Category: Read-it-Forward

Scratching the Surface of Instagram Poets

Instagram poets like Rupi Kaur, Charly Cox, and Fariha Róisín have taken over the Millenial creative realm and have devoured the hearts and minds of impressionable youth.

It has been said that these poets misuse what William Carlos Williams did. William Carlos Williams was an actual poet at the head of the Modernist movement who invented the ingenious line-breaks these Insta-poets now supposedly exploit. Rupi Kaur has gone on record and said she treats her poetry “like a business.” By the rules of logic, you can then presume she is not writing actual poetry. None of them are. But if you’re curious what they write about, and how they write, read on.

 

 

Timothy Green from Press-Enterprise established this not-writing-actual-poetry nonsense in a kinder way:

Instagram poetry is the exact opposite (of real poetry). It’s self-aware and entirely useful. It is designed to sell and so it sells. It’s not exploration, but expression. Rather than poesis, it is mimos, “to mimic,” or better the Latin mirari, “to look at and admire.” Rather than a door to new meaning, it’s a mirror held up to the reader, reflecting and rendering beautifully back what the reader already knows.

 

image via amazon

 

Rupi Kaur confronts taboo and turns it into cliché. She mixes metaphors and writes inelegantly. In her first book, Milk and Honey, there are lines like, “he put his hands on my mind” and “how can I help I begged my heart…”

However you feel about the discussions she has with her internal organs, this Indian-Canadian writer has a massive following. I never thought I’d say that about a poet, maybe about a Rolling Stone, but not someone who calls themselves a poet.

 

Image via Amazon

 

Charly Cox uses mental health as her taboo. In her book, She Must Be Mad, you can see she swings from pole to pole when it comes to line breaks, and doesn’t believe in revision. It’s about more words, more alliteration, like, “spanking new anticipation twirling twines that tie knots in your chest, frayed ends tickling your stomach to stir hot queasy…”

…did someone say queasy? It’s a stream of consciousness modern-day extravaganza! James Joyce jubilation? No. Not quite. Look, the problem with Cox is that she isn’t confronting anything; even if this prose-laden punctuation-less madness is followed by a pared-down ‘poem’ (ugh) she ends up just confronting boy-craziness which is not taboo, not outrageous. It seems people are purposely searching for a lack of originality. Are people just not up for a challenge anymore?

 

Image via Amazon

 

Then you have Fariha Róisín, who could possibly have something to offer. She identifies as a queer Muslim femme and chooses to talk a bit about it In her Insta-poetry book, How to Cure a Ghost. I don’t mean to imply that her background and how she identifies is what makes her interesting. Rather it’s because she rambles on and on, dancing around the point.

She does the line break thing without knowing who she learned it from. If her rambling were compressed, cut, it could be something more impressive. She writes, “…it’s no coincidence I turned out like this…a condition abbu refused to accept…all the sorrows of our sad, sad nations.”

Is it wrong to want a poet who is almost saying something to actually say it? For pages she goes on the way a seventh-grade jazz saxophonist might riff.

 

 

So there are many more Insta-poets, like Wilder Poetry, Atticus, Blythe Baird, Amanda Lovelace and so on. They all pretty much do the same thing.

Here’s the formula:

  1. Pick a topic that deals with something illicit like sexuality, abuse, and so on
  2. Make something with line breaks
  3. Make sure it’s in a wordswag font!
  4. Post to Instagram

Once they get popular enough to move up the ladder, publishing houses like to divide their books into four sections. It is a kind of pre-determined script for more insta-poets to come.

So, if you like aphorisms if you like word magnets then go ahead, but to rephrase what Green said, it isn’t poetry. We scratched the surface of some of Instagram Poets, but it seems there isn’t much below. In fact, after reading some of these ticker-tape word parades, I suggest everyone read real poets. Support those who are creating magic through craft and technique. Try Jean Valentine’s The Door in the Moutain. She’s not easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is, though. That’s a cliche, only because it’s true.

 

 

 

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The Icy Scoop and Review of Frozen II

It’s officially release day of Disney’s newest darling, Frozen II. Last night, I went to one of the earliest screenings, and I got the details. 

If you don’t want spoilers, turn away and slam this door!

 

 

IMAGE VIA VITAL THRILLS

 

Synopsis: Three years after the events of the first film, Elsa starts to hear a strange sound from the north calling her. Together with her sister Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven, they embark on a new journey beyond their homeland of Arendelle in order to discover the origin of Elsa’s magical powers and save their kingdom.

