the use of poetry and the use of criticism

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

—  Christian D. Larson, Your Forces and How to Use Them
Motive is important… It’s not enough to know what someone did. The why they did what they did is critical in understanding other people and their personalities. It’s what makes us unique. It’s the difference between a teacher and instructor, a student and an active learner, a soldier and a murderer.
—  C. R. Kristofferson, Love and Us
{Special}College!AU x K.A.R.D

no one asked for this,,,,but i love them,,,,support don’t recall + ohnana!!!! 

J.Seph 

  • major: poetry 
  • sports: swim team 
  • really wanted to join the poetry club,,,but he got to shy to show up to the first meeting and jiwoo was trying to drag him into the room but he was like noOOOOOooo 
  • for a literal poetry major,,,,,,,,he never has the nerve to share any of his stuff out loud. there was a poetry slam night on campus and everyone was like you should enter!!!!! but he like,,,,,couldn’t and in the end somin went up and read his work and it was BEAUTIFUL and everyone was like “you have such talent!!!” and she was like um,,,,,,,i didn’t write this it was - but when she tried to point him out it turned out he just fled and somin’s like dammit i thought jiwoo and matthew would keep him put
  • as shy as he is,,,,he still has a really nice aesthetic going on. very simple, casual but still fashionable and people always ask to take pictures of his outfit and face and he’s like ,,,,um,,,,,,,why,,,,,,,,,and they’re like “do you have instagram???” and he’s like yes but i don’t really use it,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
  • everyone thinks he’s hot but he’s oblivious to it basically
  • all his poems are about ,,,,, like ,,,,,,,,,, love,,,,,,and nature,,,,,,and like,,,,,,,crying in nature because you’re in love
  • he’s actually super emotional and deep but no one ever gets to know him because he’s really shy and tries not to talk much
  • even the members of his swim team are like “bro, you should tell us like your hobbies or your ideal type” and j.seph is like “,,,,,,,,,breathing is nice,,,,,”
  • and you had one class with j.seph on prose poetry,,,,,and even though he never shared out loud in class you had to do a group critic and ever since you read his poetry,,,,,,you had basically Fallen in Love
  • with his style, his flow, his choice of words,,,his voice in his poems is so strong and beautiful that you felt like you were looking at a painting and not words on a paper
  • and you’d begged him to submit something to the campus art journal but he had declined and it had left you heartbroken
  • but you didn’t give up,,,,even after your classes if you’d see him you’d be like !!!! hi i was wondering if you changed your mind-
  • but he’d just shake his head shyly and tell you that really, he couldn’t publish his work in the journal
  • and for a while you’d try to bug him when you saw him but you didn’t overdo it 
  • and at some point you had to give up because you didn’t want to come off creepy, even though you really at least wanted others to read and feel what you felt with his poems
  • and at some point you end up sharing a study table with somin and you know her as one of j.seph’s only friends and you’re like “hi,,,,this is going to sound weird but is j.seph,,,,,,,,,,not an open person?”
  • and she looks up from drawing and she’s like hmm what do you mean
  • and you tell her about the experience you had with his poetry and suddenly she seems really interested and she sets down her pencil and she’s like wait here!!!!
  • and about twenty minutes later she comes back holding a notebook and she’s like “ive had this for a long time, but it’s a poem i read by j.seph at a poetry slam a while ago. it’s the only poem i have of his but!!!! you could maybe publish it??? i really want him to be recognized by more people as a poet!!”
  • and you thank her and get all excited as you leave the building because omg the editor of the journal is going to LOVE it but then you try to read the poem,,,,,,,,,but you can’t bring yourself to do it,,,,,
  • like the words are right there waiting but you feel horrible because,,,,,you didn’t get j.seph’s consent. and it feels like you’re stealing from him
  • so you decide that you can’t publish it, instead you search the campus for him so you can return it
  • and you find him sitting on the steps outside of lecture hall and he’s writing aimlessly in his notebook and you’re like “um excuse me-”
  • and once he sees you he’s already like ‘im sorry, but i-” and you’re like i don’t want to bother you, but your friend gave me this ,,,,,,it’s yours though so im returning it. i didn’t read it by the way,,,,,
  • and when he takes the paper cautiously, opening it up he’s a bit shocked and he’s like “,,,,,,,it’s my poem” and you’re like yes and he’s like “wouldn’t you want to read this - you’re always asking me to show you my writing” and you shrug and you’re like “im asking you because poets should want to show off their writing. i have no right just looking at without your permission.”
  • and with that you bow your head in a goodbye but as you turn you suddenly feel his hand wrap around your wrist to stop you and you look over your shoulder
  • and j.seph is like “,,,,,,,,,,,,if you want,,,,,ill let you read this one.”
  • and your eyes light up and you take a seat beside him in such a hurry that you don’t notice that your so close your knees are brushing and you begin to read muttering the words to yourself
  • and j.seph is feeling a bit hot under the collar because you’re close and also reading,,,,,his work
  • and it’s a bit much for someone kind of closed off like him but when you look up all you can tell him is that you’re speechless. again. like when you first read his stuff
  • and j.seph’s ears turn red and he’s like AH don’t,,,,say that
  • but you point to a line and you’re like i love this!
  • and that’s how you end up spending like two hours sitting there talking about this one poem and somehow j.seph can feel your sincerity and that’s all it takes for him to open up to you
  • and before either of you knows he’s showing you more of his work
  • and only when you realize it’s getting dark out do you get up
  • and j.seph is like shyly,,,,,,,,like “i don’t know about publishing these in the journal,,,,,,but id love to show you more of my,,,,,,,,poems,,,,,”
  • and you clap your hands and you’re like yes!!! please do!!! and your smile makes j.seph’s heart beat
  • and your first date is basically at a cafe sharing some sweets and you gushing over his work and j.seph getting even more shy 
  • but also loving the feeling of,,,,,,having someone admire his poems
  • dating college!j.seph: staying inside all day at a library or study room and working silently on your separate projects but secretly holding hands under the table, delicate kisses where he holds you like you’re made of glass, book shopping dates, getting teased to death by matthew till both you and j.seph are flushed red, matching couple tees, sharing a drink and j.seph still getting worked up about a public indirect kiss LOL 

