Tag: lists

5 Poets to Remind You Poetry Isn’t Boring

Poetry is always around but never really fore frontal in the literary community. Poetry seems to be deemed as sort of the bastard child of the writing world, and you may be thinking.. well yeh, why should folks be paying attention to poetry anyway? Here’s why: poetry is everything we do in life, the beauty, the heartbreak, the frustration, the anxiety, the ugly.. all of it, literally all of it.  Poetry captures and encapsulates the human experience in whimsy and word play, in language and love. If you are adverse to poetry, ask yourself why? What turns you off to it? What makes it difficult to enter and linger and savor? Pinpoint that and push through it because the reward will be sweet stanzas of rhythm, abstraction and a retelling of the world around us in the most beautiful and complexly minimal way. Here are some dope poets to be on the lookout for as you challenge yourself to fall in love with this genre all over again or for the first time if elementary school acrostics never landed for you.  These 5 contemporary poets should find their way to your hearts and minds. Spread their gospel like wildfire to hopefully begin to turn the tide to the mainstream because poetry isn’t only for poets.

  1. Morgan Parker

Morgan Parker is as beautiful and kind as she is brilliant. I was put on to Morgan when she dropped There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé and since have been steadily collecting all of her works. Why? Because she looks critically at popular culture and how it affects our identities and relationships. Every word she writes screams of intersectionality, relevance and finding beauty in awkwardness. I think if Insecure wasn’t a popular Netflix show and was a poem instead, it would be a Morgan Parker poem. She gives me chills when I read her poems and when I see her read in person I am comforted and warmed by her spirit. From the bio page on her website:

Morgan Parker is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She is the author of the poetry collections Magical Negro (Tin House 2019), There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Tin House 2017), and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback Books 2015). Her debut young adult novel Who Put This Song On? will be released by Delacorte Press on September 24, 2019. A debut book of nonfiction is forthcoming from One World. Parker is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a Pushcart Prize, and has been hailed by The New York Times as “a dynamic craftsperson” of “considerable consequence to American poetry.”



  1. Hanif Abdurraqib

I was introduced to Hanif Abdurraqib by the statement ‘he is probably your favorite authors favorite author.’  And well I’ll be damned, he certainly is. A sneaker and ice cream enthusiast, Hanif doesn’t need to command a room, or a stage, a mic or a page- but he does so organically with his quiet, thoughtful, rhythmic musicality. His writing is musically charged and often from a place of being an observer at venues and in love. But he is far from just a fly on the wall. He is the guy you would dream could write your biopic. He is intentional in his wall flowering. His writing skills pull the reader in and creates any scene viscerally to follow along and add your own subtext as you move through his words. What other author could write just as purposefully about Carly Rae Jepsen as  he does Wu Tang? Well that dichotomy is where Hanif thrives. He is just as fluid and real about pop culture in all forms and his brilliance spills across every page he graces. From the about page on his website:

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. With Big Lucks, he released a limited edition chapbook, Vintage Sadness, in summer 2017 (you cannot get it anymore and he is very sorry.) His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. He released Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest with University of Texas press in February 2019. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, and was met with critical acclaim. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, is being released by Tin House Books in September 2019.






  1. SamSax

sam sax’s writing is gritty, unforgiving, explorative and the slap in the face the 21st century needs in regards to couch surfing homosexuality and pill popping tendencies. His themes hit hard for most millennials and captures so much of the pain, happiness, misery, and loneliness that stems from medicine, love and relationships. sam uses poignant language to explore the depths of homosexuality in ways we often stray away or cringe from. He makes us look in the mirror and examine what we see. You can usually catch him with pretty sparkling nail polish and a hat that reads simply, homo. He is poetry in the human form. From sam’s website:

sam sax is a queer, jewish, poet, & educator. He’s the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series and ‘Bury It’ (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. He’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, & the MacDowell Colony. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion, author of four chapbooks & winner of the Gulf Coast Prize, The Iowa Review Award, & American Literary Award. His poems have appeared in BuzzFeed, The New York Times, The Nation, Poetry Magazine + other journals. He’s the poetry editor at BOAAT Press & will be a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University this Fall.



