writer

transcendent obsessions (or hearing reich's Drumming for the first time irl)

I’ve been turning something over in my head for a while now: Chamber works are to poems as symphonies are to novels. 

Hearing a composer’s chamber piece is to see their mind at work, the cogs churning and whirring; experimenting and exalting; wrestling and grappling and fixating on something—namely, an obsession—and turning it over and over again. 

It’s a something all writers deeply understand. 

This past Thursday, I heard Steve Reich’s Drumming in its entirety performed at House of Yes (HoY), and it was nothing short of transcendent. 

 
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Sandbox Percussion and HoY aerial performers and vocalists [left to right]

Sandbox Percussion and HoY aerial performers and vocalists [left to right]

 

Synesthetic, mesmeric, meditative… Sandbox Percussion along with guest musicians and HoY performers did not disappoint. I won’t lie—I was worried that including aerial performers and dancers and large-scale digital visuals would potentially detract from the music, or distract. But rather it was additive, truly transformative.

Reich’s phasing technique is in many ways an aural exploration of obsession. Beginning in unison with a singular pattern, soon one of the performers pushes forward, incrementally faster, displacing the initial line by a beat and weaving a texture of new patterns. The result is a churning state of flux, never stagnant or stale, that is at once soothing as it is surprising. 

And this isn’t the construction of hierarchies; rather, what becomes is a meditation on what could be if you were to train your mind on one thing—one tone, one motif, one timbre. It’s no wonder I love listening to Reich's music when I write.

After the show, I was in this gooey state of awe and raw excitement. Buzzing with presence and visions about what’s to come.

My close friends know I’ve been saying this for forever, but the perception and reception of *classical music* have been shifting for a long, long time, and it’s made significant strides out of the graveyard. In the coming years, I anticipate more accessible, interdisciplinary, innovative work. Smaller works, more intimate works. More ambitious programming and staging. More of the new, without forgoing the old. (Just listen to what Modern Medieval is doing to get a taste of what I’m talking about.)

All in all, it’s an exciting time, both as active listener and creator. Perhaps sometimes we forgot the intention and deliberation that goes into both these roles. Perhaps we could be kinder on ourselves for even attempting such monumental acts. 

oh P.S. here's a shameless plug for my newsletter, which keeps ya up to date on all my blog posts and latest happenings :~)

 

Shaping water as with words

With the Oscars this Sunday, I thought it would be fitting to muse about The Shape of Water.

My immediate thoughts were conflicted: gorgeous, yes, lyrical, yes, but it also felt too closed. Like a perfect circle that doesn’t hold a mirror to anything we could ever experience. 

Argue fantasy and fairy tales, and that’s true with this film, but I am a constant critic.

Why escape to the 1950’s? Who is nostalgic and warm and safe here? I’ve grown uncomfortable in these clothes, these roles. 

On the other hand, I loved that it ended with a poem, one which left me thinking, Wait, who wrote that?

"Unable to perceive the shape of you,
I find you all around me.
Your presence fills my eyes with your love,
It humbles my heart,
For you are everywhere.”

The state of poetry is thriving. Online it’s easy to find vibrant debate, dissection, and dedication to a craft that is (truly) old as dirt. And I love it. 

Just asking the question “who” can open a discussion and wealth of new knowledge for novice poetry readers.

I immediately searched online, trying to find who wrote the poem at the end of The Shape of Water. While I didn’t find any definitive answers per say, what I did unearth was a forum full of discussions over this very topic. 

Some suggested the poet was Saint Symeon. Others were adamant it was Rumi. (And at first their enthusiasm and confidence convinced me the most.) Others mentioned poetic origins hailing from different worldly corners and traditions, from Islam to Greek mythology. And others thought it was original, a poem written by del Toro himself.

I think it's special that a poem spoke to so many, and in a film with that massive of an audience. The poetic tradition is full of different lineages and the concluding poem in The Shape of Water speaks to that layered, interwoven identity.

When I write, I also feel like I'm making shapes. Language is so malleable, both soft like clay and hard like brick. It can become so much and soak up what you let it soak. The shape of words isn't so singular as it is possibilities—an infinite polyphony, as water also flows into whatever contains it.

 

A Second Spring

Super excited to announce my poem "How Must All God's Creatures Align in Lieu of God?" is forthcoming in the fall issue of The Lost Country. Stay tuned to view the published piece via the magazine website very soon. (Expected publication date mid/late October.)

Also stoked to read at this year's Gaines Street Fest in Tallahassee, FL. I'll be reading some of my own work (maybe some newer stuff in progress) as well as new and old favorites. Come check it out--> Saturday, November 7 at the corner of Gaines St. & Railroad Ave.

Really diggin' how The Memory Depot project is going with Max. Something's brewin'--a virtual performance, fever dreams, deep dark thoughts about customers, all of the above...

So far I've applied for 7 internships, everywhere from Portland, OR to Brooklyn, NY. The waiting game is the absolute worst and there are still so many more applications to be sent... Hoping the next couple months fly by without too much anxiety.

 

Waiting, Farewells, & Beginnings

I submitted (and am still in the process of submitting) to about a dozen lit mags for publication. I sent in 3 of my newer poems about wasps, metaphysics, Miami... the usual stuff. Here's hoping one bites.

I hugged a close friend goodbye a few days before he leaves the States. I'll miss him constantly, but now I have a solid reason to visit Toronto and mosh at DIY venues only the Canadian punk gods could dream of.

I started a collaborative project with my good friend and fantastic artist/performer/being Maxwell Thompson. Follow our process, progress, and regressive rambles over at The Memory Depot*

*(Want in on our journey? We welcome all feedback, submissions, and anything else you want to give. This is an open project. Open wide.)

New Job & Future Talk

Things are finally looking up. I'm hosting at Applebee's now (off JTB, come say hi) and I'm settling into more of a routine here. Time moves faster with short-term goals in mind. The biggest of which is landing an internship with an independent publishing press, preferably in a city I'd like to eventually settle down in. I'm applying to presses in San Francisco, New Orleans, Minneapolis, even Canada for the spring. Hoping to gain experience in the publishing industry and eventually move my way up through the ranks, from editorial assistant to some-day developmental editor. 

I'm learning to take the advice of the beloved, fabulous interstellar-transvestite, Dr. Frank N. Furter: "Don't dream it. Be it."