Poet Spotlight on: LowKey

In her own words, the poet LowKey says this: “I go by the name LowKey. I write about anything and everything that stirs me enough to want to pick up the pen. Blessed with an attention span of a goldfish, the brevity of my literary work comes as a given. Simple yet effective is my writing mantra.”

LowKey writes poetry that hearkens back to more traditional poets, yet has a distinct style all its own. Whether it is one of her short pieces or a longer work, she stops to make readers of her poetry think and contemplate the content of her works. They are a reflection of the world we live in, both our interior realms and the external.


When did you first discover that you were a poet? What was that experience like?

When I was around 18. It was more of a “okay, so I think I can write poems” than a “aha! me is a poet!” I remember being pretty nervous when I asked my mum to have a read. She is an amazing writer and poetry is her thing. I saw her eyes welling up as she was reading the piece. I think that was the first time I realized how my words could actually impact people. It was empowering, humbling, liberating, all at once.

What are some of your favorite subjects to write about? What inspires you to write poetry?

I think the darker shades of human emotions is what I like to explore and write about. We as a society present ourselves in a neatly wrapped package with a red bow around it. What goes on underneath that shimmery wrap is something we usually shy away from or deny. So that is what I love to discover through the words I pen. I think pain inspires me to write the most. I know that might sound a bit whack, but some of the best creative pieces I have written have been from when I was in a dark place. Maybe it is because my need to lean on creativity to express myself is the most during those times.

If you could spend the afternoon with another famous author or poet, who would you choose and why?

Has to be Sir Walter de la Mare, although he isn’t amidst us anymore. He is my absolute favorite. The way he built an entire atmosphere around the reader with his words is beyond amazing. From his poems, he seems to have been pretty intense and quiet. It would be fascinating to see what he really was like.

What is your favorite aspect of writing poetry? What is your least favorite?

I think the healing that comes from writing, regardless of the form of writing is my most favorite aspect. The least favorite aspect is someone out there always does it better and you go, “Damn! why didn’t I think of that!!?”

How did you discover your style of poetry? How did you find your voice as a poet?

I feel like every writer has something unique to offer that might be lost if one tries to emulate. I think “inspired” would be the right word for me here. I like subtlety. I always have. So when I began writing, it was something that came naturally to me.

What advice do you have for poets who are just beginning their careers as poets?

Be honest and unfiltered. Creativity is where you can just let go. So, make th most of it. Most importantly, don’t be swayed by the negativity that your readers might hurl at you. As long as you keep your “writer conscience” clear, it’s all good.

Do you think shorter poetry is easier for readers to digest? What influence has social media had on your writing style, if any?

Oh yes! I am not sure about the digest part, but people nowadays definitely prefer brevity. Social media fortunately has not affected the way I choose to express myself through my writing. The reason I said fortunately is because it is so easy to be engulfed and affected by social media in this day and age. From creating pressure to making you doubt yourself to making you lose your originality because you have fallen prey to trends, social media can take away the voice that it so freely provides as well.

Who are your favorite poets to read?

Beside Sir Walter de la Mare and your pieces, I really like reading Edgar Allan Poe and J. Andrew Schrecker.

Where can readers find more of your writing?

https://www.lowkeyrants.com/

Deception

Little Tommy, five years old
Sat with Grandpa and learnt to fold
Colored papers, ribbons, and casks
Into little party masks.

Birthday masks and ballroom faces
Held together with glue and laces
Funny, scary, bold and rude
Different masks for different mood.


"Why do people hide their skin
Behind a veil, so weak and thin?
Tell me, Grandpa, if you can,"
Tommy asked his grand old man.

Grandpa smiled, a smile of lime.
"People do it all the time,
Scared to come out in the bright
They keep their true self out of sight."


"They coat all bitterness with sugar and honey-
They cover their sins with grey black money;
The colorful masks cover their lives,
But their real self reflects in their eyes."

"No mask ever made can cover the mirrors
That show perfectness and all errors;
The greatest gift of God, no lies,
All truth surfaces in one's eyes."


"So, be true to your own self,
You'll need no mask, you'll need no help-
Let your face reflect the love
That He showers down from Heaven above."

"Be honest, and love mankind-
These things these days are hard to find;
One by one, these steps will grace
And make the world a happier place."

