Tag Archives: poetry

Writing Prompt: cut up poem



– Take a magazine or newspaper.
– Choose an article from the magazine or newspaper
– Use a pair of scissors, to cut out the article
– Next carefully cut out each of the words from the article and put them in a brown paper bag
– Shake the bag
– Next take out each cutting one after the other
– Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag (you can glue or tape down the words in your notebook or write them out)
– The poem will resemble you

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Video: Reading at In The Meantime

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Interview with Out Trainer Octavio Pozos

“Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave,” wrote Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet. The work is a collection of ten letters between the Austrian poet Rilke and a 19-year-old officer cadet seeking Rilke’s critical analysis. In the first letter, Rilke advised the cadet to shed his external obligations in order to expand his internal life. Rilke believed that inward concentration could help a new writer to become a great writer.

Octavio Pozos’ coming out story reminded me of Rilke’s advice to the young cadet.

At 17, Octavio’s parents found him showering with his boyfriend at their home in Mexico City and they forced him to move out of the house. Without other family members willing to take him in, Octavio moved in with his boyfriend and had to decide quickly on how to support himself. In a decision that would transform his life, Octavio decided to train to become a group exercise teacher. If his dragon was being kicked out of his family’s home and his parents not speaking to him for 10 years, then his princess is his success as a personal trainer. Octavio is also a professional group exercise instructor and has found great satisfaction in helping others improve their bodies.

Watch the video to learn more about Octavio Pozos.

Photography: Tony Wisniewski, owner of Ultra Body Fitness Gym

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3 Writing Tips: How to bring your writing above the page

“In order to understand, I destroyed myself.” – Fernando Pessoa

Writing Workshop is where writers can present their work (finished or unfinished), experiment, and receive critical analysis. From my first day of workshop to now, the way I approach writing has changed. The process, working through a scene, heightened, and is more aware of itself. I have encountered challenges and tried to experiment with language, native and foreign. Last week I received 3 great tips from my workshop instructor that I wanted to share. I think that these could help new (and possibly established) writers improve their writing to make it urgent. Click on the video to see the tips.

Also check out these helpful writing bibles:

1.The Art of Writing: Lu Chi’s Wen Fu

2. Writing the Breakout Novel

3. On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

4. The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Classics)

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Duck Tape Diaries

United Kingdom: stamp

(Photo credit: Sem Paradeiro)

In the past, it was important for me to believe others perceived me as someone who knew where he was going in life. Someone who had a good life, a good career, knew everything to know about the world; someone to envy or at least, have an intellectual conversation with. It was a cover to prevent people from discovering the real me, that I was  in the category of “other.” I’ll call that protection fear. In college, I learned that distance can help prevent people from getting to know too much about me and my experience leading into adulthood reinforced that: getting a new job in a new city, forgetting old friends to get new friends, not ever having enough time to call home. Distance and perfection, I carried them like hand guns.  I was so used to flaunting them, that they became my hands. Slowly, I learned to let go of distance, but perfection I had to hold on to. Perfection, in its own right, is truth and truth is incontestable, until proven false and nothing is false anymore, only less true. Today, the most important person in my life, just called me shallow. Now I don’t know who to blame: me, him, or the world. The world, as in, the idea of things; how men think, survival; the rules of effective communicate; multi-tasking in a post-digital area; being a good boyfriend.  A friend of mine worked at a national forest and had to learn deescalation techniques to take the fire out of heated situations.  She would mimic the escalated persons behavior and recognize their feelings. It always worked. Why aren’t their deescalation manuals ready and available at bars? At this moment, looking back, I never knew where I was going.

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Poetry Review: Douglas Kearney’s Black Automaton

Douglas Kearney is not a poet to be read causally. His most recent collection of poetry titled the Black Automaton is a wildebeest, a wild beast, horned, hooved, and heavy. Automaton is defined as a “moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being,” in other words a robot. Black Automaton, I believe, is meant not to describe African-Americans as robots, but the ideal of the “Black” experience as a robotic or same reality experienced from the south to the “city.” “Tallahatchie Lullabye, Baby,” “The Black Automaton in Tag” and the FloodSong poems speak to the robotic reality.

Reading “Tallahatchie Lullabye, Baby” a second time, I noticed the words Emmett Till at the bottom of the page and that made the poem come together, like an open wound being stitched up. At the age of fourteen in 1955, at the height of violence in the early days of the struggle for civil rights, Emmett Till was murdered, after falsely being reported flirting with a white woman. The shocking photographs of his open-casket funeral were published in Jet Magazine and the story was later picked up by Look Magazine and raised the question of “approved murder due to race.” With that understanding, the poem takes on an emotional urgency to the last word to reach an unthinkable and known ending.

