Friday, May 11, 2018

Love Waltz with Fireworks (Filmpoem by Sarah Durn & Kelli Russell Agodon)


Love Waltz with Fireworks from Visible Poetry Project on Vimeo.
April 19: Love Waltz with Fireworks
Directed by Sarah Durn
Poem by Kelli Russell Agodon

Narration by Nikesh Murali


I am thankful to have had my poem chosen by filmmaker Sarah Durn to be part of Visible Poetry Project's film-poems for National Poetry Month.

Sarah was a dream to work with and the film exceeded my expectations!

If you want to learn more about Visible Poetry Project (and submit your own poem in the fall/winter), learn more about them here: https://www.visiblepoetryproject.com/




You can see more poems by the Visible Poetry Project here.








~ Kells ________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Breaking Up with My Boyfriend, Facebook...



Let me be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. 

Facebook is the boyfriend who knows all the cool people, goes to all the right parties, is always in the know, but ultimately talks too much (and is an expert in *way* too many subjects) and keeps taking me on these long dates to nowhere.

Facebook boyfriend has his perks, when I'm with him, I'm feel pretty high, drunk and in love with the world. People are liking my new haircut, my photo, my story, my cat. 

I know everyone's business too--who got married, who got divorced, who went to what restaurant and with who and who ordered catfish tacos. 


I'm like wallflower who somehow wore the right dress and is hanging out with the cool kids-- did you see what Rita Dove is here? Oh my God, Ocean Vuong just popped in! Hey, Richard Siken just showed up!  Someone bring me an appetizer, I'm part of the gang, I'm clicking it with the clique. I may be home in ratty PJs and slippers with cows on them, but no one knows that, tonight I'm at the party of the century and wearing a gown! 

And my boyfriend makes it so much fun. He gives me a numbers on how many people gave me the thumbs up today. Some people give me red hearts. Some people appreciate my sense of humor and give me a laughing face. I am the most popular here. I'm the mayor of nothing, I have a wall I write words on and people show up and respond and like those words. It's like publication for people who don't want to really try. My campaign is built on photos of me paddleboarding, poetry, sunsets, and an occasional cat. 

People leave me sweet notes and I answer important questions for other people like "Am I too old to wear red lipstick?" Definitely not!  "Can canned tuna be bad for cats?" Let's google that, there have been studies about mercury in the meat!  "Is it okay to wear open-toed shoes to a memorial?" (Okay, that one was my question I asked to my Facebook friends and they came through--Yes! Yes, you can wear open-toed shoes to a memorial.) This is so useful. Facebook boyfriends tells me these people are here 24/7 and I can ask them anything and they will respond. It's a magical place where laugh and cry and complain all in a semi-private setting where people may or may not understand our tone or humor and possibly freak out at something said and cause several notes back and forth to get something that could have been minor or overlooked in real life worked out, but right, magical! 


Then Facebook boyfriend woos me with how much he knows about poets. Look who has a book out! he yells.  Look who published this poem in this journal, he says in between showing me photos of children and places I'll never visit. Look, this poet won an award, a big award! Maybe you will *never* win that award...Wait, what? Who said that? Ohhhh, that's my insecure self popping in to join us, okay, it's a threesome now. Me, my Facebook boyfriend and my insecurities, oh my, the night is young...


As good dates go, somewhere a couple hours in you realize the guy you are dating (plus your tag-a-long insecurity) may not be the best match for you. But you're already out. Here is about when my boyfriend turns on me. He says, "Hey, let's do this again for another 2 hours and I'll show you the things I just showed you, but enough new information that you'll hang around." Um, that kind of sounds terrible, but I've been sitting her this long, maybe something fun will happen! 

Facebook and I having our 4th beer while we watch people get into fights over submission fees and terrible male writers behaving badly. Someone brings up Mr. Magoo as a controversial figure in cartoons. As was Fred Flintstone. Someone says, "Once I ran into X and he said, "Do you have any peanut butter and I'm like, You are awful for putting your need for peanut butter before this reading AND he wore socks with sandals. I am so done with male poets!"

