So I just wrote my final poem for the 30 Day Poetry Challenge, and I thought that I would share some of my poems from this process with you. I was proud of myself for actually sticking with it and writing 30 poems in 30 days!
She's the kind of girl no one really knows--dancing
alone at weddings with violets
in her hair.
She's everyone's friend
and no one's
as she presses a cigarette
to her chapped lips
and looks right through
all of them.
She's always a tourist, the permanent
visitor--collecting them all like souvenirs.
She keeps a shrine of red plastic cups
in her pick-up truck
to remember a life that was once hers.
All of the boys think they're in love with her,
but no one can be sure.
No one can be sure.
There once was a man in MacCrackens,
Whose tact was severely lacking.
He sat on my knee,
And whispered to me,
“You’re hot, but you could use a smacking.”
Sleight of Hand
He flips through the deck of cards, flings his colored scarf.
I’m singing for absolution, getting lost in a Muse song.
He would know what this meant if he paid attention.
“Dream about me,” he whispers. My defenses are up.
I’m singing for absolution, getting lost in a Muse song.
He’s painting false visions in the air for his audience.
“Dream about me,” he whispers. My defenses are falling.
I see the white dove fly into the distance.
He’s painting false visions on a canvas. I am his audience.
They’ve tried to impress me before. I never fell for illusions.
I see the white dove fly into the distance.
I hold my breath, counting stars in the sky.
I know this is an illusion, but I can’t make myself see it.
The colors are changing, the shades are shifting.
I’m shutting my eyes tight, counting stars in my mind.
I’m getting dizzy. I can’t remain standing.
The shades are shifting, the colors are changing.
I would know the truth if I paid attention.
I’m getting dizzy, can’t remain standing.
Fling your colored scarf at me, let me pick a card.
Conversations With the Sky
The violet petals flew in the wind,
late into the day
when the sun was beginning
to make its way to the other
side of the world.
We are so egocentric, I thought.
In the silent mist of evening,
I sat on my porch, staring
at the overwhelming sky
in all of its spacious longing.
Wait for me, I thought. I can be
a little slow sometimes but I promise
to remain still if you help me
The teal sky faded into
tranquil darkness, the cautious stars
making an appearance, winking at me.
And for once, I was calm.
In a crowd of strangers,
you caught my eye.
I remember that now
even though it makes me
cringe to know how it
is being able to say
“I’ll do it anyway.”
The Virgo lighter
sits on my coffee table
(even though I'm not a Virgo,
not even a little bit.)
It's running out of lighter
fluid. When I try to ignite
the flame, it half-heartedly
attempts to form sparks.
It looks like a normal
cigarette lighter that
you might hold up
during the epic hair band love song,
with your drunken arm
around your girl
pretending you'll still be together
when the song ends.
Once the flame was burning as brightly
as the power chords that played
while the lead singer wailed
with his wild hair in all different directions
smearing his eyeliner with beads of sweat.
But now, it's just a shell, a memory
that tries so hard to produce sparks
The sun sneaks out from behind feather clouds, shining shyly. Its radiance doesn't touch my skin and I pull my silver sweater over my chest. It's full of holes, I notice with a sigh. I hear the neighbors hiss at each other through hushed whispers on the patio and somehow I still miss someone, a stranger I've never known. When I close my eyes, I can still hear his voice speaking softly in a foreign tongue, whispering words of wisdom I can't yet understand. If I searched the smoky spring sky, damp with disappointment of half-hearted promises from the night before, would I find him sulking in the corner or shining with a vibrant spirit I've never seen before? The sun sinks down behind the feather clouds, dimly fading into a star-soaked evening, leaving me shivering, still searching.
I’ve been in a bit of a “waiting for something to happen” phase lately, mainly because of my novel. I just finished another round of revisions, and I am waiting for responses from literary agents--some of which are actually reading my full manuscript. I wanted to wait until I got feedback from them/the second round of beta readers before I started on more revisions so I'm not actively working on a larger writing project at the moment.
I’ve also learned that I think I really need to be involved in two projects at once: one writing project, and one artistic project that is collaborative in some way, like a band or a play. This is really how it’s always been, but I think I've just realized how necessary it actually is. I get really anti-social when I am just writing, and I don’t think that’s healthy. I need the inspiration from being around other artists. I need inspiration from just being around other people in general. Everyone is beautiful and everyone inspires me in some way.
