Rescue, a Poem

So I work pretty well under pressure.

For example, one of my good friends posted the following prompt on his Facebook page a few days ago.

ImageI don’t know why my brain processed this as a dare, but I immediately put down my lunch and began typing away. Fifteen minutes later, I emerged with the following poem. I think this thrown-together saga actually counts as some of my “good” stuff!

Rescue

Sneakers scuff against linoleum tiles
As the long hallway leads my feet to the locker room,
A halogen-lit corridor the likes of me never see.
I slithered out from my basement home–
Pallid skin singed by the sunlight–
To find you in your element today,
Swimming in the ethereal light of a gymnasium,
Alone in the colorful aquarium of your popularity.
I’m out of place.
My dark tail drags a conspicuous trail through the sand,
But my hand, skinny and gnarled–
Probably from too many video games
Doesn’t stop hoping that you’ll hold it some day.
It’s a perfect dream,
And you say my name.

Our reverie is shattered by your screams.
My footfalls echo on polished and painted wood,
My claws clatter against the stones of your ivory tower,
As I climb, and I find you,
Pinned down by the body of a quarterback–
Your one-time knight in shining armor–
I know it’s his letterman jacket
Over your shoulders and under your back–
And I know it doesn’t matter
Just like it doesn’t matter that you should have been mine
Because you said “no” to the joust.
In that moment you remind me
That I’ve been saying “yes” for too long–
That the song they want me to sing is sweet
When mine is more like a shriek–
That they want me to run away and hide,
But I can fly–
That the Hollister cologne
And the Listerine that should be on my breath
Aren’t me.
I breathe fire.
I’ve seen death.
I’ve desired things your hero here can’t fathom.
I grab him
And hit him like my Dad hits me.
He sees stars,
And I can’t see a thing–
Not even you.

Your knight–
You know his armor only shines
Because he’s never seen a battle–
Never had something to fight for.
Look at mine.
Look at how the light is absorbed
And not reflected by the dull surface,
Scuffed and scratched from ten thousand tussles
With monsters twice my size
But not nearly as angry.
Whole chunks missing
And now filled with tiny pools of his blood.
Hell, this isn’t armor.
It’s scales,
And I’m no knight.

I’m the dragon,
But I’m yours.

Are you at all inspired by this prompt? Write a little something and link to it in the comments.

Found Poetry from Neil Gaiman

How brave. Beloved poet Neil Gaiman found an old poem from his younger days in his attic and decided to share it with the world:

Found on a placemat in the attic

It’s kind of dead at Davey’s when the clock hits three a.m.
And I know I didn’t come here for the food
For I’m sipping something coffee-like that tastes a bit like phlegm
While I pick at cake that something might have chewed.

There’s a bill upon the table for my unappealing fare
And a bored cashier is waiting by the till.
Then she takes my twenty dollars with a cool intriguing stare
like a kidney-surgeon waiting for the kill.

“You seem like much too nice a girl to work in such a dive.
It’s the sort of place that turns your brain to rot.”
She just smiles and in a sullen voice more poisoned than alive
She tells a tale that turns my spine to snot.

“I have a fearful tale to tell, a bloody tragic lay,
A narrative of horror and of fear.
A story that will make you weep and turn your guts to clay,
before your braincells dribble out your ear.

“Mine is a dark biography, a thing of dread and fright,
A tale that reeks of terror and of woe.
There are not words,” she told me, “to do justice to my plight.
But what the hell,” she said, “I’ll have a go.”

“Nobody could envision it, it’s nasty weird and strange.
Nobody could have dreamed, or said, or thunk.
And none who sit to hear my life will stand again unchanged.
(Some kill themselves, while others just get drunk.)

“I warn you now!” she raised her hand, “if you are faint of heart,
Leave now! Just flee! Get out! Go ‘way! And shoo!
It’s horrible and sordid. Stop me now, before I start,
for every loathsome word of it is true!”

(I honestly no longer remember what her story was, although elsewhere on the placemat is the couplet:

I can’t get into Heaven, ‘cos of all that I’ve done wrong
And I can’t get into Hell because the lines are far too long.

Which may be a clue.)

Poem: The Art of Capture

This is a piece I wrote a while back inspired be the issues that I touch on in my last post.

The Art of Capture

Quick.

