“The Corpses of Unsaid Things” is live on my Instagram page. I have been toying with the idea of releasing my reading of poems; instead of merely doing a couple of video montages with an overlay of my reading, I wanted to develop the bravery of facing the camera while reading my poems.
This is my first time doing such a thing, and while I know I was extremely uncomfortable, and it is not an amazing performance, I am proud of taking this as an opportunity to attempt to face the camera (flaws, blemishes, and all) and share my words.
Usually, I cower when someone is reading my writing. It could be fiction, and I would still hide or pace when someone’s reading. I only ever had one reader I sat still for, and that was because I trusted him completely with my heart.
So, if I have any friends who are authors, spoken word poets, poets, public speakers, can you give me some tips? I would love to learn from y’all on how not to be afraid when reading your stuff out loud!
Thanks in advance, but also, thanks for listening!
(Also, please, let meknow what you think of the poem “The Corpses of Unsaid Things”.)
For years, I have been subscribed to and watching videos of spoken word poems from a poetry publisher based out of Minnesota. Their poets never fail to make goosebumps prickle up and down my arms. Not only is it because of the language they employ and the metaphors they utilize, but the way these poets perform their poetry is nothing short of an art form. I interviewed a spoken word poet on my blog for Global Poetry Month (Poetry Spotlight on: Carlene Gist), but now, here is my opportunity to be a spoken word poet. I have read my poetry before, but spoken word poets have a different way of wielding their words. They emote their poetry. My personal favorite line from a poem I wrote is the very line I use as a headline for my social media and my blog:
Pierce a vein and watch calligraphy spill on the page.
These poets do not just spew lines like that haphazardly; no, they actually prick a vein on stage with razor-sharp words and raw emotion floods out. This is what I aspire to do with my poems:craft something raw, something that shears through emotions, and oozes the heart of what I’m feeling.
So, I am combing through my poems, trying to find the perfect one to put to video for this submission.
A couple of years ago, after my muse whispered in my ear that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to, and so, I braved my fears, quieted the demons, and submitted a chapbook to Button Poetry. It wasn’t accepted, but I was proud of myself for putting myself on the chopping block like that.
I think it’s possible to get too comfortable in your comfort zone.
What do I mean by that?
If you get too comfortable, that means you aren’t doing anything that scares you, and I think it’s important to do things that scare you. Those can be the things that make you feel alive. Sometimes, being too comfortable can feel like slowly being smothered by a pillow.
So, sometimes, I like doing things to shake it up a little.
Therefore, I am challenging myself to record a poetry video and submit it to this contest…because change is scary, but not changing at all is even scarier.
I have been writing about my dreams here recently, and this morning, I jotted one down to share when something my best friend told me struck me: “No one wants to hear about other people’s dreams. They’re boring and nonlinear and make no sense.”
On rereading the dream I had written this morning, I saw his point: my dreams are boring. Aside from the ones I have that feel more like visions, my dreams are generally only interesting to me.
That being said, I will be discontinuing my dream series.
I wrote a handful of poems (and countless letters) while pregnant. I have decided to share a couple that I feel comfortable sharing here.I have also written and published a poem about the boys I birthed in the collection “Under a Blushing Sky”.
Baby. Little Mister. My miracle. (Never an accident, never a mistake, an unexpected twist of fate, but the road of life is always circuitous, always winding.)
“Is it a boy or a girl?” your daddy asked. Before I knew, we guessed you to be a boy. (Who knew we’d be right?)
We cried over you so many nights (never an accident, never a mistake, always a miracle).
We love you with such strength, such ferocity.
We’re in love with you since Day 1, since the test came back saying “yes”, since the first ultrasound where we looked at your tiny little toes and studied your tiny little fingers and watched (scrutinized) your tiny little wave. (Your silly little wave I now emulate to your daddy to make him chuckle- hand plastered to your tiny little forehead, tiny little fingers poking out and wiggling.)
The technician said, “It looks like he’s trying to give you the Loser sign.” (Your index finger and thumb in the shape of an L on your forehead.)
I said, “That’s his daddy in him,” and laughed a little bit.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I cried a little bit too. Little Mister.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m crying. I’m crying a lot right now.
Daddy and I talked to you. I wrote you letters. (Daddy used to laugh because I wanted to make a plaster of my stomach and have you crawl into it for pictures- a baby in a bowl. I wanted to paint it with you eventually.)
Daddy held me and held underneath my big tummy (big with you)
like it was a prize in a Cracker Jack box. He’d hold you and talk to you.
Just know we’ve loved you all along.
“Upon Seeing You for the First Time”
Upon seeing you, I know my heart will skip a beat. Upon seeing you, I know my heart will grow weak. I fell in love with you from the start. (Your hand cupped around my lone finger, your eyes staring beseechingly into my own.)
Some days, I go through these photographs we took and laugh. Some days, I cry.
I took a week to write this post because I wanted to make sure I chose my words carefully. I write a lot of poetry about my own experiences because it is cathartic for me, but I also write it so people who might be in the situation I once found myself in know that they are not alone. Therefore, I write poetry that touches on various traumas, abuse, mental illness, and more. It is healing for me, and I hope, some day, healing for my readers.