I think this is one of the big reasons I did Godspell. I was really burnt out on the Atlanta music scene so I didn’t want to be in a band, and then my church just happened to be doing this musical that I loved. I had an amazing experience, and it has inspired me to do more theatre. I’ve actually even been going on auditions again. (Well, just one so far, but we’ll see how it goes.) Theatre is the perfect thing to do while I am in limbo with my novel. It gives me the opportunity to be artistic, creative, and collaborative, but it doesn’t take quite as much out of me as writing all of my “rage against the ex-boyfriend songs.” (And anyway, I’m really in a pretty positive place which means I haven’t even been writing many songs lately -- I guess I only write songs when I’m upset about something.)
Luckily, while I'm sort of in limbo with other artistic projects, the 30 Day Poetry Challenge on Facebook has started back up. It was started by a few of my fellow grad students from the University of New Orleans (all poetry majors), and this is the third year. To celebrate National Poetry Month (which is of course April), the idea is to write a poem every day based on prompts posted on the Facebook page. Poets are encouraged to post their poems on their own Facebook pages or the 30 Day Poetry Challenge page, but it’s not required. I have participated in this the past two years, but I never got through all 30 days. (A poem I wrote is actually even appearing in an Anthology of the first two years of poems.) So far, we’re on day 9, and I have written a poem every single day. I’m hoping I actually get to Day 30 this year. (And I'll be sure to post the favorite poems I've written in the challenge this year here on the website when the month is over so stay tuned for that.)
Not every poem every day is going to be golden, but that’s not really the point. I love exercises and challenges like this. It reminds me a little of the writing marathons I used to do. In those, you get prompts and you HAVE to write for 5, 10, 20, or even 30 minute intervals. The point is just to write. You might not get anything usable out of the whole day, but you will exercise your writing muscles. And sometimes you have to write 18 pages to get to one really great sentence. But it’s all worth it, because in the end it’s not really even about the sentence. It’s about the process. And that’s how I feel about the 30 Day Poetry Challenge. It’s a challenge in the truest sense of the word. It is forcing me to step outside of my normal writing habits by making me do things I wouldn’t normally do.
The most important part of writing (or any art form really) is just to do it. If you want to be a writer, write every day, even if it’s just two pages in your journal about how you stubbed your toe. Who knows? The emotion from that might lead to a poem or a short story. You never know where you will end up if you don’t start somewhere. Put the pen to the paper. Type on your keyboard. Write anything. Don’t care if it’s good or if people will enjoy it. Write for yourself. You can always edit and revise later if you want to make something more structured. Just get it down on the page. That is the best writing advice I’ve ever been given, and I think that is what sets those who want to write apart from those people who have writing inside of their blood.
Click here to purchase Ready For Consumption: An Anthology of Poems from the 30 Day Poetry Challenge
A photo my fellow cast member, Liz, snapped of me last night at dress rehearsal
As many of you know, I'm doing a production of Godspell this weekend at my church, Unity North Atlanta.
I did Godspell ten years ago with Cobb Children's Theatre when I was a senior in high school. I have always loved the music and the overall energy of the show, though it is a little chaotic and random at times. (It's kind of like Hair. With Jesus. And without the nudity.)
I haven't done a musical in so long, unless you count Hedwig and the Angry Inch. (I thought of the Hedwig experience, though, as more of a "band" experience than a "theatrical" one though--probably because I had a guitar strapped to me throughout the whole show.) Mostly, the past ten years of my life have been more focused on playwriting or writing in general and performing my own music, whether in bands or as a solo artist.
So when I saw that Unity was having auditions for a production of Godspell--which is also the first theatrical production of this scale being performed at Unity--I knew I had to audition. I had literally just finished grad school, I was still taking a break from playing my own music in the Atlanta music venues, and I wasn’t working on anything artistic aside from novel. Also, I thought it was too coincidental that the production was going on literally ten years after I last did it.
I don't plan on going to my ten-year high school reunion, really, but in many ways this production has made me more reflective about the last ten years than any reunion could. I keep remembering the CCT production of Godspell, and I keep thinking about how different I was then.
The thing I have noticed the most was that my motivations for performing have changed. As a teenager, acting/singing and being in musicals is very much about finding yourself and finding your own voice. I think CCT was so important because so many of us essentially grew up in that organization--we discovered who we were underneath the lights of the Jennie T. Anderson theatre. So much of being a teenager and coming of age is feeling insecure and wanting people to acknowledge you, and when we performed in these shows, we got just that. We discovered who we were by pretending to be other people.
