i want to be michael rothenberg when i grow up. no kidding. he is an inspiration. i am in awe of the work he has done/is doing. as a community of creative people, we should thank our lucky stars to have such a humble person repping for us all over the world. if you missed his interview on the Nothing to Lose show last night, you can check it out in the archives… well worth your time. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theliteraryunderground/2013/09/07/nothing-to-lose)
toward the end of the show last night, he asked about our little shindig planned for 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day in Danville, Illinois… what do we care about in illinois? well… we care about butter. it's true. there is evidence…
The Butter Cow
when we decided to pursue finding a place and setting up an event to be a part of 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day, I started thinking about change. what kind of change… i wrote a long rambly statement as i do tend to do and thankfully it is lost to my mess of a desk. i can now sum it up in one word: CONNECTION.
because our society as a whole has become all too 2-dimensional on a virtual plane. as great and essential as it is.. none of this would even be possible.. creative people from around the globe connecting.. especially with yahoos, juggalos, and misfits from out in the cornfields. isolation is more than a state of mind when you live in the rural midwest. where everything comes a little bit later and a lot bit slower. if you think or move outside the box, you're likely to get stoned for it and not in the fun way, in the biblical way. my life has certainly been changed by the internet, by connecting online to like-minded fellows. but the real transformation, the stuff that sticks, that gives me the drive i need to keep going even when i'm still out here in the sticks–suffering a bit of rage everytime i have to visit the local walmarts– it is the connections and experiences that i have had meeting, getting to know, being inspired by and working with these amazing people that i have come to refer to as the asshole poets. dammit, i love them.
they gave me the courage and the push that i need to flip the bird to all my silly little issues that said oh you are too much of this and not enough of that. maybe, just maybe, i can get out there and do something worthwhile. from toledo, chicago, milwaukee, oakland, ypsilanti, albuquerque, denver, champaign, cleveland, and even the Jhole. we put together events and come out to support others with the very simple intent to bring people together, to share and appreciate the work, to set aside the egos and the dumb, small press dramas. and maybe it wasn't change that we were after… it was simply inevitable. true connection creates change. on a personal level and beyond.
i dare anyone to step outside of themselves, to know these people–these asshole poets. share with them your ideas, sit for a while with theirs. yes, you might find yourself up on stage out in the middle of a cornfield, dancing in a kiddie pool filled with butter. it happens. but what you really might find is connection, something that goes deep down into your soul and changes you forever.
and look at that. i got all rambly again. go figure.
hope to see you there. and if not this one, the next.
All Kinds to Write A Story: Reaching Other Writers (and Everyone Else)
By Sirenna Blas, Blotterature
I was sitting in Julie’s kitchen this morning trying to edit and cut down an elaborate blog post about silence and flash fiction, but I got frustrated, I went home, I slept. When I woke up, I found a post written by Michele McDannold of the Literary Underground/Citizens for Decent Literature that talked about 100 Thousand Poets for Change, which is in its third year. She talked about connection, how important it is to be connected to/with each other?especially in this age where so much is done via screens and keyboards, especially for writers. That’s the change she wants to see. More connection. Continued connection.
Writing is not a solitary act.
Writing is a community.
I remember thinking, back when I first read On the Road at 18, that it would’ve been so cool and inspiring to have a group of friends who met up regularly to just talk writing and life. I had my little MySpace group of poets at that time, who all supported and read each other’s work. But, it wasn’t the same. It was all online, and most of my own in-person friends could hardly care less. I had been dating a string of boys who were all: “*blank face* Why do you write…?”
It takes time to build a community.
Writing shouldn’t make you feel alone.
But it can and it does. Sometimes.
And even as I got a bit older, there were people in my life who still went something like: “Why are you choosing to stay in on a Friday/Saturday night, while your friends are out partying, to…*shudder* write?” And then there were even those dreaded: “Yeah, I don’t read.”
Well…shit! Me neither…. Ignore the bookcases in my bedroom?here, let me turn off the lights and I’ll seduce you not at all with my intellect?did you know at one point I was a cheerleader? Ugh.
Pretty soon it becomes tiring pretending not to care or be interested in something that you’re actually very passionate about. Eventually you realize that the relationships you have with those you are pretending for can only remain superficial. Eventually you start lying: “No, I’m staying in tonight because I’m tired, not because I’ve got this story that I can’t stop thinking about.” Eventually you realize that’s no way to be and that it’s all stupid and you learn not to care if what you enjoy doing is socially acceptable or not, and that’s the stage I’m at now, luckily, but I know it’s not that way for everyone, especially young people.
When did this disconnect between writing/creating and “socially acceptable” occur?
So. What do we do about it? Do we just keep what we do close to ourselves and not try to seep out into the rest of society and, therefore, maybe sometimes act like we’re better than everyone else, more elite, more whatever, or at least be perceived to be as such? (Oh! such generalizations, of course.) Is this partially why that disconnection might’ve occurred? Do we try sharing our passions and rectify this, and if so, how?
A moment to digress. In 2010 or something or other, I connected with Tim online. He was part of the other writers I knew, but he lived near me so we got together and tried to do some poetry stuff in our community. Fail.
But, a year later was the first 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Events were taking place all over the world that September, and Tim invited me to travel with him to Elyria, Ohio for the event he was planning on attending. I was finally going to meet some of the poets. Who knew that a couple years later, these people would still be traveling all over the Midwest (and the country) to continue meeting for various readings and events?somewhat for the poetry, mostly for each other. I’ve only been to a few of these events so far (Elyria, Toledo, Jacksonville, IL), but I’ve experienced some things with them that you probably shouldn’t even experience with your closest friends (shout out to Brian), and it always feels like home.
Something a little cooler took place in Jacksonville than just friends coming together and being all poet-y, though. There was a handful of us in the rented space (something that was put together like a wedding inside a VFW, complete with the bright white lights and fake plants and random trellis), but a horde of others came in as the reading was about to begin. Juggalos. There to support the metal band that was playing with us that night. One weird-ass combination. Us up on stage reading, someone taking off his clothes, someone else dancing in a pool of butter (*cough*cough* that wasn’t me at all…). And them.
And you know what? We danced like batshit idiots to their music. They laughed and listened to our stuff. We all talked and smoked and drank and everyone was just doing what they do?together.
Writers need others, too.
Writing isn’t an inclusive act only to those who write.
In turn: the world needs stories.
And it takes all kinds to write a story.
No cliché intended. So, if no one will come to us (unless it’s to see a band they like and you just happen to be there…), how do we go about reaching them without simultaneously compromising our work?
This is part of the change I want to see. Writing being more relevant. Writing being OK. A high school girl not getting shunned because she likes to write fan-fiction and read at lunch. A boy not being made to feel bad because he’d rather write a poem than watch the football game. And no girl dating someone like the boy I had dated when I was 19 who threatened to cut off my dreadlocks because he thought they were weird and who questioned why I wrote because he also thought it was weird.
People are weird. You ain’t no exception just because you don’t write, sweetheart.
Poets Can Dance. There is evidence on YouTube.