Click.
Snap and trap it.
Once the shutter falls,
There’s no need to fear
That the shapes and colors of this flash in time–
This one-hundred-twenty-fifth of a second–
This hour–
This day–
Will ever fade
Or fall away.

Write.
Every sight and sound–
Even though you don’t have a pen
Or laptop or tablet on you just now–
Let the paragraphs form in your brain.
Never mind if the composition
Takes you far away.
At least you’ll know you caught
Today.

Wind tight the reel of celluloid
As the word rolls by in real life
Sadly not in slow motion,
So you might want to hurry up.

Hold the canvas still with one hand
As it teeters on the edge of time,
And dip a brush in the paint you’re bound to spill.

Now stand still.

For Your Inspiration: Creative Commentaries

Hi all!

Sorry for the absence. I have been darting back and forth between my home in Rochester and the beautiful city of Canandiagua in order to spend time with my extended family who have traveled up from Georgia and Pennsylvania to vacation for the week.There were beaches, boating, cookouts, amusement parks, and only the teensiest sunburn.

I have also had my hands full with two feline bundles of joy who don’t quite sleep through the night. (Apologies to those of you who were offended or otherwise put out by my “baby” joke. I found it humorous.)

Then there’s the whole job-hunting situation. Interviews, meetings, and query-letter-typing have a way of feeling like they have consumed your whole day no matter how long they actually take.

Anyway, excuses aside, I thought that rather than stress myself out with writing a new post for the blog I would link you to some of the best creative fodder I have bumped into online recently.

What is the Shortest Poem?Screen shot 2013-07-08 at 1.21.27 PM

If you have not yet discovered the YouTube channel Vsauce yet, you haven’t lived. Michael may be my  favorite human being on the planet. Watching just a few of his videos will make it clear to you that he possesses one of the most well-rounded brains on the planet. Math, science, art, and the humanities are all one mass of intellectual musing to him. This video is about poetry and artistic brevity.

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Theatremusic-man

A sweet love letter to the theatre from the blog of a personal friend I have had the pleasure of both acting with and directing in the past.

ginabrillion Gina Brillon – First Latina Comedian Wins NBC Stand-Up Deal

I discovered this gal on a channel-flipping encounter with The View. This routine never gets old. I could listen to her do her South Bronx Puerto-Rican accent all day. I’m holding out to see if she has any Spanish language material. I wish this funny girl lots of success.

visualstorytelling13Visual Storytelling: New Language for the Information Age

Maria Popova at Brainpickings is pure brilliance, but this article is more informational and inspiring than anything I have even seen her compose in the past. I especially love the inforgraphics about how to make movies.

kutcher_jobsTrailer for Ashton Kutcher’s Steve Jobs Film

Saw this at the beginning of Now You See Me (which was great). Artsy indie film and technology moguls? I don’t know if it’s Josh or me who is more excited!

6 Films About the Artist in You

Whether it’s inspiration or encouragement you need today, these are six contemporary films from a variety of genres and styles that will feed, challenge, and change the artist in you.

I’ve added a few words about what I personally got out of these motion pictures. You know, because I’m good with words and stuff 🙂 It’s what I do, haha.

5

Midnight in Paris

This quirky Owen Wilson drama with a little humor thrown in (I mean, it’s Owen Wilson) is an Art and Lit major love fest. Seeing names like Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and my personal film inspiration Luis Buñuel (the movie features quirky inside jokes about his works that made me feel very smart indeed) just sets me squirming with glee.

The powerful message of this film is demonstrated in the first line of the book Wilson’s character is writing:

“Out Of The Past was the name of the store, and its products consisted of memories: what was prosaic and even vulgar to one generation had been transmuted by the mere passing of years to a status at once magical and also camp.”

This statement about the past not merely about vintage trinkets. It is about the temptation for artists to think that nothing new can be done in the era in which they live–that everything they and their contemporaries create is dull, average, and uninspired while the works of those who came before are the only true innovations. As the film makes plain, in the future, artists may look back on today and wish that they lived in this inspired bygone age.

Define your era. Don’t let it define you.

2

The Vow 

I know. I know. Sappy though this romantic film may be, it has two very powerful messages about the life of the artist.

The first is that it is important to know why you want to be an artist. It doesn’t so much matter why Rachel McAdams’ character Paige has decided to attend art school. What is important is the very personal journey she takes to discover why she fell in love with art (and Channing Tatum) in the first place.