Ten years later, after hundreds of performances in smoky dive bars and music venues and the vulnerability that comes with having my own words being performed on stage by different actors, I am able to approach acting and singing (and even dancing) in a totally different way. I'm no longer an insecure 17-year-old. I don't need people to tell me that I can sing or that I have artistic talent because I at least believe in myself enough to know that much now. I'm no longer going into a show thinking "I hope people walk out of this going 'Wow, Sara did a great job!'" I want people to walk out feeling inspired. I want people to walk out feeling a sense of joy, a sense of community. I want this show to resonate with people in whatever way they experience spirituality. And my personal goal is that I can add my voice and my talents to that. It’s no longer about my personal performance and my ego. It’s about the collective experience, the community. And that is one of the best things I have gotten out of my own spiritual journey that began when I started going to Unity regularly and reading Eckhart Tolle and meditating and beginning my own spiritual practice.
My favorite part of Godspell (and maybe even the Bible) is when he talks about how you should store up your treasures in Heaven. I interpret this as saying "don't seek fulfillment on the level of the ego--in material possessions or in other people's opinions of you--because these things are fleeting and inpermanent. Instead, seek fulfillment on the level of the Spirit where we are all One because this is permanent." And for me, my whole experience with Godspell this time around has been a practice at doing just that.
I think Godspell is all about building a community and coming together, and I feel like that's my main motivation for doing this show this time around. And I was thinking about how I have had some questions about doing such a Biblical show at Unity where we don't exactly have a literal interpretation of the Bible or even reference the Bible as often as traditional Christian churches. But then I thought about it in a new perspective. I feel like one of the main goals of Unity is to bring everyone together and create a community of love and celebrating God in whatever way is right for you. (I especially saw this a few weekends ago when they did the inter-faith revival and had speakers from the Muslim faith, the Hindu faith, the Buddhist faith, the Jewish faith, and the Christian faith all speaking about what revival meant to them.) Of course we should do this show at Unity because even though it is so Biblical, it is a perfect example of building a community of love and the celebration of God.
I noticed the other day that life has also mirrored art, as it usually does. Julie, one of the cast members, was singing “Beautiful City” (one of my favorite songs in the show). It’s a song all about how we can come together essentially and build something beautiful and new together. And I think that is what we have done as a cast and crew. We are all incredibly different—the age range alone of the cast members is expansive. We have cast members in their 20s and cast members in their 70s and everything in between. Some of us are Unity members, some of us are members of Roswell United Methodist Church, and some of us are just members of the community. And just as Jesus has special hand signals with each cast member in the show to represent his relationships with them, every single person in the cast has inspired me in some unique way, and I have learned something from every person. As different as we all are, we are coming together and creating something new and beautiful. I think that is one of the things that I love so much about theatre—how collaborative it is. But it seems to have new meaning for me doing this particular production in this particular church.
Godspell will be performed Thursday, March 28th, Friday, March 29th, and Saturday, March 30th at Unity North Atlanta in Marietta - all productions are at 7:30 - tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Ticket information and other information available at http://unitynorth.org
This is a picture of me holding an apple in front of the Forks sign when my friend Lauryn and I stopped in this town on our way to the Hoh Rainforest. I thought it was appropriate for this post.
I've been completely engrossed in the world of young adult fiction lately, working on my novel. I started describing my novel as Twilight meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and it occured to me that that was actually pretty accurate. I felt like making a blog post about Twilight.
Confession time. I like Twilight, and I respect Stephenie Meyer.
Okay. Before you start disowning me (I'm looking at you literary snob friends), let me explain. First of all, when a close friend of mine gave me the first Twilight book to read, I knew nothing about it. It so happened that I was going through a really depressing and challenging breakup, and when I started reading, I was so wrapped up in the novel that I didn't think about my personal life. It was a complete escape for me. Being a huge fan of the Pacific Northwest, I could easily lose myself in a fantasy that had the magical forests of Washington as its backdrop. I felt this way as I read the rest of the series, too. I wanted to know what happened. I was engrossed in the plot. This is one reason I love stories. They can provide a complete escape from reality.
Alright, I'll admit that the whole series does have serious problems from a feminist point of view. Bella is not a very strong female character. She has no aspirations of her own, really, and her entire world revolves around these men, etc. etc. And yes, it is also true that the series has issues from a literary standpoint, especially if you break down the actual structure of the book or if you start dissecting it. And sure, the whole "Jacob imprinting on the baby" thing still creeps me out, and I have issues with some of the religious messages that come across. Yes, I also think these novels may send a negative message to young girls about co-dependency. These are all true things and why most people dislike the series.