BM (Matthew) 

  • major: health law
  • sports: has tried all of them and has gotten bored of all of them so he just knows a bunch of athletes and is friends with them. like him and jackson from the fencing team and amber from the women’s basketball team,,,,,,but also jae from the schools band LOL
  • got into law and it was a shocker for like eVERYone because isn’t he just,,,,,,,the jock stereotype who should major in something like nutrition or physical education 
  • but nOPE matthew is seriously passionate about law, especially health law that has to deal with reproductive rights and drug safety. like he seriously just doesn’t understand why people are so hellbent on having control of other peoples bodies or making a certain medication highly addictive just to freakin suck money out of people LIKE WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE WORLD
  • and everytime they have to study cases for papers or tests he literally seathes with anger and asks the teacher 30243 questions that usually just come down to “matthew, the law let them.” and matthew is like not to sound like a law-anti but the Law IS Stupid. All Governments are Shit
  • everyone in the class:
  • the teacher:
  • matthew who is now standing on the table with the crumpled case in his hand: ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,ill just sit down now
  • but his passion is a good thing because law can get boring and dense, but he’s so amped up about it because he needs to know what’s the best way to help people not get wrapped up in trouble,,,,and be able to keep their damn human rights
  • he also works nights at a popular bar off-campus and his friends are always there (the boss loves it because the $$$$$ comes piling in. also matthew is,,,,,,,,Hot,,,,,,,,there are many people just there to appreciate his looks so hey even more $$$$$$)
  • but matthew also gives out free drinks like his life depends on it and dabs everytime a customer compliments him like what friendly giant tbh
  • also let’s all take a moment to hold hands and think of matthew in a cute bartender outfit ok moving on
  • when he has time he works out at the campus gym but it’s always at super super late like 3-4 am when he gets off work
  • and you also happen to work out at weird times because thanks college for draining you with studying and the only time you have that’s free is the middle of the night
  • and you notice matthew, it’s hard not to as he’s standing over six feet, and you think “oh someone else is suffering with me”
  • but halfway through your run on the treadmill you make a very big mistake,,,,,,you look over and see matthew doing push-ups with one hand, and then switching without getting up to the other hand,,,,,,and the way he looks
  • cut-off sleeveless tank, loose basketball shorts and sweat running down a chiseled jawline you damn near trip over your own feet
  • because okay,,,,,,,,he’s hot,,,,,,,,
  • and you’re like no no focus on the work out but it’s impossible,,,,,,,because when you look back you see him lifting weights, his back big and wide, the muscles strong in his arms and you’re damn near drooling honestly
  • and this goes on for like two weeks because everytime you show up to work out,,,,it’s like 3:19 am and it’s just you two and matthew smiles and greets you and then starts working out and you can’t not watch,,,,,,,,,it’s like addicting 
  • and at one point you’re like whatever and as you see matthew finishing up you drop your jump-rope and you’re like “hey can i ask you something?” and he turns around with his usual smile, wiping the sweat from his neck and he’s like “sure!” and you’re like “let’s make out, if you want, like right now”
  • and matthew’s eyes go wide only for a second because he drops the towel from his neck and smirks and is like “i thought you’d never ask”
  • and that is how you end up making you in the empty campus gym and matthew is as good as a kisser as he looks,,,,,and he’s good at other things Which I Will Leave Up to You to Imagine
  • and as you’re leaving,,,,,,the sun rising slowly on the campus you’re like “um,,,,,,,see you again soon?” and matthew is like “you know it!”
  • and you two make out every time you see each other which is like 3 times a week at the gym and it’s great and it’s fun
  • but also you talk,,,,,,,and matthew is hilarious and not afriad to embarrass himself and oh shit this is going from a hookup to a crush
  • and you’re super scared about telling him,,,,,because he’s so,,,,,popular what if he already has someone else,,,,,someone better in mind
  • and you don’t want to ruin the great thing you have going (great thing being physical only) and you’re like telling yourself to not ruin it
  • until you’re sitting in matthew’s lap and suddenly he pulls back from your kiss, arms slipping from under your shirt and he’s like “listen ive been thinking, we never meet up outside the gym and i wanna introduce you to my friends-”
  • and you’re like wait hold up he’s talking like we’re,,,,,in a relationship
  • and matthew can see the confusion on your face and his smile drops and he’s like “unless,,,,,,,,,being something serious is uncomfortable for you?” but you shake your head so much you’re scared you might crack your neck but you’re like “no!!! i do want to be something serious, i was just surprised i thought you’d ,,,,,,,,only thought of this as something on the side”
  • and matthew grins and he’s like “no way, i don’t make out with just anyone. also you’ve seen my - well,,,,,,,,you’ve seen big matthew and that’s nothing something many people can say”
  • and you’re like oh my god did you just call- whatever, yes id love to ,,,,, meet your friends and do some stuff??? together??? like dates??? and you and him are grinning like idiots in love hehe
  • dating college!matthew: long snapchat stories of you guys being a cute couple and trying out new resturants or going to the amusment park and buying matching headbands, wearing his big clothes, couple work outs, matthew always using your legs as his personal pillow, wild parties where you both get tipsy and spend an hour debating who grinds better and making a very embarrassed j.seph the judge, being silly dorks that are super touchy and pda is at an all time HIGH, couple rings 

