This Be The Verse: Choose Your Favorite (version 2)

This is my second version of ‘This Be The Verse: Choose Your Favorite’. As the final piece for my blog, I workshopped with my professor and a fellow peer in order to make this post its absolute best. We added a little, deleted some things, and I think it has come a long way. It truly is a different version from the first, and I hope its improvements symbolize my advances across the semester. 

Choose your Favorite:

Last week, Mr. Denton assigned us a homework task that could result in the exhumation of pain, sweat, and tears. If taken seriously, this assignment had the potential to stress out its victims, cause them to break down like a downtrodden car, or perhaps cave in, like that old abandoned house tucked behind the woods. My classmates and I were given the outrageous task of discovering our favorite poem and reading it aloud, for the next scheduled class period. The hard-smack-sound I heard in the back of the classroom was the two athletes high-fiving; they must’ve thought this week’s project was a simple and laidback one; however, I knew the truth of the matter. My favorite poem… I think I would need a lifetime to uncover an opinion.

How does one who is only twenty years of age have a favorite poem? So many poems are colorful and beautiful, meaningful, and bold. But how can I choose one that I have discerned as my favorite? I can recall unearthing a Shell Silverstein poem, when I was in sitting in my elementary school library.

William tell, William tell,

Take your arrow, grip it well,

There’s the apple– – aim for the middle– –

Oh well … you just missed by a little.

For some reason, this poem has stuck with me through the years, and I treasured it because it was short (I could remember it), and the character in the poem was notably historic. But this only taught me that poetry can linger with you, speak to you, and even change your mood or your views on particular topics; however, there are many poems I have memorized and admired in the past, and this does not mean that they are my favorites. I love poetry; I am a fan of poetry. I have attended over a dozen poetry events where I listen to poets passionately recite their poems. Yet, as I continue to add more and more poems to my repertoire everyday, there has not been that one poem that glows in the dark. After Mr. Denton’s class that day, after the homework was given, I sat on my bed, and I pondered this assignment. I glanced to my right and spotted the first X on the map- a book of poems. This is where the adventure began.

I began this journey at my first destination, my book of Bill Knott poetry. Bill Knott has been one of my favorite poets for only a few months now, and I find his honest and somewhat dark language to be striking and attractive.

“DEATH”

Going to sleep, I cross my hands on my chest.

They will place my hands like this.

It will look as though I am flying into myself.

He speaks of beauty, love, and death in the glummest terms- it’s fascinating and also unique. He’s an outsider who knows of his honest place in this world; he knows where he stands in the public eye, and he is not afraid to encompass this outcast role. When I decided I wanted to be a Bill Knott fan several months ago, I investigated his history and found a humorous fact. He once faked his own death, and this is not surprising if you appreciate his poetry. Afterwards, he wrote of himself: “my poetic career is nugatory … no editor will countenance my work; I’ve been forced to self-publish my poetry in vanity volumes; I am persona non grata and universally despised or ridiculed by everyone in the poetry world.” Knott commonly spoke of those who didn’t value him. Imaginably he found it difficult to believe that people, such as myself, really admired and embraced his irrational mind.

“TO X”

You’re like a scissors

Popsicle I don’t know to

Whether jump back

Or lick

Come on… who can’t admire and grasp such a brilliant four-lined poem?

I admire Bill Knott’s poetry, and I respect his talent for making the most absurd and entertaining titles for hit poems; however, I did not find a poem of his that I felt comfortable calling my favorite. The next poet I decided to research was the noteworthy poet, Jon Sands, and it felt like I was flying across the country. Sands and Knott are very different poets. They are similar in the fact that they talk about topics in an honest way; however, Sands does not have an outcast appearance or a desire to transform light topics into gloomy ones. In my humble opinion, Sands fits in with the crowd. In one of his poems, he talks of the rapper, Ludacris, and on his personal blog he mentions his love for tuna fish sandwiches. His poems include taboo subjects, and he speaks his mind, he says what we are all thinking, with confidence and contention. If you’ve scrolled through my own blog, you know that I have seen him perform live, and what an incredible occasion that was. Sands is beyond friendly, beyond vulgar, and beyond amusing. He is without a doubt one of my favorite modern poets; check out some of his videos on YouTube- they’re sensational. But, once again… his poetry is tremendous and spot-on, and I could not choose a favorite.

As I sat at my computer staring at the poetry of Knott and Sands, I fatefully answered a phone call from my grandmother. Being a fan of poetry herself, I asked her what her favorite poem was, and she mentioned the well-known Yeats. I think the sole reason she likes his poetry is because he is a fellow Irishmen (let’s keep that between us). Regardless, the phone call from my grandmother had me thinking about family, and like the rapid ignition of a candlewick, an idea was sparked in my mind.

Let me back digress for one moment. I have a mom, a dad, and two sisters. I love my family; we are a happy, solid-foundation-ed family, and truly, although we argue over thoughtless matter, I could not ask for a better family. Freshman year, I took an English class, and while I sat in this class, the homesickness I felt towards my home was commonly enflamed. For some uncovered reason, my emotions could not be suppressed while in this class, most likely because the poetry I wrote and read embodied my love for my parents and sisters. A similar homework assignment was given to us in this course, where we didn’t have to choose our favorite poem, but we had to pick a poem to memorize and recite to the class. I expectedly chose a poem about family, a poem that had a sense of Knott in it. Philip Larkin’s ‘This Be the Verse’ was my chosen poem freshman year, and now it was going to be the poem I declared as my favorite.

