Friday, May 11, 2018
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 ________________
Tuesday, May 08, 2018
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.
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".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.
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.
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.