Tag Archives: poetry

mid-week round-up

How’s it going this week, loves? My mother-in-law is in town visiting, and I just returned from a trip to Lexington to see my mom! (It’s so nice to be closer to family now that we’re in Alabama!) Do you have any out of town visitors on the horizon? What about vacations? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to know what you’re up to this summer. But before you head on down to the comment section, see if any of these links strike your fancy…

The big business of Gwyneth Paltrow.

Ready to take your Instant Pot to the next level?

Photos of people having really rubbish holidays.

Do you think you have an accent?

The most comfortable bra in all the land.

“What I learned writing 750 words a day for 100 days.”

Related: One dish a day.

Are your friendships bringing you a boost or bringing you down?

What Netflix can teach us about life.

Will you see this movie?

A necessity for all purses and backpacks (if you love the environment but also iced coffee).

2 amazing poems by my pal, Maggie.

BD Wong doesn’t want fame. He wants success.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — Everything You Need to Know to Find Your Blogging Niche and Two Poems.

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Wild Things

fiu-nature-preserve

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

(Photo taken at the F.I.U. Nature Preserve during a much needed rest amidst wild things. Read more HERE.)

Two Poems

poems-on-a-road-trip

These two poems by Naomi Shihab Nye rank high on my list of favorite poems. They are both so simple and strikingly beautiful. I always like to read poems out loud (something about actually hearing the rhythms and the rhymes make them all the more powerful, don’t you think?). I can’t make it through either of these without reaching a line that makes my voice catch. I thought I’d share them with you in case you’d like to read them today. Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration or power within their lines.

The Traveling Onion

“It is believed that the onion originally came from India. In Egypt it was an object of worship —why I haven’t been able to find out. From Egypt the onion entered Greece and on to Italy, thence into all of Europe.” — Better Living Cookbook

When I think how far the onion has traveled

just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise

all small forgotten miracles,

crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,

pearly layers in smooth agreement,

the way the knife enters onion

and onion falls apart on the chopping block,

a history revealed.

And I would never scold the onion

for causing tears.

It is right that tears fall

for something small and forgotten.

How at meal, we sit to eat,

commenting on texture of meat or herbal aroma

but never on the translucence of onion,

now limp, now divided,

or its traditionally honorable career:

For the sake of others,

disappear.

***

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

It is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

(Top image by Matthew Tammaro via here.)

Kentucky Kicks Ass: Books to read if you love the Commonwealth.

kentucky horse

I love Kentucky. I’m proud to be from The Bluegrass State and was lucky enough to “hang my hat” there for so many years. Now that I’ve moved further South, I’ve been considering the ways in which people connect to a sense of home. Whether it be through a special meal or a well-worn family heirloom, we all maintain tethers to those places we hold most important. Today, I thought it would be fun to explore a few literary connections to my home state. If you, like me, have a soft spot for thoroughbreds, college basketball, bourbon, and all the beautiful scenery between Paducah and Pikeville; then these books are for you. Some are written by Kentucky authors. Some explore Kentucky through setting and characters. Whether you currently call Kentucky home or look fondly upon the time that you once did, here are 5 books to read if you love the Commonwealth:

the coal tattoo

The Coal Tattoo by Silas House

Mining the storytelling tradition of Appalachia, House tells the story of two very different sisters. Lovingly constructed characters, a deep understanding of mountain folk’s religiosity, and strong imagery coalesce  to create a tale about what brings people together and tears them apart. A gripping read.

night rider

Night Rider by Robert Penn Warren

This is Robert Penn Warren’s first novel and details the tobacco wars which once plagued the state of Kentucky. A classic Southern tale featuring a main character who will do anything to set himself apart in the outbreak of violence.

the memory keepers daughter

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards 

Set in Kentucky and spanning one family’s journey over a quarter of a century, this book is dramatic and captivating and mysterious. Playing out the resulting years after a father makes a split-second decision, it’s plot makes for a story that’s hard to put down.

appalachian elegy

Appalachian Elegy by bell hooks

This book of poetry is inspired by hooks’ childhood in the hollows and hills of Kentucky. She expertly touches on matters both political and confessional, painting a truthful portrait of life in Appalachia narrated by someone grappling with the slow loss of this very identity.

coal miners daughter

Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn with George Vecsey

Don’t ya just love a good rags to riches tale? They always make me think of this cartoon — safely covering both ends of the spectrum! This one tells the story of country music star Loretta Lynn. Covering her early life in Butcher Holler, KY and her rise to fame, we learn the paths she took to become a prolific songwriter and an influential woman in the music industry.

