What Do Freshman Write About?

Last Thursday, I had the interesting privilege of sitting in on an afternoon’s English class. I observed the class taught by Dr. Lux, the woman who was my own English professor a few years back. I spent two semesters with her, during my freshman year at Georgia Tech., learning about poetry and poems and figurative language. During her class, I performed, ‘This be the Verse’ by Philip Larkin, and this was the first time the word ‘fuck’ fell so cleanly from my mouth. During these two semesters I recall that I felt especially homesick, and Dr. Lux and I reminisced on the day when I read a handwritten poem aloud to my classmates, balling as the words trickled from my mouth, for I was too nostalgic to gather myself. I learned a great deal in Dr. Lux’s class (she truly sparked my appreciation for poetry), and I was very eager to see how this freshman class responded to poetry.

 On the day that I observed Dr. Lux’s class, I was primarily interested in what topics her students would talk about. As a freshman, due to the fact that I was horribly homesick, the content of my poems solely consisted of mom, dad, sisters, and New Jersey, even Newark Airport, and it was truly fascinating to see that these students were not much different than I was, nearly three years ago. They spoke of their relationships with their mothers, fathers, siblings, and hometowns. They also mentioned their love of home cooked foods, and the traditions of their grandparents. They also spoke of their childhood pets and their favorite hobbies and the places they most felt at ease. It sincerely put the largest of grins on my face, to see that these freshmen students value their homes and the places they come from.  

 It doesn’t shock me that these were the chosen topics of the students. I am not surprised that the one girl, from Boston, in the class prefaced her poem by saying, “since none of you are from the north, you probably aren’t going to understand what I’m saying- GO REDSOCKS.” What truly astonishes me is the freshman student, although not present in this class, who declares that they resent their home life, their mom and dad, and they plan on never returning to the place they grew up. I feel so unhappy for students like those, and I honestly have come across many. Even in Dr. Lux’s class, a few international students read poems about family hardships and difficult decisions families had to make; however, there was still a sense of pride for their loved ones. Personally, I am a true patriot to the place I come from and the people back home who support me. They are all still topics of my poems, even as a junior in college, and probably that is something that will remain stagnant. Freshman year is truly a year of outsized changes and enormous boughs of acclimation. Family appears more important than previous years because without them, fending for yourself seems like someone has stolen a body part from you.

 I suppose some things never change- one’s love for their family, home, home-cooked meals, grandparents, dogs, and the town you grew up.

 XOXO

570 Words on ‘Anus’

On February 25th, I went to a poetry reading located at my college, Georgia Tech. I expected three poets to read their poems on a two-foot-high stage, while I dozed off, or doodled on my notepad, or played candy crush on my IPhone. Shocking to me, I did none of this, for in all sincerity, these three poets seized my attention for the complete reading. I suppose it was the words ‘anus’, ‘penis’, and ‘fuck’, that acted as electric shocks, jolting me awake every time my eyes fluttered in response to a week’s long build-up of exhaustion. Why is it that I am appalled by the word ‘anus’? Consciously, I cannot fathom a reasonable excuse, but I do know that when I hear the word aloud, my shoulders tense up, and I want to forcibly cover my hears with my hands. For a New Jersey native, raised by a Brooklyn-born dad, profanities shouldn’t appear mystical or uncomfortable; however, the word ‘anus’ makes me want to hurl my arms across my face. What on earth is wrong with the word ‘anus’?

Anus, anus, anus, anus, anus… anus. There… I said it six times, but I am deceitful because I am saying it in my head, and as I write this piece while sitting in a student filled, hustling Starbucks, I imagine saying the word out loud. I imagine standing from my chair, clearing my throat, shuffling my feet for a few seconds, and then proudly saying, “ANUS”, and I wonder what the reactions of the students would be. I envision myself taking a survey, and asking all these diligent individuals not thinking about anuses, “how do you feel about the word anus?” Last Thursday, when my eyes were plastered to the poet’s mouths as they read their poems, Jeffrey McDaniel was the poet who exposed this morose word to my ears. I cannot recall in what sense he said this word, but in that moment, I pictured a small infant clenching its rear-end, in the act to defecate.  Can you see a pattern here? Is it beginning to make sense? I say defecate, for I cannot say ___, and I said rear-end because I squirm when I here the word ___. I suppose one could say I am sensitive to literal bathroom talk, and I would not deny it. I could prance around this Starbucks screaming ‘fuck’ and even ‘penis’, but that word ‘anus’ is absolutely intolerable, like suffering from severe bouts of nausea, where you’d rather die than live.

Maybe a shrink could trace my anal anxiety to a time in my childhood where I experienced some twisted event resulting in an ‘anus’ being placed next to my face or my hand. My nose? Perhaps I have deleted vivid memories of disturbing anal moments from my brain, and now as a result, I am extra sensitive to the word. I do not know if I will ever overcome my intense feelings of hatred for the word, and it is unfortunate that it makes me sore around poets who feel they are reading a poem from the heart. More like a poem from the ‘anus’…. Should I be thinking, “how sweet!”, when I hear that word ‘anus’? Pardon my language, but why the fuck does anyone have to include ‘anus’ in his or her literature?

