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Showing posts with label poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poetry. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Little As Living

Visit the shop and see what's up >>
Guess what?

My new (and very first) chapbook is up for sale. I'm super stoked and can't wait to share my poems with the world. I even did the cover, which I'm pretty ok with... but what pressure! And let's be honest, I'm kind of scared about my words traveling around in foreign hands: honored, excited, vulnerable, and terrified.

I think all of us have experienced a thing (a someone or a something) that has made us question everything, that has made us explore ourselves again—as if for the first time. That is what this book is. Realization (and the process of getting to it). Both of the self and of the tiny universe we breathe in: the mundane; the sleepy routine; the waking-up-getting-a-shower-going-to-work-eating-dinner orbit we spin daily. Finding the meaning in that.

I hope you all will check it out. It's only $7! Dancing Girl Press made this happen and to them I am forever grateful. Thanks to everyone, to those that believed I could do it even when I didn't. I'm so lucky to have you on my team.

Best,
mt


Friday, November 29, 2013

Giving thanks and feeling cranks

In my adult years, the holidays are somehow always plagued by ailments, warring family members, work or my period. I've been secretly coveting a severe case of PMS this Thanksgiving. Good food and laughs have helped. The game Cards Against Humanity is like the devil's version of Apples to Apples... if I believed in the devil. So more like the naughtier, funnier, adult version. You can print it out for free, I believe.

To enlighten you on some of the shenanigins that took place this eve with Abbie's brother and dad and brother's girlfriend... some of the "answer" cards read as follows: "Justin Bieber," "trying to pick up girls at the abortion clinic," "Taint: grundle, fleshy fun-bridge," "Daddy issues," "inferiority complex," "Rush Limbaugh's soft, shitty body," ...ah. HAHAHA

So aside from those fun times, I've been slacking on the blog deal; honestly, it's because I can't say much on here. I refuse to speak about either of my jobs, because I mean... it is the internet and it's all up for grabs. Just frustrated with the state of things. I'll leave it at that.

About the Poem-A-Day November contest (with prompts provided by Poetic Asides on WritersDigest.com): I've been keeping up fairly well. I've been writing about strange topics that I haven't thought about in years. It's like finally realizing why your shoes have been a little sticky after miles of walking. Like you just noticed it. So you stop and find there's a piece of someone's chewed up Big Red stuck under there or something. Maybe it was time to stop and figure out what's been sticky for me—namely, things from my distant past. No one wants to confront that garbage.

Today's prompt is to write a "bird poem," whatever that might be. So, you know, if you like to write for any reason at all... consider this your reason to write today (whenever you stumble upon this blog.) Stop EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW! And write a damn bird poem, ok?

And, of course, I can't have Thanksgiving entry with some sap tangent on what I'm thankful for. There is so much to be thankful for; I wish there was more than one day a year to remind me of it. So... in the spirit of Thanksgiving:


  • I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful for my friends and my roommate. I'm thankful for my friends who have stood in as family, with whom I have shared countless holidays and meals and bonding time.
  • I'm thankful for warm socks and boots and soft scarves. I'm thankful for the snow that makes me feel cozier. I'm thankful for my bed and all the things in my room that I have been meticulously making and designing and "perfecting." I'm thankful for my tiny tree.
  • I'm thankful for my time. I'm thankful for the time with people that matter. I'm thankful that I got to spend time knowing someone super special, even if she passed away this year. I'm thankful that it's given me a new perspective, importance. I'm thankful that I ever met her. I'm thankful that I got to be a part of the last year and a half of her life.
  • I'm thankful for getting to know who is true this year—more than any year yet. I guess I realize how crazy my life has been, and always seems to be, really. I hope that it gets better and I can get better for everyone. I think I'm on the right track. This has been, by far, the worst year of my life, as far as tragedies and betrayals and ahhh. Just so much. And the people that you think will be there for you forever... are gone. Everyone needs to hug each other rightthissecond.
  • ...but you know what? I'm the best me I've ever been. And it's because of all this. So. Thank you. Thank you for hard times, somehow. And strength that I don't ever believe I have. And thank you for those that have helped me see things in a clearer way. My friend Kelly and lady Abbie in particular. And thank you, Mister Dexter Doots for supportive, understanding cuddles and soft paws and letting me dress you sweater vests and hankies.
  • I'm thankful for not needing anything material-wise, for being self-sufficient and for accomplishing so much in such a shitty year: finding a love, having an art show, getting a book published, sorting so much of myself out, not jumping off a bridge.... ah, for reals on that last one. I can't say enough: thank you, thank you, thank you for believing in me, everyone that has.  We'll make it through somehow. <3>