  1. Ross Gay

Ross Gay literally make you feel happiness even when life is throwing a poop storm your way. His beautifully intricate, complex writing finds ways to highlight the positive by using nature, small moments and connections to emerge as our purpose and silver lining. I came across Ross in a writing workshop in college where he shared two versions of Bring Down the Shovel- one where the boy killed the dog with a shovel and the other where the boy fed the dog with the shovel. Both were chilling and complex and visceral. Ross is the poet that can take a horrible moment and remind us why life is still worth living and ultimately beautiful. He works tirelessly to find beauty in anything and that’s honestly what poetry (and life) is all about. Ross makes you want to be a better person without the guilt or heavy handedness that typically comes with that sort of ask. Cause to be real, he isn’t asking you, he just is.  From Ross Gay’s about page:

Ross Gay is the author of three books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His collection of essays,The Book of Delights, was released by Algonquin Books in 2019.

Ross is also the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook “Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens,” in addition to being co-author, with Richard Wehrenberg, Jr., of the chapbook, “River.”  He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’, in addition to being an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press.  Ross is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Ross teaches at Indiana University.



  1. Danez Smith

Danez Smith was hands down one of my favorite poets when their first and second book dropped but has slowly been losing my fandom as they skyrocket in fame. Some authors maintain that humble, mousy space that many writers embody. While other poets have more of a stage/ performance presence and in this case Danez can sometimes eclipse themselves. Danez’s poems are undeniable and the readings are also chilling, vibrant, poignant and necessary. Tackling content around friendships, AIDs, sex, masculinity, homoesxuality and stages of love their first two books were really groundbreaking in the layout, artwork and content and while the fire has died down a bit for me, I am still holding on and extremely engaged with their moves. It’s like when your favorite underground band makes its way to the top 10 list and becomes a household name and you yearn for those days the world and the band weren’t aware of themselves. From Danez’s website bio page:

Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of “Don’t Call Us Dead” (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and “[insert] boy” (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez’s work has been featured widely including on Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez has been featured as part of Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list and is the winner of a Pushcart Prize. They are a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Danez’s third collection, “Homie”, will be published by Graywolf in Spring 2020.



Check these poets out, share their poems, hear their readings. Help bring poetry back into the mainstream and remind us all that we are all poetry. I promise they will never bore you or lose you. This list will help break down the stigma of stodgy old white dudes writing in metered rhyme about misogynistic, unrequited love.

Honorable mentions:

Jasmine Man

Terrance Hayes

Mahogany Brown

Roger Reeves

Jamaal May

Courtney Lamar Charleston

Nate Marshall

Matthew Zapruder 


All In-text Images Via Google.

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When I See the Oxford Comma

Look, I get it. This is the modern world. This is the internet. Punctuation and spelling are fluid and evocative. The linguistics of the internet are fast moving and instinctive, and I love that. But let’s talk about Oxford comma.

I know we’re not passionate about actually using punctuation here. Every time I see someone use a period at the end of a text, I feel the kind of primordial fear I thought was reserved for life or death situations. And don’t get me started on the most ominous punctuation choices of all…..


Sure, it’s the serif font of punctuation. It seems old fashioned at best, effected superfluous. Darn, I forgot the oxford comma, but I’m sure it still made sense.


Image via KnowYourMeme


Context is a beautiful thing, of course, but those would be galaxy brain names for some rhinoceri. You can assume, but you can’t be sure. Maybe the rhino tamer is just a huge history nerd. Here are my emus, Jefferson and Adams.

Sure, people who overuse commas are pedants (eh-hem), but sometimes they’re necessary. If the point is to be understood, why make people guess? Not everyone is going to know your rhinoceros naming philosophies.


Image via edudemic


Grammar doesn’t have to be stressful. Here are all these people, including rhinoceroses. If you’re describing something, no Oxford comma. Or, these are my rhinoceri. Here are their names. Let’s try and take ourselves seriously.

Not to be unrelateable, but just like grammar.




Even if you don’t feel the same, though, the Oxford comma isn’t to be dropped. I don’t know the last time I used a period, but these days, we write for clarity. We capitalize words for Emphasis. Drop what doesn’t work, but keep what does. Internet language is streamlined, and I think that’s beautiful. Let’s keep it that way. But don’t eat grandma in the process.

