Tonight in San Francisco is the second monthly edition of a literary reading at creativity salon The Emerald Tablet. I won’t be able to make it because of other commitments but I went to the first one last month and it’s definitely something I want to check out again.
The event is called Under the Influence. Here’s how it works. Four readers were chosen in the first month to read a short work of art from a writer who influenced them and then to read their own work inspired by that influence. At the end, three of the four readers were asked to select another writer to do the same thing the following month (which will be seen at tonight’s performance). The fourth person was asked to choose an influence and then local writers were able to submit works inspired by that influence and the fourth reader is chosen from those works. This process will continue and what interests me is the organic nature of how each person is chosen from what follows before them.
The event is hosted by Evan Karp of Quiet Lightning. The four writers I saw last month were:
Toni Mirosevich whose inspiration was James Agee
Nate Waggoner who was inspired by Philip Roth
William Taylor Jr. who was inspired by William Saroyan
Stella Peach who was inspired by JS Bach. Stella did a unique performance incorporating music and spoken word although it was primarily music, which goes to show that there isn’t a set formula for the inspirations and works in this new event.
I’m a little bummed that I can’t make it tonight. One of the readers is MK Chavez, who I’ve seen read here before, and she’s inspired by Sandra Cisneros who I also enjoy. But there will be other opportunities.
And actually I’m hoping to check out some other things at Emerald Tablet, a cool space I’d never visited before last month. They have art, film and various creative community events in a space that is welcoming and inspiring.
Poetry slams have played a funny fringe role in my life off and on over the years. When I was 21 and in college for the first time I started going to an open mic poetry spot where magic was created under desert skies and it was those folks who first introduced me to poetry slams.
After a brief affair with the fun competitive spirit of those events, I took a hiatus. I should interject that I was always just a watcher, not a reader. I’ve read here and there at open mics but really I prefer the inspiration of being a listener at these things to the pressure of performing, particularly within the competitive atmosphere of the slam.
A couple of years after moving here I decided to check out the slam scene in San Francisco. I dabbled here and there, went to a few of the main events, got some inspiration, met some cool people, moved on. It had been a couple of years since I went to a slam, or even an open mic for that matter, when I saw the other night that there was a Lit Slam that looked interesting here and I decided to check it out.
What’s interesting about this monthly Lit Slam is that the winners of the slam get published in an annual literary magazine called Tandem. Normally slam winners get a cash prize or just plain old praise but this puts a whole new twist on things because what they perform on stage needs to not only make for a good performance but also read well later on paper and that’s a tough thing to pull off. The shock value poems that work amazingly with the right facial features on a stage don’t necessarily work when written down pen to paper and printed in stark black and white.
The slam consisted of eight participants who were whittled down by scores to five and then to three and two of those win publication although a single winner is declared. Being there was interesting for me, because it naturally brought back the feelings of other slams, the memories of the people at open mics.
When I try to look urban and cool …
The truth is that most slams have some similar features and most poets fit easily into certain slots that tie them together with other poets in your mind. The feminist poet, the queer identified poet, the urban hip hop poet, the over-intellectual over-sensitive white guy poet … they’re just archetypes, just styles and of course each individual brings their own unique individuality to the table but when you don’t know the people and are seeing them for the first time it’s easy to replace their faces with the faces of voices from the past. I remembered moments with people I hadn’t thought about in ten years.
I tended to like what the audience and editors tended to like, for the most part, something I could tell for sure because a word or phrase would tug at my heart’s attention at the same time that a gasp would be emitted from a person in the space. And oh, the space, the space was lovely. It’s a place called Viracocha which is a retail shop in the Mission here selling wacky old things like typewriters. Downstairs is a large room with a rustic wooden stage decorated with lights set behind washboards for this artsy weird oddly-romantic atmosphere.
