Poem: the dirty sheets of paper

6 inklings - saturday

the covers are like a torn up book
that shrug themselves over
a little girl’s shoulders
as her mind flips the pages
of corridors flooded
with jagged darkness and slopes,
she elopes with the enemy
but her father brings the love affair
swiftly to an end.
she has no friends
she slips away from the margins
charging like a haunted stallion
to the sheer
peering over
as the majesty dribbles pebbles down her front.
enter
enter
the next chapter

she slices her words clean
the sheets which she envelops herself in at night
hold too much emptiness between.

– cumuloq ❤

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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 ❤

 

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.

Hobbies Are Not Loved When Overworked

reading_woman_in_the_cafe_by_renatadomagalska-d31o7zr

All credits go to renatadomagalska (DA)

When I first stepped out of university and began my journey to find a job that I hoped I would eventually love, I came across this quote,

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. – Confucius

and I immediately subscribed to its notion. It’s appealing in the sense that at the end of the day, when it comes to finding a job, I sincerely did hope that I would end up doing something that I would not perceive as work at all.

I considered writing articles for magazines and newspapers – that it would be amazing writing for a living because that is what I love to do. I imagined being like Rebecca Bloomwood of Kinsella’s Shopaholic novels: pursuing to eventually write whatever I wanted to, having my own column. And if I could not do that, then I considered editing writing – ’cause at least I get to read what I love and editing is second nature to me – right?

At first I thought the problem lay in what jobs were available, I found a job that was exactly the position I wanted: an editor. But I realised that it was nothing according to what I loved. If I took on the job, I would have to edit policy documents and community brochures for a living – a less than appealing task. And then I considered – if I ended up taking an editing post, will there always come a time that I will love what I am editing? The short and straightforward answer was: no.

That was when I decided to go into teaching. And where I was disappointed once more when I was given the honest truth by teachers in my beginning school: Even though I was appointed Literature as my first subject, there was a high possibility that I won’t be able to teach it because of the demand for English teachers. The even more honest truth? Literature teachers were even made to fill in other roles as Moral Education teachers.

This upset me – because at the time I considered the quote and realised that teaching what I loved most may not be a possibility. And because of this I appealed to have my subject changed – with literature being my second subject.

It was not until two days ago that I came to the conclusion that it was not the jobs available to me that was problematic (although I did have very little motivation to pursue them), but the mindset that a job that is worth doing has to be something that you’re incredibly passionate about – in my case it was reading and writing books, it was about literary analysis.

Sitting in my class, learning how to teach literature (and I hoped desperately that those were the lessons I’d end up loving during my week), it dawned on me the ridiculousness of the situation I was in. Here I sat, with men and women in there mid-twenties, some in their early thirties making career switches, clinically analysing a poem for its lines, stanzas and repetitions. I had “Vietnam-esque” flashbacks to my junior college education where the life of a poem was sucked out from the pages of their handouts. I listened, with a bowed head, as two strong-headed individuals in my class began quarrelling over imagery – ruining the intentions and beauty of the poem. I cringed as the professor guided us towards a singularity point where there was (oh my heart), to her belief, a “right way” of interpreting the poem. And I asked myself, sitting there, “Is this what I love about poetry and is this essentially what I will encourage students to do in the future?”

And suddenly I was grateful – absolutely and eternally grateful – that I had not chosen something I loved and turned it into a job.

I realised that I had very different views of how literature should be appreciated, that I loved poems and prose, but only as they are, not prodded to submission with a stick at its protruding bits and pieces. I loved feeling involved in a plot, in a character and to empathise without being overcritical of the language involved. And I realised that if I had to do this as a living, to constantly be emerged in the things I loved and then analyse them completely, I would no longer love them.

Lastly, I guess this post comes with a disclaimer. I do not believe Confucius was wrong in what he said. I only believe that my initial interpretation of the quote was wrong. And I only hope that I can provide some of my own insight to those who believe it now the same way I did back then or still believe this to be true.

I will never discourage anyone from pursuing a job they believe they will love. I just hope that you do not turn something that you love, a hobby or pastime, into work that you can no longer love. They are hobbies for a reason – they are meant to be respite from work. The inevitability is that when you take something you love and turn it into work, there will be days when it is no longer something you love and just a job that brings food to your table.

For more of a straightforward reason why this quote can be misleading, I suggest the Forbes article by Chrissy Scivicque.