Jiwoo

  • major: neuroscience/pre-med
  • sports: women’s lacrosse 
  • she is FIERCE and nothing scares her. not the other lacrosse teams she has to face. not the judgmental looks people give her when she says she wants to become a neurosurgeon. not the way people snicker and point out her bold sense of fashion 
  • she’s her own person and she makes it known, because she’s a hardworker and she’s going to get into the top med school in korea just freaking watch her
  • and she’s gonna do it wearing fishnets, a motorcycle jacket, and heavy army boots like who said all girls have to dress a certain way??? and yes that’s a tattoo on her upper-arm like what are you gonna do about it????
  • matthew is always like holding jiwoo back from getting into fights at the bar he works at because if some guy as much as whispers something nasty/disrespectful/just plain gross under his breath about her or any girl in the vicinity she’s up and ready to throw hands
  • and matthew literally just wraps his arm around her torso while she’s kicking and going “let me GO” and he’s like “ow ow ow you’re so strong ow ow but thank god you’re short OW DID YOU JUST BITE MY ARM”
  • but she really studies super hard and she knows her stuff and the teachers love her,,,,,because she’s always the first to be done with her work and she really genuinely wants to be a surgeon to help people
  • ,,,,,,even though some of them are like “why,,,,,do you dress,,,,,,,so,,,,,” and she’s like “because i like it. what does that have to do with cognitive brain disorders? why does my appearance have anything to do with my passion and talent?” and the teachers are like ok ,,,true,,,,,,
  • you really look up to her because she’s so outspoken. also she makes even the scariest older classmates grovel at the knees like for instance pre-med ken made the mistake of cracking a joke about jiwoo’s resting poker face and she was like “coming from you who can’t even keep still in his seat for more than three seconds like some kind of over-energized rabbit, i don’t see whats so funny?” and ken was like i got it i Will Shut Up Now
  • and you see her a lot hanging around the computer lab of the library, probably to work on her labs and stuff and you don’t think she even notices you
  • because she’s always bickering with matthew or laughing with somin but,,,,,,,one day when you peek over you end up making eye contact
  • and you hide right away behind your hair because oh no she saw,,,you
  • but it’s too late and you can hear her boots marching across the floor and you feel the tap on your shoulder
  • and jiwoo literally spins around your computer chair and is like “heY,,,,,do you want to say something to me? you always stare at me funny? is there a problem”
  • and you’re like UH,,,,,,,turning redder by the second and matthew is already sighing across the room and getting up to get jiwoo but you just mumble out that no,,,,,no problem,,,,,,,you just think she’s really pretty
  • and the whole room turns to look at you two because oh god,,,,,,you just called jeon jiwoo pretty??????? no one has ever had the guts to approach her let alone,,,,compliment her
  • and you’re like This is The Day I Die but jiwoo,,,,,just clams up and she opens her mouth to speak but nothing comes out and she’s like uh uh uh,,,,,,,,,,wh,,,what did you say?
  • and you’re like “im sorry please don’t be mad i think you’re really pretty and cool so i can’t stop looking at you but it’s nothing mean or hateful please omg,,,,”
  • and jiwoo puts her finger to your lips and you’re like oh no im dead but is?????? is she blushing and she gets up suddenly and she’s like “let’s,,,,step out.”
  • and you follow her out of the computer lab down to a bench outside on campus and you’re shaking with nervousness but jiwoo won’t look at you and she’s just like,,,,,,,,,,,
  • “ok,,,,,listen i have never been confessed to so this is weird but,,,,,is it true,,,,,,” and you’re like ??????? what and she’s like tucking her hair behind her ear trying to seem uninterested and she’s like “that you think im pretty?”
  • and you’re like “yes of course, i’ve thought it since i first saw you,,,,i think you were giving an underclassman his lunch back when someone stole it from him??? i thought you were so cool and so cute-”
  • jiwoo: “cute?”
  • you: “y,,yeah cute, pretty, beautiful,,,,,,,you’re all of that to me.” and this time you’re 100% sure she’s blushing
  • and suddenly jiwoo is like “are you free tonight?” and you’re like um yes why and she’s like there’s going to be a party at the bar matthew works out,,,,,,,do you wanna come ,,,,,,,,,,with me?
  • and you’re SPEECHLESS because is this HAPPENING RN and jiwoo is like “give me your phone. im gonna give you my number.”
  • and that night you meet up with jiwoo and the j.sep + somin outside of the bar and jiwoo is like “stay close, ok?” and you’re like holy,,,my heart is beating so fast
  • and you’re kinda shy but jiwoo is like “let loose, c’mon!!” and as you’re dancing together she grabs your shoulders and pulls herself closer to you and you’re like ghldjsfgfdf and she’s like “try to look a little happier - you said im pretty right, and now im dancing with you, isn’t it amazing?”
  • and you’re honestly starstruck you’re like “yes, im so happy. i feel blessed”
  • and jiwoo playfully pushes your arm but she feels this warmth in her chest because,,,,,,being so special to someone feels so nice,,,,,,
  • dating college!jiwoo: quizzing her on hard science terms you can’t pronounce, letting her try out makeup on you, laying upside down off the couch and watching horror movies together, pda making jiwoo shyer than usual, having jiwoo tell matthew that if he even DARES to make a move - she will shave all that hair off his head 