Consensus: Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell once again shine in this will-be Disney classic. Their voices bring to life the strong and powerful Queen Elsa, and the spunky and caring Princess Anna, while adding new layers to these beloved characters. Also returning on this magical adventure is Jonathan Groff as the adorably awkward Kristoff (and sometimes Sven the reindeer), as well as Josh Gad as the ever lovable snowman Olaf.

 

 

It’s been three years since the events of the first movie took place, and everyone seems to be settling into their roles in Arendelle. That is until only Elsa hears a voice from the north calling to her. While Elsa is dealing with this, Kristoff tries to keep proposing to the ever caring Anna, who seems oblivious to his attempts and focused on Elsa’s well being. It’s only when Elsa accidentally wakes up the spirits of the Enchanted Forest that the elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air start to cause the Arendellians (yes, that’s what the people of Arendelle are officially called) to flee the kingdom that the action starts up.

 

IMAGE VIA LAUGHING PALACE

 

Once in the forest, Elsa and Anna finds out that only Elsa can soothe the elemental spirits and help free the Northuldra (a fictional representation of the Sámi people) and Arendellian soldiers in the forest. There, Elsa learns that water has memory (as if Olaf hadn’t been saying that enough). She and Anna then discover that their mother was from the enchanted forest and rescued their father when they were children, thus making them a bridge between the Northuldra and Arendelle. From the wind spirit Gale to Bruni the fire salamander to the Nøkk, Elsa encounters and brings peace to the spirits, while learning that the past she thought she knew was not what it seemed, and that there may be a fifth spirit which serves as a bridge between the spirits and people.

 

 

When Anna and Elsa discover the ship their parents were on before they died, destroyed in an inlet, the sisters find the actual reason behind their parents’ trip. The trip was to go to the mythical Ahtohallan, a place Queen Iduna told her daughters about, and the place to find the origins behind Elsa’s powers. It is here that it hits Elsa that in order to find the voice and Ahtohallan, she must leave Anna and Olaf behind to protect them.

 

IMAGE VIA VIRAL MEDIA YOUTUBE

 

From here, Elsa encounters the water spirit, the Nøkk, who tries to drown her. When she finally tames the Nøkk, Elsa finally finds Ahtohallan, she has the revelation that the voice calling her was a past echo of her mother saving her father. Turns out the results of the spirits’ anger was over her grandfather’s killing of the unarmed Northuldra leader. From here, Elsa starts to become frozen, and then sends a snow statue showing what happened to Anna as her final action. Because of this, Olaf turns to flurries, and Anna finds what truly happens, and realizes that she must destroy their grandfather’s dam that put the events into motion years ago.

 

 

With the help of the Arendelle soldiers, Kristoff and the stone giants, the dam is destroyed, and the floods make a direct course to destroy Arendelle. Since the spirits seem to be appeased, a newly unfrozen Elsa rides off on the Nøkk in a desperate rush to save the kingdom. With this all done, Anna starts to head back to tell the kingdom what has happened. But off in the distance, she sees a newly transformed Elsa, which results in a tearjerking (and comical) reunion between the sisters and Kristoff. Olaf is brought back and Kristoff finally proposes after bungling it a few times. It is here that the decision is made that Elsa will stay in the forest as her role as the fifth spirit and part of the bridge between the spirits and the people, and Anna will become Queen and the other part of the bridge.

 

IMAGE VIA CLIP off YOUTUBE

 

While some fans may disagree with this, I honestly really liked the ending. Could they have changed some things in the movie? Of course. No film is perfect, not even either of the Frozen movies. But the ending of having the sisters go their own paths while still maintaining contact was the right way to go. And the way the film was darker and more mature than the first one put Frozen II on a whole different level. It wasn’t Hunchback of Notre Dame dark (nothing will ever come close), but it also wasn’t as light as the first installment was. And I think that by showing how to find the truth and fix the past’s mistakes, the movie has great lessons for all ages. It doesn’t hurt that the music is spectacular (“Show Yourself” is the perfect heir to “Let It Go”, and making “Lost in the Woods” a family friendly ’80s music video was genius!), the animation was just as magical, and the focus on finding who you are and where you belong will melt any frozen heart!

Now please excuse me while I go see this ice movie another 5 times.