It should be banned.

It’s inconclusive.

I detest it.

Forgive me.

Poetry @Tech, February 20th

The Gold Goes to Sands

On Thursday night, February 20th, I went to another Poetry @ Tech event. I was eager to go to this particular event because I excitingly anticipated seeing the poets we had talked about during my Creative Writing class. Specifically, Jon Sands was the poet I was most enthusiastic to see because his YouTube videos I viewed suggested he was a refreshing, exhilarating, and genuine young poet. However, all the poets pleasantly surprised me, for Jon Sands, Jeffrey McDaniel, and Vivek Sharma were all outrageous and entertaining. Their poetry was candid and honest, and most important to me, very personal. None of these poets held back their sincerest emotions, and I appreciated that for it allowed me to see the truest building blocks of their poems. After the event I had the opportunity to talk to Jon Sands and he was just as personal as his honest poems. Overall, I would say the event was a success- the continuous laughter that filled the audience was the poets’ metaphorical gold medal.

Vivek Sharma was the first poet of the night, and he began the event with personal stories of his Indian culture. I tremendously appreciated the first poem he read, for it was a Thomas Lux original, said once in English and another time in Hindi. I appreciated this unique reading of the poem because it was a wonderful tribute to Thomas Lux. Personally, I found it very interesting to hear this poem, ‘It’s the Little Towns I Like’, in a language other than English. Overall, I enjoyed Sharma’s reading; he made the audience laugh, and at times he laughed along, which I found to be very special. However, there were a few things I found to be a little disturbing about his poems. One aspect of his poetry that I thought could be improved upon was the prosey content. Sharma’s poems were filled with interesting stories and dedications to his loved ones. But, they appeared to be magnificent short stories rather than a creative assembly of words. Furthermore, Sharma read his poems with vapid hand movement, and although I appreciated him using his hands to help act out his poems, at times it was a bit distracting.

Jon Sands was the event’s next poet, and while Vivek Sharma read, I could not help but be very excited for Sands’ reading. Sands began with his poem titled, ‘Moons Over My Hammy’, and this tore the audience into laughs and contentment. The poem was blunt and honest, and from the standpoint of a twenty-year-old critic, the poem was very ‘awesome’. There were tons of pop-culture references and dedications to his sixteen-year-old life, and he was capable of doing all this while remaining poetic. Some of Sands’ poems were morbid; however, they were full of figurative language and they talked about feelings, and the moroseness of the poems was put to ease by the magic of the congregation of words in the poems. The poem, ‘For my Brother Ben and my Brother Wendel on Their Wedding Day’ was a very interesting love poem, and something particularly fascinating to me was that this poem successfully proved that the speaker of a poem does not have to be the poet himself. This poem talked of love and romance from the perspective of one in love, and it was apparent to me that this was not Jon Sands. Overall, I thought Jon Sands was an amazing poet. I was not sure if Jeffrey McDaniel could exceed Sands’ impressive works.

Jeffrey McDaniel was the last poet of the night, and as soon as he stepped foot on the stage, without introducing himself or saying a word to the audience, he jumped right into a poem. I did not even know the title of this poem, and although some audience members might have enjoyed McDaniel’s quickness, I felt a bit overwhelmed. Nevertheless, McDaniel was also a very exciting poet, and he too, made the audience laugh, and at the point where he mentioned his closeness with Professor Thomas Lux, the audience realized and appreciated the true sincerity of McDaniels. During McDaniel’s reading, I must admit, my head was still wrapped around the words of Jon Sands. Sands had his audience so involved in his reading that he even asked questions to the room of spectators, which I admired. Jeffrey McDaniel’s did not do this, and his poems still maintain life; however, when he used the words anus and penis in his poetry, I couldn’t help but wince. Perhaps this is my maturity speaking; nevertheless, I am sure that had Sands mentioned these words in his poems, I would have stood from my chair and clapped my hands with fervor.  Nevertheless, I suppose it was because Sands exceeded my expectations that I felt McDaniel did not completely enliven me.

Overall, the Poetry @ Tech event on February 20th was an unquestionable success. Each poet had the audience laughing and smiling, and the content of their poems were particularly personal. By being especially personal, the audience had a special view into the poets’ insides; we got to see the makeup of each poet, and it was inspiring to see how each poet was stimulated by similar content- their friends, family, loved ones, and the places and cultures they were raised. February 20th was a fantastic event, and I truly look forward to reading more works by Sands, McDaniel, and Sharma.

The Middle Gemini

Here is another poem I have been working on for the past few weeks. I really think the topic is interesting- horoscopes. However, my problem is that I think I may be telling more than I am showing. And of course, showing is must more interesting and attention-grabbing. Tell me what you think.

The Middle Gemini

 

While my sisters read Vogue and I, Cosmopolitan,

The calm of the moment settles a smile on my face.