The reason I respect Stephenie Meyer is that she created a story that she loved, a story she was passionate about, characters she obviously loved, and an entire world that millions of others wanted to escape into. Any true literary fan has to respect that much at least. There are a lot of younger people (mostly girls) who may have gotten into reading in general because of Twilight, and that is an amazing thing. And I don't think she consciously set out to be overly religious or anti-feminist or anything else. I think she just wrote a story that she fell in love with, and all of those other things subconsciously came through because of who she is and the things that she believes. And that is why I respect her.
Spending two and a half years in classes with some pretentious students who were ALWAYS trying to impress everyone else with how witty or intelligent they could be in their writing, it was so refreshing to go back and re-read Twilight. Here is a book that a woman wrote simply for the sheer joy of storytelling, and that is definitely evident when you read it. She didn't care what people thought about it. She didn't care about all of these "literary rules." She just wanted to write a story about these characters she had a dream about and thought were interesting.
Also, I am sick of negativity and criticism in general. Just let people like what they like. If Twilight makes someone happy, why is that a bad thing? And I think Twilight fans get more hate than usual because it is mostly females in the fandom. Other books/movies/TV shows that are predominately enjoyed by males are not criticized nearly as much, though they may be just as "low brow."
So I was trying to capture everything I loved about the experiece of first reading Twilight--before I analyzed it from a literary standpoint and was simply engrossed in the plot--when I wrote my novel. I just wanted to write a story that was important to me. I just wanted to write a story about characters I had grown to fall in love with. And hopefully, other people will enjoy it the way I have. And maybe someday it will give someone else a much-needed escape from a bad breakup. And that's all I ever really want with my art anyway.
I thought I'd update a little blog to tell you guys what's going on with my artistic projects!
As most of you know, I graduated with my MFA in Creative Writing in December. (Yay!) My thesis play was The Snow Globe, a children's fantasy play about a boy who's inside of a snow globe. I also have a (very different!) romantic comedy one act called Two Lesbians Stuck Inside of a Closet. It's funny. I spent all of this time in grad school working on these plays, and yet, I haven't done much to get them on stage this whole time. Now that grad school is over, I'm going to make more of an effort to get my plays out there. I'm hoping to self-produce Two Lesbians Stuck Inside of a Closet at some point this year. We'll see!
Also, I'm doing a MUSICAL! I haven't done a traditional musical like this in probably 9 years. (I don't think Hedwig counts--that's more of a rock show!) I'm going to be in Godspell at Unity North Atlanta March 28-30, and I'm really excited about it. I did Godspell ten years ago (wow, I feel old) with Cobb Childrens Theatre my senior year in high school, and I really love this show. It's also great to be involved with a production at Unity in particular, which is one of my favorite places to be. Speaking of, I'm finally becoming a member of Unity North on February 24th. I've been going there off and on for like 7 years and I'm just now becoming a member! I love Unity though because I feel like they really honor everyone's idividual spiritual path, and I'm excited to "make it official." Haha
I haven't been very active with music lately at all. The last show I played was in August. I have a show on the horizon, though, at Drunken Unicorn in April. So I will keep you posted about that. I'm also hoping to start recording YouTube covers again soon. I have a bunch of "happy songs that I've made depressing." Haha. I call it Morrissey-izing a song.
Some of my songs have been added to the EAV roster, though, so that's exciting! EAV is East Atlanta Village radio, the new online radio station from some of the Dave FM people. Check it out here!
The reason I haven't been very active with music is because I have been working on a young adult novel called The Muses. I just finished the first complete draft, and I've bene revising. The novel is basically a spin-off of my play, Painted, featuring Vincent and Izabella, the Muses from Painted. Here's the summary:
16-year-old musician, Sylvia Baker, has always been able to see Muses—mysterious beings who give artists inspiration—though they seem to be invisible to everyone else. After a near suicide attempt, Sylvia manages to climb out of the darkness of her mind by exploring her own musical abilities with the help of Travis, inspirational guitarist and classmate, and Vincent, the alluring British Muse who becomes Sylvia’s obsession. As she travels further into the world of these immortal beings that influence art, she finds herself in the middle of an epic battle between the modern Earthly Muses and the Original Greek Muses—some of which want her life.