The alliterations work to move the poem:

cattatil casts tattles Till tale,
lowing low along the hollow
crickets chirrup and ribbits lick-up
what’s chucked the ‘hatchie swallow

The cattails, plants that grow in abundance along the Mississippi, become eyewitnesses to Till’s death and they tattle or talk amongst each other, spreading what they know along the river bank, until the crickets chirp and frogs ribbit, creating this melancholy song.

Till's mother insisted on an open casket. Imag...

The visual-ness of “The Black Automaton in Tag,” makes it capable of being read different ways and the play on the “n” is genius. The “n” word debate, is it a word of empowerment or fodder for fools, has polarized the African American community – either “Black” people love it or hate it. The “Black Automaton in Tag” takes a historical context and is an argument for blacks who love “it”:


it’s best not to err and ER the A
if one must air the n _ _ _ _ _.
The ER is a looming heir
of that gloomy era where
n _ _ _ _ _s were in the air
in the best knots

The poem ends with reminding the reader that “it” is still the same word that it originally meant no matter how it is pronounced, spelled, or understood as.

The Floodsong poems seem to be connected via a Southern tributary, dealing with public worship, calling out in the Black church, religious song, and life along a river and how the river shapes living, seen through the eyes of animals: “Flood Song 1” is through the eyes of a canal rat, “Flood Song 2” is through the eyes of a water moccasin, “Flood Song 3” is through the eyes of an alligator, “Flood Song 4” is through the eyes of a mosquito, “Flood Song 5” is through the eyes of a bullfrog, “Flood Song 6” is through the eyes of a seagull, “Flood Song 7” is through the eyes of a catfish, and “Flood Song 8” is through the eyes of a stray dog.

The collection as a whole is a threaded mediation on the black experience from the south to the “city,” pieced together through negro spirituals, rap lyrics, questions, and a visual experience that leaves the reader with the lines, “knocking its broken neck against the smoke” and takes them back to “Negro” in tag.

Kearney is best experienced in person above the page. I not only saw him perform pieces from Black Automaton at Otis College’s Visiting Writers Series with Nick Piombino but also I got the chance to talk to Kearney about his creative process. He uses Abode InDesign to create his poems and later asks readers to “score” his visual poems. However the pieces are scored, is how Kearney reads the pieces live.

Books to read by Kearney

1. The Black Automaton (National Poetry Series Books)

2. Fear, some

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Review of Laura Mullen’s Enduring Freedom

The book: Enduring Freedom: A Little Book of Mechanical Brides
Publisher: Otis Books/Seismicity Editions

Dum dum de dum, here comes the bride … collection, forty-one to be exact within Laura Mullen’s Enduring Freedom. If little touches, slender silk ribbons, nosegays, dragee, place setting, escort cards, are what ties a wedding together with a knot, the bride herself, in assorted milk-white chocolate-colored fabric and beads, ties together the collection of poems.

The title, Enduring Freedom, hints at Mullen’s sarcasm on how weddings are treated as an event in quotations worthy of being breaking news that triumphs war and economic hardship. But also breaks down the interworking of how different women react leading up to the ta-da moment and the potentially negative boomerang effect of lists and living outside one’s means.

Stylistically, Mullen utilizes prose poems and the familiar worried bride archetype as a way to allow readers to see the bride through a less than personal camera lens. The bride is displayed like vintage Barbie’s or dime-store knock offs in glass cases, pinned down, labeled with her scientific name, like Bride of Detail, Bride of a Thousand Flaws, or Be Creative Bride, laid out flat, and spread out to see what she looks like when dry.

What is Mullen trying to accomplish with Enduring Freedom? Should there be a moratorium on all weddings until further notice? What is the purpose of a traditional wedding? To show the public how much money went into the little things and not for rent or mortgage or some other bill.

Bandschnalle Einsatzmedaille der Bundeswehr En...

Enduring Freedom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mullen inserts those ideas into the background of her carved prose poems like small buttercream cake portions and drops the bride figurine minus the groom on top, in a refreshing context that helps the poet to preach quietly without shouting, considering we are in a church.

Despite the dizzying effect of white on white, tulle, chiffon, lace, crepe, and organza, Enduring Freedom is an aesthetic assembly line of wonder that feels fresh and not frozen and thawed out from the common place.

Buy Enduring Freedom here.

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