Dear Perfectionist,

I like SoulPancake maybe half as much as I love i’s creator, Rainn Wilson. Given how much I love him and The Office, I like SoulPancake a considerable amount. I recently re-watched one of their videos titled, “Dear Perfectionist”. The video itself follows the title- it’s an open letter addressed to the speaker himself, the perfectionist called into question. Even though it’s a letter, several parts played in my ears like lines of poetry. One of my favorite parts:

“Obsession with perfection is a rope you tie around yourself with every thought a new strand drawing tighter. Paralysis by analysis. Unable to move, you sink.”

Like most students here at Geneseo, I was always called a perfectionist, by friends, teachers, parents and coaches. I was driven. Yet, the term never felt like it fit me. I’ve never called myself a perfectionist, because I think perfection is both something everyone tries to obtain and a goal that no one actually believes exists within reach.

Right? When we were little they told us, “nobody is perfect.” I accepted that when I was a child and I sure as hell believe in it now. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the pressure to do things right just melts away. Every week day, my brain nags at me to say the smart thing, write the right thing to receive the high grade. Despite my refusal to label this as perfectionism, I do see the madness in the pressure and fixation. Which is why pieces like  “Dear Perfectionist” resonate with me. I’ve failed countless quizzes in Geneseo’s Geology department and one time a Psych professor gave me a C+ on a paper. But like the video says, “You’ve become so fixated by the little details, you have forgotten what is real.” When writing poetry, I can focus so fiercely on one word, one phrase, one line, working to refine it until it sounds perfect, only to create something that’s not honest, not real.

Videos like this one can bring perspective on days when you’re cramming for that test or preparing for the massive presentation that all of your group mates neglected. There is a price to pay when you endeavor to be perfect, but there is no harm in working your ass off.



Voices in my head

One of the things that has always fascinated me is the fact that if you give a class full of kids the same writing assignment, none of the assignments will be the same. Everyone has a distinct voice that comes through in the way they speak and write.

However, something I find fascinating in writing that there is a difference between voices in writing between characters and authors. There is, of course, authorial voice that leaks through and the author’s style, but the narrator can have a distinct voice that is different from the author, and I think that’s incredible. An author is able to create voices of many other people, which is an incredible talent that kind of goes overlooked. Then there’s the diction and syntax that further develop a voice.

Our inner voice differs from our parents’ or our friends’ and we are able to take it and translate it into words. The way we see the world and react to it varies, which is something that I find absolutely incredible. Then to be able to look at how someone else might feel and react? And being able to add different meanings to what is said to change the meaning? That’s so freaking cool.



Show Me Your List!!!

Hi all,

If you haven’t read exercise 5 already here is the first task of the assignment:

“Begin by brainstorming a list of words you care about, including both words you use often and words you never use but would like to. You don’t need a long list, but you might need to write a long list to get to a shorter one, if that makes sense: you want words that you’re really motivated to work with, rather than words that happened to occur to you.”

I think it would be really cool to see the lists of words that each of us have come up with.  Maybe someone will notice something about your list of words that you never noticed before.  Here’s mine: Continue reading “Show Me Your List!!!”


I listen to slam poetry because I like being irrevocably moved by a particularly good line or a delivery that leaves me awestruck. So, in layman’s terms, I listen to a lot of sad and/or hopeful-for-the-future mental health things and sappy romantic things (many of which are also sad). In the past year or so, however, I’ve been gradually widening my narrow scope to include material dealing with social conflict. One of the first pieces I actively enjoyed was this one.

This work not only addresses race in film and the American society as a whole, but it does so in a humorous fashion using two speakers. That’s something that really interested me as well. I don’t come across a lot of poetry shared between multiple people (outside of the obvious poet-audience relationship are the sort of one-sided relationship of found poetry). It can be argued that editing each other’s poetry is a way of sharing work, but there’s clearly a difference. I think it’s really awesome that these two men crafted something like this together. Delivering this poem with two people not only magnifies the volume of the poem, but the message as well. One voice isn’t experiencing this, it’s two…it’s many…it’s an entire race of people in this nation.

Would you consider writing a poem with another person/multiple people? What kind of message do you think is sent when poetry is created like this?

“RIP Nelson Mandela, you were a great actor, and Bruce Almighty is my favorite ever film…”

After reading some examples of found poetry, I’m reading empanada recipes and lengthy handwritten letters from my grandma as potential sources to pull from. Last class, we looked at a few ways in which found poems like “Blonde” form political statements about stereotypes and sexual violence. The article we covered investigated appropriation within McDaniel’s use of found poetry. I started to see found poetry in this somewhat negative light, thinking it can only materialize into something serious or harmful.