I'll stop blabbing. Maybe I had too much to drink... (;

Much love to you all,
mt

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ain't nobody got time for pain

This is what I do know:

It's nearly 5:00 p.m. on Friday, payday Friday, that is.

Binging on Halloween treats makes me feel like a trash bag.
My life feels a lot like Tetris.
It's November. Bring it on, November. Can you believe that?

The only super exciting thing about November, besides the true death of everything colorful outside (I kid), is the November PAD Chapbook Challenge 2013. If you don't know, it's a little poetry challenge. You're given a prompt every day for a poem. SO YOU WRITE ONE POEM A DAY FOR A WHOLE MONTH. You can do it; I dare you.

It's inspired by the more well-known, NaNoWriMo. This challenge is actually where you attempt to write a WHOLE NOVEL in a month, since November is apparently National Novel Writing Month. (Get the acronym-ish title now?) But I don't know about writing 50,000 words in a month—unless I was suffering from verbal Dysentery.

Anyway.

Ain't nobody got time for that [pain].
I had this very serious post in mind. It was about pain. The kinds of pain, reaction/action... etc. I sat in my car before class on Tuesday, before I even went to the hospital to see my mom, writing about it. "Pain is subjective." "No pain, no gain!" "You're a pain in the ass!"  "I haven't got time for the pain..."

Wait. That last one is a Carly Simon song.

I guess what I'm getting at, or what I was attempting to get at, is that we accumulate pain, maybe, like scratches on a wall. But it's not just one type of pain; there are so many shapes that pain can take. Some are more triangular, some round and heavy like an oversized marble. And each pain, then, elicits both a reaction and an action. The reaction being more of the "involuntary" sort—auto-spat. The action seemingly becomes a way to cope.

Example:

John's dog dies.

Reaction: He cries and loses his appetite.

Action: He doesn't tell anyone, and he never gets another pet.

See what I mean? For me, this helps me to look at my pain. It's good to find the source, of course, but also define it in my terms—the "subjective" part. I like to examine what has changed because of it. Perhaps, I am doing this because so much of me has changed—not just my living sitch, my relationships, my creative endeavors, but my core. For the better, I hope. In ways. It's just been a dynamic (geez, that's being kind) two years. YES, TWO. It's like an obstacle course. Maybe, just maybe, making it to the other side is what has changed me and not the events specifically. Maybe this will show me that, not matter what, I can do obstacle courses.

Except for rope climb activities. I suck at that.

Happy Friday/Weekend/November, everyone!
Oh, and don't forget to write your poem!

mt

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Short. Sweet. But alive.

So after some nutty health issues and loss, I'm alive. Just sayin'. Through the events of the last few days, I've still been keeping up with this poem-a-day extravaganza.

Today's poetry prompt was to write a "tentative poem." I got hit with this image, you know. Sometimes I do that. I get a clear picture. It doesn't often make sense, but it's something. Like shadow puppets in my brain.

"Somewhere someone dreams of ellipses..."

I couldn't get it out of my head. I guess it's about fighting the routine, the mundane... keeping one eye out for a detour. Something jarring. Because if you catch a sip, even, of those sparks in between the layers of "filler"—days and days of work and obligation—it just might be enough to make it worthwhile.

I spent my whole life waiting impatiently for the next page, something to look forward to. I needed it to stay sane, to motivate me to fight. I needed that reason, remember?

Sometimes people fight the daily. Sometimes vanilla isn't enough. It's ok to need a detour. But. Patience.

That's what I need. That's what it's about.

Sleep now.
mt

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Inspired on a drive

It's where all my big thoughts happen. The car. For some, it's the shower. For others, it's right before sleep. Either way, it's always inconvenient. Am I right? Tonight, as I drive, my brain fills up like a birthday balloon. Don't worry. I'm being safe. Talk-to-text helps.

