Poetry featured in Rlly Bad Poetry Zine

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been published in Rlly Bad Poetry Zine Volume 3 – Fate! Issues are available at rllybadpoetry on Etsy.

It features four other awesome (and local!) poets and cool fortune cookie photography by the epic Jackie Domenus (who also made the whole zine!). It includes my poems “A Monozygotic Study,” “Judith Slaying Holofernes” and “Do You Ever Noticed How Many Staples Are In A Telephone Pole?”

BONUS, you get a free sticker AND all proceeds go Audre Lorde Project to support LGBT+ people of color AND it’s shipped with the USPS!

“Buy zines, damn the man”
—Jackie Domenus

Collaborative Poetry Project with Multicultural Arts Exchange

I’ve been freelance blog writing for the Multicultural Arts Exchange (MAE) for about a year now and recently I had the opportunity to collaborate on a creative project!

The Multicultural Arts Exchange is an organization in Philadelphia that presents, promotes, and creates performing arts programming. They mostly put on affordable classical music concerts, but have run dance festivals, jazz concerts, and musicals too. MAE is a super cool organization and I suggest you check them out on Facebook @maephila or their website www.maephila.com. They’ve been hit hard like many arts organizations due to COVID-19, but they are putting on online concerts pretty consistently recently.

As part of their effort to help musicians and artists during this time, they are starting multimedia collaborations. Me included! I was commissioned to write poetry inspired by the work of MAE musicians Kaptain AtAnAm and Ray Man X, a blues/rock keyboard and guitar duo. You can read my poetry and listen to the music that inspired it in my blog “Vikings Rhapsody Continued: Three Music Inspired Poems.”

There may be more to come, so stay tuned!

Reading Round Up #3: Poetry

To Love the Coming End by Leanne Dunic

TLtCEcoverThis novel in verse tells the story of a narrator mourning the loss of their lover in the 2011 Tsunami that hit Japan. Through poetic fragments of memories, history, and ghosts, Dunic captures the narrator’s journey and how the supernatural informs Japanese culture.

Dunic’s book is something that you’re going to read again and again. Each time I reread it, I found new connections and layers. It is a mysterious, magical little book that shows how the ordinary and extraordinary are intertwined. And to top it off, the language is beautiful, haunting, and full of voice. I cannot recommend this book enough, to lovers of poetry, Asian culture, ghost stories, or well-crafted language.

Mole People by Heather Cox

mole peopleA man in a cafe finding mysterious drawings, memories of a World War, mole people living under the Thames are just some of the things in this enigmatic, haunting chapbook. I thoroughly enjoyed every word, but it definitely is one that requires more than one read. It slips a gritty, underground Wonderland lens over London.

Worth mentioning, the publisher is BatCat Press, which is entirely run by high school students from Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School who HAND MAKE every book. Check out their website because their books are BEAUTIFUL! And if Mole People is any indication, very high-quality work. Mole People says so much in every word. It’s somber, strange, and so moving.

I am Sorry for Everything in the Whole Universe
by Kyle Flak

Flak-Cover-Final-Front

The first poem in this collection suggests you might be better off going on a fun road trip instead of reading it. The following poems are filled with everything–Mondays, childhood memories, dijon mustard, thoughts on Hemingway and Carver, yellow dresses, and secret sex parties, and so many other things I cannot list them here.

Flak’s work really resonated with me as a relatively new writer. I often question if my poetry is beautiful/profound/clever/whatever enough. But as one of the reviewers said, “Finally, a poet who has no idea what poetry is.” Flak’s poems are funny, funky, and just fun. His work taught me that poetry is more than I think it is and encourages me to embrace my own voice and most importantly, just have fun.

I want to end this post with a small passage from Flak’s collection (And sorry Flak, WordPress won’t let me format your work properly). Feel free to share your favorite poetry in the comments.

Bernadette Mayer once wrote in one of her poems something / about how certain writers used to be called “candle / wasters”

I don’t know if that’s true

but if it is

I always want to be a candle waster

because I am a human fucking being

not a robot

and everybody’s got stuff to say

that only a blank page

would ever

bother

to listen to

-“I love that one poem by Raymond Carver” by Kyle Flak

Reading Round Up #1 – Young Adult

The semester is finally over! Now I have time to tell you all about the books I’ve been reading.

518iftlvnol._sx327_bo1204203200_Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Finn is the local strange kid in his rural town of Bone Gap, Illinois. The book opens some months after Roza, the close friend and roommate of Finn and his brother, has disappeared. While everyone else has given up, Finn believes Roza is still out there, kidnapped by a mysterious man.