I remembered a series of videos I watched a few years back, titled “YouTube Comment Reconstruction”. It’s found poetry portrayed in such a comedic way. It’s hilariously brilliant. Film maker Adrian Bliss (side note: my last post was about musician Tom Rosenthal, who creates music for Adrian and other artists, check them both out!!) directed 10 videos in which 2 very posh old British gentlemen hold a conversation. Their script? A conversation from the YouTube comments section (oh, yes), riddled with the amount of rudeness, stupidity, ignorance, and trolling(?) that one would expect to find down there. The one I shared below is my favorite video, in which one user confuses Nelson Mandela with Morgan Freeman… Enjoy!

Ah, the Great Outdoors (indoors is also nice)

I wanted to talk about nature, for some reason. It might have something to do with the slew of foggy forest mountain range photos I’ve reblogged or the sight of mud and dead grass outside my window, but I felt like exploring some of the biggest connections I have with nature. So here’s a list:

1.) My mother and I used to roll down the hill beside the firehouse in my hometown, then rip up a bunch of clovers. More than caring about the elusive four-leafed gem, we would pick the ones we thought seemed the nicest. We even ate a few and I distinctly remember being surprised by how sour a few of them tasted when most of them were just sort of bland and grassy. I love sour candy, though, so it was a nice surprise.

2.) I “own” a tree in a public park. My family called it the Princess Tree. They would pick me up and place me in it’s awkward little cradle and I always felt really happy there. I had a collection of pinecones and acorns nearby, which was cool. On the topic of trees, Weeping willows were always my favorite, but now it’s tied with various trees that flower really nicely like cherry, dogwood, and wisteria.

3.) I used to keep earthworms as pets. They were all wriggly and slimy and I’m pretty sure that’s a solid third of the reason why I had more male friends than female.

4.) Behind a family friend’s house and near that Mom & Pop-type smoothie place that’s shut down now–they made great blueberry smoothies, let me solve puzzles for hours, and would let me get quesadillas with extra cheese–there was a crab apple tree. I ate a ton of them. Once, I ate enough in one sitting to get a terrible stomachache. I required many tummy pats and a nap.

5.) My grandmother had a garden in Maine where she grew tomatoes and squash and other hearty sort of veggies. I got to paw at the dirt and adjust vines with her. I liked being able to help. Sometimes, my Nana would select a few squash blossoms and we’d go inside to fry them. All she added was a bit of oil, some pepper, and a pinch of salt, but those things were the absolute best. Flowers! You could eat flowers! Clovers were one thing, but flowers? So cool!

6.) I want a garden or maybe a greenhouse or maybe both when I’m older. I’m definitely going to get houseplants, that’s for sure. I want to make my house feel half-Hobbit hole, half-Hufflepuff dorm. So natural light, books, and plants are key. Will there be a terrarium in the bathroom? Of course. Terrariums are adorable and I want to smile while I brush my teeth.

So…do you guys have any interesting/really memorable moments with nature? Do you have favorite plants or aspirations for gardens or something?



Submission sounds like a dirty word.

When I think of submission, I think of the Church and I think of writing. Either way, I have always been too stubborn to NOT cringe at the thought of submitting under someone else (even if that person is Jesus). I don’t like things being out of my hands and under someone else’s control (which has caused issues in both my faith and my writing).

When it comes to writing, I see SUBMIT! written all over the place. Working at the Union, I’m in charge of approving and hanging up posters. There was a day when I approved a poster about a literary magazine asking us to


…I stared at it for a solid ten minutes.  It made me nauseous. I thought of the rejection that may await, of the glances at a work I’ve written that will deem it un-ready, of the shame and embarrassment. I thought, in a whir of self-condemnation, about how big my ego must be if it gets deflated so much by a simple “We can’t accept your work at this time.”

I desire to share my work by the off chance that some soul will read it and think, someone gets it. That it’ll make someone out there feel a little less alone, a little more understood. I want my work to be for others and not for myself, so why is it so difficult to risk hitting that SUBMIT! button? Am I afraid of rejection or am I afraid that my family will read the work and be offended by the personal things I expose about them (though most often it’s more embarrassing for myself)?

I have no answers, only questions: are you afraid of submission? What fears do you have in submitting your work? What joy do you have in submitting work?


Painting instead of Writing

Hello, all

I’ve been struggling to find something to write about in this post… mostly because I’ve been struggling to write anything this past week. I’ve been on an artistic binge, which is always great, but it’s been directed toward painting rather than poetry. Normally, I don’t mind. Hell, I doubt I really notice when I lean toward painting and visual art and away from writing and poetry. I’m just in a poetry workshop where writing poetry throughout the semester is sort of an obvious requirement.