A former professor, dear friend and [now] collegue—what an honor!—Lori Jakiela asked me to talk to
her blogging class about my job. During my full-mouthed spiel, I realized how incredible we are. Writers. Or: people who spend their time gushing, thinking about what people need/want/wish for. I know. Crazy to articulate, but just... some of the most incredible creatures I know are writers. Why? Because they have a greater understanding of things: the subtleties of culture, the depth of our interactions, colors and light and all the while, a meticulous eye on themselves.

Writers take big gulps of the world and hiccup beauty. Simply put. And seeing these young ones so open and excited about writing—well, that's not something I get from my Comp gig. Most of my students are finding ways to dodge my two-and-a-half-hour night class. It's obligatory, a required course, and so one might expect that they'd run flailing in the other direction.

But what is it about the aspiring that is so damn... inspiring? I'm by no means an expert; I mean, I've got oodles of experience now, writing and editing. But I never feel "complete." Is that a writer thing? Maybe it's like when I write the best poem in the whole-wide world, and then the next day, I read it again only to find it might be the worst poem in the world. Ha! It's frustrating. To never be all-the-way good. But that's why we keep going, right? It's become some sort of a catalyst.

But that's just it. You can never be too good at writing. Hell, you can never be too good at anything when it comes down to it. But since I was going on about lists and how to simplify for the reader, catch their attention, I thought I'd make one of my own.

Orwell gave me some of the greatest advice, and so this list is a mash-up of that and my own experience. While all of these tips aren't relevant to every type of writing, I compiled a more encompassing list—one that I feel covers the basics, you know? I hope you enjoy! [And if you have any to add, leave me some words!]


TIPS FROM A SOMEWHAT SUCCESSFUL WRITER:
  1. Read. This is something I can say and say and say, have had profs say and say and say, and still... one must discover for his or herself—reading will inspire. But moreover, reading will help you to understand your own thoughts, style, voice more aptly. Good books or bad books, they will help. So just do it. Don't argue!
  2. Find your big league. This kind of  goes along with the last one. Find the writer(s) that makes the hairs on your arm stand up. For me, Margaret Atwood embodies the very style that I'd hope to someday achieve; even her prose is poetic. Sometimes I carry her around with me in my pack for inspiration.
  3. Invent your own language. Don't re-run tired words and phrases, those you hear every day. Make it new. Need a metaphor? An analogy? An image? Make up your own. This is an especially great way to introduce humor, but it isn't necessary to be funny. Fresh words. Fresh thoughts. Uniqueness is key.
  4. Short & sweet. Don't we all love to show off a little? Some of us have great honkin' vocabularies, where we make sport of words like "loquacious" or "parsimonious"; no matter how seamless, words like these are off-putting to the average reader—use as few of them as possible. Keep things succinct, in general. Sentences, paragraphs, all of it. The world is impatient, but more than that—it will make you use more powerful words and constructions.
  5. Revisit aloud. Self-editing isn't easy. My advice? Don't just re-read your work, but read it OUT LOUD. That's it. Open your mouth, say the words... does it sound right? Hide in a closet or a bathroom if you have to [but watch for that dastardly echo!] It also helps to give yourself a day or two in-between, an intermission. Like I told Jakiela's class: imagine that mindset you have when you invite someone to your house for the first time. Make that an important "someone." You know that feeling when they walk in for the first time and you sort of envision your home as he or she is seeing it, for the first time. Suddenly, every little spot on the carpet and every book covered in dust stands out like it's been spotlighted. Get there.
  6. What you see is what you get. Let's face it—the public has turned into a lusty-eyed pack of big cats, hungry for aesthetically pleasing visuals. It's like we've suddenly snapped back to that age where we more apt to flip through a picture book than read. Look at how violently Pinterest has taken off! No one has to get TOO involved. Just play with pictures! The lesson in this: clean up your blogs; clean up your webpages; clean up your form on the page. People are more likely to read something that LOOKS good. Sad, but true. Inserting funny pictures helps. Ha!
  7. Stop. Drop. & Write. This little nugget is more like lifestyle advice. As I was saying above, inspiration isn't always convenient. Because of this, I find myself jotting things down in parking lots, at stop signs and in coffeeshop queues. Keep paper and a pen handy at all times—stash some in your car if you have to—but don't shut that thing up inside you that is urging you to expel. Even if it means being late to your friend's wedding. [Oops!]
I'm going to end there. I could go on and on, but... [:

mt

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Something Like Bieber Fever

While I have been toiling away at life matters—mostly teaching at this point, I have been immersing myself in Atwood. Her poetry is like magic to me. One night, being so inspired and honestly consoled by her words, I tweeted her, even. This is what crazy Bieber fans probably do, too, so I'm not shedding any positive light on myself here. I'm thisclose to screaming and waving my underwear around. But probably not.

Me: @MargaretAtwood Revisiting your poem today. Think your my word soulmate. (Picture of poem from book).


Atwood: Thank you...



C'mon, everyone. Clearly, I have an "infamous" reputation for mishaps—for those of you who do not know about my mistakenly using the word "infamous" on all things work-related/published, that was a treat. Yeah... I did that. But don't be judgmental; many people I questioned didn't know that "infamous" wasn't, in fact, another way to describe something as "famous." Unfortunately, the definition states: "Well known for some bad quality or deed." Shit. I doubt my company minds too much that I described our products as such.


Imaginary Person #1: How about that infamous Italian pasta? 
Imaginary Person #2: Oh yeah! I heard about that a few years back—kidnapped a stick of pepperoni and was never seen again.

But even with my super obvious spelling issue, Atwood responded! Don't you dare for one second think that I didn't tweet her again to right my wrong, because I did. I had to. Margaret Atwood, don't think I'm an idiot! (This is not exactly what I said.) It was late and I was gushing and obviously too concerned with how many times it took me to snap that photo without it being blurry or cut off. Truth.

For those of you who have no idea who Miss Atwood is, well shame on you! Haha. But even if you are avidly against poetry, do yourself a favor and read "Variation on the Word Sleep." If that last stanza doesn't gut you, you're probably not awake.

I realize this entry is about to become all about poetry, but I've been on a roll here—grabbing inspiration where I find it. Recently, I read an interview from 1978. The interviewer being the infamous (kidding), the famous Joyce Carol Oates. So in this Q & A article found in The New York Times, "On Being a Poet: A Conversation With Margaret Atwood," Atwood totally digs at the guts of being a poet. I wanted to highlight this one part, because it doesn't just answer the "who" but the "why." And I totally agree, though, I have never been able to say it so articulately.

Q. Who influenced you as a poet?


A. Poe was my earliest "influence" back in high school, when I was beginning to write poetry and before I'd heard of anyone after, say, 1910. I don't think of poetry as a "rational" activity but as an aural one. My poems usually begin with words or phrases which appeal more because of their sound than their meaning, and the movement and phrasing of a poem are very important to me. But like many modern poets I tend to conceal rhymes by placing them in the middle of lines, and to avoid immediate alliteration and assonance in favor of echoes placed later in the poems. For me, every poem has a texture of sound which is at least as important to me as the "argument." This is not to minimize "statement." But it does annoy me when students, prompted by the approach of their teacher, ask, "What is the poet trying to say?" It implies that the poet is some sort of verbal cripple who can't quite "say" what he "means" and has to resort to a lot of round-the-mulberry-bush, thereby putting the student to a great deal of trouble extracting his "meaning," like a prize out of a box of Cracker Jacks.


You tell 'em, Atwood.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Sestina

Who chooses it? What it is that they want, that is. I tap my brain for hours wanting and desiring, and then hours more wondering why it is that I want what I want. Pretty unproductive, no? It can be as simple as choosing the type of syrup you want in your Dunkin Donuts Latte Lite or as overwhelming as that horrible what-do-I-want-to-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life decision. As autonomous beings, we have the right to choose (most times) but why—that's my question. And it's "loaded." And it "depends." And some are just riskier in their choices than others, am I right? Musing here.