So now I'm eating peanut butter from the jar (because the post made it sound so good) trying to figure out who X and the next thing I know, it's an hour later and my peanut butter is gone. I still don't know who X is, but I will be looking at people's feet from this point on and I have peanut butter all over my hands. My boyfriend rudely shows me an ad for weight loss which I mark "Does not apply" and send away.

From there, it all goes down hill... I start hitting the hard stuff and lose a sandal. I slip into another conversation where Opinion dresses incredibly close to Fact, so close that people are calling Opinion "Fact" and I'm staring at my screen thinking--Hey, that's Opinion not Fact, maybe I should chime in and clear that up. And now Opinion keeps popping up as Truth, it's like Opinion is in camouflage and no one sees it.


I'm wandering around with my Facebook boyfriend drunk, shoeless, and covered in peanut butter. My boyfriend and I have spent the day together, but have accomplished nothing (thankfully, my insecurity left right before the weight loss ad saving me from a salad with no dressing for dinner.)

And in fact, I'm annoyed with the world. I've snoozed several people for 30 days like I'm the witch in Snow White with my powerful poison apple. You want to show me a traumatic image about cows being slaughtered while I have my breakfast--SNOOZE. You want me to share the sad story about animal abuse-- SNOOZE.  You have complained about the same people for the last 4 weeks and yet you seem not to be making any good decisions in your life-- SNOOZE. I am the powerful witch snoozing my friends in the hopes that in 30 days they will not post photos of injured animals or those videos that just start playing where they should you how to make mac and cheese in a bicycle helmet in the microwave-- SNOOZE! 


I start to sober up, the day is wasted. I spent my hours on magical beans that grew nothing, plus I'm out a sandal. 

I'm annoyed with the world and its terrible news. And I realize my boyfriend has been making money off me-- it seems he is paid for the time I spend with him because ultimately, he has stuff to sell me...and he has people who work for him that want my attention. And the more I show up, the more money he gets, which seems like a terrible deal. I lose hours of my one-time-on-this-planet and he gets a revenue stream?!

So Facebook, I am breaking up with you.

I am taking a break to reclaim my time and my mind. But with any truly dysfunctional relationship, I know I'll be back, as I always seem to return. Facebook is like the boyfriend I don't need but who always has the best snacks when I'm hungry for nothing.

But I've gotten better at staying away from you even longer because I realize, the secret to Facebook is 1) The less you're on Facebook, the less you want Facebook.  Like Fight Club except instead of hitting yourself in your own face, you're actually writing blog posts or poems. You're actually sitting in a lounge chair in your own backyard reading American Poetry Review and Poets and Writers. 


Facebook, I will be back, but on my own terms at my own time and keeping this in mind--Use technology, but don't let technology use you. 

Still, you do throw a pretty good party. I just need to know when to go home. 



~ Kells 
________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Sunday, May 06, 2018

While I Was a Terrible Blogger During #NaPoWriMo, I Earned My Poem-A-Day Merit Badge... (Plus: Why Quantity Wins Over Quality in First Drafts...)



So when in April while I was also naming myself "the worst blogger ever" I was also giving myself a completion badge for writing a poem-a-day in April for National Poetry Month.

Yes, I wrote a poem a day.

Yes, some where terrible.

But wait, some were actually pretty good.


One thing I realized is be less concerned with quality of the first draft and more interested in completion of the first draft. Quality can come later during the revision process, but getting words onto the paper is important.











This story below is from Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles & Ted Orland:


The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pound of pots rated an "A", forty pounds a "B", and so on. Those being graded on "quality", however, needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A".
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

There's a lot to learn here about daily writing, writing a ton of poems that never go anywhere, or just finding 10 minutes in the day to write. You can determine the moral of the story for yourself and your takeaway, but for me it's the moment I put "importance" onto a poem, I lose the play, the joy, and the spontaneity that is, for me, the spark of art.

My best writing has been done when I wake up with a clear mind and maybe 40 minutes just to dream on paper. 

My best writing rarely happens when I am saying to myself, "Okay, you need to make this one excellent, you need to write your best poem ever."

I have a friend I write with back and forth and on May 1st he sent me an email saying, "I haven't lost the energy, I want to keep writing a poem-a-day..." And I agree.

So I will continue on trying to write a poem a day, but being happy if I get a poem a week or a poem every-other-day. 