Somin

  • major: interior design 
  • sports: no time, she spends all of her free hours at her internship with a famous seoul furniture designer and she comes back to her dorm only to pass out on her bed, jiwoo always finds her without a blanket 
  • originally was interested in fashion design, but people aren’t her strongest suit so she became more interested in making pretty things,,,,,,,,that didn’t have to be modeled on someone but instead,,,,,inside a house
  • finds fabric magazines more thrilling than gossip magazines 
  • gives off a very mannered, but friendly field. she’s called a ‘goddess’ by underclassmen in the major because when she works she looks so pretty and concentrated and the way she handles cloth and drawing ,,,,,, it’s so like gentle 
  • keeps two sketchbooks: one that’s tidy and clean for class and the other that’s a mess for her own ideas
  • likes working in soft pastels,,,,,,,,,,bright patterns annoy her. so when matthew shows up in his hawaiian print button downs she’s literally like Go. Change
  • her internship is really hard because she’s an assistant to this designer who thinks they’re a prodigy or something and is always making somin run around and do needless tasks and jiwoo is always like somin. i want to fight your boss
  • you’re also an intern,,,,but not to the designer but to their marketing team and so you always feel terrible seeing somin being nagged at or asked to go buy coffee for like the tenth time
  • and you think she’s really sweet,,,,and patient to never ever snap or say something mean behind the designers back
  • but you also worry because when finals come around you can see somin is skipping meals as she’s losing weight and keeps coming in with bags under her eyes
  • and you end up seeing her kind of stumble on her way to the kitchen in the designers studio and at first you brush it off that she’s just sleepy but you can’t just leave it at that
  • so you go to the kitchen to see if she’s ok and you see her???? laying on the floor????? passed out
  • and you panic, falling to your knees and getting her head in your lap and you’re like “somin??? somin???”
  • and you pull her up into your arms and stand up and you can hear her kind of coming too and you like get her over to a chair
  • and get a cup of water and some snacks and you’re like “somin, let’s drink this ok?” and very gently you get the cup to her lips 
  • and she’s already like conscious but she looks so so so weak and you unwrap the snack and encourage her to take small bites
  • and when she’s done,,,,with a bit of energy restored she shyly tries to hide and she’s like “im sorry you had to see me like this”
  • and you’re like “somin,,,,,,,,,you should ask for a day off. it’s finals, i know how hard it is but you can’t torture yourself to this point.”
  • and somin nods but you know she’s not going to listen to you 
  • but before you get up to leave, she thanks you and you’re like feeling your heart break because someone who does so much deserves a break,,,,,
  • but since she doesn’t want to take one you start to take it upon yourself to make sure she’s eating at the internship and you always give her fruits or candy and you’re like eat this on your way back to campus!!!!
  • and when finals are over,,,,you’re happy for you but also somin
  • and one day she comes over to hand you lunchbox she’s made herself and she’s like !!!!!! for helping me,,,,,,all this time
  • and you guys eat together for the first time and it’s kinda like an impromptu date and you even get her number
  • and you learn about somin’s passion for designing homes and you think she looks so cute getting excited talking about it
  • and when you walk together to campus one night,,,,,you feel her take her finger and lock it around hers and you both are giggling,,,,but it’s so cute
  • dating college!somin: having to remind her to take her sketchbooks because she always forgets where she puts them if she takes them out of her bag, forehead kisses while she’s working, sitting up until really late with tea and just talking about what makes you happy, bubble baths together on off days, having jiwoo get super protective over you two, somin always plays with your hair, you find out she secretly really likes to dance and you guys have a dance off in her dorm that matthew and j.seph walk in on,,,,,,,,,and then join it becomes a competition, telling her she’s doing her best and you know she is and that’s enough <3

The word poetry is something that’s been fascinating me lately. 

The word poetry has this little suffix at the end: “-ry”. 
In English, the suffix “-ry” such as in the words “poetry”, “wizardry”, “circuitry”, “snobbery”, “dumbassery”, and “devilry” is used to create an abstract noun. 
In other words, this suffix creates an abstract concept out of a concrete object. This led me to think critically about the word “poetry” and what poetry actually is.

Many of us writers, (including myself) are laboring under this premonition that poetry is a thing, an opus, that the poetry has intrinsic meaning. But I see now that poetry is more than that. The very word “poetry” is the abstract concept of a “poet”.
Poetry is not a thing in itself, it is not the goal. We as poets are the goal.
The poetry is simply an abstract expression of who we are, an addendum, an expression. Writing is not important, living as poets is what is important, and the poetry then follows. 

