child cowering, fetal, open field, hurricane     hair snagged on fishhooks tied to kite tails

I draw inspiration from my rather unique childhood experience. Grew up poor at first, mental illness haunts my family like cholesterol. Didn’t know that long toes were a common physical trait on my mother’s side till I was eighteen.

My childhood had pain, and I suppose I draw from that pain in my poetry. A wish to express how relatable emotional and psychological pain is. That everyone is an island among islands.

I want to help people pull back veil of bones. To bare my own open heart pulsing to them. For them to see that pain and pulsing and blood and wounds are felt by everyone and that in that, they are not alone.


folks with mental illness, marginalized. Mental illness, ignored,   buried alive. muffled pain: lowers head – hair hanging…    I will thrust my fingers from the earth, splinter pleather-padded coffins.

I have ADHD and have suffered from depression. Every one of my family members suffers from some mental illness, be it bipolar, schizophrenia, ADHD. Torturous to live with. ignored. Often hard for those people to speak up for themselves through art, through anything.

I want to show support and solidarity. engage with the unique relationships, emotions, thought processes of these illnesses. They’re not alone. They’re not monsters. Also, sometimes there’s beauty there. I want to find the beautiful, the tragic, the painful, the relatable in the struggle. Raw emotions of depression, etc. are, to me, interesting and challenging to try to convey accurately. Would love to compile poetry from people struggling with different illnesses.


I’m fixated on the passage of time and the passage of people through it. “Ships that pass in the night…” I love old places, things, books. So many feet have graced this classroom, fingerprints, this book. So many lives, just passing through. I think Longfellow’s words are especially relevant and resonant with the current age. With social media, lightning-quick interactions between strangers strike. Then disappear into the conveyor belt sea. I often think about time as it relates to the human condition and human connection. Especially important to a generation enthralled with that soggy golden thread: nostalgia.

Transitions in Source Material

I joked a few times last semester that all of my poems were about rape and sexual abuse, which even I got sick of by the end of the semester—so this idea of exploring the sources of our poetry is so important and exciting for me, and something I’ve been trying to work on this past winter. However, I can obviously acknowledge that poetry can be used as a way to process emotions, especially those felt by children who don’t have the proper language to express emotions, and who also lack adequate adult support to help guide them, resulting in these childhood feelings clinging to the individual throughout their lives until adequately processed… But this is me becoming too clinical and off topic. Writing. That’s what this is. Right.

I find that when I try to simply jump into a new source, the poem or whatever writing feels forced. For this reason, I’ve been trying to ease away from my older topics by turning away from myself and thinking of moments I’ve had with other people that stand out, not because they were heavy or traumatic in some way, but because they’re simply mundane in a way that is somehow interesting. I’m still writing about people, but not necessary my life or even the life of the other person, but trying to capture the individual in the moment, which makes transitioning from one source to another easier for me. I’ve also been reading more about and listening to more podcasts about history, and pulling out people/experiences that pop out to me. For example, I would like to do something this semester with the idea of Princess Alexandra of Bavaria who believed she swallowed a glass piano as a child, and believed she had the piano inside of her throughout life. I don’t know what exactly I would want to do with the idea, but no one can say it’s not interesting and weird and all of the things poetry should be.

Pollen For Thought

Inspiration is a fickle little thing. Sometimes it unfurls like a blossoming flower, an idea taking root. Then there are the times that inspiration trickles in, like rainwater gathering, drip by drip, into a metal bucket. Other times, it’s a little knobby thing like a string just about to unravel, where you go to brush it or pull on it to see if it’s a little cotton ball or a string, and you find more under the little knob. Whatever way you first find it, inspiration can be found in expected and unexpected places.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate things like poetry and writing even more and find my sources of inspiration in things around me. Like a bumblebee bounces from flower to flower, I bounce from inspiration to inspiration as it suits me. Through this, I gather ideas for my collection.

I listen to a wide variety of music, from metal groups to pop groups; Bring Me the Horizon, Sia, Fall Out Boy, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, Panic! at the Disco. Lyrics provide multiple creative ways to look at life, twists on ideas, and inspirations for works of my own.

Books are a never-ending barrage of promise, like Slaughterhouse Five, Dear Life, You Suck, Perks of Being a Wallflower. Even fantasy novels provide outlooks on major topics of life and death and the factors of living, and each book is packed with thoughts assuring more inspirations that could lead to personal revelations.

Mythology was also something I was infatuated with as a child, and the retelling of myths was a point of fascination. Daniella Michalleni wrote an untitled poem told from the point of view of Persephone, with a twist on her myth. The idea that myths could be spun like this, that multiple points of views could be explored, different scenarios explained, was interesting.

Film is another fascination, though I wouldn’t call myself a cinephile. Some of my favorite parts of movies are when there is an angled camera shot, and something seemingly insignificant is revealed, but the importance and relevance of what the single shot revealed, like a gun resting on the table, is left to the audience. The idea that so much could be said without saying anything, or by focusing on a seemingly insignificant detail.

