For those of you who may not yet know, New Pages is a great source and resource for writing news, information, and guides to independent bookstores, independent publishers, literary magazines, alternative periodicals, independent record labels, alternative newsweeklies. and more. (Essentially, go there and learn things.)
Today, I found out from one of the editors that my poetry website/blog has been listed up there as well, right alongside other prominent writers (such as Seth Abramson) and aspiring poets!
It may be but a small step, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
(P.S. – I also wanted you to let you all know that I’ve been working quietly on a few different projects, and some of them are soon to come to light. Stay tuned.)
I hope the roller coaster was kind enough to you.
It may have tried a time or two
to dislodge and fling you
forty feet face-first into the ground,
but you held fast.
You rode the rails,
suffered through the hard banks,
and vaguely remembered learning something
about the powers of different forces.
I hope you’ve made the most of the ride,
because the next one,
whichever you choose,
is about to start in just a few minutes.
[Below is a poem I’ve puzzle-pieced together using my single best line/stanza from each and every one of my 30/30 poems composed this year. I like to think of it as a combination of two, popular poetic forms – the found poem and the exquisite corpse – and I always find it fascinating to see how these lines and words can be re-purposed to create entirely new meaning with minimal alterations. If you feel moved by a line or are curious how it fits in the original poem, then simply click on it! Each one links back to the initial post.]
She rouses from a road bump,
spots me reading a book of poems,
and assumes me to be educated.
Her sweatshirt is rolled up like a bikini top,
unveiling her large stomach
with the pomp of a premiering vaudeville show.
She’s been unselfish since birth,
salt of the earth worth her weight in gold.
Sold down the river at her own demand,
she walked straight into our house of mourning,
wrapped her wise arms around my 11-year old frame,
and kissed my tortured mind.
She reminds me that spring is coming back for us soon;
we just have to spin the world a little more first.
But she’s been forgotten and forlorn,
a run-down ghost town
whose people left her long ago in heart
before she lost them to industry.
And I write to you because I loved, love, will love you
and I want to understand who you are,
who you were, and who you’re still yet to become.
Our void grows contemptuous,
widens with each jealousy,
sprouts a new offshoot so green,
so doomed to be forgotten.
And I hope your children grow up to be poets
so you’re never able to understand them.
I reread the printed letters from my lawyer,
make constellations of his patterned excuses.
I catch every person’s phone conversation
and reply to both ends, snatch their vested secrets,
could expose the truths of their youths.
Born of the same soured soil and tainted rain,
we did the only thing we knew how,
grew inward – tighter and tighter into each other,
hoping that our togetherness could save us
from the harshness of our surroundings.
But the darknesses we hold inside us –
deep and consuming enough to digest galaxies –
have somehow found homes in our foreign bodies.
And we are eroding within,
like our coast, ever crumbling into the gulf.
His self-slapped golden handcuffs keep him
tight where his boss wants him,
marionetting stability and rigidity,
And our former selves fight inside to stay alive,
waiting for the worst moments to
resurrect themselves in their familiar haunts.
He couldn’t domesticate the beast with obedience;
his training just taught him to gnaw the wrong things.
We want to be brackish,
but fear what we may kill in the process –
some just can’t comprehend the water’s ways,
filled only with soft breathing and flushed skin –
the work of an inexperienced child
who’d only before fucked women
to submission in his mind.
I like lists, and thus, I have decided to number out my top 6 most popular poems that now exist as a result of this year’s 30/30 Poetry Challenge. If you have a different favorite, feel that WordPress’ numbers are just off, or think another poem should’ve gotten more exposure, then please say so in the comments section below and let everyone know why.
Enjoy, share, say things, and thanks again for your support!
In which I people watch while trying not to judge people.
In which I try to trade sex for love.
In which I call out the college bros who aren’t even trying to respect the poetry at readings.
If only all our lists could be this honest.
One of the greatest professors that Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College has ever known, Alene Harris, is now beginning her life of retirement. This is a humble poem in honor of her awe-inspiring career.
In which my girlfriend finally gets her poem.