P.S. No brainer: You should also pick up anything ever by Wendell Berry and give it a read! You may also want to read Players First by John Calipari to prove how blue you bleed. Or, if you can get your hands on a copy, Pauline’s by Pauline Tabor, a memoir about a famous madam who managed a brothel in Bowling Green, is AMAZING. Speaking of…if you have MY copy of Pauline’s, I WANT IT BACK!

Now it’s your turn! From Kentucky or call the Commonwealth home? What books do you think fellow Kentuckians should pick up? Not a Kentucky guy or gal? What books connect you to YOUR home?! I’d love to hear! 

mid-week round-up

arch door

Happy Wednesday! What have you been doing this week? I just got back last night from a whirl-wind trip to Tampa, by way of train, to see my sister’s musical. She not only rocked the stage as the leading lady but she also wrote the whole thing! I was so proud. And it was great to see her and my mom. We got to enjoy some lovely catch-up time over coffee and brunch. The journey was super fun, too. I find train travel so much more relaxing than airplanes. And way more leg room! Have you traveled by train recently? Hope you have a lovely week, and enjoy the following round-up of links…

The case for the 6-hour work day.

Why are students still required to buy Texas Instruments graphing calculators?

Auto-pilot cooking.

Sometimes we need poetry’s raw imagery to help us understand.

Women in Tech.

The “prettiest bride” in China.

Tons of material for a Miami book-club.

Swooning over the pages of this Bullet Journal.

Perfect white + gold desk accessory.

Which would you choose? (I like the pineapple and Kevin from Home Alone!)

How magical!

The truth about baby carrots.

mid-week round-up

the deal with jay

Have you been listening to Serial? This chart made me laugh. I love that “actually pretty good at lacrosse” falls in the “stoner” category. So true.

Anywho, what are your plans for Thanksgiving? I’ve been promoting the holiday (and all it’s signature dishes) for the past month, so whatever the day brings I know it will be ending with a big glass of wine and a relieved farewell! On to Christmas! Have a wonderful Wednesday and a truly happy Thanksgiving, and here are some links for your enjoyment…

Life changing poems.

Real foods to get at Trader Joe’s.

For the “Parks and Rec” fan on your shopping list.

Story of my life.

The ladies of the BBN come in all sizes!

What birth looks like around the world.

A cleverly designed tiny home made from a shipping container.

Animation of a wife’s drunk joke!

Someday, when I have my own home office, I’m gonna kit it out with Kate Spade desk accessories.

A costume designer tells a story with clothes.

A really simple fajita dinner!

We’ve all been a hot mess before. Gentle words of encouragement should be passed along!

mid-week round-up

bandwhouse

A poem: 

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

 — Jelaluddin Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks

Some links: 

Something about people lip-synching just kills me.

From computer girl to computer geek–the masculinization of computer programming.

Cheeky artist trolls museum goers.  

A modern Salem Witch Trial.

Zelda wasn’t “crazy.” 

The power of sweatpants.

A stunning video of a child growing up.

Give homes to the homeless.

Seth Rogen says what we’re all thinking.

Where the poor are most segregated.

Family converts a chicken coop labeled as “teardown” into cozy home.

I’ve gotta buy some spin pins!

And a request:

Hold your loved ones close today. Tell them they mean the world to you. 

FIND DELIGHT IN THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU ❤ 

Book Club: In Pursuit of WHY it Gets Better Pt. 3

Happy Friday, Delight seekers!  I hope you all have had a fantastic week.  My sister, Beth, asked me to step in this month for the extended reading portion of her virtual book club!  As a self-professed expert and undercover anthropologist of the adolescent and teenage psyche, I jumped at the offer to put my knowledge to good use.

 Why undercover, you ask?  Well, it’s not difficult to see that I can slip into the world of teenagers very easily.  I look young. Just last weekend I was asked if I would prefer a child’s menu at a restaurant.  In one month I will begin playing a role which is a whopping 10 years my junior. I get carded every time I try to go to an R-rated movie.  Therefore, it is incredibly easy for me to slip into the pubescent mind set and see firsthand the effects it could have on an individual.  I can’t even count the number of times I got the up and down look from high school girls at the mall while shopping for an Easter dress just yesterday afternoon! Being a 23 year old woman, it didn’t affect me (“Honey, in 8 years you’ll want to wear an old man sweater, too,” my mind said with a hearty chuckle…), but imagine if I had been the 16 year old that they believed they were judging!  It could tear a girl down!  I am using this research and my own experiences to write a musical about a girl’s battle to find her true self.  And we all know that I am utterly obsessed with coming of age stories.  I believe they are one of the great human connections that bring us together as a species, because every one of us has gone through the trying time that is adolescence. Therefore, reading this book has been a (wait for it…) DELIGHT, and I would be honored to share with you some extended reading to further enhance your experience and knowledge.  Let us journey together through the cafeteria fringe…

geeks

 Let’s start with some further reading about the book and Robbins’ Quirk Theory from around the web:

An interview with Robbins on Live Science, an educational website targeted at students.

