Under the Influence

say-11As a current Creative Writing graduate student, who spends seemingly infinite hours a week breathing in literature, drinking in poetic craft and technique, it’s no secret that I love the process of studying words and their power. When I think about my infatuation with the influence of words, I can trace it back to before I could read or write; I trace it back to some of the first songs I ever belted out from the back seat of my mother’s old Buick in the early 90’s. My first love was lyricism.

Have you ever explored what makes you love a certain line in a song or poem?

I’ve found that some of my most favorite musicians are incredibly skilled in their use of figurative language. Say Anything is the perfect example of one of my favorite bands that excels at creating memorable, and at times, haunting lyrics.

I’ve been enamored with Say Anything since– let’s say, 2005. I was immediately attracted to their experimental nature of unique sound within their genre (a blend of  punk/alternative rock/emo), and lyrics that instantly captivated me. Over the past ten years, I have found myself inspired by Max Bemis, lead singer and composer of Say Anything, just as much as, and sometimes, even more so, than some of the great poets I was introduced to in my youth: e.e. cummings, Maya Angelou, Emerson, Gary Snyder, and so on. In order to understand why, I’ve decided explore just a few slices of genius within Say Anything’s lyricism; I will highlight some key elements of figurative language Max Bemis masters, in a few specific fan favorites, from the punk band’s most notable albums, spanning from the early 2000s to present.

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Change the Conversation, Change the Culture

change-the-conversationWhoever controls the conversation can influence the nation.

Every day, we are bombarded by advertisements on the street, on the Internet, and in our homes, whether they’re for fast food, new clothes, or better cars. Social media constantly updates itself, produced by us and for us. Opinions, songs, Vines and other miscellaneous memes flood our feeds. We have access to thousands of channels, and hundreds of millions of websites. We can stream movies, play games, and communicate with others from a single device, instantly. Continue reading

The Art of Spoken Word Poetry

“Love Poem Medley” – Rudy Francisco

Poetry is a classic art form dating back to the Vedas and the ancient Greek epic poem, the “Odyssey.” The beauty of poetry stems from the diversity of form, style, and voice. Like classic literature, every poem is uniquely written to express the human experience, but spoken word poetry uses language in such a different manner to depict imagery and describe emotion that it created its own new culture. Continue reading

The Restorative Power of Nature For Writers

Writer’s block. Ugh. The longtime nemesis of a writer. Some don’t believe in it, saying that you simply have to work through it, while others fear its unavoidable presence. Whatever the case may be, we’ve all been there, blocked in some way. As a writer, the solution shouldn’t be avoiding creative blocks, but rather, learning how to work with them.

I recently experienced such a creative block, followed by a trip to the eastern Sierras. As I temporarily left my urban life behind, I felt bitter and perturbed. Why haven’t I finished my novel? Why is it taking so long? These and other thoughts marinated in my mind as I coasted on the freeway out of San Diego’s metropolitan confines. Soon the seemingly harmless Why is my book taking so long? became its more sinister cousin, My characters suck, and of course, ultimately devolving into the inevitable I’m a hack. A total hack. Continue reading