As of yesterday (the last of April), I have succeeded in completing my self-imposed 30/30 poetry challenge, and thus, I have conquered National Poetry Writing Month 2014! (Muwhahahaha!)
All sinister, cartoon laughter aside, a gargantuan THANK YOU goes out to every one of you who has been reading, sharing, and commenting on my poetic blogging. Your support and encouragement are appreciated beyond understanding (and it’s always good to hear your hardest words validated by others).
This year’s line-up of poems was bound to be different. As I had mentioned in my “preamble” to NaPoWriMo14, I challenged myself to be more open, more honest, and more vulgar (when necessary) in my writing. And with poems concerning topics such as sex, porn, libido, masturbation, pregnancy, depression, rude college bros, death/dying, judging people, abandonment/exclusion, biracial dating, religious tolerance, national pride, and environmental decimation, I think I did a pretty bang-up job rising to the challenge (in my humble opinion).
As a result, my poems hit a record high of 220 views on April 29th alone, and they now have an overall record of 4,444 views (and counting) — nearly 3x the exposure my poems last year had earned. Being more diligent and consistent with posting and sharing my poems this year certainly helped, as did the addition of pictures, but I also think my writing is improving with each iteration, and it’s still crazy and motivating to me to see how far they’ve come in a mere 30+ days. Most importantly, your support has helped give me the confidence to consider writing as a viable life option.
The other half of this 30/30 exercise was to make myself build the habit of writing like someone who’s planning to make a career with his words. In his genius book The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield talks about what he calls “turning pro” — meshing your creative self with your business self, and knowing when to activate each. This is the beginning of my turning pro, and if all goes as I’d like it to, my next big steps will include getting published often in poetry journals and magazines, and then getting accepted into MFA in Poetry graduate programs. (Stay tuned for more on both fronts.)
In the meantime, I certainly plan to keep on writing more poems — just on a more lax schedule — and when I do, I’ll post them up here for you all to enjoy.
Thanks again for all the love, and please share my words with anyone else who may be moved by them as well.
– Justin Barisich
(Little Writing Man)
I always knew this day would come.
I just didn’t think it would be so soon,
or from such an objector.
But I guess no one likes to have their truth
chewed up and spat back at them.
My granny called me late last night and huffed,
“I don’t need you writin’ ‘bout me no more!” –
the martini on her breath
coming in strong across three state lines.
She’d found that particular poem of mine,
about a year after I’d posted it,
and had to work (and drink) herself
up to this for god knows how long.
She must’ve changed seats from recliner to sofa
to rocking chair to see how it would sit with her –
dragging her bum leg and two iron knees behind her,
waddling precariously with every heavy step,
trying to get a different perspective
on a new subject that somehow snuck into
her house unchanged for nearly twenty years.
My directness, my confrontation,
was novel for her – someone who’d
spent her entire life keeping quiet,
biting her tongue, holding grudges,
internalizing her pain to avoid becoming a bother,
always allowing others’ demons to possess her.
She’d pray that her sacrificial silence could
glue her cracked family back together again –
just like one of her beloved keepsakes
that had fallen off the shelf in
the backroom that was once a bedroom,
now long abandoned by her only son.
But in her stifled anger and saccharine offence,
she’d only managed to misread
my writing’s honest intent.
I write about you because I care about you.
Because I’ve thought about you as a person,
as a character, as what else you might have been
in life had the circumstances been different.
I write about you to make sense of our relationship,
to find some logic and some meaning
in our shifts of age and power.
I write about you to remember you as you are,
to memorialize you as a real person
and not some vague notion of someone
I thought I knew or pretended to know for so long
that I tricked myself into believing it were true.
I write about you to document your complexities,
not to diminish them through generalization.
I write about you because I see myself in you,
and I want to tease it out and learn from it,
to borrow your wisdom, find reasons for your flaws,
and escape copying your mistakes.
I write about you because I loved, love, will love you
and I want to understand who you are,
who you were, and who you’re still yet to become.
So, no, I won’t stop writing about you.
Because then I would stop caring, stop trying, stop being.
And that’s something I refuse to do.