When Poetry Goes Silent

During this first month into the semester, I’ve been working to focus more on how sound is used in poetry. In the past, I had a habit of reading poems in my head. I might be able to “hear” the words in my mind, but I’ll notice more of the creativity in sound when I read it out loud.

But this morning, I was reminded of something else. Continue reading “When Poetry Goes Silent”

Fiction and Poetry

As a person who now writes fiction sometimes I am hesitant into where it falls in regard to poetry. I remember once writing a poem that was in the early stages of editing. One of the things that drew me to edit this poem further was that I wrote it purposefully with a feel-good moment, that made me feel joy later when I reread it to myself. When one of my friends (@Grace) read it I could see her smile form as I followed her eyes down the stanzas. At the end, she asked me, was this a memory of you are you sister, right? When I told her that the poem was a work of fiction she looked taken aback for she felt that real emotion was there, I think there was too. I think that’s an interesting aspect of poetry, that it can include fiction or nonfiction without stating it explicitly to the reader. As someone who involves both fiction and nonfiction in my poems, it’s interesting to think that the reader may try to tell the difference since a lot of poems tend to engage us emotionally speaking.

Poems are vessels that can be used to hold emotion, even if we do not experience the literal aspect of the poems in real life. I like to think of my poems like a sample size perfume. You get the scent and know what it is going for (hopefully), you know how the lines are trying to reach into your mind and activate something that the author could never guess was there.

In poetry, often I use what I have learned from fiction writing to draw up an intimate world, that at its core, is powered by the desired feeling. I hope this doesn’t make me an artificial poet, that I can recreate events that have no technical connection to me, scenes that read as non-fiction that isn’t, hugs between imagined siblings that are inspired by my own love of my sister and our childhood innocence.

Remember when we were talking about images AS poetry? or A Thing Megan Is Not Qualified to Talk About Pt. 2


I saw Black Panther with BSU today, and holy hell some of you would absolutely love dissecting some of these images. (field trip, anyone?)

Anyway, I have to touch on this one image (here come the spoilers): when T’Challa is laying in that snow coffin-pit-thing, nearly dead with just his head and chest visible, it paralleled an image that Black poets have been summoning in their poetry for a long time.  Some of you probably know where this is going (although Will Antonelli didn’t, so maybe not): it was Emmett Till in his open casket.  I mean, T’Challa’s face wasn’t disfigured (Hollywood wouldn’t do that to a Marvel hero, they have to look pretty), but the film mirrored all of those poems that evoke Till in the coffin.*  T’Challa’s body was even found in a river, just like Till’s, and carried to his grieving mother.  It’s damn poignant, but this isn’t even the poetic part.

You already know T’Challa isn’t dead; not only is he the title character, but Marvel has plans for him to be in Infinity Wars.  This is where the poetry comes in: T’Challa, after going into that spirit realm for a few seconds, literally rises from the snow pit!  Guys, they raise a Black man character from the dead, as his mother, sister, and lover surround him.  And, idk about you guys, but I think the poetry is conveyed when reality and fiction suddenly clash.  Black men are killed irl all the time, and only this fictional character is saved.  He lives on, in movies and comics, and the rest bleed and blend into pavement and dirt.

Besides a select few.  Emmett Till, for one.  (that’s where my thought ends; I know there’s something else significant there, but I’m not finding it at the moment)


*Also, I’m not quite sure why that particular image is utilized so often in poetry, save for the fact that people can place the tragedy fairly easily.  I’m looking into it now, I’ll get back to you if I figure it out.

Mixing Spacing Up

I had never considered how spacing might affect a poem until this class: my creative writing teacher was not very experimental, and emphasized rhyme scheme and syllable count more than stretching the medium itself to any kind of new technique. I was enthralled at the use of spacing everyone in class used- almost none of the poems we work shopped had a conventional format.

I feel silly, never considering how the spacing itself would have a massive affect on the poem itself. My highschool class had always focused on the deeper meaning, not the format itself. “It has to mean something,” my old teacher said. Any kind of experimental format never entered the conversation, but he wouldn’t oppose it. I was aware of it, of course, but never used it.

I noticed, when I read the poems we work-shopped, how spacing and line breaks added emphasis that italics couldn’t. I noticed it adds real weight, real emphasis apart from each other. I’m ecstatic our class is so creative, experimenting with the format of a written poem more than just meter, rhyme scheme, or metaphor. Feels like an essential aspect we’ve found to mess with in poetry- stir up the old formula, mix it up and keep it from getting stale. I’m hyped to see how far we can push this.

