You like what…?

Traffic. I love sitting in traffic, particularly at night when all the lights blend together. My eyes tend to glaze over, and all the lights spread out. I think this is the part where I also admit to accidentally rear-ending someone because I was zoned out staring at the lights. Back home, there is no shortage of traffic. There is not a single freeway that is truly free. It takes your time. (If you like wasting money, you can also go in the FasTrak lanes where you pay to sit in traffic.) Sitting in traffic gives me time to think, and it also gives me time to stare at the person right next to me. People do the weirdest things when they’re essentially trapped in the car, but I’ve also seen a woman apply red lipstick while she was going 90 mph in her Lexus. I like to look at people and imagine their life stories and where they have to go. It feels so surreal knowing you can’t move. I like capturing that feeling of helplessness in my poems. 

I find that same feeling when swimming in open water. I find it funny that I can’t stand to swim in a lake, but I absolutely love the feeling of swimming in the ocean. It’s freeing, but at the same time, you are helpless. I don’t know about you, but I definitely can’t swim long enough to survive if I was stranded in the middle of the ocean. One of my favorite places is Fisherman’s Cove. I do a lot of snorkeling there because there is a sharp drop in the water where you can see a lot of fish without going far into the water. I’m probably only fifteen feet from the shore, but everything is so different. The fish seemed unfazed by my presence unless I try to touch them, of course. I find that entire experience relaxing and freeing, and I think that makes its way into a lot of my poems.

3 Replies to “You like what…?”

  1. The way you describe your thought processes in traffic and the effect the lights have on you reminds me of the song ‘Midnight City’ by M83. The whole song drops visual imagery of lights like the lines “Look at the horizon glow//drinking in the lights//following the neon signs//It wraps me in its blinding twilight.” From what I remember, it’s based off of the artists experiences going through L.A. and seeing the city lights so I think it would be valuable to check out.
    Fisherman’s cove is a really cool place. It’s on my “To Visit” list. If you like that you could check out photos and videos of Bora Bora. Any time I’m looking for beach/ocean side inspiration I always look at Instagram photos of the St. Regis bungalows that extend into the cove. It just gives off a feeling of complete relaxation, like a tropical paradise should. If you want the full “experience” you could always go the full mile and pair it with ambient ocean sounds on YouTube.
    If you’re looking to mix things up a bit and write about the opposite side of a calm, peaceful beach, I just read a poem by Hilda Raz titled “Some Questions about the Storm” which was written in response to the hurricanes (more specifically the El Niño storm system). It details the damage of the storm by almost personifying trees and using them as analogies to people. One of the coolest lines in the poem is “So what? Every year leaves fail. The cycle. Birth to death.” It is definitely not the most relaxing poem ever written, but it makes you appreciate the power of nature, especially when it’s dormant and calm.

  2. I found your interest in nightlife in a city and the busy traffic from your hometown really interesting and upon doing some research, I found this poetry book called “Deer Trails: San Fransisco Poet Laureate Series N0. 7” by Kim Shuck. The synopsis says Kim Shuck, a Native American from San Fransisco, “celebrates the enduring presence of indigenous San Francisco as a form of resistance to gentrification, urbanization, and the erasure of memory” in her poems. I thought perhaps you might find some inspiration from this because it is centered around the poet’s life, especially one who lives in a ‘hectic’ environment, being in San Fran.
    I also think because you enjoy scuba diving and being in the ocean, all of the layers in a coral reef and/or watching all the different schools of fish living their separate lives but in harmony together reminded me of Monet paintings. Monet painted in a way where he captured multiple layers of water (or scenery) in one single image, which is incredibly difficult to do, but so fascinating. I think it also related to the depth of your curiosity about what people are saying on the highway behind their closed car doors. There are so many layers and depths to explore, I suppose. There is also a painting by Freidrich called “Wanderer Above the Mists” where we see the profile of a man from behind looking from the jut of a cliff into mist and mountain tops. It is mysterious because we will never know who the man is, or how he got there; we can only assume his story through his clothes and the cane he holds by his side.

  3. I love the specificity of these interests, Tanya, and the creative and intriguing suggestions that Troy and Lyndsay have come up with in response – often, it’s the more particular and unusual inspirations that lead to even more inspiration!

    I’m thinking particularly about “freeway” as a term, in addition to “traffic,” and wondering what metaphors and ideas that might give rise to as both a literal term in urban planning and an ideal for free movement.

    There is a great book of poems called Traffic & Weather by Marcella Durand that you might enjoy checking out:–weather.aspx

    Also, knowing your maths side, you might be intrigued by the work of Danish poet Inger Christensen, who used the Fibonacci sequence to structure poems like “alphabet.” You’ll find several other poems inspired by mathematics, in various ways, often in ways that reflect a formal engagement with number sequences. More on Christensen here:

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