I've been sending out queries to literary agents as I revise, and I'm hopeful. Even if I don't get it published in the traditional way, I will definitely be self-publishing. So either way, it will be out there for people to read soon enough. :)
On top of everything else, I've been moving to a little apartment off of the Marietta Square. Because I apparently wasn't hanging out at Cool Beans or MacCrackens enough. Haha.
Well, even though we’re almost 10 days into 2013, I felt the need to write about my seven favorite albums from 2012.
Muse – 2nd Law
Everyone knows that I love Muse so I expected to love this album. While it’s still not my favorite Muse album, I really appreciate the way they experimented with dubstep in a way that was not annoying. Also, there are a few stand-out tracks that will really knock you on your ass, like the single, “Madness.”
First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
This folk duo consists of two Swedish sisters, Johanna and Klara Söderberg. With their amazing vocal melodies and complementing harmonies and absolutely beautifully constructed songs with powerful storytelling lyrics, this album will take you on a journey.
Beach House – Bloom
This album is amazing. Everything Beach House has ever done is amazing. I want to have Victoria LeGrand’s babies. (Let’s just forget about the fact that that is biologically impossible and I don’t even want babies.)
Moonlight Bride – Twin Lakes, Moonlight Bride – Dead Language
Technically, these are two EPs, but I like to listen to them back to back and think of them as one album. Really, I think of Dead Language as the sequel to Twin Lakes. Moonlight Bride is a Tennessee band that has seriously not gotten enough attention. These two EPs are filled with catchy songs like “Lemonade” that have some pretty solid hooks to heartbreaking songs like “Open Waters.” I can’t wait to hear what Moonlight Bride will do next.
Stars – The North
Here’s another band I love. I must admit, though, I was a little disappointed with 2010’s The Five Ghosts so when I heard this album, I immediately fell in love. “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It” is probably my favorite song of the entire year. This album has all of the great songwriting that made me fall in love with Stars.
Grizzly Bear – Shields
This was another highly anticipated album for me that certainly did not disappoint. If you liked the complex, mellow Veckatimest, you will love this album. Tracks like “Sleeping Ute” and “Yet Again” stand out for me. This album has a very nostalgic quality that makes me think of classic rock bands from the 1970s.
Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon
This was a new band I discovered in 2012. On the surface, this is a really catchy pop rock album. But when you listen more closely, you’ll discover deep, meaningful lyrics that point to themes of spirituality, especially on tracks like “The World is Watching” and “Remember My Name.” But “Sleep Alone” is probably my second favorite song from 2012.
It's not often that I get personal on here. But I thought that I would post a blog about all of my tattoos and what they mean to me.
This is the first one. (It's on my lower back.) I got it for my 20th birthday in 2005. It was mainly just to represent my love of music and the fact that I have soul and passion in everything that I create. That is the one thing that is probably the most important to me. I think you need technique in any art form, but more importantly, you need soul. You need emotion, you need passion, you need something that you believe in strongly. Ideally, a good song/play/film/painting/poem/etc. will be the perfect combination of craft/technique and passion/soul/emotion. But this tattoo was basically me saying that while I may sometimes lack craft/technique, I will never, ever lack soul. Even beyond art, though, it's just about my passion for life, which is most apparent in music and the way that I experience/share/play/create/listen to it.
Then in the summer of 2006, I got sort of a trilogy of tattoos, representing the three bands/musicians that have meant the most to me.
This is a very subtle reference to "Mayonaise" by the Smashing Pumpkins - When I can, I will - along with the bull symbol on the back of my neck because I am a Taurus. It's really a tattoo that describes my determination. If there's any possible way for me to do something I want to do, I will. I'm not a HUGE believer in astrology, but I do like the idea of "the bull" and the Taurus having more perserverence and determination. This idea of the bull during the bullfight - bleeding and dying and yet he still charges on until the very end. This tattoo is also a symbol of everything I feel when I hear "Mayonaise" - there's so much pain and sadness in that song and yet somehow - in spite of all of that - there's acceptance. (The picture isn't great because I tried to take it of myself. Haha.)
The next tattoo that I got that summer was this Radiohead bear, and the lyrics, "Immerse your soul in love" (which are of course Radiohead lyrics.) Not only does this tattoo represent my love for Radiohead, but it reminds me to do just that, immerse my soul in love. Choose love instead of fear. I got this one facing me so that I could easily read the lyrics as it was really a message to myself. (In a way, you could say that all of my tattoos are a message to myself or reminding me of something I need to remember.)