Because I love the journey and while I love a draft that leads to a completed work, I appreciate the poems that don't. They are like sketches in an artist's journal, practice swings on a baseball field knowing one day, we'll hit it out of the park.


xo
~ Kells

________________
 www.agodon.com
www.twosylviaspress.com

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Average Blogger = More Words Than Not

By Artist Maria Qamar - Burning is better than not trying. Burn on, friends.

I signed up to write at least one blog post a week and for the most part, I've done it. Though, there are periods where there are more than 7 days between posts. There are times when I think, "Omg, I have a blog." 


I realize one of the reasons I haven't been blogging is because it was feeling as if what I wrote wouldn't be good enough.

Lately, I haven't had a lot of interesting things to share, it's why I signed off of Facebook for Lent.


I feel as if my head is bowl of sticky noodles and I can't get my thoughts straight.

When I come to blog, I think, "What could I say that is interesting or useful?" And then decide to turn on Queer Eye and eat pistachios. 

It occurred to me today (and maybe because it's National Poetry Month and I'm writing a poem a day) that I need to lower my standards a bit on this blog, especially if I want to get a post a week. 

There is a quote that "good is the enemy of great," meaning that sometimes we take adequate quality over something. But "great" or "perfect" is the enemy of "done." 

Even if I'm average blogging, I'm at least getting something on the page. One line to a poem is more than not writing.

I once knew a person who started a lot of projects and always had something new in the works (a novel, a book of poems, a screenplay, etc.). Problem was, they never finished anything. I think they were dealing with perfectionism there, some childhood baggage from a parent I think. 

I remember thinking--I'd rather be done and fail than to not complete something. 

I remember thinking I'd rather have one completed project in five years than ten false starts, ten well-I-didn't-finish-that-one. 

For me, not trying is failing.

For me, I'd rather show up on the diving board and occasionally bellyflop than not put on my bath suit and not head to the pool...


So that brings me back to this blog, I'll show up here weekly with my swimcap on and hopefully what I write will be of interest, or useful, or give you hope, make you smile or make you think.

It may not (and most likely won't) be perfect.


But by the end of the year, I'll have my promised 52 blog posts and hopefully, maybe a couple more.

Thanks for reading....



P.S. The abov
e image is By Artist Maria Qamar, you can learn more about her here: https://hatecopy.com/ she's one of my favorites. (Here's her instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hatecopy)



~ Kells 
________________ 
 www.agodon.com 
www.twosylviaspress.com

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Confession Sunday.. Mini Writing Retreat

Dear Reader,

It has been a couple weeks since my last confession. In fact, I'm behind on blogging in general, also, life in general, chores in general, and ________________ fill in anything else I missed. 

But in between the craziness, I found time to write.

Note: If you are not schedule time to write on your calendar, please do so. Dedicated days (or even a morning) can make a huge difference in both your writing life and your mental/emotional life. 



My friend Ronda came over at 1 pm on Friday and we wrote until 11 pm at night. Since it was so late, she spent the night and we woke up, had coffee, and wrote 3 poems in the morning.

There's a magic to these "mini-retreats" where I sit with a friend and write all day.

Maybe it's the energy of focus, of two people each writing poems.

Or maybe it's just intent--we intend to write poems, and we do.

Sometimes we do prompts, or sometimes we just find a line in a book of poems and use that as our jumping out spot. There are so many ways to begin a poem.

What you need to do your own writing retreat at home?

-- a laptop or journal

--books of poems (for inspiration)

--snacks

--time and a semi-quiet house

Optional:
--A friend can be helpful, especially if you find yourself not making the best use of your time.



I have found the times I've done these retreats (or even writing dates) with other poets, I end up with a lot stronger work than if I just hang out by my own. I think sometimes the interaction, the listening to poems, the talking with another poet can get my mind working in unusual ways. It's the back and forth that is helpful to me.  

Sorry to have been so out of touch these last months. I feel as if there is just too much going on (in my life, in the world, in my head), so I've pulled back a bit until I can feel as if no longer running in place (a quick visual of my life since January (I'm George, not the pets... "Jane, stop this crazy thing...)





Hope to show up here more... and wishing you a relaxing Sunday.

~ Kells 
________________
 www.agodon.com
www.twosylviaspress.com
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