We’ve got it all wrong. We’ve been thinking of our writing all backwards.
We thought that we were working to CREATE something, that we work to write words on paper and think that the words are the end result, but in reality, we as poets already ARE the creation, our poetry is just the representation of that; the poetry is just a pure abstract expression of what we are. 

Poetry is the “-ry” to us as humans, as poets. All our poetry is nothing but the abstract concept of each and every one of us.
Writing poetry doesn’t make you a poet.
In order to write poetry, one needs first to BE a poet. 

this man used to be an
interesting writer,
he was able to say brisk and
refreshing things.
at the time
I suggested to the editors and
the critics that he was one to
be watched
and also that he had hardly yet been
noticed
and that he certainly should now be
noticed.
this writer used some of my
remarks as blurbs for his
books, which I didn’t
mind.
all of his publications were little
chapbooks, 16 to 32
pages,
mimeographed.
they came out at a
rapid rate,
perhaps three or four a
year.
the problem was that each
chapbook seemed a little weaker
than the one that preceded
it
but he continued to use my old
blurbs.
my wife noticed the change
in his writing
too.
‘what’s happened to his
writing?’ she asked me.
'he’s doing too much of it, he’s
pushing it out, forcing it.’
'this stuff is bad, you ought to
tell him to stop using your
blurbs.’
'I can’t do that, I just wish he
wouldn’t publish so much.’
'well, you publish all the
time too.’
'with me,’ I told her, 'it’s
different.’

yesterday I received another of his
little chapbooks
with his delicate dedication scrawled
on the title page.
this latest effort was totally
flat.
the words just fell off the
page,
dead on
arrival.

where had he gone?

too much ambition?
too much just doing it for the sake
of doing it?
just not waiting for the words to
pile up inside and then
explode of their own
volition?

I decided then I should take a whole week
off,
be on the safe side,
just shut the computer down,
forget the whole damned silly
business
for awhile.

as I said, that was
yesterday.

—  Charles Bukowski, Goading the Muse
Promise Yourself

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing
can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity
to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel
that there is something in them
To look at the sunny side of everything
and make your optimism come true.

To think only the best, to work only for the best,
and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past
and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times
and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear,
and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world,
not in loud words but great deeds.
To live in faith that the whole world is on your side
so long as you are true to the best that is in you.


Christian D. Larson, Your Forces and How to Use Them

Beyoncé's "7/11" as Self-Care

      Beyoncé’s new track “7/11” and accompanying video, dropped this weekend before the official release of BEYONCÉ (Platinum Edition) on 11/24/14, are FUN! And, moreover, they are about fun. And fun can be an important political statement too: for Beyoncé, for us (the listener/viewer), for the world.  After all, Audre Lorde – as a black lesbian poet warrior (i.e. member of many intersecting underrepresented groups) – assures us, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” And further, Alice Walker centers the role of dancing as critical for “maintaining balance,” especially for those involved in any number of social justice struggles/movements, in much of her recent writing, but especially the poetry collection Hard Times Require Furious Dancing. Case in point: how many of us are torn up inside awaiting the verdict from the Ferguson grand jury, rumored to still be coming this weekend, and also rumored to be pointing toward no indictment for Darren Wilson for shooting and murdering Michael Brown, an unarmed black boy, from nearly 150 feet away? In these racist, sexist, homophobic, imperialist times, how good does it feel to take 5 minutes and just dance; just jump to the beat; just forget the world around you for a brief moment while your body fuses with music? This is not just fun – it is a survival strategy for many of us, a moment to recharge and continue to fight the good fight.

      In “7/11” we have a Beyoncé defying expectations, being goofy, drinking, and appearing to have a shit-ton of fun, if I may say so – in private spaces, with herself, with friends. And she is encouraging us to have fun as well – to jump, dance, run around, let loose, be free, dance in our underwear, not give a fuck. At least for a moment, albeit brief. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve had the track on repeat for most of today – but even taking a day to recharge and reconnect with whatever kind of fighting spirit is not too much. It is absolutely essential. In fact, the poems in Walker’s collection signaling us to dance are some of her most somber, most heartbreaking, most sad. And that is exactly why she remains tied to the idea of dancing – because it is exactly what carries her forward. Connecting this impulse to history, she states, “It struck me one day, while dancing, that the marvelous moves African Americans are famous for on the dance floor came about because the dancers, especially in the old days, were contorting away various knots of stress. Some of the lower-back movements handed down to us that have seemed merely sensual were no doubt created after a days’ work bending over a plow or hoe on a slave driver’s plantation.” She evens goes so far as to say it not at all easy to hold on to an ethic of dancing – that is in fact an accomplishment when those from marginalized groups and populations are able to continue to dance, to “still hold the line of beauty, form and beat – no small accomplishment in a world as challenging as this one.”

     Many folks online have noted realizing the lyrics to “7/11” were nonsense but still enjoying the song. However, I don’t think the lyrics are nonsense at all. Simple? Perhaps. But nonsense? Absolutely not. These lyrics are INSTRUCTIONS. And while they might not be that deep, they don’t need to be. Just try to enact these commands without a smile breaking out onto your face. (And let’s not even begin to discuss the number of times I have stood up from the computer to do some of the moves she is requesting as I listen to the song on repeat as inspiration for this essay!) Not since “Get Me Bodied” (later reworked to “Move Your Body” for Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to end childhood obesity) has Beyoncé given us such a full-throttle fun, instruction-based pure-dance track. And it can’t be overstated, sometimes a mindless dance track is JUST WHAT WE NEED!