Featured image via ImgFlip


7 Of The Greatest Film Adaptations Of All Time!

Award season is upon us as we root for our favorite book-based movies to take the gold! Some of these movies are still in theaters, but they won’t be for long, and that just leaves us with the duds of the off-seasons to watch.

But rather than watching any new movies that might be a complete waste of your money and time, why not watch some older movies that have stood the test of time as some of the best films to be made? For all you movie and book lovers out there, here are some of the best book to film adaptations of all time!

1. Babe (1995)


Image via Amazon

Written by children’s novelist Dick King-Smith in 1968, this charming tale of a little pig named Babe has inspired many to believe in the impossible and that everyone has a meaningful place in the world!

Follow Babe as he shows everyone on the farm that he is more than just bacon for breakfast, that he has a talent that will make a difference in the lives of everyone living on the farm.


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuzXPzgBDvo]




2.Casino Royale(2006)


Image via Amazon


Introducing Daniel Craig as 007, this film is actually the second onscreen adaptation of Ian Fleming’s spy novel, Casino Royale, from 1953.

This one will leave you on the edge of your seat with hair-raising action and dangerously bold villains. The stakes could never be higher with this new James Bond, more charming, daring, and reckless than ever before!


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36mnx8dBbGE]




3.The Birds (1963)


Image via Amazon


Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, master of horror and suspense, this 1963 film of Daphne du Maurier’s short story “The Birds” is unforgettable! With romance, mystery, and horror that will chill you to the bone, this iconic film is definitely a worthy adaptation!


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCxR7dlavwg]




4. True Grit (2010)


Image via Amazon


Taking place in the wild West of the US, this story of revenge, love, and justice will surely capture you heart and leave you on the edge of your seat! This is an exciting coming-of-age story about 14 year old Mattie Ross, who, after watching her father gunned down by an outlaw, finds the strength (and the right man) to help her seek revenge.


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUiCu-zuAgM]




5. The Godfather (1972)


The Godfather (Mario Puzo's Mafia)

Image via Goodreads


Touted by critics and film fanatics alike as one of the greatest American movies every produced, The Godfather has certainly earned its spot on the list. The Godfather was originally a novel by author Mario Puzo, published in 1969. The gripping crime saga chronicles the bloodstained power struggle of the Mafia family the Corleones.


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x0GpEZnwa8]




6. Schindler’s List (1993)


Image via Amazon


Originally entitled Schindler’s Ark, this historical piece, which was written by Thomas Keneally in 1982, centers around one of the most heinous events to happen in human history: the Holocaust. The film resonates with everyone who sees it, and was especially difficult for Director Steven Spielberg to film as he had family members involved in the Holocaust.

Artfully illustrating the suffering of the Jewish community, the political conflicts of the time, and one man’s point of view that saved the lives of millions, Spielberg encapsulates Keneally’s vision. An absolute masterpiece!


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxphAlJID9U]




7. The Princess Bride (1987)


The Princess Bride

Image via Goodreads


Originally written by William Goldman back in the 1973, The Princess Bride is a timeless classic for all ages. Beloved for its charming characters, witty humor, thrilling action, and one of the most endearing love stories, this film brings Goldman’s work to life in the most fantastic of ways!


[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNNUcHRiPS8]



These are some truly marvelous films that I’m sure the original authors can say they are proud of. Since all of the films listed are such thrills to see, so, if you’re able, go see them as soon as possible!


Featured Image via grcmc.org

J.K. Rowling displeasedly gazing at two cats, some candles, and a pile of cosmetics.

Here’s What to Read if You Can’t Stop Listening to Ariana Grande’s ‘Sweetener’

This past August, Ariana Grande released her newest album, Sweetener, and it is a masterpiece. I have streamed the album a number of times that shouldn’t be possible. Now, there are people in this world who disagree with the fact that Sweetener is one of the best albums of the year, but here’s the thing: those people are— objectively— wrong.