The next tattoo is a picture of Morrissey on my leg. Underneath him, it says, "Don't forget the songs that made you cry and the songs that saved your life." Morrissey/The Smiths were that for me. When I was younger (19 or 20), whenever I was feeling incredibly depressed and alone, I would listen to Morrissey or The Smiths and know that I wasn't. Someone else understood, somewhere. And while it seems like we're all isolated, we're all going through these things together, we're all feeling the same emotions. And in our seeming isolation, we're actually connected.
I got this tattoo in October 2006 shortly after I began a new relationship. I am a Taurus with a Cancer rising, and he was a Cancer with a Taurus rising, so we each got this symbol. Matching tattoos. Underneath his, he has my lyrics, "Please just let me try to consume you," (from "Let Me Try" which I sang with Ruby), and underneath mine, it said "Come fly away with me tonight," which is from the My Brightest Diamond song, "Dragonfly." While our relationship didn't work out, I don't regret getting the tattoo because it was what I was feeling at the time, and it was something I went through. Something that made me who I am.
In the summer of 2010, I got this tattoo. It's from Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the lyric is from the end of "Midnight Radio." I had just played Yitzhak in the play, and the play/film has been such a huge part of my life. (In the summer of 2003, my friends and I went to see the performance of Hedwig at Actor's Express at least 30 times! We were officially the show groupies.) But the main reason that I got this tattoo and that I got those lyrics is because, like Hedwig at the end of the film/play, I have learned that I don't need an "other half" to be complete. I am complete in myself. "Lift up your hands," is a celebration. I'm celebrating being who I am, like Yitzhak who finally gets to be who s/he is at the end of the play. I'm celebrating life. I'm celebrating wholeness.
So just as I got a tattoo when I began grad school, I got another tattoo last weekend now that I have finished my Master's degree. It was sort of a present to myself.
There is a light that never goes out. This could mean so many things. There's a quote from Morrissey where he says, "When you’re a teenager and in your early twenties it seems desperately eternal and excruciatingly painful. Whereas as you grow older you realise that most things are excruciatingly painful and that is the human condition. Most of us continue to survive because we’re convinced that somewhere along the line, with grit and determination and perseverance, we will end up in some magical union with somebody. It’s a fallacy, of course, but it’s a form of religion. You have to believe. There is a light that never goes out and it’s called hope." So based on this, I think the song is about the hope that one day you will fall in love -- or someone will fall in love with you or both. The hope for love. That is light that never goes out. In another way, though, I see hope in general as being the light that never goes out. No matter how bad things get, no matter how dark it is, there is hope that tomorrow will be better. There is a light that never goes out.
Of course, I have always loved this song -- I even cover it sometimes -- and the tattoo is a symbol of my love for not only song but my love for art in general (as all of my tattos are in some form), but it's also a reminder that there is always hope - there is always love - there is always art.
You could also take it one step further and say that there is something eternal in all living things that never dies and that is the light that never goes out. There is a way to metaphysically read anything!
And really, you can kind of say "we are all isolated and yet connected through art" is the theme of all of my tattoos. This is also why I was so obsessed with "The Waste Land" when I finally understood how that poem more effectively expressed that theme than any other piece of art I know.
So those are my tattoos. Clearly, I'm a big fan of tattoos (much to the dismay of my parents), and all of mine really mean a lot to me. I have clear patterns and themes with all of my tattoos - they all reference some kind of art or an aspect of art - they all have words - they're all in black ink (with the exception of the quill which has "red ink" spilling out of the ink bottle). And they're all pieces of me. The most appealing thing to me about tattoos is that they give you an opportunity to reflect your values, your personality, and the things that are important to you in your appearance. And there's something romantic to me about having all of this music and art etched into my skin.
It's been a while since I've posted anything on here so I decided to start this with a picture of Morrissey. Because, why not? I think we all need a little Morrissey in our lives.
I've been super busy trying to finish up my MFA--I've got my big comprehensive exam coming up and my thesis defense. (My thesis is my play The Snow Globe, which I'm feeling pretty good about.) This is why I have sort of fallen off the face of the Earth. (Unless you come to Cool Beans, where I will probably be reading or writing.) I also started working on a young adult novel. I was so in love with the Muses from my play Painted, Vincent and Izabella, I wanted to keep writing about them. And I felt like the young adult format was a good place to do that. Because really, have I ever grown up past the age of 17? Um, probably not. (Have I grown up past the age of 8, some people might ask. I do have a Peter Pan complex. As anyone who saw my short film, Leapfrog, or heard my song, "Peter's Lament" knows. But shhh.) So anyway. I feel like maybe I have found my niche. The Snow Globe is a children's play, I'm working on a new young adult novel, and well, maybe I just like being immature.