 

 


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These Four Poets Had the Oddest Jobs and You’ll Never Guess What They Were

Famous poets. We only know them for their enchanting verse. Many late great poets didn’t start out writing in verse, or if they did, they had to do something else to support that habit, as they didn’t come from money or fame. Enter some really odd jobs you wouldn’t otherwise expect of young bards.

 

4-Maya Angelou

 

image via amazon

 

Before Maya Angelou wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings or won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she found a job as a San Francisco streetcar conductor. In fact, she sat every day for two weeks in the office enduring racial slurs from the secretaries until the hiring manager finally yielded and gave her the position. She became the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco. What’s more, she was only sixteen-years-old!

 

3-Robert Frost

 

image via amazon

 

Robert Frost, who wrote the infamous poem, The Road Not Taken, had a very dangerous job in his twenties called light trimming where he stood over active machinery on a wobbly ladder undoing arc lamps from the ceiling in order to repair them. Fortunately, he kept writing and his poetry gained so much notoriety he didn’t have to go back to light trimming ever again.

 

2- Langston Hughes

image via amazon

 

Langston Hughes was a very musical poet closely associated with jazz and the Harlem Renaissance. One of his most well-known books is Montage of a Dream Deferred. But before any of his work gained attention he was a student at Columbia University and held jobs such as busboy, cook, launderer, and even a seaman. Being a seaman inspired one of his poems, “Death of an Old Seaman Cecil Cohen.” It proves not all manual labor is meaningless if it leads to great art.

 

1- T.S. Eliot

 

image via amazon

 

Last but not least, T.S. Eliot, famous for his incredibly depressing 20th-century oeuvre, “The Waste Land.” He rocked a bowler hat for his odd job, which was not so odd but actually a nine to five clerk position at a bank called Lloyd’s in London. He even got two-weeks-a-year vacation time just like every other working stiff employed there. Not much to say about this sad man except, cool hat.

 

 

Poets get a reputation for being odd considering a lot of them, well, are. Some of them make their own jam, some are recluses, some are too obscure in their writing, meaning they are purposefully trying to be misunderstood. This group of poets, however, were pretty candid in their work as they wanted to be understood. They received high praise, too. Robert Frost was the 1958 Poet Laureate and won more than several Pulitzer Prizes, Langston Hughes won a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, Maya Angelou earned more than 30 honorary degrees, and T.S. Eliot won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Consider checking their work out and remember, they’re speaking from experience. Even if it was odd.

 

 

Featured Image Via HollyWood Reporter

 

 


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Throw The Book at Her: Ex-Baltimore Mayor Indicted!

Well this is one for the books: The former mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on wire fraud and tax evasion over her self-published books.

 

Image result for catherine Pugh book
Image Via Vox

 

The 11-count federal indictments were made public Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland. The indictment describes a years-long scheme dating to 2011, when she was a state senator.

 

 

Pugh is accused of using her company, Healthy Holly, to publish her books and sell them “directly to nonprofit organizations and foundations, many of whom did business or attempted to do business with Maryland state government and Baltimore City.” Essentially, she’s accused of operating a sham business where she accepted payments for thousands of books she never intended to deliver. Many of the businesses were nonprofit.

The funds she received were used, according to court papers, to fund straw donations to her mayoral election campaign. This means she would purposely evade financial contribution limits by disguising the origin of a donation. She also used the funds to purchase and renovate a house in Baltimore.

This fraud allowed Pugh to make thousands of dollars from the book sales.

 

IMage Via CNN

 

BBC News notes that she is also accused of evading taxes, claiming a taxable income in 2016 of $31,020 (£24,000) when prosecutors say it was actually $322,365.

Pugh was the second Baltimore mayor to leave office in the past decade while facing corruption allegations.  Her resignation came after FBI and IRS agents raided her offices, homes and other locations in late April and seized several items, including money transfer receipts, a laptop, compact discs and a $100,000 check from the University of Maryland Medical System to Pugh’s “Healthy Holly” company.

 

Image result for catherine Pugh book
Image Via Baltimore Sun

 

She resigned as mayor in May, apologizing for the harm she had caused to “the credibility of the office.” Now she’s expected to appear in court on Thursday.

You can buy her book here.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Boing Boing

 


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Be Inspired by the Awesome Biography Recommendations!

Each week, Bookstr scans bestseller lists across the Internet to learn what people are reading, buying, gifting, and talking about most — just so we can ensure consistent, high quality recommendations. This week’s nonfiction picks are new biographies for you to dig into and be inspired! Dig in and enjoy!