The winner of the slam was Cam Awkward-Rich. Here’s a YouTube clip although it’s not from the event I went to:
I also wanted to add that the feature reader, Daphne Gottlieb, was amazingly touching. I loved the way she was able to read without that sing-song poetry voice that is so hard for most of us to escape when reading poems aloud. And loved the sense of connection and poignancy she offered in her work, even in the way she dropped each page lightly but defiantly to the stage as she read it.
And also the host, Tatyana Brown, was the one who actually did my favorite poem of the night so props to her as well. Monthly event worth checking out if you happen to like live spoken word and be in San Francisco.
Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in a normal place and a normal time. Every day he walked along the same path and every day everything was fine. He was happy because he was where he was supposed to be.
But then one day he was walking along the path and the world began to spin. He was transported to a magical place where everything was different including himself. In this strange new land, he was no longer a boy; he was a man. He walked new paths. He saw many strange and amazing creatures. There were difficulties along this journey but he traversed his new paths and everything was fine because he was where he was supposed to be.
One day the man was walking along this path and he saw a boy who was very upset. The man was very worried about the boy and hated to see him in such distress. The boy said he was lost. He had just come to this new land and he was very scared. Luckily, the man knew the solution. He told the boy that the problem was that he was not where he was supposed to be. He told him that he would send him home if the boy would always remember that it was his job to make sure from then on that he always found the right place and time that he was supposed to be in. The boy said that he would remember and the man sent him on his way.
The man continued walking along the path when the world began to spin. All of a sudden, he found himself back in his first home. It was a normal place and a normal time. But this time, he was not happy. He was not a boy and he was not a man. He walked the same path he had walked as a boy but he was often confused as he walked. He had a nagging feeling that it was his job to find a different place and time where he fit better but he did not know how to do this.
He remembered that he was happy as a man so he found the men in this home and he tried to live with them. But he was no longer a man so he was not happy. Then he remembered way back to when he was a boy and that he was happy as a boy so he found the boys in this land and he tried to live like they lived. It did not work because he was not a boy.
Then he thought, “maybe the answer is not with males, maybe it is with females.” He went and lived with the girls. He had many fun times and sometimes he was happy. But often the girls didn’t understand him because he was not like the boys they knew. Then he went and lived with the women. Sometimes he was happy but they didn’t always accept him because he wasn’t like the men they knew. No place was quite right for him and he always had in the back of his mind that he needed to find the right place.
He decided that maybe he would just have to be alone. He set out to walk on the same path every day by himself. One day as he was walking, the world began to spin. He was suddenly transported to a magical place. When he arrived, the place seemed familiar. He recognized the strange and amazing creatures. But everything seemed bigger and newer and a little bit stranger and then when he looked at himself he realized this was because he was a boy again. He sat in wonderment and stared at all of the beauty around him.
He was still sitting in awe when a man approached him on the path. The man smiled because he was so happy to see how happy the boy was to be in this place. The boy thought that the man looked very familiar. Then the boy realized that the man was him. It was only when he became a boy again that he could be a man. And now he had the secret because once the man became the boy and the boy became the man, he had a key that would allow him to carry the right place and the right time with him wherever he went. Now he could live with boys or with men, with women or with girls, and no matter where he lived it would always be the right place and time. From then on he could live happily ever after anywhere he ended up.
Every year I think about joining up with NaNoWriMo and then I don’t for a variety of reasons. In recent years, there have been a lot of spinoffs of this November writing project. I decided that this year I’ll join one of those spinoffs – NaBloPoMo, short for National Blog Posting Month.
What is NaBloPoMo?
NaBloPoMo is just a group project where bloggers commit to writing at least one post per day on their blogs during the month of November. It’s a way to stay accountable for writing daily. It’s a way to have community support for your blogging efforts. It’s a way to participate in a group blogging activity even though you’re working at home alone in your own space.
Why I’m Joining NaBloPoMo
I already post almost daily here on Diary of a Smart Chick so I don’t actually need a project like this to hold me accountable to posting. So why join?
I like occasionally participating in various group blogging challenges as it always teaches me new things about my blogging self and stretches me a little bit.
