I competed in poetry slams in high school. I went to club every Thursday and wrote new pieces. I went to slams almost every Tuesday. I became very, very attached to this style of writing. I reconnected this summer with a friend I competed with and she sent me her list of favorite poems. A few really stood out to me, and here they are!
Scarecrow by the Brave New Voices Washington D.C. Team This is the first slam poem I ever listened to. I don’t even remember why I was listening to it or how I found it. But I do remember watching this performance and thinking “I want to perform like that.”
OCD by Neil Hilborn This poem is a great explanation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. We even watched it in one of my psychology classes. It also shows how people without OCD view people with OCD. My favorite line? “I can’t breathe because he only kisses her once, he doesn’t care if it’s perfect.”
Elephant Engine High Dive Revival by Buddy Wakefield My junior year English teacher used to play this poem for us on bad days. Part of me is reminded of David Sedaris, part of me is left confused, and the rest of me gets it without having to completely understand.
Cat Poem by the Brave New Voices Los Angeles Team I’ve watched these girls perform both online and in person. They’re just as hilarious in person as on stage. I also love how they use this poem to make fun of slam poetry. They’re great!
We Boys by the Homeword Asheville NC Brave New Voices Team I never went to Brave New Voices with Homeword, but these are the people I competed against in high school. This poem was written my junior year when feminism was becoming a larger part of pop culture. To boil it all down, these are the reasons boys need gender equality too. (Also, just FYI, this is very explicit).
Do you have a favorite slam poem?
Sadly summer is drawing to a close. I’m packing up all my things and getting ready to move into a new house in Athens. I’m really excited about starting back to school again this August, but I’m even more excited to finally get to see all my friends again!
The only way I manage to make it through the three hour drive from Asheville to Athens is either listening to music or podcasts. Luckily I’ve made three in anticipation of next week’s travels, and they’re all based off books I read this summer.
To check out each playlist, click on the title of each book and you’ll be linked directly to my playlist on Spotify.
The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness
Here’s my running list of books read this summer:
Brisinger by Christopher Paolini
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [Blade Runner] by Philip K. Dick
The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
The Goldfinch by Donna Tart
The Great Passage by Shion Miura
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
1984 by George Orwell
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Currently reading The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
For more updates on the books I read check out my Goodreads account right HERE. I don’t read as much during the school year, but I do leave ratings on all the books I read and if they’re really great (or really, really terrible) I leave a review.
What are your favorite songs of the summer? Have you read anything good?
Whenever I go to the beach I make sure to bring enough books to read. This summer, however, I knew I had a goal of twelve books as well as the May, June, and July books for the bookclub I’m in. That’s fifteen books for an entire summer, over half of what I usually read per year! Usually I have a daunting to-read list, but I didn’t know where to start this time.
I started off the summer with The Goldfinch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and the Inheritance Cycle. After that, I hit a wall. I spent a lot of my downtime at work surfing through Twitter instead of reading. Politics, even though I dislike them, have been interesting this year. Its like reality tv with all the drama and he-said-she-said gossip going on. That’s when I decided a book on small town politics might not be such a bad thing to read at the beach. I picked up The Casual Vacancy the day before we left for Topsail and didn’t put it down until I’d finished it three days after.
The Casual Vacancy is a book about Pagford, a small town in England. The story revolves around the death of Barry Fairbrother, a member of the Pagford Parish Council. Barry is loved by everyone and loves everyone in return. He has a big heart, but politically that’s what gets him into trouble. Many years ago, Pagford and Yarvil were friendly neighbor cities, Yarvil being the bigger of the two with a large estate sitting between them. The estate sold lands to Pagford to make cheap housing. Decades later, the cheap housing has become government housing, and is costing Pagford quite a bit of money in the end. Barry wants to keep “the Fields” and the addiction clinic as part of Pagford. The other half of the council does not. When there is a casual vacancy because of Barry’s death, the entire town splits between pro-fielders and anti-fielders and those running for council find themselves the topic of discriminatory posts on the Parish Council website.
What did I tell you, politics with a side of reality tv show worthy gossip! If you like Rowling’s writing style for Harry Potter (this isn’t exactly the same, but it’s not far off) and are interesting in small town politics then I’d definitely give this book a go!