Things are looking up for me, though. I am starting to see the light at the end of the grad school tunnel, I got a new job today where I will be able to learn and grow in the field of internet marketing/SEO, which is a great thing for a writer to get into. (There's a lot of writing web content involved.) And I'm hoping that I will be able to get back into music--playing shows and recording songs--when I graduate and all of that settles down. I have a lot of new songs (well..."new" as in they aren't on my solo album or the Pocket the Moon album...) and I'm hoping to record another solo album (but this time with backing musicians!) some time in the next year or two...I have a lot of ideas kicking around. But you know me, I always have 8 million things going on.
One of the great things I have enjoyed about taking some time off with music is that it has given me more time to enjoy and support other artists. Here's one you should check out!
My friends over at Verge of Bliss recently released an EP and it will rock your face off. Seriously. I feel like there is a raw, pure "rock" quality that Verge of Bliss has that is unique in the local Atlanta scene. Check out their EP here.
You can catch Verge of Bliss at Star Bar in November. They'll also be touring Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, so check out their dates if you live in those states.
Official Verge of Bliss Website
I'm going to try to post some YouTube covers in the next few weeks. I need to stay sharp even though I'm not playing shows right now, and that will definitely help! Plus I have a few cool covers I've been playing lately that I'd like to share with you guys.
Writing by dybern from DeviantArt
Hello blog readers!
I will be teaching creative writing classes at Arts of Cobb for students ages 12 - 17 starting September 27th.
Here's the complete information. Please pass this along to any students who may be interested!
Also, actors - if you are interested in being in the staged readings at the end of the playwriting class, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Creative Writing Classes
Arts of Cobb
19 Powder Springs St
Marietta, GA 30064
Located on the Marietta Square
Taught by Sara Crawford
Ages 12 – 17
Poetry Writing - 6 weeks - $99
Thursdays 7:00 - 8:00 pm
September 27th - November 1st
Students will learn techniques of poetry writing, share their poetry with fellow students and get feedback on poems, and learn about poetry publication opportunities and how to submit work for publication. This 6-week course will end in the students sharing their work in a poetry reading performance.
Playwriting - 6 weeks - $99
Mondays 7:00 - 8:00 pm
November 8th - December 20th (no class on Thanksgiving)
Students will learn techniques of playwriting, share their plays with fellow students and get feedback on plays, learn about playwriting opportunities, playwriting contests and festivals for students, and learn how to submit work for production and publication. This 6-week course will end with a staged reading performance of short plays written by students.
Sign up for one class for $99 or both classes for $189.
E-mail email@example.com or call 770-425-9660 to sign up
About the teacher:
Sara Crawford is a published poet and produced playwright. She has two chapbooks of poems, Coiled and Swallowed and Driving Downtown to the Show, currently published, and she has published many individual poems in publications such as Aries: a journal from Texas Wesleyan University, Illogical Muse, and Ceremony. Her plays have been performed throughout the Atlanta area, and in 2011, her play, The Spins, was a finalist in the Essential Theatre's Playwriting Contest. She has a BA in English from Kennesaw State University, and she is currently in her last semester of her graduate program, pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Playwriting in the University of New Orleans Low Residency program.
I feel like I have relationships with albums. Actual relationships, I mean. It's not some fictional relationship I have created in my mind with the artists themselves, but it's an actual relationship with the songs if that makes sense. I can completely be in love with someone's music but think they are an asshole in real life. (Like Billy Corgan?) (Even though I don't actually know him in real life. But anyway.)
So I decided to start a new blog series called Albums I Love where I can basically go on about some of these albums and my relationships to them for anyone who may be interested. I don't usually get too "personal" here in the SaraCrawford.net blog, but I feel like sharing my relationships with these albums with you all is even more personal than if I were to discuss my relationships with actual people.
Today, it's Halfway Down the Sky by Splender.