The album has been out for a few weeks now, so it’s about time to start thinking of new ways to enjoy it. Books and music are like wine and food: they complement each other. This list includes several works that will make excellent reading companions during your next listen of Sweetener, should you find that your mind needs a bit more stimulation now that you’ve memorized all the lyrics.



maybe "yuh" can be our always

Image Via @ajjordanphoto



1. When God was a Woman by Merlin Stone


when god was a woman

Image Via Goodreads


One of the leading tracks on Sweetener is the theologically revolutionary “God is a woman”, of which Grande did a beautiful performance at the VMAs. When God Was a Woman is Merlin Stone’s best known work. It is a historical account of the erasure of womanhood from depictions of grand deities in various religions, especially Judeo-Christian tradition. Stone is a prominent figure in the Goddess movement, which seeks to reestablish femininity’s role in organized religion. The book was published in 1976, 42 years before the release of Sweetener, and yet despite the temporal distance between the two works, “God is a woman” acts as the spiritual inheritor of the Goddess movement.


First, We Make the Beast Beautiful by Sarah Wilson


first we make the beast beautiful

Image via HarperCollins


On Sweetener, Grande opens up about her personal struggles with anxiety, especially in the aftermath of the attack at her Manchester concert. Grande’s use of her art to process her struggles is an admirable choice. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety is being praised as one of the best books on anxiety ever written. Inspired by a Chinese proverb that dictates any beast must be made beautiful before being conquered, Wilson delves deep into all aspects of living with anxiety, from the perspective of a lifelong sufferer of anxiety. She includes tips and strategies for making life with anxiety more comfortable and refers to famous figures who also suffered from anxiety as inspiration.


Wilson is also the author of I Quit Sugar, and so perhaps her other works can guide us toward some sugar-free sweetener alternatives, for the health-conscious Arianator.


The poetry of e. e. cummings


selected poems of e. e. cummings

Image via Amazon


The title of every track on Sweetener is stylized in lowercase. The purpose of the lowercase titles on Sweetener has not been explicitly explained by Grande, however, when asked why she changed the title of a song formerly known as “Pete” to what we now know as “pete davidson,” she tweeted this:



So there you go. Now, Grande is not the first artist to use lowercase stylizing in their work; e. e. cummings was a prolific (incredibly so, having published nearly 3,000 poems during his lifetime) poet, who was known for the many ways in which he played with typical formal writing conventions, including the use of lowercase. One may brush up on the artistic legacy of lowercase letters in places where they don’t belong by reading from this volume of selected e. e. cummings poems.


Turtles All the Way Down by John Green


turtles all the way down

Image via Amazon


Grande has been very forthcoming about the songwriting process for Sweetener acting as a kind of therapy for her; when asked about the process that birthed her song “breathin,” she said,


“We were in the studio, we were writing and I was like, ‘Ugh can’t breathe.’ And they were like, ‘We’re going to write this song.’ And I was like, ‘OK, I still can’t breathe, but we’ll write it.'”


John Green, the astronomically famous YA author, has also been forthcoming about his experience with anxiety. Like Grande and Sweetener, Green’s most recent work, Turtles All the Way Down, emerged from his need to use art to process his struggle with anxiety:


“I couldn’t escape the spiral of my thoughts, and I felt like they were coming from the outside. Coming out of that, it was difficult to write about anything else. The topic demanded itself.”


Many fans have already expressed the comfort they have experienced while listening to Grande’s work, given that despite recent strides in the right direction, role models who have struggled with mental health are still hard to come by. If you are seeking more artists’ whose work describes mental health difficulties, consider reading through Turtles All the Way Down during your next Sweetener session.


Women and Leadership by Deborah Rhode


women and leadership

Image via Goodreads


Out of all the tracks on Sweetener, “successful” is one of my favorites. With “successful,” Grande has written a track celebrating successful young women, not just in music, but in all industries. Furthermore, she uses her success to uplift the young women who look up to her with the lyric, “and girl you too, you are so young and beautiful and so successful.” 


Sadly, there is still a long way to go for women in the workforce, and Deborah Rhode’s Women and Leadership is a fantastic resource for those seeking to learn the history of the gender gap in leadership positions. Rhode chronicles the many factors that have prohibited women from taking on prominent leadership roles, and directs readers to where the workforce needs to go in order to remedy gender-based imbalance and discrimination.


This is the Place by Tony Walsh


this is the place

Image via Waterstones


In the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, Grande has done exceptional work to contribute to the healing efforts made to aid Manchester’s recovery, including performing at the One Love Manchester concert only two weeks after the attack and visiting hospitalized victims of the attack. The final track on the album, “get well soon,” commemorates the victims. The runtime of the track is five minutes and twenty-two seconds, representing the date of the attack, May 22nd, and there is a 40-second long period of silence at the end to honor the people lost in the attack.