     But that’s not to say the only political import of “7/11” lies in its fuck-it-all fun vibe. The song sneaks an extra message in through the final lines. While the thrust of the song encourages us to forget our problems and the sad political situation we may be in currently – to “smack that clap, clap, clap like we don’t care” – Beyoncé herself quickly realizes that we do care and that it’s OK to take a moment to relax as she immediately shouts back at us: “I know you care!” And then, as we’ve all been dancing, jumping, putting our hands up, spinning, spinning with our hands up, (possibly) drinking, not dropping our cups, and rolling dice, Beyoncé shifts the tone with the last moments of the song. While the song has been more deeply-rooted in a hip-hop aesthetic than some of Beyoncé’s other music (an aesthetic/art form created and maintained at the ground level by people of color – and impoverished Black and Latino communities specifically), for her last semi-verse, Beyoncé goes in hard with references strongly invoking black culture, and firmly tied to black feminist style.

“Rock that groovy dye dashiki

Nefertiti, edges kinky

Sweatin’ out my blow out

Sweatin’ out my presses

Trick about to go off

Mad cause I’m so fresh

Fresher than you

I’m fresher than you

Fresher than you”

     These lines clearly invoke/evoke Afro-centric clothing and black women’s natural hair styles. And in stereotypical hip-hop fashion, Beyoncé also presents a “beef” between her and another “trick about to go off” because she’s not as fresh as Bey herself. But beyond the simple “beef” storyline, hearing these last few lines, I can’t help but be reminded of another Alice Walker poem: “Be Nobody’s Darling” from her collection Revolutionary Petunias:

Be nobody’s darling;

Be an outcast.

Take the contradictions

Of your life

And wrap around

You like a shawl,

To parry stones

To keep you warm.

Watch the people succumb

To madness

With ample cheer;

Let them look askance at you

And you askance reply.

Be an outcast;

Be pleased to walk alone

(Uncool)

Or line the crowded

River beds

With other impetuous

Fools.

Make a merry gathering

On the bank

Where thousands perished

For brave hurt words

They said.

But be nobody’s darling;

Be an outcast.

Qualified to live

Among your dead.

      Beyoncé embodies this outcast mentality in the “7/11” video. She gives us her goofy self. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her. She is literally nobody’s darling here. She responds askance, “I’m fresher than you.” She embraces the contradictions of black feminism, as she has always done – contradictions that often get read by white America as not-feminist-enough, as evidenced by the recent deluge of criticism from Annie Lennox, et al. When have twerking and feminism been mutually exclusive? (Not that Beyoncé is specifically known for twerking as Lennox claims, though in this video she does give us an image of pseudo-twerkability in skin-tight white pants!) When have privileging sexuality and feminism been mutually exclusive? Beyoncé points out the inherent privilege involved with white feminists’ claims by challenging those same claims. And perhaps “white feminism” in general is the “trick” in “7/11” about to go off, mad because Beyoncé and black feminism are fresher than her tired old assertions. Maybe by dancing our asses off to this track (and trust me – I am dancing my ass off!), we are all demanding a more inclusive feminism and politics that is fresher than the current standard. Maybe we are all asserting that feminism and politics should be nobody’s darling – especially the white power structure, or “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist (hetero)patriarchy” as bell hooks has powerfully labeled it. Because, as she says, Beyoncé knows we care. We care about so many important things – we care about equality; we care about the intricacies of discussing race, gender, sexuality, class, etc.; we care about progressive politics; we care about Michael Brown’s murderer being held accountable to the legal system and the public; we CARE. And we’re with Beyoncé on this one – from another song – “Well, I care / I know you don’t care too much / but I STILL CARE!” Maybe we just need a quick dance break and then we’ll get right back to fiercely caring. Or we’ll care while fiercely dancing. Either way. Trust. 

© Kevin Allred 2014

Interview: Savannah

Today we’re joined by Savannah. Savannah is a phenomenal writer from Jamaica. They writes a number of things, including short fiction and poetry. Savannah is incredibly enthusiastic about writing and it really shows. They create gorgeous pictures with their words, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer, by hobby—I haven’t published anything yet (unless you count the two or so letters to the editor I’ve submitted to a local newspaper). I enjoy writing critical pieces, fiction, and occasionally poetry. I write about other people a lot, especially my poetry. My life isn’t that exciting (I think), so I use my writing to tell other people’s stories. I don’t think much about form and structure with my poetry. I usually start writing and I won’t stop until a poem is done. It’s somewhat similar with writing fiction: I’ll feel like I have something to write, start immediately, and then go until I feel tired or I have to stop. Sometimes when I stop I can get back into the groove after I’ve rested, but other times I’ll never be able to pick it up again. I always want to give my stories away to other people who would be willing to finish them (I think of unfinished stories as ghosts waiting to transcend), but I don’t always trust that they are well-written enough to pass on.

What inspires you?