A review on the book by New York Times reviewer and Journalism professor, Jessica Bruder.

And of course, NPR has nothing but good things to say!

teenbooks

Now on to my literary bread and butter…coming of age stories that highlight personal discovery and becoming comfortable with who you truly are:

 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

 An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

 The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides

 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

cafeteria

Not feeling like cracking the spine of a novel?  That’s ok too:

Non-fiction:

Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman – The book that launched a thousand gifs by inspiring the CLASSIC movie, Mean Girls.  Forever one of my favorite works of cinematic genius.  Thank you, Tina Fey.

Poetry:

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan – I read this collection of poems while I was performing Spring Awakening every night…talk about getting me in the right state of mind!  Angst!  Heartbreak! Drama!

 Plays:

Spring’s Awakening by Frank Wedekind – I could write a 30 page paper about…oh wait. I did that my senior year of high school.  Just read it and then listen to the cast recording of Spring Awakening the musical and let your inner 14 year old laugh and cry along. Because it really is just the bitch of living.

 The Metal Children by Adam Rapp

 Speech and Debate by Stephen Karam

alexandrarobbins

 And finally, Alexandra Robbins has many more books for you to read, because life actually does go on after high school!  I know which one I’m checking out of the library next:

 Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities

 The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids

 Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in your Twenties

 Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power

Happy reading, and CONGRATULATIONS!  If you’re reading this, I am proud of you.  Why?  Because you got through the trying time that is adolescence. It was probably really hard.  It probably changed how you acted and how you viewed yourself.  You probably lost friends. You probably felt some really intense and angsty things, and probably acted on them.  But you made it, and you became an incredible, ever changing human being.

-KT

Thanks so much, Katie! Wanna get involved in the Finding delight. book club? Email me: ebeth.berger@gmail.com. Let’s talk books! ❤ And tune in next week for my final review. 

An Interview with Dick Does Poetry.

Around the same time I came out to the World Wide Web at large as a “blogger,” I noticed that one of my  very talented friends, Richard Heyne, was diving into a new and exciting project of his own. And yes, this spoken-word artist, writer and educator is making quite the splash. Dick Does Poetry brings weekly videos of Richard’s self-written poems to your computer screen in a social media blitzkrieg.

 

I was intrigued by this project from the beginning–I’ve been a huge fan of slam and spoken-word poetry for years but have always felt a little shy about the process. I’d much rather hide behind the words on the page in the hopes that if an audience hears their own voice, as well as mine, in what I write, they won’t…well….hate it. Dick Does Poetry completely turns this fear on it’s head by taking the internet oath to bring you new content each week. The poems themselves are diverse and vulnerable, they aren’t always perfect. But, as Richard points out, that’s the point. Desensitizing us to the grittiness and honesty of a quick turnaround poem could do a lot to encourage the masses to share their art, too. Richard’s project also attempts to ameliorate writer’s block for his audience. A unique twist in a genre that can sometimes come off as a little self-aggrandizing. And Dick Does Poetry offers this new, accessible approach to poetry and community all through the power of YouTube…

Dickrecords

Eager to learn more about Dick Does Poetry, I set up a chat with the Dick behind the poetry…Check it out!

First things first, give us a rundown of your project.

Okay, so basically, Dick Does Poetry is a YouTube channel that celebrates the spoken word. Every week I upload at least one new poem. One element that makes this project unique is the video description for each of these videos includes the prompt that I used to write whatever poem people are listening to. This was inspired by the fact that no one is really out there doing what I’m doing right now. YouTube is such an awesome resource for performance artists. Yet, when you try to find spoken word (or any poetry for that matter) you get a lot of performances in coffee shops or poetry slams. While these are awesome, the video quality is usually so bad that you can’t fully enjoy the poetry. I’m hoping that my channel will inspire others to follow suit–start their own channels and share their own poetry. The prompts are there to help keep them inspired and writing.That being said, my project is also for anyone who just wants to enjoy some poetry. It is nice to have a source that is constantly adding new material. So, I want to provide that as well.

You mentioned that you share the method (prompt, inspiration, etc) that informed each of your poems in the “About” section of their video. Where did that idea come from?

Well, I don’t want this to be something only I do. Right now the project is growing and starting to pick up steam. I’m hoping as it becomes more established, similar channels will emerge. People will use those prompts and write their own poems. Maybe post video responses to my original video. I mean, wouldn’t it be cool to have all these different channels where everyone is just writing and sharing and providing feedback? I’m a dreamer. I love poetry. I think this can happen.