Participating in things like NaBloPoMo can help new readers find this blog. Diary of a Smart Chick isn’t nearly as popular as my main blog, Crochet Concupiscence, but I do put a lot of work into this blog and would love for more people to find it.
It’s an easy way to support a cool project that other bloggers are doing. I love being part of the blogging community.
NaBloPoMo has optional writing prompts. I likely won’t use them most days but I think it will be fun to try them here and there.
There are prizes. I’m not really doing it for the prizes but prizes certainly don’t hurt!
If I ever do decide to do NaNoWriMo it’ll boost my confidence to know I have already participated in something similar with NaBloPoMo.
What To Expect
There is no theme topic or anything like that so most of what you’ll see on the blog in November isn’t going to be any different from usual. You’ll still see daily posts where I share my life, thoughts, experiences and photos. I usually don’t blog here on Sundays so that will be different – an extra post. And I may try some of those writing prompts to tackle different topics than usual a few times this month. At the end of the month I’ll update you about my experience participating in this project.
As part of my random 3 digit reading project, I discovered a Smithsonian book on different types of shells. Of all of the books that I got that I probably never would have picked up on my own, this one is the one that has drawn my attention most so far. (Thanks to @adanishheart for a really great lucky number!)
The whole point of this project was to inspire something new for me and this totally has. Although I have occasionally looked for shells on the beach, admired beautiful shells and even kept a handful of them in a vessel in my home for awhile, I’ve never thought one way or the other about them. This book has taught me that there are sooooo many different kinds of shells, that they all have histories and their own unique parts and stories.
And I’ve just fallen in love with the language in the book, the language of shells with their whorls and spires, their iridescent pearlized insides and concentric ribbed outsides … It has been awhile since I’ve felt like writing any kind of poetry but this book totally re-sparked my poetry bug. In fact, I went to a coffee shop today with a new notebook and the book on shells and five poems came flooding out of me. Of course, they are the bare bones of poems. They need to be edited, explored, worked on. But the structure, the spark, is totally there. I felt inspired. I love inspired!
I also have an idea for crochet shell art that I’m developing in my mind. We’ll see, we’ll see. What a fun adventure!
I’ve been writing a whole lot lately about how hard it is to work from home. I’ve been thinking about productivity and how to make it better in the home office. I’ve been wondering if multi-tasking helps or hinders these goals. And I’ve been putting together tips for increasing home office productivity. All of these things are based on my own experiences working from home for so many years.
But the truth is that I don’t always do what I recommend that others should do. And yes, my productivity probably falters because of it. Some of the things that I do wrong when it comes to working from home:
I turn on the TV at lunchtime. It’s supposed to be a quick distraction but usually I get sucked in and leave it on for several hours in the background while I try to do my work which tends to mean that I’m only half paying attention to what I need to be working on.
I check my social networking sites and IM throughout the day. This means that I’m regularly getting distracted by non-work conversations during my work hours.
I often work from bed. I don’t have a good work space in my house and I frequently spend hours working from my bed even though I don’t think this is healthy for the mind or body.
However, there’s a lot I do right which is why I can make things work as a full-time freelancers. Things I’ve gotten down include:
Scheduling. I’ve learned to create a schedule that works for me and I’ve learned how to adapt that schedule as needed when other things come up.
Setting boundaries. When I don’t want to be bothered during working hours I have no problem letting people know that.
Getting up and dressed. Even though I work from bed a lot, I always get up first and shower and put on clothes that are nice and make the bed before getting back into it.
Learning to work well from home takes time. I’m getting there.
People seem to take poetry way too seriously. I think it’s because of the way that poetry was approached in school. We were asked to deconstruct the meaning of every line of poems that probably didn’t interest us. Sometimes a red wheelbarrow is just a red wheelbarrow, you know.
But poetry is meant to be fun. Even when it’s not happy, even when it is intense, it is meant to be an experience that we immerse ourselves in. It is meant to be something that we enjoy.
