Page Poetry vs Slam Poetry

Hello friends!

So lately I feel like I have been straddling the line between page poetry and slam poetry.  Oftentimes I find myself wanting to write page poetry but I end up writing slam instead.  I am trying to marry these two forms together because I really love them both and want them to work together.  My biggest concern is that slam poetry isn’t “complex” enough–that there often isn’t something that needs to be figured out.  But that is what I like about slam!  It is raw and real and doesn’t require more than the listeners open ears.  Sometimes I don’t want my audience to do work–I want them to know exactly what I’m feeling…

I recently wrote this piece and while I want it to be a page piece, it truly reads like slam:  Continue reading “Page Poetry vs Slam Poetry”

Dear Jake

While I applying to study here at SUNY Geneseo, I had a close friend applying to be a foreign exchange student in Spain. Luckily, we both got accepted. It was odd, our final goodbye, sitting across from one another in the booth of a mostly-empty Friendly’s. I will admit that I was a bit irritated around that time because as someone who values personal space, Jake was too… clingy, I guess… and I was ready for some space. Still, it was sad to say goodbye.

A few weeks passed as I grew accustomed to the new collegiate setting. I soon found myself seated in front of my lap, typing out an email. Time passed and I received a response, and this continued on.

As I wrote letters to Jake detailing my life here at Geneseo and he regaled stories of Spain and rowdy foreign exchange students, I began to think about the excitement of getting a new email in my inbox. Then I started thinking of poetry in the form of letters.

I think it’s interesting, seeing what people put to paper as opposed to what they are really thinking, and the format of letting someone close to them know what’s new in their life. I just thought this was an interesting source for writing, especially as a form that is more uncommon in today’s day and age.


How come there is no diss culture in poetry? Or is there one and I just spend too much time listening to Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below?  Anyway, I wonder if there are poems out there were poets are specifically called out. Not like in a letter, or an op ed, but like a genuine poem that uses figurative language. Here is a diss to poets I’ve been working on:

Continue reading “D!$$”

“Honest Confessions on Letting Go.”

Hi all!

I just realized I haven’t been on the blog in a while–oops!  Seems like the end of the semester is creeping up on me!

These past two semesters have been crazy whirlwinds for me and I’ve found myself letting go of a lot of things that I am reluctant to depart from.  Today I was thinking about how badly I miss writing slam poetry, and found myself listening to it.

Kevin Kantor’s “Honest Confessions on Letting Go” has been one of my favorite slam pieces in the Button Poetry collection.  I always find myself going back to his stuff–along with Neil Hilborn’s, of course.

Lytton–I apologize if I’ve posted this piece on the blog during a previous workshop, but I do want to say something about this piece (and poetry in general) that I didn’t recognize before.  I think that as time passes our perception of poetry changes based on our perception of the world.  If I go back and read an old piece I wrote freshman or sophomore year, I find that that poem was created from an  old version of me.  I am only starting to recognize that I am constantly changing.  While this is not the most pleasant thing to admit, I think that it’s important to recognize the importance of letting go; Kevin Kantor does so beautifully.


Big Gestures: An Epidemic?

For another class I’m preparing to give a lesson on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. As I’m throwing together my PowerPoint slides for my imaginary class, I start thinking how I’m going to begin the lesson. My teacher brain kicks in:

okay well before we even touch the novel, the students need to be situated in the genre. Frankenstein occurs towards the end of Romanticism, in the golden age of Gothic literature. Come to think of it, I think Frankenstein is a nice hybrid of the two genres- it’s full of horror and death but riddled with SO much human emotion. So let’s start by teaching them a little bit about both. Well how did Romanticism come to be? It started with Goethe’s infamous forbidden love story in which Werther pines after Charlotte, who is promised to another man. Unsurprisingly, Werther dies of a broken heart and do we roll our eyes at this love sick man baby? Of course not! We regard him as a victim of love, a brave soul who perished at the feet of his beloved, unattainable Charlotte. 

After that thought process I contemplated: why the hell does our culture emphasize such big, dramatic gestures?

To supplement the introduction lecture on the two genres I plan on showing some famous movie scenes in which characters confess their love for one another in showboatty fashion. This video exemplifies romantic literature in how the characters are publicly, shamelessly honest about their passions. One video I’ve already selected is Heath Ledger’s singing performance to win over Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You.

Weigh in on my deliberations. Why do we value the drama? Why do we live in an age of million dollar weddings and fucking promposals? In what ways does poetry come into play when we talk about this human tendency to consume things that are emotionally-unveiling, often ostentatious, and screaming-i-love-you-in-the-rain expressive?

People! (a prelude to my source showcase)

Hello hello,

I wanted to write a post concerning my source showcase next week, which is largely centered around people & living source.