I have explicitly said to fellow authors that I do not want my blog to become a diary. [The Anna Nalick song “Breathe (2 A.M.)” comes to mind…] However, I am aware that I am transparent in my poetry, and as a result, I want this blog to also be fairly transparent.
Mother’s Day is not an easy holiday for me. I was raised by abusive parents with my mother being diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder later in life and my father being diagnosed with ASD. As I touched on in a previous poem Silly Girl: a Poem, I have two sons I gave up for adoption. Therefore, the holiday (Mother’s Day) is fraught with emotional overload for me.
I treasure the boys I created in my womb for nine months at a time. I adored how it felt to take care of myself because I was busy creating life, a life-that as it was still inside me-that loved me unconditionally. I remember reading at the time, if a pregnant spider feels fear, her baby too feels the heightened sensations that the pregnant spider feels-this might not be true, I’m not an entomologist-yet the message stuck with me. If I began to feel fear, I thought of that little baby spider.
But nonetheless, the adoption process is emotionally draining. I decided two months before giving birth to place my first son for adoption. It wasn’t an easy decision nor one I made lightly.
We agreed to an open adoption, yet through the agency policies, we weren’t allowed to know their last names or phone number. That changed over time. I was also only allowed to see him a maximum of four times a year. That changed too.
Last time I saw the two boys, they were becoming so mature. The one dictated a short story on my typewriter explaining every event that happened that day, making sure to include that “painting with Izzie was the best part”.
He also asked me my favorite color while we were painting. Off-guard by the question, I responded purple. Then, he snuck into my art studio before dinner and painted me a heart on a purple background.
I found it after they left and cried.
The youngest typed a story too, but he’s hurting so his was all about his adoptive parents and their pets.
He needs answers. Answers that aren’t easy to give.
Why wasn’t my birth dad at the hospital when I was born?
Why do we never see him?
Does he love me?
I originally had some answers prepared, but he caught me off-guard. I fumbled with awkward responses.
This brings me back to Mother’s Day. Most people wish specific women a happy Mother’s Day, usually women with children, or women of a certain age, or even women who look like moms.
As a birth mother, I don’t often get wished a happy Mother’s Day. It’s one of those taboo topics people still struggle to understand: like abortion, gender identity, or addiction. I encourage people to ask me questions about the adoptions.
I sat on a panel a few years ago, answering questions from prospective adoptive parents. It was rewarding to be able to help them through the process and give an accurate, honest look into the way it all plays out.
Yet despite my openness and willing to discuss this (as I think being more open than it being a taboo subject would help erase the stigma around adoption), I still have days where it hurts…like Mother’s Day.
This, coupled with a mother who abused me for not being perfect, makes Mother’s Day difficult.
Let’s not forget the nontraditional mothers next year: birth mothers, adoptive moms, foster moms, mothers of angel babies, expectant mothers, single mothers, moms who don’t talk to or see their children because of estrangement, et cetera, et cetera.
All mothers should be cherished this day.
That being said, I dug around this past week and discovered a couple of poems I wrote for Baby.
Hopefully you’ll be interested in reading them as they further open up the issue I’m addressing in this post.
Today, I made an interesting observation while working on my self-assigned art therapy homework. I am doing a design of what it looks like when my Inner Healer and my Inner Artist emerge, hence, the words Healer and Artist in the bubble. This work is not finished by any means, but I paused because I had a moment of self-reflection that I’d like to share with y’all.
When I was making my dancer’s skirt, I was using an outdated thesaurus page as the base, and though it’s just an old book, I still find myself looking through it. When I glued down a specific piece, I saw it said “powerless, weak” as two of the synonyms for the particular word. I paused, thinking to myself how in the past, I could have seen myself as powerless and weak. Having a controlling mother and being in relationships with possessive and abusive exes took away a lot of my power. Recently, though, I have added a mantra to my morning one. The new mantra is, “I am in control of my life.” Pretty powerful stuff coming from someone who felt as though she was victimized for years.
So, this is where it gets interesting, in my opinion. Out of curiosity, I flipped the scrap of paper over to see what words were on the other side.
Those are words I would rather associate myself with. So, those were the words I chose to face out to the world. But funny, if I had not chosen to look at things from a different perspective, I would have still been facing down “weak” or “powerless”.
My mother often comments on certain events would make good things to reflect on and meditate on, and as I was doing my homework, I was thinking about how powerful it is to change the script of what we believe about ourselves. Sure, I could continue to think of myself as “powerless” or “weak”, but instead, I chose “lively”, “vivacious”, “frisky”, and more.
Is anyone interested in buying an autographed copy of Phobia? It’s an awesome anthology all centered around things people are afraid of. If you don’t like horror, don’t worry, they’re not all horror stories!
My story is a short fantasy story about a guy named Thomas and a startling revelation he makes at work.
Let me know if you’re interested. Please send me an email or drop a note here. I’m ordering copies this week.
I just wanted to take a minute to tell you how much I appreciate you coming to view my blog. I know a lot of you have busy lives, and the fact that you take time out of your busy days to visit my blog means a lot to me.
Every day, I view my stats and see where a lot of you are coming from, and let me tell you–you’re from all over! I have readers from Nigeria, the U.K., Romania, Ecuador, Ukraine, India, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel, Ireland, Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, Iraq, Russia, Serbia, China, Norway, and more!
You all amaze me.
Thank you so much!
Ps: If you like my writing, please think about subscribing!