Celebrating National Poetry Month is all about bringing that fun back to poetry. It’s about honoring the fact that poetry exists in our history and in our modern lives. It’s about finding that poet that you can fall in love with and reading his or her works again and again. It’s about attending poetry readings and feeling the energy of a crowd or getting lost in the page as you pen your own poems for no one else’s eyes.
There are many small things that we can do to celebrate poetry but the main thing is to stop looking so negatively about it, to stop taking it so seriously, to stop thinking that we know what it is and instead to give it a chance to reveal something new to us. Who knows, it may just make us laugh with glee!
Every month I sit down and list twenty small creative goals that I’d like to complete in the month. I usually get at least half of them completed which makes me feel like I’m adding creativity to my life on a regular basis. I truly believe that almost anyone can do ten small things in a month that add up to big creative changes in their lives.
April is National Poetry Monthso perhaps we should focus on what we can do that’s creative and related to poetry. Here’s a look at ten different small things that most of us could do to bring poetry to our lives this month:
Write out a quote about poetry. It doesn’t take long to find a quotation about poetry that we like and then to write it out on nice paper. Hang it somewhere that you can see it throughout the rest of the month to feel inspired to appreciate poetry.
Attend one poetry event. There must be a poetry reading or poetry slam somewhere in your area this month. If you’re free, take a few hours out of your day to go on a poetry date with yourself.
Check a book of poetry out of the local library. You don’t even have to read all of it. Just read one or two poems this month.
Write a poem. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even good. The idea is just to get your creative juices flowing.
Blog about poetry. If you don’t blog, write about poetry on your Facebook or Twitter account.
Watch poetry videos on YouTube. There are recordings of people reading their poetry, visual poetry pictures and footage of poetry competitions.
Buy those poetry magnets and play with them.
Go to a bookstore and read a children’s poetry book. You’ll be reminded of the fun of poetry!
Copy a favorite poem and send it to someone you love. Share poetry month with others!
Give poetry a chance this month. Most people ignore poetry a lot of them. Do anything at all that allows you to give it a chance.
What are you going to do to embrace National Poetry Month?
I wrote an article earlier today over at my Real Words blog all about how I’ve seen a recent shift in the way that my online social networking communication is taking place. In the past, I’ve had two types of connections online. First, there were my friends in real life who I chatted about normal stuff with on sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. And then there were people who I know only from online who would add me to those sites just to send me links to their online work.
What I’ve noticed recently is that more and more people on these sites are truly interested in starting real conversations. The line between my real life friends and my online friends is starting to blur. People I don’t know are asking me how my day is going and responding to my general status updates. They are inviting me to meet them in the real world or at least expressing an interest in knowing what my real world is like.
At the same time, my real world friendships are getting closer as a result of staying more frequently updated with everyone’s activities online. I know that this revelation isn’t new – many people have experienced this with online social networking. But I still sense an even greater shift in this going on right now, at least in my own life, and I’m excited to see how it develops.
One of the things that you have to incorporate into your daily schedule when you work as a freelancer is the time to look for new freelance work. Although it’s a good idea to build up a set of steady clients so that you’re essentially working as a remote employee for just a few businesses, it is equally important to make sure that you’re continuously putting yourself out there to get new (and perhaps better) freelance jobs.
There are a few things that I’ve learned about finding work as a freelance writer that make the process of doing this simpler for me:
It needs to be something that I do every day. This helps me stay abreast of the job opportunities that are out there so that I can apply to all of the ones that seem right for me.
It should be done at the same time every day. That’s because it becomes part of a habitual schedule so you don’t have to think about when you’re going to fit it in. It’s just what you do every day like answer emails or update your social networking sites.
My resume must be kept up to date. As a freelancer, I usually rely on a web portfolio to show off my work but there are many potential clients who want a resume so it’s important to update mine regularly.
The more you look, the better you get at looking. I can typically just glance at an ad now and easily tell whether it’s worth pursuing, whether or not to put a lot of effort into the application or if it’s a scam. Practice makes perfect so they say.
What have you learned about finding work as a freelancer? Any good tips or advice to share?