I can’t really say anymore than that without spoilers, because this book is nothing what it seems. It’s beautiful, heartfelt, and very, very strange. Would recommend for anyone who likes character driven stories with a magical twist. The prose is a bit heftier than usual YA books, but Ruby’s use of language is so rich. Her use of imagery and clever foreshadowing really gives the characters and world a whimsical feel and great depth.

51u0ltozipl._sx329_bo1204203200_Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Dante’s Inferno meets a Christmas Carol, this novel in poetry follows one elevator ride, during which the protagonist, Will, must decide whether to avenge his brother Shawn. Will gets into the elevator convinced he is going to kill his brother’s murderer, but by the end he isn’t so sure.

This story is truly meant to be told in poetry. Reynolds’s conversational, emotionally raw style conveys the voice of the narrator honestly. He also uses the size, shape, and space between words to create tone, rhythm, and flow. Not to mention the characters are so rounded, flawed, and fascinating. Even if you don’t like poetry–Read. This. Book. I would say it is a perfect for both poetry lovers and people who don’t even like reading because it goes by so fast.

33830830The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood

Five teens enter Boulder House, a tourist attraction that is part museum, part maze, part crazy fun house, where they are trapped by a demon. Despite being drastically different, and often in opposition to each other, they must work together and confront their own demons to escape.

A fun ride, is a perfect description of Atwood’s YA horror novel. The characters have unique personalities and there’s always a different crazy monster or obstacle around the corner. The novel flies by, partly because it continuously switches between the five perspectives of the main characters. I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a supernatural adventure.

91x3tjpbsmlThe Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert 

Alice and her mother have always been chased by bad luck. After her grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of dark fairy tales with a cult following, dies, Alice’s mother thinks their bad luck is over. However, it only gets worse. Her mother disappears and Alice starts seeing her grandmother’s fairy tales come to life. Along with a super-fan from her school, Finch, Alice must find her grandmother’s estate, the Hazel Wood, to find her mother and solve the mystery of her family’s past.

The Hazel Wood is one of my favorite twisted fairy tale stories because it captures the essence of fairy tales, but instead of retelling old tales, Albert invents new ones. Her tales are dark and imaginative. The world pulls you in. There is an ominous atmosphere to the whole book. The stakes feel real. Also, the characters are real standouts. Alice is fierce and independent, but her brashness makes her flawed. Her chemistry with Finch, a sweet but sheltered rich boy, is natural and fun. They balance each other nicely. This novel is great to anyone who loves fairy tales, but also darker adventures.

51iwzpshkpl._sx346_bo1204203200_The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

This is the true story of Sasha and Richard. Both teens living in Oakland, CA. Sasha is nonbinary, from a middle class, white family, attends private school. Richard is young black man from an area plagued by gang violence and crime doing his best to stay on the right path. One day, while both taking the same bus home, Richard sets Sasha’s skirt on fire.

I read nonfiction very rarely, but I could not put Dashka’s book down. Her writing carries a journalistic style, but she chooses all of the right details and quotes that let the story tell itself. The reader can read what Sasha, Richard, their parents, the local justice department, and everyone involved has to say for themselves. I would recommend this book to anyone with a natural curiosity to learn about the social issues of today, whether its gender, race, or the justice system. Even if you think your opinions on these issues are set in stone, I would ask you to give The 57 Bus a try. Despite the heavy politics involved by the nature of the story, the book never forgets that its characters are human.

51mb-gczedl._sx331_bo1204203200_Ash by Malinda Lo 

Ash is a retelling of Cinderella, but that description does not do this book justice. Yes, it takes elements of the original–the sweet orphan girl, the evil stepmother, the prince’s ball–but it weaves those elements and the spirit of fairy tales into an imaginative, original story about a a girl yearning for freedom, a mysterious young Fae man, and the King’s Huntress.

Ash is a quiet book, but I think it’s one that surprises you in subtle ways by subverting the typical fairy tale. It’s so refreshing to see a story where the Fae are beauitful and dangerous.  It stays with you because the characters are so memorable, it’s not a “the girl gets everything in the ending” story, and the love story is so honest. Trust me, unnecessary romantic plots are my pet peeve, but this one is done so wonderfully because it, like everything, always comes back to how it changes the protagonist and what the story is ultimately saying. And don’t worry, it’s not a prince gets the girl type of love story. 😉