-LowKey

Poet Spotlight on: Brandan T.C. McCarty

Poet Brandan T.C. McCarty lives in Washington and in addition to writing poetry, he is interested in music and art. As a member of the Makah tribe, he has been a dancer, singer, and artist in that culture.


Brandan, you have said before music influences your writing. How exactly does music play a role on the poetry you create?

Yes, music is an influence. I listen to a large base of music because of family and friends introducing me to new music. It depends on the music sound being played, and it could just be a lyric(s). Metallica is a huge influence.

Writing is a form of art, but I know you also paint. What does the intersection of art and writing mean to you?

In ’01, I was hurt emotionally by a teacher in art college. I would destroy any art I created, so I switched to writing to deal with traumatic past events. In ’11, I started to work with acrylic paints. By ’18, I became a visual artist as well as a New Age Coastal Artist for my Native art. The past two and half years, I have been using many mediums and platforms to create art pieces. I still wrote, but not as much. I figured why not do both and maybe blend them together in some pieces. ‘The Wanderer’ is close to a visual concept of what I am evolving into as an artist.

Your Makah roots are very important to you, as is family and knowing your history. This is evident in the poetry you write. What would you advise the young poet who is not as well-versed in their past as you?

My roots are important. My dad has said to me all that I do reflects back on your teachers and persons involved with you. My mom said the same thing in her way of communicating to me. I read. I read just about anything. I was told to figure out the style you want to write, and then go find published work similar so your skill can be honest. As for past of culture, read and spend time with families and friends. Listen, take time to actually listen. Even if it is a day spent sitting in a kitchen drinking coffee and watching grandpa carve, or dad paint a mask. Open yourself to learn, to fall and get back up.

How would you describe your being a father as an influence on your poetry?

I used to have some selfish habits, and those habits almost claimed my life. I came to realize, I don’t want this for my eldest son. Nor any other child that looks up to me. So I turned from booze, I went back to arts. Poetry is art, to me just about anything could be considered an art. Now, with my baby I have been relearning to sing my Native Family songs and dancing the dances. I have been away too long from it. I guess I can say, being a father has enriched my poetry with more care and love than I had before.

Who are some of your favorite poets? What aspects of their poetry appeal to you as a reader? As a writer?

Charles Bukowski, as a reader, good comic. Biography spoken in poetry verse. As a writer, someone once said my work reminds him of Bukowski. Raymond Carver, as a reader, his work involving water or daily life. As a writer, I met Tess Gallagher and she said I reminded her of her late Husband Raymond. J. A. Janice has one book of poetry. Read a little a bit of it. A strong woman, and a gentle soul. She writes crime novels. Met her a couple times in person. My mom got me into her works. My late Mama Valerie, because she had a talent of words and wish I recorded some of her work better.

Where can readers find more of your writing?

https://www.postpoems.org/authors/majesticdravon 
https://allpoetry.com/Brandan_Tototch
www.facebook.com/nmpBrandanMc

Dancing Toes 

My son's feet, at birth his right foot was clubbed.
After NICU we had early mornings in the kitchen sink.
Cast removal, a bath, and singing to soothe my baby.

As we grew together, I remember my great grandma teaching me to dance.
Flour on the kitchen floor, after dance practice we would practice oral history and storytelling.
We would also split cedar bark near wood stove.

Now as I stretch and massage my son's feet, I remember the joy I had as a dancer.

For years I wouldn't dance or sing.
I was still, I was silent.

Best as my spent feet can, I dance with baby in my arms.
Later I will massage my aching feet.
Ease the bone spurs to be calm.
As I work my pain out, I think back to his laughter and sparkling brown eyes.

Embracing baby close to my chest. I take a deep breath and sing the first note in years.
I sing deep, and low rumbling voice. Soothe his tears, balm my own hurt and begin healing my spirit.

-Brandan T.C. McCarty

Big News!

This weekend, I will be featured on a podcast. That’s right: an interview with me, Isabelle Palerma. Kia, Kaleb, and Zee will be interviewing me tomorrow for their podcast, What the Book?

I am honored to be one of the authors they chose to interview. This podcast will be airing on PodBean and Spotify, I will let you know more about the interview afterwards. Eventually, it will be uploaded to YouTube too. Don’t worry: I will be sharing the links. Just be sure to subscribe to the What the Book podcast on Podbean or Spotify (whichever one you listen to your podcasts on).

To say I’m excited is an understatement, this is the first time I’m doing a live podcast, so while I’m nervous, I definitely am thrilled for the opportunity.