My Source, Listed:

  • anything & everything I am feeling (events in my life that I need to digest)
  • Jack Kerouac (On The Road, The Subterraneans); books that were introduced to me when I first started taking writing seriously, around the tenth grade of high school
  • drugs
  • Egon Schiele (an Austrian painter, known for his distorted & ugly portrayel of the human body); first fell in love with his work when I visited Vienna in 2016
  • Maya Angelou (mainly her memoirs)
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat (paintings Untitled & In Italian); one of the first artists I learned of when visiting museums as a child
  • butterflies; I had those ‘butterfly pet’ kits when I was younger, and ever since then I have seen them as a symbol (specifically monarch butterflies)
  • Alternative Music (Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, St. Vincent, Fleet Foxes, Big Thief, Elliott Smith, Beach House, Cigarettes After Sex, Keaton Henson, The Japanese House, Jeff Buckley, Mitski, Nick Drake, Soccer Mommy, Regina Spektor, Cavetown, etc)
  • Hip Hop (Kid Cudi, Blood Orange, 03 Greedo, Future, NAV, Playboi Carti, Travis Scott, Kanye West, Young Thug, The Weeknd, etc)
  • Movies (The Lovely Bones, Amelie, Howl’s Moving Castle, 500 Days of Summer, Switch, Zodiac, Donnie Darko, etc)
  • Eyes (I have always been extremely interested in what others eyes can expose, and use this idea in a lot of my poetry)
  • Poets (Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Yeats, Charles Bukowski, Mary Oliver, etc)

3 Replies to “My Source, Listed:”

  1. You mentioned you find inspiration in alternative like Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver: an artist that you may find similar inspiration in is Odesza, especially songs from their 2014 album In Return, like Sun Models, or Bloom. The album has a similar tone to the artists you listed, it’s calming, but it lacks guitars, there are more piano chords and drums. The whispery vocals are there, but more surreal, more alien. It’s a similar tone, but a different flavor, if that makes sense. The songs have a unique geometry to convey a very specific emotion I think you’ll find compelling.
    You also mentioned you enjoy Travis Scott and Future, I think you’ll also get a similar inspiration from Run the Jewels. RTJ’s lyrics find an impressive balance between expression and musicality, in that the lyrics have an incredible rhythm alone, but also say enough to as to not conform entirely to the beat alone. Especially in songs like Blockbuster Night Pt. 1, and Legend Has It. I know that their albums have given me a lot of inspiration, the internal rhymes are impressive enough that the lyrics could stand alone.
    And finally, you mentioned everything and anything as inspiration, so I think you would appreciate and be inspired by Rudy Francisco’s Helium, the collection is a series of everyday observations that Francisco found profound with a heavy symbolic twist, along with deep introspection and self-reflection. The way Francisco digests what happens onto paper may inspire you, it’s incredibly honest and open, it doesn’t mince words at all.

  2. So one of the most interesting things that I can recommend is Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception. If you want to see some of the connections between literature and drugs, that’s an interesting place to start. The band The Doors got their name from it. Check them out if you haven’t heard anything by them! The lead singer Jim Morrison was an interesting dude and here is quick description from a biography written about him: “Here is Jim Morrison in all his complexity-singer, philosopher, poet, delinquent-the brilliant, charismatic, and obsessed seeker who rejected authority in any form, the explorer who probed “the bounds of reality to see what would happen…””
    Personally, as someone who has had extensive experience in the realm of drug use, the most informing song on the relationship between art and drugs has been Macklemore’s song “Otherside.”
    Surprise, you know the drill
    Trapped in a box, declined record sales
    Follow the formula “Violence, Drugs, and Sex” sells
    So we try to sound like someone else
    This is not Californication
    There’s no way to glorify this pavement
    Syrup, Percocet, and an eighth a day will leave you broke, depressed, and emotionally vacant
    Despite how Lil Wayne lives
    It’s not conducive to being creative
    And I know ’cause he’s my favorite
    And I know ’cause I was off that same mix
    Rationalize the shit that I’d try after I listen to “Dedication”
    But he’s an alien, I’d sip that shit, pass out or play PlayStation
    Months later I’m in the same place
    No music made, feeling like a failure
    And trust me it’s not dope to be 25 and move back to your parent’s basement
    I’ve seen my people’s dreams die
    I’ve seen what they can be denied
    And “Weed’s not a drug”, that’s denial
    Groundhog-Day life repeat each time
    This is a little excerpt from the song. If your poem has as strong a connection to your personal life as I think that it might, this song will probably hit hard. Same with “Drug Dealer.”
    Lastly, after doing some searching for contemporary poetry in relationship to drugs… I found compilation of some of Kerouac’s work. Granted, it is not made past the 1990s but this book was published in 2001.

  3. I’m going to start by recommending Jon Paul Fiorentino’s book Hello Serotonin, which offers an unexpected take on poetry and drugs, and is well worth checking out, from a nearby Toronto-based Press, Coach House Books: – and you might find other books published by Coach House worth checking out. Also, in a slightly different vein, Katie Degentesh’s The Anger Scale which combines Google searches and questions from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory.

    Where both these books head you is a question about how to write about altered/alternative states, and a question about what’s baseline and what’s altered anyway – and also about where the subjective/lyric self might be in any of this. The writers you turn to are interestingly quite committed to (or associated with) a strongly autobiographical presence in the poem, as if to suggest we can stably narrate our experiences. But many of your other inspirations – Schiele in particular, I think – see experience as warped, unstable, difficult to narrate via a coherent I. I think Degentesh and Fiorentino poke at this problem in interesting ways. (So, too, does Plath in Ariel, but in ways that are very, very subtle and she’s often read as writing about herself in quite memoiristic ways, when there’s something more complex at stake.)

    I’m curious where your inspirations head you: is it trying to understand and share who you are, or is it trying to share an experience that isn’t easily contained by a single identity? Carol Morley’s films offer a visual version of this; if you can get hold of The Alcohol Years it might be worth watching (as is anything by Morley). Looking forward to seeing how your writing shapes in relation to these questions.

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