Perusing Poetics: End of the Poetics Journey

I started out this blog talking about the two different parts of me, and how they work together. I’m going to end it by talking about how they stand apart. Granted, I’m going to be focusing more on my Writing major, just because the Poetics is a Writing Department class, but trust me when I say that the point I’m about to make is applicable to my English major too.

Yes, this post is required as a final project. Yes, there are question guidelines. I’m about to do a very odd thing and copy them out for you (sorry Professor. I swear there’s a reason for this):

  1. What do you make and is it similar in any way to the art practices we’ve read and/or talked about in class?
  2. Why do you make it, and do you see your ideas aligning with or being similar to the “why” of anyone we have read and/or talked about in class?
  3. What is the relationship of language to what you make, and is this relationship in any way similar to anyone we have read and/or talked about in class?

Using your digital archive and ideas, address

  1. What are your influences and how have they influenced what you have made up to this point? Who or what do you admire in your field, and why? (Use videos, images, other archives, etc.)
  2. What do you aspire to create, and what have you learned or encountered in class (if anything) that may affect your processes going forward? (Note: this can be a negative effect. That is, “Now that I’ve seen how horribly wrong thing XYZ can go, I want to avoid that route…)
  3. What was the most influential/important reading and/or concept to your own processes of making?

You know what I’m absolutely sick of? Realizing there are two ways I want to answer these questions. Then realizing that one of them is just another story I’m afraid to tell.

“What I mean is that within the University there could exist a relationship with word, language, thought, tradition, and power that might run counter to the relationship a poet might want to have with word, language, thought, tradition and power.” – Sarah Vap, End of The Sentimental Journey

Recently, in my Renaissance Literature class, the professor asked us what we were going to be reading over the summer. My answer would have been Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses. But I didn’t answer, because people starting saying “Milton” or “Absalom, Absalom.” My answer didn’t seem like it fit.

So, today, when I answer these questions, I’m not going to do any of us the disservice of lying or telling you half-truths. I’m going to tell you BOTH truths. I’m going to answer you from the


and from the


Bear with me.

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Perusing Poetics: Plato is Annoying, and Other Reasons I Want to Apologize to Poets

You may or may not know this, but this blog was originally a poetry blog. DO NOT GO BACK INTO THE TAGS AND FIND IT. It was bad and it’s all really old now, like pre-college, beginning of high school aged. But I just wanted to preface this discussion with that.

So this week’s readings for my Poetics class was Plato’s Republic, Book X and Aristotle’s Poetics. If you haven’t read them, don’t worry. Basically the point of them–especially Plato–is to crap on the life and the work of the poet.

Plato has this point where he says poetry corrupts people, emotion is bad, and poets should be confined to hymns and praises of the gods. Aristotle is a little better, because technically he’s confirming that tragic poetry is better than epic poetry, but basically it’s all about how poetry is only good if it conforms to this little proper box. (Yes, anyone who’s read these is probably spitting fire because of over-simplification. Bear with me.)

What’s important–and frustrating–is the effect that this kind of philosophy has had on poets since Plato decided to open his mouth. You can Google lists of pieces titled, in essence, “In Defense of Poetry” or “Apologies for Poetry.” It’s ridiculous, especially considering poetry’s past power.

Confused about what I mean? Well, what do you think of poetry right now? If one person says they’re a novelist and one person says they’re a poet, who do you rank on top? Poets have been characterized as goths at coffee houses (perfectly valid life choice for poets, but not the only one) or cryptics saying nothing in the media, and that certainly adds to the effect.

I know I’m not a poet. I’ve written more recent poetry for school and I’m basically the kind of poseur that Plato would like to kick out of his Republic. I’m aware of that. That’s why I’m not a poet. But, thanks to school, I have studied multiple forms inside and out in accordance with both my English and Writing degrees and I RESPECT POETS SO MUCH. I can barely rhyme let alone formulate a sestina (look it up – the form will make your head hurt).

I write short stories and novels. This is a kind of writing I understand the conventions of. You can master a basic plot pretty quickly. Poetry? Dear Lord. I’ve studied Shakespearan sonnets since grade school and when I was required to write one for class I STILL ripped the end-rhymes from a sonnet Shakespeare had already written because I couldn’t get the rhyming down.

My point is: I never thought I’d be disappointed in someone like Plato, who I’ve been told to laud as a philosopher since PBSKids morning TV shows. I understand that there is a certain time period that he’s writing from and all that, so maybe it’s more correct to say that no one has thought to update their opinion much since then. Poets remain a feature of the classroom: an annoying period of English class or a specialized class in college. They aren’t all that mainstream and they certainly don’t get the buzz of NYT bestselling novelists.

