Poem: have a heart

6 inklings - saturday

It’s been a while since I’ve created a poem that rhymes so completely as the one I just wrote below. Lately I’ve stuck with free verse because it (duh) gives me so much freedom. But, for me, there was always something so appealing and seductive about a poem that rhymed so perfectly and completely. I’m not so sure whether this tiny poem fits both criteria – but it’s something.

is my heart an anchor
where this sinking feeling lies?
or venom like molasses
coated over despondent sighs -
this muted cry of ravens
in a valley in the dusk
like those who, with brittled fingertips,
pluck away the husk
the wooded shavings whispered
off the workbench, without thought
my heart was never mine
if it was sold, and never bought.

- cumuloq <3

What I Read and Why I Read

6 inklings - saturday

Previously I wrote the post “What I Write and Why I Write” – I thought it was about time that I wrote the companion post to it, “What I Read and Why I Read”. It kind of helps that one of my recent class assignments was to write about this. Below is the modified version of it – I have taken none of the substance away, just beefed it up in certain areas.

I was always a library camper, whether it be in my school or communal libraries. From the age of seven I knew how to reserve books, how to borrow wisely till the maximum amount I’m allowed to carry back home in my heavy library canvass bag, and how to read the shelves and find my favourite authors and genres.

If there was one crime I ever actually committed when I was a kid, it was accidentally stealing a library book from my school – I vaguely remember it being about Santa Claus. I devoured books by Mem Fox, Libby Gleeson, Enid Blyton such as The Magic Faraway Tree and Jacqueline Wilson’s Double Act. My school in Australia had a subscription to Scholastics and I bought books every month – much to the frustration of my parents.

A few years later on I’d giggle at the trivial hilarity of The Bugalugs Bum Thief and Captain Underpants, and delved into classics such as Jack London’s The Call of the Wild and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. (I got the exact covers of the books I actually read below.)

When I was eleven in Perth, Australia, my teacher, Mrs Daventry, introduced my class to a life-changing novel called Alanna: The First Adventure written by Tamora Pierce. The character, Alanna, was probably my first proper fantasy heroine.

Prior to being exposed to the genre of fantasy, I mostly entertained myself with Jeanne Betancourt’s Pony Pals and Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High. Mrs Daventry one day caught me in class reading the latter and I remember specifically that she called it “junk food”. She then proceeded to tell me of a book store in our neighbourhood where I could get discounts for good books. Learning from her was such a joy. With every book we read, we learnt about the history behind them, the vocabulary that surrounded them and the characteristics we aspired towards.

When the doors of the fantasy genre gaped wide open I never looked back. I devoured the genre, reading series after series by authors such as J.K. Rowling, Lemony Snicket, Gail Carson Levine, Philip Pullman, Garth Nix, Libba Bray, James Patterson and Dianna Wynne Jones. For me reading was very much escapist in nature. Coupled with sketching and writing, my twelve-year-old self created worlds that were imitations of the characters, plots and settings I read. The fantasy worlds shaped much of how I saw the world when I was young, filled with magical potential and gateways to alternative realms. That’s why I identify so closely to the narrator of Gaiman’s novel:

“I went away in my head, into a book. That was where I went whenever real life was too hard or too inflexible.” – Unknown Narrator, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

My purpose for reading altered when my parents made the decision that we would move to another country. There, I admit books were my shields to the curious eyes of my new, strange classmates. For a decent year, because of my introverted disposition, my confidantes at the time were mostly the characters in the novels I read and the stories I created.

In my new school I was introduced to more canonical works, such as that of Shakespeare. There we tackled Twelfth Night, Macbeth and Merchant of Venice. Other novels included Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days (which I memorised more than understood) and Robert Louis Stevensons’ Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (which I found fascinating till this day). It was also during that time that I got enraptured by culturally-stemmed beliefs – spiritual myths of seances and ghost visitations. A lot of the books I read during that time were dark – but not necessarily scary. Like how a child may be more fascinated than terrified of Coraline, I was more fascinated than terrified of the world beyond the grave.