I struggled for awhile with figuring out how to fully understand people as a source, because they are so complex and have their own experiences that may differ from our own.

It really struck me last week, when I found out that a CNF piece of mine is to be published. I was elated, and absolutely terrified as this story is a very personal anecdote featuring my immediate family. Although this is my experience, crafted in a way that helps me to process the situation better, I realized that people are so nuanced and may have a completely different take on something that I would. My older sister doesn’t remember half of the stuff in my CNF piece, and she is adamant that some sections “never happened” (though I have a vivid recollection of them).

For my source showcase, I am going to attempt to discover and showcase people as nuanced living sources in a way that reflects my writing. 99% of my poetry is about people, mixed with the specific language of an object that somehow characterizes both the person and gives solid imagery of a person through these objects. My poetry is often trying to understand people better through something that seems wholly other than them (i.e. my father and the language of US Mint). It provides me with a different dimension of that person to help me to describe/relay an experience better.

Aaaaaaanyway, I’d like to pose a few questions to you all to think about prior to my showcase on the 12th:

  1. How would you feel about being the source of someone else’s poetry?
  2. How do you attempt to write about people in a way that shows their complexity and nuances?
  3. What are challenges you’ve had in writing about people or an experience with people?
  4. Have you ever talked with the source of your poetry and asked them about their opinions on being a source?
  5. What people tend to be the biggest source(s) of your poetry?



Steam of (ADHD) Consciousness: Taking cues from Diego’s “Poetry Freestyle/Off the dome/”

I’ve been wanting to write a stream of consciousness for a long ass time and I think this kind of writing is super important. Trying to construct our thoughts into the structure and format that we want sometimes edits out the most dangerous, the most raw, the most true aspects of my writing and I suspect of other’s writing as well. Here goes:

The  door was splintering as they were smashing it crashing it with a broken mirror and a tin can. I didn’t know things that  were that fragile could carry the power of a battering ram or could crack the face of porcelain man while he’s curled up crying like a crippled lion and dying in the light of the wildfire that’s climbing the ladder to his tree house where he camps out sinking his teeth into the leather binding of the kill. His fangs puncturing the pages that plead patience but that’s the way that ink teeth fall on the page. the fire is making its way to the lions den because it can smell the gasoline drip drip dripping from the lion’s leaking maw cause lead that has burrowed its way from muzzle to muzzle has left the massive muscles shorn from their anchors. Little lion men, make that dying men, always burning walking spirits of flame that think they can tame the mane that they think they can cut from the nape of the main man in the plain that they infiltrated because they take what they can from the land that they lay claim to like they were natives like their names are inscribed on the mountains and boulders and lions like they could write their name on the sun net it up and swallow it up. Thank god the sun can burn them away because they’re patiently waiting till they can reach it and stab it with the sharp end of a flag and take a flying leap for (white) mankind. How dare you mistake a man for the sun. believe me i can burn you blind if you try to take the hydrogen violently exploding in me dont try to corrode my fire. You cant bottle lightning so fight me look me in the  fucking eye as you try to break my eye contact, step back because you lack the power to make me bow and your just a flashbang waiting to be swallowed and spit up into the light of the sun. You can’t blind me with your artificial light, I’ve got sight and you might think that you could break me and win but im a sun lion and a stallion you’ll need a battalion of broke nose, rotten teeth sin grin, men that been licking the dirt that stick to the boots of their God, to bear down on me like a garbage masher. Too bad the trash that you mean to compact can compact back and slap the newtons out of the metal walls that make to break. Next time you line up in formation like the british at lexington, think about it before you start a war and before you try to snap the back of a spine that breaks back.


Well. that happened. I ended up sitting in a kind of rap rhythm. I’ve never written with that kind of rhythm. Honestly I’ve never written anything that was stream of consciousness. Hope you liked it! I feel like Diego will especially appreciate this.

Quilting Poetry: A Response to Chloe’s Showcase

 I’ve been meaning to write about Chloe’s quilt Showcase since we had it. I thought the analogy of a poem to quilt is a really interesting one.

It really made sense with what Lytton’s been teaching about source: that all writing comes from reading and is informed by source in some way. Similarly, quilts consist of patches of different “source” material. Often, as Chloe mentioned, quilts came from old unusable clothing. They were made from Grandad’s old jeans, from my childhood blanket, from my cousin’s wedding dress, from a forgotten nosebleed, from my old singed mittens that I tried to warm in the microwave. All of these things interestingly, could just as well be sources for poetry.

I also loved the materials that were brought. All of that beautiful wrapping paper, the ribbon. It all was very beautiful and elegant and colorful, which are words I would use to describe Chloe’s poetry. It made sense. The paint in particular I loved (as some of you may have noticed lol).