The one thing they do have going for them is their community. When I blogged poetry, as bad as it was, I was welcomed without a second thought into the poetry blogging community with open arms. I have yet to have an online experience since then that has felt as natural and warm as that. In the real world there are also magazines, retreats, etc, that might not (always) be big, but they are proud.

So you tell me. Am I crazy? What do you think of poetry? There’s a comment section for a reason! (Extra points go any comment-writer who responds in some form of verse.)

Top Ten Books That I Wish Were Taught In Schools


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Hey, Gretchen here, and I have a confession. Due to the unconventional nature of my high school experience, I have no freaking idea what is actually on a general required reading list for anyone. So I decided to do the secondary topic this week, Top Ten Books That I Wish Were Taught in Schools. Again, I have absolutely no idea what SHOULD be on this list, so I came up with a bunch of my own for my own reasons. Cool? Cool. Here they are, in no particular order.

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All Goes to Pieces

I’m proud to say this is a piece I performed today, but it’s not really a piece that I think I should record. I’m currently playing with different ways to do that, and we’ll see if I actually do or just type it up at let you act it out. 😀

All Goes to Pieces

A girl kneels beside her bed
As if in prayer but not
She is staring at the blue vein in her wrist
Wondering how she got so low that she knows opening it won’t help
The house shelters her from the weather outside
Wishing it could kneel in prayer to a God she does not believe
Because it would be something more to give than four walls

But it helps the boys more
Welding the lock to their door
Not to keep them in but to keep the shouting out
The parents are upstairs
Shaking window panes and slamming doors
The house cannot keep the screaming contained
They hear it through failing walls

So the girl changes her Facebook religion to atheist
Saying “This I now know”
As the brothers lie in their bunk bed
Ashamed to admit the comfort of their solidarity
And the parents plan a vacation
That would send them each to a different corner of the country
And they welcome it

As they sit around the TV
Drowning out the wind that’s lashing the outside
The girl and the house stare at each other through the two-faced window
Both wondering if this is where it all goes to pieces

The Story of the History Textbook

I just want to say that I was at this writing retreat today, so I’m stuck with an interesting issue–I’ve got too MUCH poetry for the blog! I really want to share them all with you, and if one of my friend’s gets his way I will post me actually performing one. (Not likely! :D) But here is one of my first ones of today, for now.

The Story of the History Textbook

I am a parallelogram with the power of transformation
I hold a million things you have yet to learn
My world is black and white
But I know the colors of the rainbow

I know of the worlds you have longed to see
I understand the stories of a thousand men
What you would consider time travel
I call everyday life

I would tell you all of this
I would show you more
But you leave me drowned in dust
Unable to change my form

I cannot speak though I know every human word
I cannot plead with you in my own sentences
I must explain only the words of others
While you struggle to comprehend

Is that why you have left me
Dirty, untouched and unloved?
I’d beg for your acceptance
If only the letters were my own

First Book/Author Column (I had an idea!)

I can’t believe I forgot that there WAS something else I could post up on here. 😀 Every month I write a book/author column for my school’s newspaper. VOILA! The first non poetry thing I can think of. 😀

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon


Looking for a supernatural read this October that doesn’t involve vampires? I might have a book for you!

            Depends on if you like the Undead or not.

            In the Yvonne Woon’s debut novel Dead Beautiful, that’s just what you get. The book starts out on the sixteenth birthday of Renee Winters, whose present is to find her parents dead in the redwood forest in what looks like a double murder.

            Though Renee is convinced there is something stranger going on, no one listened to her. Instead, her new guardian—her wealthy estranged grandfather—sends her to Gottfried Academy, a boarding school in Maine with strange students with secrets to take classes like Latin, Philosophy and the “Crude Sciences.” As if just losing her parents weren’t bad enough.

            But then she meets Dante Berlin, the handsomest—and most elusive—boy at school, to whom she can’t help but feel drawn. As she falls in love with Dante and makes friends around the school, she finally feels that maybe she can move on after all.

            Or not.

            As she and Dante get closer, strange things start to happen, and Renee stumbles onto the dark tragedies of Gottfried’s past. All at once, the Academy no longer feels like it could be anything like a home, not with all the secrets hiding behind its walls.

            Little does she know it is Dante who is hiding the deadliest secret.