Boredom is another source, seeing as you find the oddest things interesting when plagued with it. The smallest flowers or the dewdrops on a pine needle suddenly become pinpoints of words that could work into something.

Also, seeing as I am someone who has not experienced love- at least not the companionate kind I find emotions such as anger or sadness critical in writing, in finding ways to convey how I feel. The intensity of them, the way they buzz in the chest like bumblebees ready to burst out, is nearly overwhelming, until pen meets paper.

Whether looking for it or not, inspiration lies all around us, just waiting to be found.

My s*** is all over the place

I like categories. I like to split things into groups, split the groups into groups. I spent the last semester taking most of my notes on a computer. When I looked back at them, I noticed the amount of space on the page wasted to indentations, to margins before bullets, roman numerals, capitalized and lower-cased letters. Here, I should offer a disclaimer: Typically when we think of someone who likes this sort of systematizing, we think of a “type-a” human being—someone who, in at least an organizational sense, really has their shit together. This is not me, and this is certainly not my poetry. My shit, on the contrary, is all over the place, and I think my brain uses categorization as a sort of desperate, manic attempt at making sense of things that, actually, one might be better off not trying to make sense of. All this is to say, when I think about from where I source my writing, I think of three main things, each of which can be broken down into subcategories which don’t really have rhyme or reason and would likely make a true organizer cringe.

  1. Family [1] (usually associated with guilt)
    1. my little sister
      1. the freckles no one ever notices on her cheeks
      2. the way she continues to grow although I beg her not to
    2. my mother
      1. her hands and lavender veins that come up all too often
    3. everyone else
      1. their bodies, the parts of them that anyone can see but everyone sees differently
  2. Music (“the jar of gold glitter” effect [2])
    1. songs I can sing along to because they operate within my vocal range
    2. songs I can’t sing along to but try to anyway because they make my stomach drop into my butt (the best way I can describe that really good song feeling)
    3. scores to movies I haven’t ever seen
  3. What lacks (physical and intangible gaps)
    1. I can’t…
      1. communicate
      2. relate
      3. understand
    2. We can’t…
      1. communicate
      2. relate
      3. understand
    3. Sidewalks make us trip…
      1. because grass is growing through the cracks, filling the gaps and teaching us something about absence and/ or if there is always a something to occupy a nothing

[2] stare into a jar of gold glitter and tell me if there are words to explain the way that makes you feel. similarly, you know those fountain fireworks? the gold ones that explode and trickle liquid gold against the blackness of a summer sky for what also seems like way too short a time? that feeling, if applied to what we hear rather than what we see, is what I am looking for (or sometimes just finding without looking at all) when turning to music

[1] “family,” here meaning blood relatives, but also those closest to me, most influential in my life

Sources I turn to…

1) I turn to my mother sweating over the assembly line wondering if she’ll have enough money to make rent

–there’s some kind of vulnerability and ah ah ah strength to keep going or maybe an acceptance of who we are

2) I turn to my father showing me how to use the bathroom so I wouldn’t spray on the floor

–A boy becomes man a man becomes a name a name becomes a representation and so

Continue reading “Sources I turn to…”

Expression and Understanding

Poetry has always felt intimate to me as I mainly use it to express and explain my inner thoughts and feelings. My work tends to be driven by my emotions and the way I analyze (or overanalyze) them. In that sense, I’d say the main source for my writing is really just my interest in balancing and understanding myself in relation to essentially everything else; I write to make my thoughts and feelings more tangible to myself and and I write to see how the world around me effects my behavior and vice versa. I’m also decently confident in my writing abilities, so there is a sense of pride and comfort attached to writing that motivates me to continue working.

I believe that as modes of expression go, voices heavily impact the way people are perceived and understood. My own speaking voice has always felt a bit lackluster to me. Moving around a lot during my youth never let me latch on to any dialect in particular and my speech patterns tend to be fairly awkward. Poetry and creative writing in general, however, let me express myself more succinctly and even allows me to create new personas for myself. I write to have a voice for when it’s difficult to verbalize.

People whom I admire also influence me. With poetry, I enjoy listening to slam poets (Phil Kaye and Sarah Kay are two favorites). Attempting to duplicate their styles using my own experiences or create something that I find equally compelling to hear are fun challenges for me. With stories, I enjoy being given prompts by people whose work and/or knowledge impress me—professors, fellow writers—or attempting to create interesting worlds or characters reminiscent of those from my favorite books1. I love watching standup comedians, especially sarcastic ones, so any humor in my work is in part because of people like Maria Bamford and Mitch Hedberg.