It was when I moved country once more and underwent a tertiary education that my reading for pleasure habit slowly dwindled. There I was introduced to some of my favourite novels such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. But it was also where I learned to grapple with R.K. Narayan’s The Guide – a book which, till this day, still reduces me to coughing up bile.

It was also during this period where literature transformed into something I loved to something which I no longer understood. I was forced to wrangle with poetry in a void. I was mostly silent in class, petrified to give the “wrong answer”. Reading for pleasure was bulldozed away and in its place was planted desperations of not failing, and not being alone.

And maybe my saving grace was giving literature a second chance and choosing it as my degree. During my four years in uni, I could once again engage with and discover newfound love in other literary genres. It was in uni that I fell in love with novels such as Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, and Jean Rhys’ Good Morning, Midnight.

My main interests during that time lay in (post- and) modernism, feminism and Gothic literature. I decided to combine two of them for my FYP and wrote about representations of the living dead in women – It was also an excuse for me to analyse Resident Evil.

However, I can’t quite say that during those four years I read for pleasure. My reading during that time was limited to the reading lists of the courses I took. So the final stage of my reading journey thus far was during my eight months of contract teaching. Thanks to this blog (and also from creating an account on Goodreads.com), I managed to finally read for pleasure and read whatever I wanted to – the way I did when I was eleven.

I first of all started with the Young Adult fiction that I missed out on during my uni days, i.e. Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. This was followed by Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, John Green books, i.e. The Fault in Our Stars, Looking For Alaska, and Paper Towns, Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being a Wallflower, Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, James Dashner’s The Maze Runner trilogy and Lois Lowry’s The Giver.

Of course, I didn’t spend all my reading time catching up with YA. I also delved in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Neverwhere. It was safe to say that during those eight months I read and completed more books in my spare time than during the six years within the rigid education system of my new homeland.

At the end of the day, reading for me has always been a means for me to understand and see different perspectives to the world. It was a means to make sense of things that no longer made sense. The covers were my shields, the characters: my friends, the enemies: a representation of the challenges I should be tackling. At the end of the day I would not be the person I am without books. It’s a shame that reading today is less than it was – less time for books, less words in books, more competition for attention among the million other attention-grabbing devices out there in this world.

I offer anyone who is willing to share their reading journey to send me a link to theirs in the comment section below! Let us all preserve the pastime and love of reading together!

Till next time!

cumuloq <3

 

Disclaimer: The book covers featured are not mine and belong to their respective owners. I take no credit for any of the photos featured in this blog post.

Songs to Refresh Your Week

4 my soundtracks - thursday

Mid-weeks are rarely fun. All the work you refused to do in the beginning of the week is biting you in the behind (keeping it PG here), people pushing you for deadlines, asking you questions you guiltily have no answers to, and then you still have more days before this week ends.

Here are a few songs that hope to make it all better.

For the Early Mornings

Great Escape – Mike Dignam

A UK singer and songwriter for your ears. If you like this song, I strongly suggest that you make the rest of his songs your anthem for this mid-week. I recommend the song “Young” as well.  Check them out at his Youtube channel.

Talking Dreams – Echosmith

Echosmith, an indie pop band from LA, is currently my go-to music fix. Sydney is unbearably gorgeous and her brothers, Jamie, Noah and Graham, are solid players. They’ve been getting quite a lot of hype recently ’cause of their single “Cool Kids” – but I think “Talking Dreams” and some of their other songs are deserving of more limelight.

For the Late Nights

Raise Your Love – Rhodes

RHODES is another talented musician from the UK. His more popular song is “Breathe” which is amazing beyond belief, but I thought I’d share his performance of “Raise Your Love” under the Mahogany Sessions instead because it really showcases his unique voice.

Till next time!

cumuloq <3

Nostalgia and Criticising Others’ Childhoods

Nostalgia has been a recurring topic lately in my classes. We were talking about how this current generation think they’re the best, i.e. they have an incredibly high level of self-esteem. However, previous generations adamantly attest that it is the complete opposite: this generation is self-centred and demanding of things that they should not demand, e.g. higher pay when they start working and more vacations.

