor– our collaborations. We read three poems that the three of us wrote together one afternoon. Line by line, word by word, we concocted surreal patterns in language. We forbade ourselves from editing or changing any of each others’ lines. We read these clunky collages to our youthful audience.

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While we were somewhat apprehensive to read unedited work aloud to an audience, we were also somewhat liberated. As a result of the collaboration process, I felt less self conscious, less obsessed with every line. Not only did the strange poems come out pretty well–our images quilted nicely together–but also my state of mind differed greatly from my usual tightly wound (and as a result probably buzzed) state of mind during my individualized readings.

So, the collaboration did produce a kaleidoscope of art, and it inspired me to read work that I had not obsessively edited yet during the first portion of the reading. In other words, I let myself trust my words. Instead of scrutinizing every metaphor to ensure some version of intellectual or literary complexity, I shared work that revealed more authentic self-expressions.

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I gained insight from this experience. I remembered that before grad school I was also a poet, with a very patented style. I used to write in short lines with bold concrete images. However, throughout grad school I ventured into all sorts of new territories–the territory of traditional structures, experimental and voyeuristic paragraphs with off centered line breaks, long lines and imitations. Today, I read some poems that are rooted in my pre-MFA self. I wrote them recently, and while I was writing I told myself I could fall back into old habits, old habits that apparently aren’t bad at all. I felt at home writing them. I felt proud sharing them.

I am so proud of us.

 

Sewn Sneakily Between Sections

I wrote some poetry today. It was coming out in full prose sentences, instead of trippy snippets, little short sentences that I felt inclined to snip apart at line breaks. Scrolling back up to read some of what I had just written, I noticed too many gerunds (-ing endings) and use of to be’s.

The lines looked weak. They’re were not compact with surreal images nor were they spacey and elusive. They were basic like “It’s May 5” and “the cruisers pull up.” I aimed to depict an exact scene based on a memory (of course).

I think in this poem, because it was a story, I stepped away from psychedelic imagery. I felt nervous almost. I hadn’t written a story in so long. It is a poem, but this particular poem needed to get its story out to work. During the process, I was fixated on conveying this tiny tale effectively–clearly.

The last time I wrote a story-poem, it made people cry, but the majestic and talented poet, Li-Young Lee pointed out to me, that he as well as the others in the workshop didn’t really understand what was going on. Normally, I could care less if someone can’t tell what’s going on in a poem, but A.–this was Li-Young Lee, and B.–its whole purpose was its story.

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Li-Young Lee

So, today I obsessively tried to be as basic and undemanding as possible. After writing down today’s memory with organic, but well-measured line breaks, I realized it’s a stupid piece. It’s a a pebble of a recollection from when I waited tables. It’s not about oppression or dolphin captivity or the darkness in a garden. I left the studio thinking that I had just wasted the last two hours writing like a child about a childish thing I did once.

It’s night now, and I thinking about what happened at the studio this afternoon. By compartmentalizing the poem into pure memory-action-depiction, not emotion, just what happened, I’m forced to tell a true story. My laced thoughts are not sewn sneakily between sections. Readers can decide to feel whatever they want while they read it for once.

Pouring Imagery into a Volta

While writing some new poetry yesterday, a large division appeared that organized my works into two categories depending on the implementation of imagery. Though I unknowingly (or subconsciously) modified my techniques throughout the writing process, once I finished and reflected on the day, I realized that I had used to different methods of composing “vivid imagery” in the drafts.

The Diverse Ways of Using Imagery Techniques in Poetry

I am obsessed with imagery. O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D. While I write, I slow down at every line hunting for abstract language that can be replaced with a concrete image. Generally, my imagery functions as symbolism, setting, reader transference, mood and even just straight up “trippiness.” For example, I would replace “He was useless” with “he was a soaked paper towel,” something like that.

During the building of the first poem, I focused on the image as a symbol (in terms of comprehension), while attempting to double up on an image’s “vibes” or “trippiness.” The images weren’t supposed to paint a picture, but take the reader on a journey toward a certain understanding which can only be described as insight or a feeling– which the reader experiences at the end (volta). To bring it all together, I wrestle with a metaphorical theme, and I want to say some semblance of story. However, in these poems there really isn’t any story; there is no chronology at all. I don’t have a term for it other than “nonlinear” work. A classic example of this type of writing is Jim Morrison’s poetry.

The diverse use.s of imagery in poetry..

The next few poems that came out were significantly shorter, linear, not surreal and uncomplicated. One was a haiku; the other two were brief (like four-six lines, one or two stanzas) and free verse. Instead of symbol, each image was, well, what it was. There was a golden pickup truck, water spilling, two dogs I’ve never seen before…etc. Each image functioned to bring together not a picture, but a tiny movie scene or even a gif.

Notably, a significant overlap occurred at the ends of each poem. They all had an image (surreal or realist) that resulted in a volta. So–maybe, I’m actually more obsessed with voltas, if all the use of my concrete imagery must produce a volta? Am I bashing these images into a funnel? I’d prefer to think that I’m pouring one ingredient at a time which then results in the volta product–like the action of stacking, or the opposite of stacking (depending on how you look at it).

Then, I ask myself (and you, of course), are the surreal poems linear because they must be organized in a particular way in order to produce a poignant or insightful volta? Another question– Can a piece of writing be linear without chronology? Or does linearity automatically imply some sort of chronology?