The initial stanza is:

‘They fuck you up your mum and dad… They may not mean to, but they do…. They fill you with the faults they had…. And add some extra just for you.” I love this poem because I find it to be honest. There’s a sense of comedy in it, and yet, like Sands and Knott’s style, it has truth, the kind that most parents and children probably deny. I appreciate my family more than many college students I know, and I do not believe in Larkin’s negative words in the slightest. However, I do embrace the fact that I am a product of my family’s fuck-ups (excuse me), and as Larkin says, I am who I am because of their faults. It’s very difficult to call a poem my favorite; however, this one will forever be one of my top five. Perhaps I enjoy it because I get to say fuck whenever I perform it, but there’s also something so frank about the meaning that I am required to embrace it. To me, my family is faultless even though we can be occasionally disorganized or obnoxious in public. We may be flamboyant, perhaps dysfunctional, but my parents’ fuck-ups don’t affect me in the most damaging of ways. I love my family, and I love Larkin’s words.

What’s your favorite poem?

 

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This Be The Verse

Choose your Favorite:

Last week, I was assigned a task for homework that I thought could result in the exhumation of pain, sweat, and tears. If taken seriously, this assignment had the potential to stress out its victims, cause them to break down like a downtrodden car, or perhaps cave in, like that old abandoned house tucked behind the woods. My classmates and I were given the outrageous task of finding our favorite poem and reading it aloud, for the next scheduled class period. I suppose the hard smack sound I heard in the back of the classroom was the two athletes high-fiving- they must’ve thought this week’s project was a simple and laidback one; however, I knew the truth of the matter. My favorite poem… I think I would need a lifetime to uncover an opinion.

How does one who is only twenty years of age have a favorite poem? So many poems are colorful and beautiful, meaningful, and bold. But how can I choose one that I have discerned as my favorite? Poetry can speak to you, linger with you, and perhaps even change your mood or your views on particular topics; however, how could there be just one poem that appears more powerful than the others? I love poetry; I am a fan of poetry, and yet, as I continue to add more and more poems to my repertoire everyday, there has not been that one poem that glows in the dark. After class that day, after the homework was given, I sat on my bed, and I pondered this assignment. I glanced to my right and spotted the first X on the map. This is where the adventure began.

I began this journey at my first destination, my book of Bill Knott poetry. Bill Knott has been one of my favorite poets for only a few months now, and I find his honest and somewhat dark language to be striking and attractive. He speaks of beauty and love in the most glum terms- it’s fascinating and also unique. He’s an outsider who knows of his honest place in this world; he knows where he stands in the public eye, and he is not afraid to encompass this outcast role. When I decided I wanted to be a Bill Knott fan several months ago, I did a little research and found a humorous fact. He once faked his own death, and this is not surprising if you know his poetry. Afterwards, he wrote of himself: “my poetic career is nugatory … no editor will countenance my work; I’ve been forced to self-publish my poetry in vanity volumes; I am persona non grata and universally despised or ridiculed by everyone in the poetry world.”

I admire Bill Knott’s poetry and his talent for making the most absurd and entertaining titles for hit poems; however, I did not find a poem of his that I felt comfortable calling my favorite. The next poet I decided to research was Jon Sands, and it almost felt like I was flying across the country. Sands and Knott are very different poets. They are similar in the fact that they talk about topics in an honest way; however, Sands does not have an outcast appearance or a desire to transform light topics into gloomy ones. In my humble opinion, Sands fits in with the crowd. In fact, he says everything everyone is afraid to say- he speaks his mind, he says what we are all thinking, and he does it with confidence and contention. If you’ve scrolled through this blog, you know that I have seen him perform live, and what an incredible occasion that was. Sands is beyond friendly, beyond vulgar, and beyond amusing. He is without a doubt one of my favorite modern poets, but once again… his poetry is tremendous and spot-on, and I could not choose a favorite.

As I sat at my computer staring at the poetry of Knott and Sands, I fatefully answered a phone call from my grandmother. Being a fan of poetry herself, I asked her what her favorite poem was, and she mentioned the well-known Yates. I think she likes his poetry because he is a fellow Irishmen; however, let’s keep that between us. Regardless, the phone call from my grandmother had me thinking about family, and like the rapid ignition of a candlewick, an idea was sparked in my mind. Freshman year, I took an English class where a similar homework assignment was given to us. We didn’t have to necessarily choose our favorite poem, but we had to pick a poem to memorize and recite to the class. I chose a poem about family, a poem that had a sense of Knott in it… family fucks you up. Philip Larkin’s ‘This Be the Verse’ was the poem I had chose freshman year, and it was going to be the poem I declared as my favorite.

The initial stanza is:

‘They fuck you up your mum and dad… They may not mean to, but they do…. They fill you with the faults they had…. And add some extra just for you.”

I love this poem because I find it to be honest. There’s a sense of comedy in it, and yet, like Sands and Knott’s style, it has truth, truth that most parents and children probably deny. I appreciate my family more than many other college students I know; however, I know I am a product of my family’s fuck-ups (excuse me), and as Larkin says, I am who I am because of their faults. It’s very difficult to call a poem my favorite; however, this one will forever be one of my top five. Perhaps I enjoy it because I get to say fuck whenever I perform it, but there’s also something so frank about the meaning that I am required to embrace it.

So… what’s your favorite poem?

 

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

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.