How Poetry Has Helped Me Ace My Tests

According to John Locke, who I am currently reading in my humanities course, he believes that poetry is more of an ‘art’ than a ‘fruit of study’. And people who are ‘good’ at poetry are naturals at it. They can very easily understand rhetoric, without even knowing what rhetoric is. Poets are able to easily understand people, prioritize things, know the difference between right and wrong, and interpret language very well.

With this, I believe that I do understand poetry, and I love to write it as well. This also adheres to my personal life. I am very emotionally understanding, while able to communicate well. I LOVE to talk. And, I’d like to think that I’m ‘good at it’. My manipulation of language does sprout from Locke’s concept of a natural poet, but it also does have to do with both of my parents being lawyers. I grew up in a court house, my palette for language, and the way I speak was developed at a very young age. With time, my abilities and method of ‘manipulative speaking’ grew.

I am often able to persuade people, I am strong in arguments, and people tend to confide in me since they know that I am understanding. Relating back to the title of this piece, my language ‘skills’ and personal comprehension of how I interpret language has really helped me to do well on tests, without even knowing the actual ‘knowledge’ of the test. There has been many times, where I felt as if I went into a test completely blind, and still pulled out a good grade. The reason for this, is that without even knowing the material of a multiple choice question, based on how the question/answers are worded, I am able to guess which is right. Now, of course, this is not a fool proof method. But more often than not, it does work. In relation to how the answers are formulated I can ‘choose’ which is the right answer.

My interpretation of language and my poetry truly has helped me to ace tests, I just hope that continues…



Sorrow, a present moment

Sorrow is not generally a publicly appropriate emotion. Unless there has been a tragedy, most people (and especially women) are expected to be emotionally neutral or even positive all the time. This can be a dangerous expectation. For example, I have a period app, and if I ever log that I’m feeling “stressed,” “sad,” or “emotional,” it tells me that I can actually control my emotions to remain positive all the time. I don’t think that this is healthy advice. Humans feel sorrow for different reasons, and arbitrarily pushing these feelings away produces a culture of inauthenticity and a fear of honesty. A sociological term for this would be “emotional management,” in which people are expected to subvert their prevailing emotions in favor of more socially acceptable emotions. Women have been historically labeled as “emotional” with a negative stigma attached to it, and so, many of us have learned to be “emotionally intelligent” by processing and dealing with our emotions so as not to bring them into a wider sphere.

I am not saying that handling emotions in healthy ways and having emotional intelligence is not good, and in fact, emotional management ensures that society continues to run smoothly. So there are some benefits. But our society has taken this too far IMO. Many people do not learn to process sorrow in a healthy way, or even to accept the fact that they are sorrowful and to allow themselves to remain there and be in that place. Rather, sorrow is seen as an emotion that is only a process on its way to yielding greater positivity. A dynamic process rather than a present moment in life.

I don’t think either that people should romanticize sorrow or seek it out. It is good to take joy in everyday life. But sorrow will come, and when it does, it’s OK to sit in it, to be a human person who is emotional and at times, overcome with emotion. It will help us to be honest with each other when this happens.

Right now I am feeling deep sorrow, the kind that pushes its pressure through the veins and makes the heart feel a bit waterlogged. When this happens, sometimes I will have words forcing themselves out of me and other times, all I can do is let the feeling ripple through me. The latter is where I’m at right now, and that’s OK. It’s okay not to be able to write poetry, and it’s okay to be a human being person and let yourself process emotions. There is no gain in false guilt or shame.

If this post is making anyone kind of uncomfortable, I’m not surprised, partly because of the stigma around sorrow or “negativity.” I also don’t blame anyone for their discomfort. People don’t talk about these things often, and it’s normal to become uncomfortable about them and want to offer condolences. But though I am feeling sorrowful, I also have hope, and this hope does not put me to shame. I am realizing that I don’t need to perfectly manage my emotions so as to avoid sorrow. In fact, I can’t. Sorrow will come, and sorrow is here, and I am being me, right where I am right now. I have peace with that.

The Subpar Sublime


Lately I’ve been a little fixated on the idea of “The Sublime”, terror equally intertwined with beauty. This idea seems to keep popping up in various classes and conversations, in art history class we examine its presence in paintings of shipwrecks and ominous churches, and while doing work in English class I happened upon it in a book of literary terms. I bet this can be explained by the frequency illusion, a cognitive bias where something recently learned about starts appearing in one’s day to day life more and more, generally as a result of being more on the lookout for it, but for the purpose of adding some excitement to my life I’m imagining that it could be something more.

Either way, I’ve been thinking about “The Sublime” in my life, mainly the lack of it. I certainly have moments of joy, but seldom do I find myself unsettled by their magnitude. I’ve begun to worry that I’m not experiencing real high power happiness, or that my brain isn’t as fancy an organic machine as I had hoped.