For me I really took this as a way for me to express my poetic ethos, to question what that ethos was, and to somehow sew the pieces into a quilt.

Everyone went up right away to get the pieces. I wanted to wait a) to not be in the midst of all the bustle of getting the materials first. I tend to always wait at buffets and dinners and weddings when everyone goes up to get food. I often wait till there’s no else going up. I’d rather be last. Perhaps that says something about me. and b) to think about what I wanted to do.

I ended up not coming up with anything while waiting. So I just winged it, and the first thing I thought to do was take one of those pages of beautiful metallic wrapping paper and tear off a piece of it roughly, not cleanly, not cut. I tore every piece of paper I used instead of cutting.

I think I did this because I don’t like when things are perfect. I hate sterile white rooms. Or all white outfits. That shit stresses me out. If I were to see a house all pure white inside, white couch, white walls, white carpet, it would cease to be a house; I would want to make it a canvas. I would want to splatter primary colors all over the place. Take big paint buckets and slam them against the wall, put them on a stool and shoot them with a shotgun, hack spraypraint cans with an axe, stab them with a kitchen knife. Take soil and fling it everywhere.

I’m not a fan of perfect and blank. So I chose to make my quilt the least perfect that I could. I also hate being alone in my art. My art wants to be touched by the people around it. My art wants inked fingerprints to dapple it’s face. 

So, when Amanda suggested she work with me on the quilt, I was really happy for her to do so.

We tore paper, splashed red finger paint on it, taped a golf ball I found in Arizona in my bag on it. We taped orange peels from Ari’s showcase on it, we put cute little fox stickers on it. And we put sparkle glue on it. I did things, Amanda changed some of those things.  Amanda did things, I changed some of those things (ahem… critique and revision/workshops).

    Poetry is very social for me. I write best in a shopping mall or in the union Starbucks. With a lot of voices buzzing and bouncing. It gives me the right feeling.

    It means I’m not locked in a cigar box, feverishly scribbling letters with no addressee. I don’t want that to be my writing experience.

    I also got paint all over me (thank you Amanda :P). I think that I have to be able to get dirty with my poetry. In class, I likened it to getting paint on oneself when making a painting. It’s important for me to really dig into the subject I’m dealing with, to invest myself in it and not be too cerebral.


Thank you Chloe for this really cool experience!

I learned a lot about my poetic ethos!

In remembering the classical

Sometimes I forget about the classical.
I get so caught up in the contemporary that it’s easy to look back in disdain for poetry and craft that existed in a time before the trends that poetry is seeing now.
I realize that I blog a lot about bookstores and libraries, but for real, these places are magical. This past August, my boyfriend and I were strolling around Saratoga Springs and were caught in a torrential downpour, so naturally our soppy and shivering selves ran into the nearest used bookstore which felt like Ollivander’s wand shop from Harry Potter.
I found a book of poems by John Donne, whom I knew my grandmother liked (my grandmother is also a poet of sorts, and we talked line breaks and the romantics one night after accidentally getting too drunk before a funeral) and I really loved a particular poem by him which I will paste below. I read it over about 15 times trying to understand what he meant, but I found a new appreciation for the classical poetry that I had forgotten about in the midst of the contemporary. Don’t get me wrong, I love contemporary poetry, but I think sometimes I forget that classical poetry exists or I undervalue it. I love how carefully selected words are, how dainty and beautiful the poems read. They remind me of lace curtains or something.
I wonder how folks like John Donne could be a source of our poetry today? What classical sources do you guys turn to, if you do?
Any who, here is the poem that I bookmarked. I also ended up purchasing John Donne’s collection for $13.99, and he now sits on my bookshelf and makes my bedroom smell like old books (better than any kind of Febreeze).
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
John Donne
As virtuous men pass mildly away,
   And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
   The breath goes now, and some say, No:
So let us melt, and make no noise,
   No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
   To tell the laity our love.
Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears,
   Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
   Though greater far, is innocent.
Dull sublunary lovers’ love
   (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
   Those things which elemented it.
But we by a love so much refined,
   That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
   Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
   Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
   Like gold to airy thinness beat.
If they be two, they are two so
   As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
   To move, but doth, if the other do.
And though it in the center sit,
   Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
   And grows erect, as that comes home.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
   Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
   And makes me end where I begun.

Poetry Freestyle/Off the dome/

I saw the tree yesterday

and it told me that your poetry was wack

that you couldn’t even attack a sack

full of thumbtacks cause you’re too

scared of having a boo boo

your poetry is doo doo while my

poetry can attract any guy or girl

no it’s not a lie why would I ever lie?

When my hair is starting to curl that’s

when you know the fire is starting to burn–

Continue reading “Poetry Freestyle/Off the dome/”