How did you initially stumble upon the spoken word community?

I first started doing spoken word in 10th grade, and competed in my first slam that same year. My Speech & Debate coach (Travis Kiger) was somewhat of a spoken word guru and took me under his wing. He took a group of us to go compete in this slam at the Write Side Café in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I wish I had filmed this whole process. It was for sure a little comical. There were like eight students from my school competing and maybe ten other poets who actually knew what they were doing. The slam was set up to find members for the Ft. Lauderdale Brave New Voices team. (Brave New Voices is the largest high school slam in the world). Well, this slam was somewhat of a train wreck. We weren’t memorized. We were shy. It just didn’t go well.To make the team you had to finish top four. I managed to get 5th after performing a poem about breaking up with God that was received really well. I got a perfect 30, and it gave me just enough of a bump to almost make the team. But, alas, you needed to get top four.However! Team Jacksonville was at that slam, scoping out the competition. Long story short, they liked me. They reached out to me. I went to Brave New Voices with them. Out of the 50 teams there from around the world, we made it to the final stage.I performed for over three thousand people, and I’ve pretty much been hooked since.

Web-based projects like yours are awesome because they make art so wonderfully accessible but they can also act as educational tools. What new knowledge do you think Dick Does Poetry followers can take away from your project?

The biggest takeaway from this project is there is nothing to fear with sharing your poetry. That is easily everyone’s greatest fear, and I suspect the reason why this kind of project doesn’t exist. Yes, I have gotten some really mean comments. Yes, people send me feedback that is helpful, but also hurtful. Hell, I recently got my first dislike! That sucked! But, that is just part of what we do. Poets are special because they know how to capture beauty and vulnerability and things that normal people only feel, but don’t understand. We are the interpreters of life. Unfortunately, we’re also a closeted bunch. Sure, the prompts are fun. The poetry is pretty decent and getting better. But, when I have a poet message me and say they started writing again because of this channel, or they think they’re ready to do their first poetry reading because of what I’m doing… THAT’S what I want to teach. Screw the haters. They’re going to exist in your life, regardless of what you’re doing. So why not do something beautiful? Enough people will be there to love and support you.

 

Were you nervous about starting such a visible project?

YES! I was scared as hell starting this thing. I’ve had this idea since my sophomore year in college. I’m a second semester senior and I’m just now starting it. Understand a lot of these poems I’m writing the week before. It is very Trey Parker and Matt Stone of me. I write on Saturday, revise Sunday and Monday, film Tuesday, edit Wednesday, record the outro and upload to YouTube on Thursday. A lot of poetry we see has gone through workshops, several rounds of revision, performance work, memorization, etc. I’m kind of just winging it. It’s scary. I stumble in the videos. I make odd inflections with my voice. But, that is what this channel is all about. Making mistakes. Learning. Growing.

We’re always in pursuit of lifelong learning here on the ol’ blog, I’d love to know–what resources would you recommend for readers who would like to delve deeper?

Okay, with these questions, people like to leave a laundry list of things. I’ve always found that overwhelming. Anyone who wants to delve deeper, go on Amazon and buy The Monkey and The Wrench edited by Mary Biddinger and John Gallaher. You can get it for like fifteen dollars and it will change your entire outlook on poetry. I’ve read it like eight times.

 

Finally, who do you write FOR?

I write for who I used to be. For who “we” used to be. So much of poetry, and life for that matter, is based on reflecting upon what has happened up until this point. I’m constantly trying to evolve, and take a lot of pride in each step I take forward. In that process, we lose pieces of ourselves. One of the most heartbreaking facts of life is no one will ever be the same forever. I want to capture every version of myself in a time capsule- type fashion. I write for the homophobic middle school Richard. I write for the awkward high school Richard. I write for yesterday’s Richard who I’m still trying to figure out. Hopefully along the way I write a lot of truth. Hopefully people take something from that. Hopefully it lasts for a lot of lifetimes. The quotation I live by is from my favorite author Chuck Palahniuk: “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”

Thank you so much, Richard!

dick

If you’d like to be in the Dick Does Poetry loop…

Subscribe to the YouTube channel here.

Follow on Twitter here.

And LIKE on Facebook here.

Now, scoot on over to Richard’s channel and watch some poetry videos! Make today the day you write a poem! If you’re feeling newly inspired and brave…record it, upload it to YouTube and share it with Dick Does Poetry! There is no stopping a community of words, a community of voices bound together. And as Richard would say…

❤ Peace, love and poetry! ❤