I think that's the problem with thinkers—and by thinkers I'm not speaking about the cerebral type necessarily. I don't mean SMART people. You don't have to be smart to be a thinker, necessarily. Over-analytical. But yes, back to the problem. I've met so many people that spend more time in limbo (to be or not to be?) than actually doing anything. Now, I'm not going to come down on myself and say I don't get shit done. Because trust me, I'm busy. I get lots done; however, I think I'd get more accomplished if I could be more definitive in my thought process.

Where is this going? Sestinas, of course. What is it in me that feels this great need to keep writing these stupid things? Do you know what a sestina is? Do you care? Probs not. I know most people don't even perk up at the mention of poetry, let alone a lost form like the sestina. I mean, look at this chart, man. It's scary enough to picture a 39-line poem in your head (with repeating end rhymes!) but to witness it as this monochrome maelstrom of lyrics... shit.

Here is the point in this nonsensical entry where you tell me about what you want... things that don't make sense. Is it part of human nature to want what is seemingly unattainable? Better yet, are you decisive? How do you think you've come to be.

And if you're a good person, you'll respond to this guilt trip by filling me in. I need filled in.




sestina.png


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Who is wearing all black?



To all those mourning this sacred, paper-heart holiday, don't. I see more people bitching and crying about Valentine's Day than not, so in the spirit of this, I thought I'd share with you a poem. Why, you might ask. I know you're biting your nails in anticipation, but this holiday--as is its biggest gripe--is about something that doesn't necessarily exist. Not in the lacy-red romance sort of way.

Eff that, I say! Romance does exist. Just not when it is overly planned and raised to such high expectations. My hippie friend say that Valentine's Day was conceived by greeting card companies. Shit. Every holiday I know of is commercialized to the max. No matter where it comes from, I wish for you--single or not--the passion of something this day. This and every day, really. I don't care if it's your fantasy hockey team that gives you that tingly feeling in your chest or the porn under your mattress. In a world where technology is slowly replacing thought and feeling, get it where you can.

And this poem. It stole my heart from the moment I read it. So raw and real and honest. Please read!

Morning

I've got to tell you
how I love you always
I think of it on grey
mornings with death

in my mouth the tea
is never hot enough
then and the cigarette
dry the maroon robe

chills me I need you
and look out the window
at the noiseless snow

At night on the dock
the buses glow like
clouds and I am lonely
thinking of flutes

I miss you always
when I go to the beach
the sand is wet with
tears that seem mine

although I never weep
and hold you in my
heart with a very real
humor you'd be proud of

the parking lot is
crowded and I stand
rattling my keys the car
is empty as a bicycle

what are you doing now
where did you eat your
lunch and were there
lots of anchovies it

is difficult to think
of you without me in
the sentence you depress
me when you are alone

Last night the stars
were numerous and today
snow is their calling
card I'll not be cordial

there is nothing that
distracts me music is
only a crossword puzzle
do you know how it is

when you are the only
passenger if there is a
place further from me
i beg you do not go

Frank O'Hara



With love,
mpt

Monday, October 24, 2011

Layers just mean warm.

Here comes the cold weather. Already I have coworkers and friends asking how many layers I'm wearing. Yea, I'm pretty much the coldest person I know, keeping my work office at like 92˚F. It's fine. I may or may not have blood. Anyhow, with the colder weather comes the "homeless" jokes.

Sometimes it isn't a joke, I guess. Once, in Omaha, Nebraska, a woman coming out of the ice cream shop with her little boy thought I was homeless. She took one look at me with my backpack and clothing, eating ice cream on the curb, and grabbed her boy—pulling him far from me.


I'm not homeless, though. I'm very cozy in my home right this second. Believe it or not, I just finished up my Ovaltine and I think I might go to bed. Early.

Am I the only one that bundles up and pays no mind to bulky limbs and mismatched color schemes? Listen, kids. It's Southwestern Pennsylvania. When the wind comes, it feels like it's ripping through your garments ready to knock you on your ass.

Happy week of Halloween, peoples. I will be updating with photos. <3
mpt

PS: The Ovaltine in the orange container is the only good Ovaltine. Peep that.