As I mentioned in this post, my mom and I went to see Disney’s The Lion King in Greenville a few weekends ago. I absolutely loved it! I’ve only ever been to Greenville, SC once before, and that was to help pick up my friend’s uncle from the airport. So, I’d never actually been to Downtown Greenville.
My mom and I explored (and got lost) for a little bit before we ate dinner. I loved the weather – sunny, high seventies, and breezy – and really enjoyed being able to eat outside. My mom and I hadn’t made reservations for anywhere, so we ended up at Larkin’s on the River on the patio.
An outdoor concert with the band The Watchtower Incident was scheduled to start at the same time as our play, so my mom and I watching band rehearse and set up. My dad is in a band called The Procrastinators, and whenever I’m home I usually watch them practice. Band rehearsal and set up is definitely not a foreign territory for me!
I grew up performing. I love to sing, dance, and act. I had parts in small musicals from age three to age fourteen, and after that I joined a choral group at my high school and began performing slam poetry at age sixteen. Even though I don’t perform anymore, I still love to watch. It brings back so many memories!
If I’m being honest, I loved the play The Lion King better than the movie. The stage makeup and costume design were phenomenal. And the comedic relief, Zazu, never failed to make the audience shake with laughter (especially when he began to sing Let it Go from Frozen!).
Here are some examples of the costume design and puppets that make the show that much more realistic:
The lions wore large African style wooden masks and most other animal either held or wore a large puppet. Rafiki, on the other hand, only had a tail to classify her as a monkey. Something my mom pointed out is that Rafiki is more of a spirit or priestess than a monkey, which is why she doesn’t have any of the defining features of an animal on stage, like a mask or a puppet. I thought this was a great distinction to make.
Today is February first. Not only does today mark the beginning of Black History Month, it’s the birthday of one of America’s celebrated writers: Langston Hughes.
Langston Hughes was born in 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. Hughes first started writing poetry while living with his grandmother in Lincoln, Illinois and published his first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, in 1926. His first novel, Not Without Laughter, was published in 1930. Hughes is known for his portrayals of life as an African American. His writing, as well as his life, helped to shape the Harlem Renaissance. Possibly his most famous work is the poem Dream Deferred, which is what I’d like to share with you today. The poem talks about the “American dream” as it applied to blacks living in America during the 1920’s through the 1960’s. Even though the imagery is gore-y and gruesome, I still claim this poem as one of my favorites from Hughes’ works.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
I’d also like to share a poem of his called I, Too. The lyrical nature of this poem is absolutely beautiful, and the message is so empowering. I remember reading this poem aloud, as a class, in high school. Like the last, this poem also speaks about life for blacks in America in the ’20s and ’60s.
Spotify also has a playlist of Hughes reading his poetry, which I’d really recommend. Nothing quite beats hearing a poet read their own work! You can find the playlist by clicking the link HERE.
The City of Ember!
Does anyone else remember the movie that came out about five years ago? Wasn’t much of a hit. But I clearly remember the book floating through my elementary school classrooms, being passed off from one curious child to the next. I even had to be put on a wait list at the library to read the sequel.
In case you never read The City of Ember, I’ll give you a short synopsis. The end of the world has come and gone. An entire civilization, perhaps the only one left, has moved underground with no access to the outside world. They grow vegetables in greenhouses powered by electricity, use electricity to get water from inside the earth, and have electric light bulbs for suns. Sadly, the electricity is running out – quickly. Lina Mayfleet, a child of Ember, discovers a mysterious document that could save the city. She and her friend Doon must lead the city into the outside world before they’re trapped in darkness forever.
Much like The City of Ember, The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen is set in a post-apocalyptic world. A family is living underground after a fire nearly burns them all to death. The main character, a young boy, spends his days wondering what the world is like outside, why the family is shut in the basement, and who the father of his sister’s baby is. After fireflies appear in his bedroom he creates a master plan to escape, similar to the way Lina and Doon make it out of Ember.
Overall The Light of the Fireflies is a mature, and haunting, story about “finding the light in the darkness of places” (as the back of the book reads, but really, it’s true). It’s about finding a way out of the situation you’re in rather than making the best of things. If you’re ready to cry, get angry, and feel inspired you can pick up this book on the Kindle eStore (free in the month of March for Prime members) or Barnes and Noble.