The final and arguably strongest source would be musical influences. I’m interested in the way that sounds and phrases can produce something lovely. Many of my poems are lyrical and rhythmic. It’s very inspiring when I hear a song that tells a story poetically2 or alters my mood with a particular beat; it makes me want to do something similar. That’s why I enjoy listening to alternative and indie music (Glass Animals, Passenger, Tora, Nothing but Thieves, Damien Rice). There aren’t any many limitations in either art form, which feels freeing from a creative standpoint (as much as I like setting goals and achieving them, I don’t appreciate being boxed in).


1 I love Tolkien’s intricate descriptions of Middle Earth, young characters that discover themselves like in “Ask the Passengers” by A.S. King, and the complex relationships from stories such as Lisa Jensen’s “Alias Hook.”

2 By poetically, I mean both having beautiful qualities and utilizing the techniques often associated with poetry like rhyming and figurative language. I personally enjoy using these techniques in prose too, as I feel it adds depth.

Grace Drawn from Grace

Throughout most of my childhood, which was spent with my favorite dense, multi-colored pencil in hand, I carried around a hefty journal (three rings, with a blue daisy on the cover) in which I wrote countless poems. I received my beloved journal as a birthday present when I was six years old, and wrote in it until the cover fell clean off when I was ten. I wouldn’t consider these poems my best work, though I would consider the artfully placed scratch n’ sniff stickers my first attempt at a poetic device.

Even if my poems were centered around my bowl of “yummy yummy mac and cheese, Mommy can I have more please” or my third grade teacher Mrs. Burke being “full of sunshine, but sometimes she yells STAY IN LINE,” I admire how instant, honest, and unabashed young Grace’s writing was. If I felt sad, I wrote a poem about mean, snot-nosed Austin Richards making me cry on the bus. If I was hungry, I wrote a poem about devouring tacos. If it was Christmas, I wrote about marrying Santa Claus. I didn’t plan or prepare to sit down and write. I didn’t think of who my audience was or cater my words to please others. I simply wrote what was going on around me.

I’ve kept the journal to remind me of my poetic roots, to remind me that poetry is a part of my childhood, to remind me that poetry has always been my way of thinking out loud. When I hit points of unwarranted hubris in my writing, when I lack desire, or when I find myself not knowing if I’ll ever be good enough, I thumb through the journal again. It’s a source of establishment, not as much content (unless I someday find myself in the throes of crafting an ode to Kraft mac and cheese).

My journal whispers to me, this is who you’ve always been. This is a part of you. This is how you think, how you love, how you dream. It never fails to send me back to the drawing board hungry to approach poetry and writing in the same way six-year-old Grace did, clumsy-scribbling about pink lemonade under the table at Ruby Tuesday’s.

Along with my three-ringed sanctuary, here is a list of sources that I tend to draw from consistently:

  1. Waiting room/passerby conversations. My annoying tendency to eavesdrop makes for some interesting inspiration…how else would I feel the need to write a poem about two old ladies bickering about a mole removal?
  2. “Cleaning.” I’m a pack rat. I keep every artifact and memory stashed in boxes, under beds, in closets, in the underwear drawer. Nearly every time I’ve attempted to polish up my bedroom, I end up stumbling upon a love letter from my ex-boyfriend or a crappy mix CD from a friend I had in middle school. My room never gets clean, in fact, I would argue it gets even worse each attempt- but I’ve written some powerfully sentimental poetry about an old prom corsage and the rotted, crunchy flower Jacob picked me in eighth grade. 
  3. Dinner time. Kitchens and restaurants are breeding grounds for poetic material, especially in my family. The conversations, the spillage, the drama, the stories, the chaos, the observations- a cesspool of painful inspiration.  
  4. Investigations and snooping. I try to piece together my childhood and the state of my current self by probing my family for information and insight about my father. I have dug through court documents, notebooks, blogs, and letters; my story feels unfairly kept from me. I investigate the unknown so I can get angry, write, and heal.
  5. Air. So much changes when the air shifts from dry, cracked breath winter to breezy, sidewalk chalk spring. The air determines mood. A summer hot pavement stroll holds different weight than a walk during the peak of golden fall.
  6. Taylor Swift’s “Red” album. The guiltiest of pleasures, but whenever I go out for a drive on my own, I listen to each of the 16 tracks (except We Are Never Getting Back Together. I hate that song) and sing, scream, cry, pound the steering wheel along with Taylor. These evening drives have been my choice of catharsis, and I almost always have to write about my automobile breakdowns to process.

To be honest about my self-professed poetic immaturity, there are times when the source of my poetry is a mixture of raw, unadulterated emotion and whatever poor, innocent thing I happen to be doing, reading, seeing when the emotional tide sets in.

Source seems endless, and I look forward to pinpointing more of where I draw from and from whom.

For now, young and cheerful Grace keeps me coming back to my writing by way of her remarkable ability to turn every Beanie Baby into a six-lined, rhyming masterpiece.

Young Grace is my source of inspiration, and my drive to continue pushing myself into the depths of joyful, fearless poeticism.