PSS: If you're looking for a good poem read: How a Poem Happens

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cherry Pop-Tarts

Here I am again. Back on my porch, streetlight beamed and trying to sort out my insomnia. Sleeplessness isn't as easy as playing cards. I'm trying to decide how much sleep I need to do what, what going to the gym at 5 a.m. actually means to me, and if I'm going to gain 3 pounds from the package of Cherry Pop-Tarts I devoured this afternoon. Heavy stuff for a Thursday night, right?

But on the subject of Cherry Pop-Tarts. They were there. Glistening in their bright blue wrapper, taunting me from the other side of the glass. Before I could know what I was doing, I slipped in the crinkled dollar bill and hit F5. Is it sad that I can recall the actual code? See, at our place of work, Cherry Pop-Tarts are a rarity. Of course, there are always the obligatory Brown Sugar Whatevers and the Strawberry Frosted, but Cherry is like the diamond of the group; alas, it was the last one. Behind it, more Strawberry. This is important, because in that moment, I felt like they were made for me, that there was a reason I even stepped up to the vending machine that I'm pretty good at avoiding.

Now, there is a professor I had once, a poet, and she did a remarkable job portraying the Cherry Pop-Tart—a sort of vulnerability. And overly-romanticized (by me) or not, the treat itself is worthy of an awesome poem.

As it stands, there is more to worry about than Pop-Tarts at this hour, but I'm fixated and that's what I do (instead of analyze Real Issues.)

My first day of teaching is coming up here on Tuesday. I've spent a few hours babbling to myself in the car on various short drives, so I feel like I'm ready for the big leagues. Hahaha... really. I've thought about holding a phone to my ear, but felt that would really taint the whole experience.

Happy Friday (early) and Weekend. I get to see my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew tomorrow. So I'm on top of the world, you know? (:

xx
mpt

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Sestina for a Wednesday

This poem really gets me, man. I had to share. Anyone out there still reading poetry? Writing it? I'm a sucker. Still. In fact, I have a reading tonight that I'm sort of nervous about. Why do I still shake like a cold puppy up there? Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Domestic Sestina

As usual, falling asleep she pictured a hill and upon the hill a house.
 She could not anticipate too much, had to let them form in her mind,
 and then in her mind walk up the hill, and then open the door.
 Sometimes the hill was in Japan, sometimes Latin America,
 often Ireland or France. She could tell the country by the coins
 in her pocket, though sometimes there were elaborate gardens

 suggesting a national character, a preponderance of gardens
 leading up to or extending behind the house,
 sometimes a fountain beneath which greenish tile glinted with coins
 scattered across the bottom, fees for the mind's
 dreaming. Always she forgot she had fallen asleep in America,
 far from the village roads lined with bombs, the opening doors

 of ruin. She believed inside the heart there was a door
 unlocked by beauty. Here were the white gravel gardens
 raked daily by monks, here were the ponds of America
 stocked with koi that gleam and leap, here was the tea house
 shaded by banana and palm, by evergreen and the mind
 of winter and plum blossoms falling like silent coins

 to carpet a new geography. Maybe like blossoms the coins
 grew on trees, maybe the silvers and golds were the only doors
 in the world? She had to believe the ideas her mind
 delivered at night, when she was asleep in ancestral gardens
 scented by lilac and pear, when she was the dark house
 herself of ghosts long ago called to America.

 Asleep, she never wondered why anyone came to America.
 Of course, the streets were paved with gold, and buckets of coins
 were rainbow luck, and every family had its house
 with curtains and swings and a slot in the door
 through which letters and checks were deposited. Even the gardens
 were ripe for those who did not mind

 too much being given. But it was not only her dreaming mind
 that wished to live in the kind of house
 she'd always imagined; it was the houses and gardens
 themselves insisting they be desired. True, there were coins
 jingling in her pockets, enough, but nowhere would she find a door
 to such desires, never would the stones leading up to the house

 through fragrant gardens transplant her as routinely as her mind
 to her mind's houses, even the musty, foursquare American
 houses, common as coins, keys still hung by the door. 

  Deirdre O'Connor



Oh, and funny look at my Photoshop skills. Perfect segue.






















There's nothing prettier than a nibbled-on, British Twinkie & Stonehenge. Am I right?


Signing off, kids.
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