 

 

 

5. Becoming Dr. Seuss by Brian Jay Jones

 

Image via Amazon

 

Becoming Dr. Seuss by Brian Jay Jones is all about the classic American icon: Dr. Seuss. Whimsical and wonderful, his work has defined our childhoods and the childhoods of our own children. The silly, simple rhymes are a bottomless well of magic, his illustrations timeless favorites because, quite simply, he makes us laugh. The Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, Horton, and so many more, are his troupe of beloved, and uniquely Seussian, creations. Theodor Geisel, however, had a second, more radical side. It is there that the allure and fascination of his Dr. Seuss alter ego begins. He had a successful career as an advertising man and then as a political cartoonist, his personal convictions appearing, not always subtly, throughout his books—remember the environmentalist of The Lorax? Geisel was a complicated man on an important mission. He introduced generations to the wonders of reading while teaching young people about empathy and how to treat others well.

 

4. Smokin’ Joe: The Life of Joe Frazier by Mark Kram Jr.

Image via Amazon

 

Smokin’ Joe: The Life of Joe Frazier by Mark Kram Jr. tells about Joe Frazier, the famed rival of Muhammad Ali. Joe Frazier was a much more complex figure than just his rivalry with Ali would suggest. In this riveting and nuanced portrayal, acclaimed sports writer Mark Kram, Jr. unlinks Frazier from Ali and for the first time gives a full-bodied account of Frazier’s life, a journey that began as the youngest of thirteen children packed in small farm house, encountering the bigotry and oppression of the Jim Crow South, and continued with his voyage north at age fifteen to develop as a fighter in Philadelphia. Tracing Frazier’s life through his momentous bouts with the likes of Ali and George Foreman and the developing perception of him as the anti-Ali in the eyes of blue-collar America, Kram follows the boxer through his retirement in 1981, exploring his relationship with his son, the would-be heavyweight Marvis, and his fragmented home life as well as the uneasy place that Ali continued to occupy in his thoughts.

 

 

3. Rough Magic: The world’s loneliest horse race by Lara Prior Palmer

Image via Amazon

 

Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Races by Lara Prior Palmer is about an unforgettable ride across the rugged terrain of Mongolia. At the age of nineteen, Lara Prior-Palmer discovered a website devoted to “the world’s longest, toughest horse race”―an annual competition of endurance and skill that involves dozens of riders racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. Riders often spend years preparing to compete in the Mongol Derby, a course that re-creates the horse messenger system developed by Genghis Khan, and many fail to finish. Prior-Palmer had no formal training. She was driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses. She raced for ten days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she decided she had nothing to lose. Each dawn she rode out again on a fresh horse, scrambling up mountains, swimming through rivers, crossing woodlands and wetlands, arid dunes and open steppe, as American television crews chased her in their jeeps. Told with terrific suspense and style, in a voice full of poetry and soul, Rough Magic captures the extraordinary story of one young woman who forged ahead, against all odds, to become the first female winner of this breathtaking race.

 

2. Fay wray and Robert Riskin by Victoria Riskin

 

Image via Amazon

 

Fay Wray and Robert Riskin by Victoria Riskin tells of a famous Hollywood love story. Fay Wray and Robert Riskin lived large lives, finding each other after establishing their artistic selves and after each had had many romantic attachments—Wray, an eleven-year-long difficult marriage and a fraught affair with Clifford Odets, and Riskin, a series of romances with, among others, Carole Lombard, Glenda Farrell, and Loretta Young. Here are Wray’s and Riskin’s lives, their work, their fairy-tale marriage that ended so tragically. Here are their dual, quintessential American lives, ultimately and blissfully intertwined.

 

1. Chamber Music: Wu Tang and America by Will Ashon

Image via Amazon

 

Chamber Music: Wu-Tang and America by Will Ashon tells of the legendary story of the Wu Tang Clan and its impact on American society. Will Ashon tells, in thirty-six interlinked “chambers,” the story of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and how it changed the world. As unexpected and complex as the album itself, Chamber Music ranges from provocative essays to semi-comic skits, from deep scholarly analysis to satirical celebration, seeking to contextualize, reveal and honor this singular work of art. Chamber Music is an explosive and revelatory new way of writing about music and culture.

 

 

 

Featured Image Amazon