Expectedly, my older sister interrupts my peace to harp,

And like a hovering hand above a flame, I eye the Horoscope in her hands.

She tells me my personality assures the accuracy of astrology,

Since it is two competing traits, like a tug of war game.

I shut my eyes tight, and I know she is full of input,

As she digs her talons into my back, with the words ‘innocence’ and ‘ferocity’.

“Bipolar,” my little sister pipes in without a sheer moment of hesitance.

“For one moment you’re calm, the next, your claws emerge.”

I roll my eyes and scoff at their lyrics- my claws….

But the jury has made the decision,

And they have agreed.

And my peaceful moment has entirely spoiled,

Like the most rotten apple you’ve ever tasted.

And they say harmoniously, like the two sisters of Cinderella,

“You are dictionary definition Gemini.”

7 Reasons Why You Should Like Jon Sands and Read His Poetry

Jon Sands’ is a poet I recently discovered, and although I don’t know everything about him, his Youtube videos tell me he is absolutely honest, genuine, and cool. Why do I use the word ‘cool’? Just watch his video I posted on my blog, and you’ll catch my drift. He’s young and he’s a breath of fresh air. He’s very talented, and I hope you don’t mind profanities- he has no filter when it comes to language; it’s awesome. Here is a list as to why you should enjoy his poetry just as much as I do. (And I’m hoping to continue learning more and more about him!)

1.) He’s a Brooklyn based author…. who doesn’t love a guy from Brooklyn? So I don’t think he originates from Brooklyn, but my dad is from Brooklyn, and you can’t help but love that New York state of mind. 

2.) In 2010 he toured Germany in conjunction with the American Embassy. Now who doesn’t love wiener schnitzel? That stuff is amazing.

3.) According to his public blog, he’s fantastic at making tunafish sandwiches. Now, I am not a fan. But if his tunafish sandwiches could win my heart over, that accomplishment is worthy of a prize.  

Okay, I’ll begin getting serious….. Here are some amazing lines in some of his poems. 

4.) In ‘A Working List of Things I Will Never Tell You’, a poem by Sands, he says the line -“Not only do they make you look too young,
but then your torso is a giraffe’s neck attached to tiny legs.” Now, this is a love poem… how on earth does a man have a line like this in a love poem, and manage for it to sound so… beautiful in conjunction with every other stanza? Check this poem out. It’s brilliant. It is the video posted on my blog. 

5.) Just read this please… “Your approval is not my concern. I am not 
afraid to speak like there is something at stake. I am not afraid to finish 
this poem. This poem is not about me. I do not want you to listen. I am 
not afraid. I am not afraid. I am not afraid. Afraid not I am. Afraid not 
am I. Not afraid I am. I do not bleed. I am not human. I am not here.”

This is from his poem titled, ‘Not About Me’. 

6.) Read these lines too from the same poem, “I have never 
been persuaded to love without condoms. I never called it love when it 
should have been called penis.”

I mean, how blunt and honest can you get? Don’t you love it? He speaks the truth, and he doesn’t care who closes their eyes tightly and throws their hand over their mouth. He must enjoy the shock value, or maybe he doesn’t believe there is one. Maybe Jon Sands thinks this is informal language- honest, sincere language; the way we are all suppose to speak. 

7.) Check out Jon Sands’ poem, ‘Highway 71’. Once again, it’s blunt, quick, and honest, and it enjoyable to read. It’s a bit cynical, and I happen to like that factor. He asks the question in the poem, “If you could have sex with any movie star
for twenty-four straight hours who would you choose?”… I mean, it is an interesting question… Colin Farrell. 

(To Be Determined)

Hey Blog Readers! So this is a poem I have recently written, and I am looking for feedback. I would like you all to comment on ways I can improve this poem, because I know there is a lot of work it needs in order to be successful. Let me know what you think. I’m nervous…

(Title To Be Determined)

She met him when she was fifteen,

About the time when boys were becoming stimulating.

Her friends frequently suggested there was something about him,

That made them suspect he didn’t view her plainly.

 

She thought she was too young to admire him,

But more than a few butterflies were activated in his presence.

She tried to look away when his eyes encompassed hers,

Because those chills she received told her she’d get in trouble.

 

He was absent from her schedule the next school year,

But he couldn’t escape the borders of her thoughts.

Frequently his eyes met hers in the hallway,

And often he crooned her name in order to fashion her lips into a smile.

 

Months passed and she turned eighteen years young,

And her friends still considered it evocative.

And the one night on the soccer field he asked to exchange numbers,

Ordered friends to break out in boughs of laughter for the miles home.

 

She remained in contact with him after graduation,

And during the summer months, he’d take her to coffee when she agreed.

But it was because their exchanges were secret that she felt guilt,

And she was concerned that she was so close to a man who had a child.

 

His compliments and his winks and his sweet considerations,

None of them urged her to refrain her contributions.

There was just one minor detail that created a heartbeat in her head,

He was twenty-two years older than she.