            Though Dead Beautiful is billed as a romance, it was to me first and foremost a mystery. It is the questions surrounding her parents’ death and then surrounding Gottfried Academy that give the story its drive from beginning to end. The feelings between Dante and Renee almost take a backseat to the chaos going on in Renee’s life. The romance is definitely there, but I’d read this one more if you were going after a skin-crawling mystery then a love story.

            Another factor that made Dead Beautiful a good, new Young Adult book was the fact that it dealt with actual philosophy (as a class and in the book in general!). It raised questions about life after death, love and the nature of the soul. Now, before you go “Ughhh, not something I’d like,” understand that this was not a main force of the book, but they were the undercurrents.

            At this point in time, it is not clear whether or not there will be a sequel, but Woon definitely leaves that open. I, for one, hope she does. I’m not ready to abandon the world of Dead Beautiful quite yet! In the mean time, I find it to be the perfect October read for any lover of the Young Adult genre. It’s a perfect mix of the supernatural elements permeating the market right now, the new twist everyone seems to be looking for, an entangled web of mystery and a dash of romance. I hope you’ll like it as much as I did!

            …Or, maybe a little less. That’s all for me this time, since I’ve got to go return this overdue book to the library!

September 25th – Slow Down

First of all, I have to explain this process. I was recently exposed to a style of poetry writing so unique I just had to try it! …it was also a school project, but whatever. It doesn’t require that you actually really “write” anything! You take an article from your newspaper, and turn that into poetry! It sounds silly, but it’s kind of fun! The link to what I created is below!

Newspaper poetry

July 23rd – Back Then

Gueessss whooo! Yeah … I am aware that the date of this poem and the date of today is ridiculously far apart. Life is CRAZY for me in the summer and I haven’t had quality peace time in a while. I’m always going to get up to date though, I promise! I never meant to leave it off this long… Anyways, one thing you need to know about this poem and the next two is that they were written for a school project on To Kill a Mockingbird. I had to do a sort of response journal and these are some of the entries I made.

Back Then

I remember the days
When it was you and me
And we were young enough
That not much seemed
And our imagination knew
No limits
You smiled and laughed more
Back then

We acted out
A thousand adventures
That we were sure we’d have
One day
And we played pranks
And we built forts
And we caught toads
Because I didn’t mind that
Back then

Two years between us
Didn’t matter
Unless I pulled rank
(Okay, I did that often)
And the fact that
I’m a girl
And you’re a boy
Wasn’t a barrier
Back then

I know we couldn’t
Act like kids
Because times change
And we
Change with them
But sometimes I wish
We hadn’t changed so much
Back then

You don’t laugh as much
I don’t touch toads
We don’t play make-believe
Sometimes life doesn’t seem
As fun as it was
Back then

But we still have the memories
And we’re still you and me
I can’t stop being
The big sister
And you’ll always be
My little brother
Even though things will
Never be the way they were
Back then

June 27th – Two Years

So, I’m being rather slow in catching up–I apologize. However, school has decided that the end is the perfect time to overrun me, so … yeah. On the subject of school, on the 27th of June I attended my school’s graduation and came out with this!

Two Years

Those two years it will take
To shed these junior textbooks
Seemed long and far away
Until I saw them in their cap and gowns
And thought
Two years
Two years until I leave my home
Two years until I’m on my own
Two years until I am the solo master
Of my life
One endless second ago
Those two years seemed ridiculous
But as my friends scream
“I did it!”
Those two years have shrunk
Into tiny fractions of time
That I feel the urge to run from
For if I blink
I know that they’ll be gone

June 16th – My Eyes

I was in a meeting of my Creative Writing Club today, and an idea was sparked as we were talking about the personification of eyes and what they could say. Something started rolling around in my head that turned into today’s poem. What DO eyes say about a person? Do they show the facade people try to place there? Or are they truly windows to the soul that show everything? I haven’t a clue–that’s why it’s a good poem!

My Eyes

What do you see in my eyes?
Strength I hope
And courage
Pride certainly
And life
Maybe you see
Wisdom too
And a slight hint
Of innocence
Mixed with cunning

I hope you don’t
See fear
Or loneliness
Or uncertainty
My insecurities
Should be hiding
Behind everything else
And masking
My worries
And dislikes

Eyes are supposed to be
Windows to the soul
But I hope they are not
For I am far too scared
To bear my soul
Even fully to myself
I know what I feel
Deep inside
And I’m ashamed
To share it with others

So answer truly
Do you see the facade?
Do I always seem happy?
I should appear
Ruffled by nothing
At all times, you see
Not worried or scared
Or about to cry
What do you see in my eyes?