Other people, mostly. I’ll be walking in town, or driving on the street, or standing in line somewhere, and I’ll see someone just going about their business and think ‘I wonder what that person’s life is like’ and then immediately I’ll want to write something about them. Sometimes I’ll even write something out at the same time on whatever loose paper I have available. Those are the most fulfilling times.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I was always a bookish child (I used to get books instead of toys), and I developed a love for literature. I wanted to be a writer from an early age, and remember choosing high school subjects based on what I could use to get into a writing school. I studied Literature when I went to university, but I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t have — I feel bogged down a lot with the business of poetic structure and other literary terminologies. When I ignore all that and write for the sake of writing, I feel more satisfied.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I prefer to write in parts; usually three parts. Most of my poetry gets written this way. Each poem can stand alone, but trios make me feel like it’s a more complete work: Beginning, middle, end. I incorporate this into my fiction too, but much more loosely.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be too concerned about people liking your work. Your work is worthwhile because it’s your work, not because other people like it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not so much prejudice, but there has been a lot of ignorance. When I was in university I wrote a prose fiction piece for a creative writing peer review class and a few of my classmates marked me down for the lack of romantic elements in the story. I have also been criticized by a few friends for not writing about romance or sex. They’ve meant well, but it’s discouraging to hear. In the past I’ve incorporated romance and sex into my writing to please people, but I found that it made me dislike my own work, and so I decided to stop. Generally, I feel like there is too much focus on sexuality as a source of passion in literature, rather than other things like joy and pain and growth. It’s hard to find asexual, aromantic, or non love-centric YA and adult literature, and that’s deeply disappointing.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

“You just haven’t found the right person yet.” Every time I hear this I mentally unfriend the person who says it to me because it’s just downright rude to assume you know someone better than they know themself. I used to try to convince people like that that someone’s asexuality is not in/validated by that person’s relationship with others, but these days I just sigh loudly and roll one eye like in the memes I’ve seen on Tumblr.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

There’s a whole world of other asexual people out there that you haven’t met yet who are rooting for you while you discover yourself. Really. We’re out here thinking about you and we want you to know that you’re accepted and you’re cared for. Even if you aren’t yet sure about yourself. Take your time, invent yourself, and keep on keeping on, you awesome ace being!

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Presently, I run a Tumblog where I’ve been uploading my literature every now and again: http://acomplexmachine.tumblr.com/ and an Instagram account dedicated strictly to my poems: https://www.instagram.com/acomplexmachine/

Thank you, Savannah, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Lives contained in a box held dear
But not in the places we go near

This box is shallow but on the inside deep
A bottomless pit with walls too steep 

All rendered sitting but still are seeking
Our heads are stale and slowly leaking

Eyes reaching out for that exhilaration
For something without too much concentration

Gone are the days when we were fit
as blindly we fall in the bottomless pit

Into a world where nothing is tangible 
Luring us to think that all is manageable

Rolling fingers, scrolling page
Come my dears, it’s a new age

We trade in our time for something untouchable
The odds of waste are extremely probable

The hearts beat slower, morals drop lower
In your mind you believe you’re a knower

We all used to say that with knowledge comes power
But now everyone knows, the world has turned sour

You’ll believe anything and everything
and your opinions become nothing

You hand yourself to a stranger’s ambition
You sign their petition, become ammunition

We’re all fired at someone and quickly discarded
In a fight between two that should be regarded

As nothing in our eyes
Only, we feed on the lies

That are thrown into the pit for us
Meaningless matters that make us carnivorous 

Racism & Western Interpretations of the Godzilla series.

You know, I’ve thought about this for a while, and indeed I’ve noticed what seems like racism in western views of the Godzilla series - but I’ve never properly been able to articulate or justify my suspicions on the matter. Yet, here we are.

Firstly, this is addressing the Japanese films - the two American films will not be discussed - just a heads up. 

Now, Godzilla films have over the years been much maligned in the West. I could get past this if the opinion that these films are distinctly cheap and not-of-value wasn’t so entrenched in the collective opinion of the West. When bringing up Godzilla films, people tend to automatically assume that the Japanese films are inherently bad. They tend to believe that the Japanese are seemingly incapable at making a good film. And this goes beyond just Godzilla (though he is a good example to examine). I personally know several people who see Japanese films as being intrinsically ‘weird’ or just bad. Whilst I (and as it happens, some Japanese filmmakers) do not deny that some Japanese films (and indeed some Godzilla films) do feature undeniably ridiculous or strange plots, to simply generalise and condemn all films a culture or genre has to offer is to go too far. 
Whilst this isn’t consciously racist, where it stems from, is. 

As David Kalat points out in his A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series, (particularly) American prejudices towards the Japanese following WWII fed into this soon-solidified view that the Japanese Godzilla films were to be looked upon with derision - or at least suspicion. If the American public were suspicious of the Japanese as a whole after WWII, then why not share that suspicion for Japanese products - such as their films. And with a genre already considered cheap in the West, the Godzilla series was an easy target. 

One of, if not the main source of this derision in the West for the Godzilla series unfortunately is the effects work. People will condemn the 'suitmation’ technique and believe that it is unable to produce impressive visuals - despite the series proving that belief wrong several times in its 60 year history. And yet at the same time, these same people may praise American filmmakers using the same effects - consider Rick Baker winning his 1976 Oscar for his 'suitmation’ techniques used in the '76 remake of King Kong. Moreover, as David Kalat also says, “Japanese art often values beauty, poetry, or fantasy above realism” American audiences are (now more than ever) conditioned to expect realism - and anything that falls short of that is considered a mistake. It is under this conditioning and ignorance of Japan’s culture that the Godzilla series faces its harshest criticisms. 