And during our discussions we all boiled it down to nostalgia. The older generation will always reminisce about how they grew up as a child and assume that the new generation should follow the status quo, i.e. go through everything they’ve done. But isn’t that wrong?

And I kind of connected this to when we were introducing ourselves in another class and the teacher and an older student were complaining about how Harry Potter was not as amazing as everyone thinks it is and that it doesn’t have anything new that has already been done, e.g. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I took that moment to look around in the circle and saw some interesting expressions – people who obviously looked a bit insulted.

Credits go to Gawker.com

Credits go to Gawker.com

Personally, I believe that the trends of a person’s childhood, whatever they’ve grown up with, is something personal, something of their own. The same way I grew up with Harry Potter, Lizzie McGuire and Simple Plan, I’m sure that the people of this generation are growing up with The Hunger GamesHannah Montana and One Direction. Sometimes it can’t be helped what is immediately available to us when we grow up and how it influences us; and while we may not all love the movies and books present, it is still a nostalgic attachment for us. More importantly, while we can discern that they are not the best and, heck, not innovative or new, they are still the first things we came across and the first things we see and read.

Hence, I believe it is ridiculous to assume that a kid today who loves The Hunger Games and spends their allowance on concerts and movies that others think are just badly made carbon copies of what they grew up with is stupid. We are forgetting that there will always be a generation before us who will assume the same of us.

And it is equally ridiculous to assume that we should all be the same. The caveman cannot gripe that today we don’t have to deal with running away from predators and starting a fire. Similarly, generations before us cannot gripe that we spend too much time on technology – because how can we equate today what “too much time” is? Likewise, we cannot assume that children today should grow up the same way that we did. Since we went through a particular route as a child, it does not mean that we should force our children to go through the exact same. Times change and progress will not be progress if we continue on an endless cycle. (I believe this is the central concern of many dystopian novels these days.)

Yes, I know, this is another rant, but I felt it was really something bugging me at the moment. Reviewers always complain and generalise young adult content without considering that they probably went through the same process when they were younger – terrible Mario Bros and Street Fighters movies were prevalent in the 90s but looking back and they become cult favourites with nostalgic fan boys quoting lines and scenes, overanalysing scenes that aren’t really meant to be analysed.

Credits go to pixelbedlam.co.uk

Credits go to pixelbedlam.co.uk

Terrible novels in the past are now classics and canoned. Who says this won’t be the same for Twilight fifty years down the road? Who says literature students won’t end up studying the words and writing dissertations on its cultural influence?

There will always be imitations and adaptations in every generation – and maybe it’s also inevitable that as we get older we become more nostalgic and more skeptical of what comes out from the cultural milieu. But I think an overarching rule should always be to never insult someone else’s childhood. “Oh you loved Harry Potter? But it’s just a rip-off of -” No. No. I grew up with it and it was what really got me into other books and movies.

At the end of the day, we can share in our love of books and movies together – but also respect others for what got them into books and movies too.

Till next time!

Cumuloq <3

Sharing Poetry on a Monday Pt. 1

1 silver lining - monday

Hi everyone!

My Mondays are always incredibly busy, and always covered in the harshest grey. For instance, this morning I woke at seven to realise there was no hot water for a shower. I had a morning class where my mind was filled with cotton balls that not even the sweetest Japanese treats which our professor gave us could puncture a hole in. I finished a presentation in the next class. Then had a group meeting. And by then it was three in the afternoon, and my stomach was practically empty from a lack of a break.

Julia-de-Burgos

Credits go to metro.pr

So I went back and took an hour’s nap, managed to take a shower (where I rejoiced at the fact that the hot water was finally working) and then practically inhaled my dinner – a verb that I don’t particularly like to describe how someone eats very fast. Is there a way to say swallow everything in one go?

I’ve spent the past two hours reading just six pages – trying to multitask but evidently failing. And now my “all-over-the-place” brain has found myself writing this.

I realise that Mondays are too busy to write a post. But yet here I am making a silly attempt at it.