The second is to not be afraid to be impractical. I think most people who have decided to be “professional” artist have already overcome this step, but it’s nice to know that others are making the same crazy life decisions you are. Misery loves company!

3

The Dead Poets Society

There has never been a film that more successfully demonstrates the profound impact that literature can have in the life of an average young person than The Dead Poets Society.

I think even the partly biographical Freedom Writers (not a personal favorite, great story but not-so-great movie) comes up short in comparison to Dead Poets.

From standing on their desks and quoting “Walt Whitman” to closing their eyes and blurting out whatever they see, Dead Poets is all about the students at a repressive prep school learning to let down their inhibitions and just create. While not all of them are or want to be artists in the orthodox sense, they all have something to gain from learning the lessons of eccentric Professor Keating (a surprisingly serious Robin Williams). Art and literature has the power to set them free.

Mr. Hollands OpusMr. Holland’s Opus

When Richard Dreyfuss’s character, Mr. Holland, gets a job teaching music at a public high school, he is tasked with the weighty feat of making a roomful of teenagers care about his deepest love–music.

It could just be the soft spot in my heart for the Deaf community, but I found this movie to be absolutely precious. The moment when Mr. Holland signs “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon to his Deaf son Cole–bridging the gap between his language of music and Cole’s language of ASL–just makes me cry every time. And the final scene when his symphony is played by his former students who call themselves his “real symphony?” So many tears.

The lesson to be taken from this film?

Taking a day job doesn’t mean giving up your dreams of being an artist; it means embracing new ways of pursuing those dreams and encountering brand new ones in the process.

6P.S. I Love You

“My business is to create.”

I may have left out Freedom Writers, but Hilary Swank made it onto the list anyway. Also a very sappy movie, P.S. I Love You is unique in the sense that one of the film’s main characters is dead for 90% of the film.

I will come out and say it, this is not a good love story. It is, however, a good art story. The main theme of the movie is to stop making excuses for not doing what you were made to do. If your business is to create, don’t let any obstacle (no matter how devastating) keep you from creating.

I also love that this movie is about an uncommon and unorthodox art form. Shoemaking! How unique is that?

4

The Artist

I believe that Rick Groen of The Globe and Mail perfectly sums up the poignant focus of Best-Picture-Oscar-winning film The Artist.

He writes that this French-made picture “uses old technology to dazzling effect to illustrate the insistent conquest of a new technology.”

This “love letter to cinema” so dubbed by the film’s director Michael Hazanavicius. Is all about the balance between satisfying an audience and satisfying oneself in the changing worlds of art and media. The ultimate message of the (silent and black-and-white) picture is all about art for the sake of art.

I hope that curling up to watch one of these films will give you the courage to continuing pursuing your dreams as an artist.

Always remember: If you believe you are an artist but can’t afford to pursue your art “full time,” that part of your identity does not go away from 9 to 5. Stoke it. Bring it to life in every possible moment.

Poetry Slam: “Hebrew Mamita”

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Hebrew Mamita – Jessica Thurston

Around Yom Kippur I posted a video of  Vanessa Hidary reciting her signature piece entitled “Hebrew Mamita.” I have long loved this piece and spoken word poetry in general, so when a friend from CUFI asked me if i could come up with something artsy to help celebrate Israeli independence at the campus I-Fest (Israeli Festival), this was the first thing to come to mind.

The quality of my video is nothing compared to Hidary’s, but I think I did well and made the piece my own. Heck, I’m amazed that I was able to even memorize the thing!

Also, yes, I do censor myself.

And I’m not wearing shoes.

Final Scene from "The Chains"

This is the stage interpretation of “Let My People Go,”a spoken word poem that concluded Muse Creative Arts Ministry‘s production of “The Chains” a couple of weeks ago.

The combination of this piece and the monologue right before was incredibly powerful. The man on his knees as the piece starts is portraying Spartacus, the former gladiator turned slave revolt leader who delivers his speech to us from the cold shores of the river Styx–from death.

Originally, we were planning on ending on a somewhat positive note, saying “even if you fail to break free from the chains that bind you, all that matters is that you try.” My co-director (also the actor playing Spartacus) suggested a better idea:

“If you try alone, you will fail. And failure sucks.”

That’s a direct quote.