Senses Fail and Nas, an Unlikely Source of the Muse.

I learned poetry through hip-hop. I didn’t grow up quoting Virgil and Wordsworth, but dipping class and cyphering with my friends, imitating the flow-schemes of Big L and Nas. Standing on the glossy wooden benches of the boy’s locker room, we’d unfold wrinkled sheets of notebook paper with blotted ink squiggled across its pages, jagged handwriting containing our rhymes about the 21st century teenage life. While the content was typically restricted to misogyny and glorifying drug use, my interests in the world around me permeated through the lyrics: “we need less Jihadis and more Mahatma Ghandis”

My punkish angst caught somewhere between the suicidal lyrics of Senses Fail and “N.Y. State of Mind” found body in lyrically tapdancing across rhythmic 808s and YouTube beats humming through my headphones and a portable speaker. It taught me that poetry was above all else, supposed to say something. Pompous emphasis. Elaborate surprises. Express one of two extremes, either the shear meaninglessness of everything or the absolutely undeniable awesomeness of yourself and your life. Mix proving you’re the GOAT with a knack for reckless behavior because “who cares” and you’ll get a taste for the origins of my poetic sentiment.

For a while I stopped rapping. Granted, I had bigger issues than a lack of creativity considering I was blowing lines of heroin four years ago and dealing with a whole lotta spiritual vexation. Yet once I had my house placed back in order by Jesus, and had my entire worldview flipped inside out, I now channel that lingering youthful poetic sentiment into prose and art that reflects a rightly placed pomp on the glory of God.

I love translating abstract academic concepts into narratives, I love singing sounds and phonemes about the world into rhythm, and I love pulling apart the symbolic depictions of our diction.

3 Replies to “Senses Fail and Nas, an Unlikely Source of the Muse.”

  1. Kyle, it was so nice to read where your origins of poetry came from. My initial thoughts of a suggestion of a source for you is a show I like to watch called “EVIL” on CBS. It is on Monday nights and the whole theme of the show is that there is a sense of evil or spiritual realm in every episode which a group of people try to investigate. One of the characters, an aspiring priest, looks to God and is not afraid of this evil. I recommend this show to you as you mentioned your interest in God and it is also an intriguing show. The first season just ended and believe you should look into it!

    A poetry book that comes to mind for you is titled “Un-ashamed” written by a two-time Grammy winning rap artist, Lecrae, who shares his rough past including childhood abuse, drugs and alcoholism, a stint in rehab, an abortion, … and along the way, Lecrae attained an unwavering faith in Jesus and began looking to God for affirmation. I feel as though this would a be a greta book fo you as you could relate to some of the things Lecrae has been though. Definitely take a look at it!

    Another book I suggest is titled “Pillow Thoughts” by Courtney Peppernell that includes short poems and prose about what we are all thinking and feeling. The theme of the book has a tribute to her readers who are bravely continuing their journey from hurt to healing.

  2. I’ve gotta be honest, a lot of the way I write stems from bands like Senses Fail that had songs that were deeply saddening and partially disturbing; I still have a soft spot for “The Priest and The Matador”. Dealing with the mental bullshit I have going on upstairs, a lot of my early work was disgustingly edgy like MCR lyrics or whatever Bring Me The Horizon song I was listening too. Luckily, I’ve mostly grown out of that phase of my life, however it is important to go back to your roots!

  3. It sounds like we should circle back around to where music (and perhaps film, too) meet poetry in one of our source discussions! There’a whole semester, or lifetime, on that topic, of course.

    Kyle, I’m going to suggest Geoffrey Hill for you as a poet. I’m really curious where you’ll take his work and what you’ll get from it.

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