What my initial intention was was to share you this beautiful poem that I found along the ways of my reading.

TO JULIA DE BURGOS

by Julia de Burgos

Already the people murmur that I am your enemy
because they say that in verse I give the world your me.They lie, Julia de Burgos. They lie, Julia de Burgos.
Who rises in my verses is not your voice. It is my voice
because you are the dressing and the essence is me;
and the most profound abyss is spread between us.

You are the cold doll of social lies,
and me, the virile starburst of the human truth.

You, honey of courtesan hypocrisies; not me;
in all my poems I undress my heart.

You are like your world, selfish; not me
who gambles everything betting on what I am.

You are only the ponderous lady very lady;
not me; I am life, strength, woman.

You belong to your husband, your master; not me;
I belong to nobody, or all, because to all, to all
I give myself in my clean feeling and in my thought.

You curl your hair and paint yourself; not me;
the wind curls my hair, the sun paints me.

You are a housewife, resigned, submissive,
tied to the prejudices of men; not me;
unbridled, I am a runaway Rocinante
snorting horizons of God’s justice.

You in yourself have no say; everyone governs you;
your husband, your parents, your family,
the priest, the dressmaker, the theatre, the dance hall,
the auto, the fine furnishings, the feast, champagne,
heaven and hell, and the social, “what will they say.”

Not in me, in me only my heart governs,
only my thought; who governs in me is me.
You, flower of aristocracy; and me, flower of the people.
You in you have everything and you owe it to everyone,
while me, my nothing I owe to nobody.

You nailed to the static ancestral dividend,
and me, a one in the numerical social divider,
we are the duel to death who fatally approaches.

When the multitudes run rioting
leaving behind ashes of burned injustices,
and with the torch of the seven virtues,
the multitudes run after the seven sins,
against you and against everything unjust and inhuman,
I will be in their midst with the torch in my hand.

Copyright (c) 2005, Julia de Burgos. All rights reserved.
Translation (c) 2005, Jack Agüeros.

Initial source: jstheatre.blogspot.sg

Reminds me of back when I was reading poems by Fernando Pessoa (taking for instance, “Autopsychography“).

Maybe one day I’ll write a poem to myself about myself as well.

Till next time!

cumuloq <3

Poem: the early bird

6 inklings - saturday

Hello there (the angel from my nightmare – random Blink182 reference)!

Today I felt like making bird puns. :)

Of course, since I still attempt to sound like a legitimate poet, the bird puns are incredibly subtle and nuanced (or so I’d like to believe). If you don’t get it, just look at the tags I put in for this post. They should be enough of a clue.

This is the very short three couplet (well, not really) poem that came out of my attempt:

i will wake in the morning light,
diving into the darkest fight -

a girl cloaked in antipathy
penning down her fallen kingdom:

loved and burned
night and girl – the blindest of sympathy.

- cumuloq <3

Assessing this Week’s Damages

5 tgfyv - friday

Hey guys!

So this week has been pretty gosh darn busy. I haven’t had much time to blog – but I’m surprised I managed where I have.

The damage count currently stands at twelve chapters of readings done this week, two and a half books read (currently in the middle of reading Patricia McCormick’s Sold), one episode of Doctor Who and Teen Wolf respectively, $50 spent on late night impulse shopping, laundry done, changed bedsheets, currently have 50 overdue youtube videos to watch and one Doctor Who episode behind.

It’s currently 2.35am as I try to clear the damage counter. The victims in this situation include my eyebags, the electronic bill, and sleep deprivation. And maybe my nail polish which I had to redo twice ’cause I was just not satisfied with the outcome – still am not.

Next week I still have yet to prepare for a graded presentation, read another book for a group meeting, prepare for a grammar exam – and that is only the concrete foreseeable warning triggers. I have a feeling that the readings will only become more severe, more heavy.

Do we call this Friday yet?

For now I shall continue to reduce the number of videos on my Youtube Watch Later List. Continuing with this one:

Oh, and I have a poem coming up tomorrow! Stay tuned for that. :)

Till next time,

a very tired cumuloq <3