I’ve stood on some pretty high rooftops, I’ve looked out at the ocean, I enjoy doing these sorts of things, but don’t find myself absolutely overwhelmed by them. Maybe I have too many explanations for things that were once inexplicable? Words to attach to what used to be deemed the ineffable. Or perhaps being able to watch those youtube videos that compare the scale of the smallest building block of existence to the greatest star has desensitized me to the miniature mammoths of our world?

Another theory I’ve thought up, is that today’s modern human is too eager to seek out pleasure to be absolutely overcome with it. I’m not arguing that hedonism is something of the new age, but I do think it’s possible that we’ve begun to represent ourselves too much as lightning rods for any passing through thrills and have become quickly jaded, or even shunned, by them. You hear about poets of the past, like William Blake, having heavenly visions that were beyond his volition. Now that writers are waiting around for similar divine inspiration it doesn’t feel as inclined to visit us.

I’m sure I have felt the sublime, I’m sure I will feel it again. Maybe today just isn’t a particularly sublime day and I’ve convinced myself that the rest of my life is fated to lack it as well? In the meantime I’ll try and keep enjoying the small and tame pleasures of life. Not everything has to be some kind of rodeo with absolute beauty and terror.

Why Do We Read Literature

In a recent discussion, the impossible question of “What makes good poetry” came up. This question seems to loom in the mind of all writers, both amateur and profession. I’ve often wondered why some literature is eternal, while some literature only survived the era in which it was created. What transcending aspects are included in eternal work? Why do certain works appeal to and transcend generations? In pondering this question, another impossible query comes to mind.

Why do we read literature?

There are many philosophers who have sought to answer this question. Shelley claimed that, among other things, people read poetry as a means of catharsis. This theory transcends to the time of Ancient Greece, where plays were actually produced and censored by the government as a means to influence citizens, and allow them to purge their emotions safely onto art. Another philosopher suggested that we read poetry and literature to study ultimate forms of beauty. These are both interesting theories, and there are a lot more ideas about why we read literature.

The best answer to this question is that there is no absolute answer or theory that is correct. Art has always been subjective, and writing is no exception. Our opinions are shaped through personal experiences, and therefore, people think differently. So the reason behind reading literature is different for everyone. This is an extremely frustrating conclusion to come to, but the inconclusive answer fits the ever-changing, fluid topic from which it was derived.

Are Poets Allowed to Hit the Like Button?

I have a bookmarked folder on my computer titled “Poetry.” It’s a sampling of different online literary journals and poems that I have acquired during my time at college.

What made me want to tag these for future inspiration?

I liked them.

While I would love to give an in-depth analysis of the technique and craft intrinsic to each work, I cannot, nor do I have the motivation to.

Are we, as self-proclaimed readers and writers, obligated to analyze and dissect each poem that we stumble across? Do we owe every poem/poet that piqued our interest a lengthy session mulling over meaning and meter?

The student in me says “Yes, why practice poetry if you’re not going to commit to it?”

The I-started-writing-poetry-before-I-even-knew-what-a-good-poem-looked-like poet naively says no, of course not, poetry is an art form meant to be enjoyed.

As you can see, I’m on the fence. I feel as if I am doing poems a disservice if I read them and slap on a gold star without giving an ounce of thought to poetic voice or alliteration. Perhaps, after spending a significant amount of time workshopping my peers’ pieces I have developed an intrinsic capability of analysis, as a result, during my reading of a new piece I do not have to actively think about technique in order to acknowledge the work’s merit. Unfortunately, I do not believe that this is the case. Some poems I simply like.

Does anyone else feel as if they cannot give a good ol’ thumbs up to a poem without providing some sort of academic reason?

Lacking Confidence?

For the first time ever I submitted some of my poetry to (hopefully) be published online for the ~world~ to see. I submitted my work to Gandy Dancer. By now I would believe that everyone in the SUNY English world is familiar with Gandy Dancer but if you’re not, here’s how they explain themselves, “We are a literary magazine, available online and in print, that publishes fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and visual art. We invite student writers and artists from all SUNY campuses to submit. Edited by a rotating staff of students at SUNY Geneseo, Gandy Dancer is published twice yearly.”

Now this is something I have never done before, I rarely let my close friends and family read my work let alone a bunch of strangers. But, I made a promise to myself the beginning of this semester that I would push myself, specifically in my writing career, out of my comfort zone. In order to achieve this, I figured I would attempt to make my work public. There’s no promise that my work would be published but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

If you are also feeling insecure about your work, don’t! I know that it’s easier said than done but start by feeling more confident by submitting your work somewhere, or even letting someone read it who you’d normally not want to read it. These little steps can help you in becoming a more confident and successful writer.