I was obsessed with this album back in 1999/2000 when I was 14/15. It wasn't one of the particularly popular albums of 1999. My friends and I heard "Yeah, Whatever" (the single) on the radio a couple of times. But this is one of those late 90s one-two hit wonders whose album I TOTALLY fell in love with. (Like Semisonic, Ours, VAST, etc.) (Not that I would necessarily call VAST or Ours one hit wonders, but I think they only had one single each on mainstream radio--I won't even call them "hits" as I'd say the "majority" of people didn't actually hear them.)
I re-discovered this album today as I was driving home from North Carolina. It was like seeing an old friend after a long time and being reminded of parts of myself I had completely forgotten about. And yet, at the same time, it was a different album.
That's the sign of a good album. You can listen to it 13 years later, and not only is it still good, but you hear different things in the songs. These are the albums you can re-visit time and time again.
The thing I love most about this album is the raw emotion. Singer/songwriter, Waymon Boone, sings with such unadulterated honesty and passion from the very first track on the album, "I Don't Understand." He sings, "suppose the feelings real/you'd never know/suppose it's what you feel/you'll never know/that's what I don't understand/that's what I don't know" with such simplicity and frustration. The fierce, yet simple alternative rock guitar and the thumping drums back him up, and it's not hard to see where a 14-year-old could relate to this song.
The songs are well constructed, well played, yet simple. The lyrics are the same. Completely relatable, but simple. Some of the songs can almost be interpreted any way you want to interpret them. (Like "Cigarette" or "London.") Yet in the midst of all of these well-constructed, simple pop rock songs, Boone's intense passion shines through. Is it the way he belts soulfully with incredibly strong vocals? Is it more than that? I don't know, but it's something.
When I was 14, my favorite tracks on the album were the tracks like "I Don't Understand," "Yeah, Whatever," "I Think God Can Explain," and "Wallflower." "I Don't Understand" and "Yeah, Whatever" mirrored my own teen angst, I think. 14 going into 15 is a difficult time. You're trying to figure out where the hell you fit in, you feel like you're an adult who knows everything but you actually haven't a clue what you're doing. There's a lot of emotions going on. The ups and downs of this album mirrored that perfectly. "Wallflower" was my theme song. Being a wallflower myself, I would crank up the volume on my CD player and sing along with Boone, "Nobody understands/wallflower/Nobody gives a damn/wallflower." Isn't that the crux of being a teenager? Feeling like no one completely understands you? Well, this album always understood me in those moments.
"I Think God Can Explain" is of course the love song/ballad that is required for any late 90s somewhat commercially successful pop rock album. When I was 14 and in love with the idea of love (without actually understanding what it meant at all), I loved this song because, to me, it sounded like how someone might actually feel if they were in love. Boone sings, "It's alright, I'm okay/I think God can explain/I believe I'm the same/I get carried away," while melodic guitars and vocal harmonies carry the listener away.
Listening to this album today, though, I had a different experience. I still loved all of the songs I used to love. "Yeah, Whatever" and "Wallflower" reminded me of that 14-year-old trying to figure out where she fit in. And yet, some of the songs I never really "got" before really spoke to me this time, like "Supernatural."
Beautiful feather hovering overground
We're both being pushed by the wind
Through the air
This song, to me, is about how we're all connected - with each other, with nature, with all life. This is a very "new age" idea that I didn't actually get into until much later when I started checking out the New Thought movement. In the song, the speaker reflects on how he's similar to a feather floating in the air, the words lying in the grass, and then he belts out:
And the sun is my best friend
And the earth opened up to me
We've been separate for so long
We fell far from this tree
For so long
We crawled out of this stream
For so long
What's become of you?
What's become of me?
It's okay, it's okay
It's part of everything
Here the speaker is reflecting on the illusion that everything is separate and reassuring the listener that it's actually alright because we're all connected. The sun is his best friend. It's all part of everything. Everything has its place. I never would have interpreted this song that way in 1999, but I couldn't hear it any other way today.
And when I listened to "I Think God Can Explain" today, I heard it entirely differently. The speaker is overwhelmed and confused and in love and perhaps conflicted about the fact that he's in love. There's no logical way to explain anything that's happening to him, and so he says "I think God can explain." There's no possible way that he will be able to understand what he's feeling, but maybe God/The Universe can. And the song does still sound like "falling in love", but today, I heard a lot more of how it mirrors the emotional roller coaster that comes along with that.
Here are some YouTube links so you can hear some of these songs, though I encourage you to listen to the whole album so you can get the whole emotional arch. You will most certainly not have the same experience with these songs as I do, but maybe you will hear something else. That's the beauty of music and art. It teaches us all something different.