– cumuloq ❤

Poem: of plagiarized sentiments

6 inklings - saturday

i walk the hallway with its rainbow of lights
we can’t last forever,
watching them –
it’s a foolish practice –
i find a small smile to give
i begin to find evidence of human habitation
i fade away from the crowd
watching the humans disappear
watching them dissolve
a soft static hum
i fear your faith has been misplaced
it was somehow beautiful and creepy, all at once
all its secrets
and all its foolish casual cruelty
it was self-defence
the mere word was anathema

Hey guys! So the above poem is a rough amalgamation of various lines found from fourteen different books. Some of them have been adapted to fit the poem’s atmosphere, but for the most part they all have been “plagiarized”. My intention in doing this … well, you can infer yourself, but there is an intention to it. It’s not that I just felt “crap I don’t really feel like writing a poem so I’ll just put a bunch of lines together” (or is it? No, no it wasn’t.) It took me a while to find the perfect lines, especially in the books that weren’t altogether poetic.

– cumuloq ❤

Poem: the library is a tardis

6 inklings - saturday

Tardis-Library

Source: bookriot.com

in this quiet place
the books whisper to me
the arms of ikea furniture
hug my shoulders
and i sink into the ocean of words
dying is easy
among the tombs of the long lost
pens and ink that escaped
the clutches of death
the scientists are wrong
the writers are wrong
we are time-travellers
we time travelled centuries ago
there were no worm holes
there were always other universes
and the gatekeeper
of past and present
is the librarian.

– cumuloq ❤

Poem: a minute of silence

6 inklings - saturday

for Oliver, 25.05.2014

“Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That’s what bothers me most, is being another 
unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease.” 
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

a minute of silence please
/of the blood or bone marrow/
blood transfusions on monday
/immature white cells/
tests on tuesday
/a treatable disease/
wheelchairs up the elevator
/treatments involve chemotherapy/
and steel-like determination
/the rate of cure depends/

a minute
/the age of the patient/
as they slip away to the steps
/children are more likely/
blushed noses and swollen eyes
/to be permanently cured/
ring a round in circles
/a complete cure is unlikely/
standing to the side
/successfully treated for years/
a phone pressed to the ear
/can affect people at any age/
“mum, he’s gone”
/means white blood/
“i’m scared. i can’t believe it.”
(they’re probably bringing in the counselor)

silence
exposed necks and pressed hands
/a lack of blood platelets/
close
/fighting pathogens/
(i did not know him)
/pinprick bleeds/
this sentiment
/unable to fight off/
a crowd gathered
/a simple infection/
he played the guitar
/some patients experience nausea/
he learnt from youtube videos
/or a feeling of fullness/
he only ever said “okay, everything’s okay” – that fighter

silence
/no single known cause/
it was leukemia
/symptoms vague and unspecific/
it was a teacher walking out
/one fifth not yet diagnosed/
unable to control the shakes
/200,000 die every year/
from the crease in her lips to her wavering shoulders
/and romanticised/
she breaks down

a minute of silence
with a heavy heart
“he left us at ten
last night”

Poem: Generated Words Experiment

6 inklings - saturday

So for today’s Inklings I thought I would try to experiment with something and generate ten random words from this random word generator and then try to incorporate it in a poem in the order they appear. I’m doing this while waiting for my Sims University update to finish – or more like start. (Why is it taking so long?)

Sims University Update Loading

Okay, so here goes. These are the words I generated:

eminent, quickest, fragile, wealthy, rampant, cattle, order, swing, war, invent

You would think that war or cattle is the biggest challenge here, but I think quickest and eminent are the least desirable words. I’ll be using etymonline as per usual to help me through this process.

—————————————-

eminent. a sky hung low
dusting the trees
the quickest buzzard etches
the sky scraped pines
the fragile paper people cut
the perforated lines

wealthy. it drizzles
the late afternoon dew
the commuting fodder escape
the rampant corporate cattle
and in their homes
they ruminate their delivery order

swing. a thunderclap
a cursory umbrella wages war
the pelts proceed to answer
the cowering paper people
folded down for the night

oh, this battle they invent against the world.

—————————————-

Poem done! I actually like how this turned out. I don’t usually write about urban landscapes. A poetry project I did once did have a prelude poem that had this similar atmosphere and tone, but the rest of it was more personal, dark and domesticated. I should experiment with this type of emotion more often.

Oh, and take a look at this, not even close to done:

Sims University Update Loading 2

Are they trying to upload all the universities in the world or what?

Anyway, while I rage over this downloading speed for my game, I’ll end this post here.

Till next time!

cumuloq ❤