Grande had to be convinced to turn the trauma and grief she experienced into a song; she has acknowledged Pharrell as her coach through the writing process, saying, “he was like, ‘You have to write about it. You need to make this into music and get this shit out, and I promise it will heal you.’ And it definitely helped.” It is important to remember the victims of the Manchester bombing, and one way you can do that is by reading Tony Walsh’s memorial poem “This is the Place,” which he performed at a vigil for the bombing victims at Manchester Town Hall. The poem was released as a book, featuring contributions from other Mancunian artists, which is not currently available, however, the vigil performance of “This is the Place” may be viewed here, and the transcript may be read here.


I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone by Richard Brautigan


revenge of the lawn

Image via Amazon


One of the leading themes in Sweetener is love. Of course, as we are all familiar with, Grande recently became engaged to comedian and Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson. Several tracks on the album reflect the passion that holds together young relationships, as does Richard Brautigan’s short story “I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone.” The story, which is included in the collection Revenge of the Lawn, is a first-person description of the struggle the narrator feels when trying to describe their partner, eventually settling on using a film they once saw as a sort of abstract way to describe their feelings:


“Then the movie showed electricity like a young Greek god, coming to the farmer to take away forever the dark ways of his life. Suddenly, religiously, with the throwing of a switch, the farmer had electric lights to see by when he milked his cows in the early black winter mornings. The farmer’s family got to listen to the radio and have a toaster and lots of bright lights to sew dresses and read the newspaper by….”

“I wanted electricity to go everywhere in the world. I wanted all the farmers in the world to be able to listen to President Roosevelt on the radio….

And that’s how you look to me.”


In the immortal words of our reigning pop queen:



Featured Image via The Hollywood Reporter, The New School Archives, and HarperCollins

Books I Hated in High School

The Five Books I Really Hated Reading in School

Can I be honest for a second? I absolutely loved school. I loved learning and more than anything, I loved reading. English class was always my favorite. I rarely hated any of the books I got assigned, that is until high school. At the time, I felt the content got boring and dense. I felt the professors purposefully chose junk just to make us hate ourselves. I grew to even slightly dislike reading. However, I realized when I got out of school and I was able to reread them for my own enjoyment, most of the books were actually wonderful. Here is a short list of books I hated reading in school.


1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)


Lord of the Flies book cover

Image Via Goodreads


It’s ninth grade and I am excited to no longer be a kid. I’m feeling simply invincible. Then we get assigned this book. The style writing didn’t bother me and I wasn’t as salty as I could have been about reading a book with only male characters. Actually, I was quite excited to start a book I had heard nothing about previously. However, this book just reminded me that I was still a kid and that felt like a huge slap in the face.


2. Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)


ANimal Farm book cover

Image Via Goodreads


Tenth grade was a bad year for me, and reading Animal Farm did not help. With every word, all I could hear in my brain was the incessant oinking and screaming of farm animals. This is a great example of when having an active imagination is not a good thing. And at fifteen when I thought I was “finding myself,” the last thing I wanted to be reminded of was politics.


3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)


Pride and Prejudice book cover

Image Via Goodreads


In school I didn’t find any kind of romance interesting enough to read, so I couldn’t stand this book. I thought it foolish and a waste of time to spend pages upon pages rattling on about marriage and money. Simply put, I could not connect with any character or idea in the story and that made it a horror to read.


4. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)


Les Miserables book cover

Image Via Pinterest


Les Mis is a wonderful book. Long, but wonderful. That being said, it is not wonderful having a mean teacher yelling at you to read because she has to and it’s “not hard.” The length of the book and the lack of consideration and kindness from the teacher overwhelmed me.


5. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1911)


Ethan Frome book cover

Image Via Northshire

I believe Ethan Frome is a book one would pick up if they are depressed or if it is summer vacation and all of their friends went away. I am not saying all books assigned should be happy but this one was a real downer.


I am in no way saying that these books are bad. But reading them in high school for work that was to be graded while I had so many other things to focus on… talk about stressful. I can say, to anyone who hates reading something in school, read it again when you are outside of that academic setting. You may find that you still don’t like it (cough cough Pride and Prejudice cough) or you may have a completely different experience the second time around.


Featured Image Via Bustle.