I’ve been trying to connect the two by creating art based loosely on past poems I’ve written/ideas I plan to write. In doing so, I’ve noticed I’ve been adding elements of collage into my pieces, which I don’t typically do–not a very popular form of art. Rather underrated, unfortunately. Possible future rant about the school system: How it teaches art, emphasizing collage as some sort of “fun crafts project” rather than an actual medium.

In the spirit of collage as a medium (and for the sake of not missing another blog post), I wanted to share some pieces/artists I’ve been looking toward for inspiration. Enjoy.


George Grosz,

The last one isn’t collage. I just stumbled upon Nancy Spero’s work today and felt like adding it because I thought it was cool.

“What to Do When a Politician Tries to Fall into Your Vagina Feet First”

Hi all,

This weeks exercise encourages us to write about something political.  I just came across this slam performance by Theresa Davis.  The piece is protesting the governments hand in women’s rights.  I have listened to it at least 5 times now; it’s so powerful and important.

Some of my favorite lines:

“If I had wanted you down there, you would have been invited.”

“If your god really wanted you in my pants he’d have made you me.”

“The day another human being falls from your body like grace, that’s the day you get to walk in my shoes.”

Please watch and let me know what you think.



grappling with mother earth as a source//questions on eco-poetry

One of my goals for this semester of workshop has been to unpack my connection to nature and to the Earth, (as a source for my writing) and try to be more mindful while doing so.  Something I have been struggling recently is the issue of agency and responsibility, and being hyperaware of many instances in nature that we are scared by, annoyed by, or simply do not notice. My thoughts always come back to this: the world was here first, so what are we doing?

I’ve been writing a lot in my journal lately little reminders to myself for dealing with the sometimes crippling effects of trauma and grief. Among the ones that keep popping up are telling/owning your story, using the creative arts, and letting go of isolation. I thought I had boiled down 12 years of therapeutic interventions. But just yesterday I had to revisit this.

I was listening to the radio more to drown out the sound inside my own head than to take in anything new from NPR. But there it was. An opening line that reminded me of the integral piece of recovery I had forgotten. The report started something like this: “World War II veteran Earl Shaffer is believed to be the first American to walk the Appalachian Trail in one season, and his diary details the 124-day south-to-north trek. Back in 1948, Shaffer said he wanted to, ‘Walk the Army out of his system.'”

Walking off the war. I understood that. The report went on to talk about Warrior Expeditions, which, in recognizing the therapeutic effects of long distance outdoor expeditions, followed in Earl Shaffer’s footsteps, creating the Warrior Hike, Warrior Bike and Warrior Paddle programs, all designed to help combat veterans transition from their military service. As I listened, a flood of connections came rushing to the forefront of my mind. I remembered reading how when Theodore Roosevelt’s wife and mother died only hours apart, he found emotional healing from his intense and crippling depression in the only way he could: by heading for the Dakota territories and living and working as a rancher. Roosevelt’s experiences out west during this difficult time catalyzed his work as a conservationist, in large part because he believed nature was a healing modality that should be available to everyone.

(This is another one of my main frustrations–how we have entirely changed the meaning of ‘necessary’ and ‘available’) But, I digress…

I have often talked about childhood trauma, sexual abuse and/or incest as microcosms of war. Thus, it makes complete sense to me that soldiers who leave the battlefield fatigued and traumatized find comfort in communion with nature because no single thing has healed the deepest fissures in me, left by years and years of physical and sexual abuse, as well or as quickly as hiking a National Park trail up a mountain, standing at the foot of a vast ocean, or wandering the red rocks of a desert canyon.

Nature doesn’t just heal emotional and psychological wounds. It heals physical ones.

I know that whenever my “living inside my head” has simply become too much, when the work of living seems to hurt and my soul feels bruised to the touch, I can always find solace and peace at the foot of the ocean, my bare feet sinking into sand, the sound of the waves in my ears and the smell of saltwater leaking into the pores of my skin. Nature makes no demands on me but that I slow down, breathe and live, as I am supposed to, in the transience of now.

Now, this semester, because I am taking an eco-criticism course with Professor Cooper, and exploring poetic sources in workshop, I have not been able to shake any of these sentiments from my head. I recognize the benefit and the connection that I feel with nature–I feel that I am re-cultivating that connection in a healthy, non-selfish way. But I want my relationship with the natural world to be symbiotic, and I do not think that simply using nature to unwind and then writing poetry about it is necessarily fair. I guess what I’m trying to get to is that I want to understand how my agency works here–how I can use the natural world to bring myself back into it naturally, and encourage others to bring themselves back as well–not simply because it is an easy way to clear your mind, but because I feel it is one of the only ways left to investigate our purpose in this life.

Does anyone else experience any similar frustrations? How do you guys use nature in your own work? Do you think it is selfish? What are the benefits from relating mental illness to the natural world?

there are so many questions…..