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Showing posts from July, 2016

Influences

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A trip to the bookstore during my high school years entailed a good stretch of time hunching over a shelf at the poetry section. Not because I enjoyed reading poems but because I didn’t know how to.

My long-standing love affair with poetry began as how love affairs often do: visually and with a dose of ignorance. That the lines didn’t reach the other end of the margin made me think of the poet as a rebel, defying the rules of writing we were taught to venerate. More so when I saw text arranged in unusual ways, whether syntactically or spatially on the page.

“Why cut a phrase in specific places?” I would ask myself. “How are these decisions made?” When William Carlos Williams declared, “so much depends upon a red wheelbarrow,” why had he not plainly put it in a straight line but instead delivered it as such: “so much depends / upon // a red wheel / barrow”? And, while at it, where were the punctuation marks and what the hell were these things that were so dependent upon a red — not bl…

I love your work so, so much

After years of underlining bits of text I deem too beautiful to forget from whatever reading material I get my hands on, this particular year proves the utility of the practice.

The internet and the nature of my job increase the likelihood of me interacting with people whose works I admire. Visual artists, musicians, writers. Just last week, I probably had the biggest small exchange of my life.

I posted Alice Fulton's 'What I like' on my Twitter, and she thanked me — and even said my name [EXCLAMATION POINT]

@fishpeep Thanks for posting my poem, Razel! — Alice Fulton (@RiffSublime) June 23, 2016

So I had to say something in return, it was my chance to, not out of the blue, tell her what I've always wanted to tell her, how brilliant I think she is, but of course in a very dignified manner. And, but, all I came up with was:

@fishpeep Thanks so much. It's lovely to hear this at the start of the day. I hope to read your work, too. — Alice Fulton (@RiffSublime) June 24, 2…

Keep creating

There is a scene in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood where divorcée Olivia tells her college-bound son Mason that it is the worst day of her life. Asked why, she replies, “You know what I’m realizing? My life is just going to go. Like that. This series of milestones — getting married, having kids, getting divorced… getting my masters degree, finally getting the job I wanted, sending Samantha off to college, sending you off to college. You know what’s next? It’s my fucking funeral! Just go and leave my picture!” Confused, Mason tells her she’s jumping way ahead, to which she answers back with resignation: “I just thought there would be more.”

This scene hits a chord and resonates with me until now, for it highlights my suspicions about success — our definitions of it (an accumulation of goals being one) and if it, as we seem to believe, enables happiness. Because I’ve been there and heard the same confession from others: getting what you want and still feel lacking.

What I do know is when p…

'You're a man'

And of all the capitulations in his life, this was the one that seemed most like a victory. Never before had elation welled more powerfully inside him; never had beauty grown more purely out of truth; never in taking his wife had he tirumphed more completely over time and space. The past could dissolve at his will and so could the future; so could the walls of this house and the whole imprisioning wasteland beyond it, towns and trees. He had taken command of the universe because he was a man, and because the marvelous creature who opened and moved for him, tender and strong, was a woman.

—Richard Yates. Revolutionary Road. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 2008.
I like stories where I can relate with all the characters. I am both Frank and April. I am even Maureen.

Gateway theater

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I.

On the car ride home, right after watching a stage production of Green Day’s American Idiot, I thought of cats — the musical: on the one hand lambasted for its nonsense, if non-existent plot and sheer silliness (cats dancing and singing and fighting for a place in The Heavyside what?); and on the other hand loved by many, including me, for the playful poetry set to catchy tunes that can put today’s Top 40 to shame. American Idiot is quite the same: it’s less of a musical; more of a musical event.

Where the two shows dissociate is in tone, setting, intention, and everything else. The former is built in a fantastical world where you’re invited to have fun, while the latter is anchored in real life, in the now, and asks that you take it seriously.

Right off the bat it makes a statement. News reels and advertising clips flash on TV screens. The cast open their mouths and express aversion: “Don’t wanna be an American idiot.” Then we’re acquainted with lead characters Johnny, Will, and T…