And it is this cultural ignorance that I draw the word, 'racism’. It is not a conscious form of racism - one that is not actively thought out against the Japanese, but one which is more subtle, as people ignore or misunderstand Japanese culture and then vehemently criticise it on grounds for which it was not made. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. 

Seeking Queer Latina voices for an anthology!

PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY 

Dear Jotas: 

Recognizing the critical need for Queer Latina voices, we invite you to send us your poems, essays, stories, manifestos, love offerings, or rages against the machine. This anthology, to be published by Kórima Press, will be a queer Latina space of engagement that includes lesbianas, bisexuals, trans* people, marimachas, mariconas, dykes, etc.

We invite jotas writing from the heart. Tell us your desires, challenges, love, deceit and everything in between. We’re open to various literary genres, fiction, poetry, personal non-fiction, autoethnography, song lyrics, visual art. Entries may be in English, Spanish, Spanglish, or a mix thereof. 

Cuéntanos. Send us your corazón on paper. 

Jota Editors: 

T. Jackie Cuevas

Anel I. Flores

Candace Lopez

Rita Urquijo-Ruiz

Send submissions to: jota@korimapress.com

Attach a single Word (.doc or .docx) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) document containing the following:

- Contact Information

- 150 - 250 word bio

- A high-resolution photograph

- Up to 10 pages of poetry or prose (250 words per page, max)

- If you’re interested in submitting original artwork, send a high-resolution, black and white image for consideration. 

Please be sure to write the following in the subject line of the email: “Jota Submission: YourFullName”

Deadline: May 31, 2014

 Compensation: As a small press, Kórima is unable to provide monetary compensation for submissions. Contributors will receive 3 copies of the anthology and will be able to purchase additional copies at-cost, to be determined upon publication. 

About the editors: 

T. Jackie Cuevas is a queer writer and professor who teaches in San Antonio, TX. 

Anel I. Flores is a Jota-Tejana, realtor, artivista and author of Empanada: a Lesbiana Story en Probaditas, living and working en San Anto.  

Candace Lopez is a creative writer, professional fundraiser in the non-profit world, and high femme living in Austin, Tejas.

Rita Urquijo-Ruiz is a professor-jota from the borderlands who lives and works in San Antonio, TX.

listen I used to live and breathe for mark gatiss, I used to think our interests were so similar and I found him always insightful and knowledgeable on many, many, many topics (the queer gothic comes to mind) but his harsh dismissal of any type of criticism and/or concern coming from his young, mostly female audience - as opposed to the slam poetry rebuttal he thought appropriate to reply to a male reviewer with - reeks of misogyny and of a presumptuousness that stings so bitterly because I have long admired him

I have always been on his side, excused many of the most unfortunate things he might have said in the past, but he is still a man who let thousands of vulnerable queer youths down and the fact that he is not even acknowledging any of it pubblicly is despicable

don’t even get me started on steven “i am not a misogynists all my female characters just happen to die to further a man’s emotional journey” moffat

on TDoR

i.
here in auckland, there is a pride month.
february is set aside for “gay pride”
for rainbows and glitter and drag queens
for forgetting trans people exist.
(you tell me pride is for all of us.
point out the T in the acronym.
i tell you that when i walked in the pride parade,
everyone assumed i was a lesbian.)

ii. 
here in auckland, there is a pride month.
february is set aside for “gay pride”
for gods and monsters and appropriation
for forgetting people of color exist.
(you tell me pride is for all of us.
point out the multiculturalism in the blurbs.
i tell you that when i walked in the pride parade,
somebody tried to tell me what being 
indian and trans was supposed to be.
that “LGBT” is a white word. 
that pride is a white concept.)

iii. 
here in auckland, there is a pride month.
february is set aside for “gay pride”
for celebrating the cops and the military
for forgetting queers oppressed by them exist.
(you tell me pride is for all of us.
point out the-
point out nothing, because you have nothing.
pride is an enterprise for cis gay white people
who are too rich or too safe to worry about this.
i tell you that when i walked in the pride parade,
there was an israeli float, 
and they called in security to remove protesters.)

iv.
here in auckland, there is a pride month.
february is set aside for “gay pride”
for joyful proclamations that it has gotten better
for forgetting that transmisogynist violence exists.
(you tell me that pride is for all of us.
that i am being divisive and cynical and depressing,
that pride is not about remembering our dead,
but you would still like to pretend
that our deaths are not about the violence
of everything pride holds dear.
that the people we are remembering
are not mostly trans women of color in sex work.
i tell you that when i walked in the pride parade,
people told me not to ruin the spirit of things.)

v.
here in auckland, there is a pride month.
here in auckland, it is november twentieth
and we have one day to mourn our dead,
not even all our dead,
not even the ones we lose to suicide
because the violence of the world that pride enjoys
gives us no other option.

(you tell me that pride is for all of us.
i tell you that we are dead,
and continuing to die.
i tell you that we need a more critical,
less naively jubilant view.
that marriage equality fixes nothing 
for many of us.

you tell me that pride
is for all of us.)