9/17/17

Long Self-Expression

I don't want to accidentally come across like I'm carelessly writing off other people's thoughts/feelings when I post about a personal pet peeve, so here's a much longer form of personal expression. I'm not asking anyone to agree with me or join forces with me (although as always, anyone who wants to offer their thoughts/feelings/commentary on this is welcome to do so). I'm just making a substantial effort to express parts of why I feel the way I feel, act the way I act, and communicate the way I communicate. Also, I know there's nothing perfect about me and nor do I want there to be (and also, I know there's always room for personal improvement and personal growth). But wherever I'm at, I do want to try my best be an open and honest communicator, even if I make mistakes.

I will honestly admit that I don't relate to "groupthink" or groups in general. I don't feel like I fit in to any particular group and I don't desire to force myself to fit in anywhere in particular. (Although I do realize to an extent that might be a kind of white privilege - and that other people might not have as much of an opportunity or choice to focus on themselves as individuals). It's not a matter of whether or not I agree with the overall points of a group. It's more like the bigger the agenda of the group, the less room there seems to be for divergence or free thinking or individual thoughts, feelings, personal expression (which is my preferred form of expression). At least that's my perception/impression of groupthink and groups in general.

In addition to that, another main reason I don't like groups on social media is they seem prone to leading towards group attacks. Even if something significantly substantial is initially expressed, what is the significantly substantial point of a group of people that seem to feel similarly all responding/reacting to that point of view in a way that causes the point of view to be overtaken by lashing out at anyone who feels differently AND lashing out at people who feel similarly, but just don't express their thoughts/feelings the same way. I don't know if I'm doing a good job of describing this and I'm sure I've done it before too - the lashing out. I've made mistakes, even to the point of accidentally ruining friendships, because I expressed my point of view in a lashing out sort of way. I try not to do it quickly or carelessly or frequently though. And I've never done it in an attempt to catalyze a group attack - because then it sometimes starts to seem a little bit like mob mentality (in my opinion). Like when someone else on the thread expresses a sentence or two from a different approach/point of view and quickly gets slammed and made fun of by whole handfuls of other adults. I don't garner any enjoyment from making fun of someone based on a few sentences (but some people in group attacks certainly seem to) and frankly, I don't see how that furthers any particular cause.

Me saying that group attacks make me uncomfortable is not me saying that they're right or wrong or silly or foolish; but they make me uncomfortable because even if they started out by questioning a situation that might have deserved to be seriously questioned, they often end up also angrily attacking people who just feel a little bit differently or people who don't respond to things the same way or who don't understand things the same way etc...

In my opinion, based on my own online experience, this sort of thing seems to happen most often in the realm of conversations that get political and people start attacking other people when they don't even know the details of the other person's point of view. Here's one example. During election season, I had posted something on my facebook wall that ended up leading towards a political debate sort of conversation. I don't remember the details of the post or the conversation, but I do remember that a man I casually new in real life (but new nothing about his political sensibilities because we had never talked about that), came onto my wall and made some sort of angry, aggressive, anti-hillary comment under the commentary of a few women who were making pro-hillary comments. The women didn't bow down and succumb to his negative aggression, they commented back, and he got angrier and more aggressive, as well as racist and sexist and violently hostile. I was about to attempt commenting on the situation, but then my phone rang and I ended up having a 30 minute or so phone conversation with my mom. I could hear my computer beeping away in the background (indicating that more and more comments were being posted), but I wasn't in front of my computer for half an hour or so. When I got back on my computer, the man (who as I said, I had known casually in real life) had unfriended me and blocked me, even though I hadn't made a single comment on any of his comments, because I hadn't been online! So I guess he unfriended and blocked me because two of my online friends (who I barely knew at all) had offended him? And he just assumed I felt the same as them, even though I hadn't said ANYTHING yet? (I mean, I'm glad he unfriended me, because his comments were angry, aggressive and hostile, as well as racist and sexist - but my point is I was quickly unfriended/blocked without even having expressed my own point of view yet.)

Something some people may or may not know about me (sometimes I think I talk about it too much; sometimes I think I don't talk about it enough) is that about seven years ago, I had an unexpected stroke, which resulted in some brain damage. I healed wonderfully for the most part (I honestly think it was my strong passion for and drive towards poetry and creative expression that seriously helped me heal), but my reading and writing will always be significantly slower than it used to be - and certain things that used to come naturally to me require a lot more concentration to achieve. For example, I just had to dictionary.com whether "heal" or "heel" was the right spelling there and that's something that would have come naturally to me in the past. I have to do that a lot with basic words, to remind myself of their spelling and of their meaning. While writing this, two words that I looked up that my mind was off-kilter about their definitions were "reaction" and "legitimate". (I also looked up "groupthink", which I didn't even realize was an actual word and the definition of that was "the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility" - and after I read that definition, I felt confused about how anyone could view that positively, because that definition sounds awful to me).

Anyway, here's where I'm going with this. In the past, my brain used to understand certain types of academic language significantly better than I am able to understand that type of language these days. For example, I used to love reading really academic book reviews and so forth. In the present, one arena in which I have a particularly hard time with words is the political arena. In the past, I could express my political viewpoints in a specific and detailed way; now I cannot. That doesn't mean I'm clueless or that I don't know how I feel, but I have a hard time expressing it - and I have a hard time understanding and categorizing political talk that involves real words combined with jargon and rhetoric and propaganda and political correctness and shady fine print and true/false/fake etc... I feel a little bit embarrassed to admit this, but it's true. My brain does not entirely understand and can't reasonably handle that stuff anymore.

At the risk of embarrassing myself even more (although I'm not entirely sure why I feel ashamed about this, because it's not my fault that my brain has this flaw - and frankly, I'd rather have trouble with corporate style political language rather than with individualistic, creative, poetic language), when I try to understand political language, I have to look up word after word after word. This is one of the reasons I rarely participate in political conversations on social media. Sometimes, after I find out a words definition, it's still difficult for me to interpret its usage or POV in certain sentences or bigger pictures. And sometimes in the social media group attacks where political stuff comes into play to an extent, I honestly don't understand a lot of what is being said. Last week or the week before, I had to look up "fascism" to remind myself what it meant - then a few days later, I forgot and had to ask my boyfriend to remind me what it meant - and now I've already forgotten its definition again. Even when I look up its definition again, that doesn't mean I can easily interpret its usage in every sentence.

On one hand, it upsets me and causes me to feel sad that I'm not as intelligent as I used to be (at least not on an academic or political language sort of level). On another hand, I feel like it has made me less judgmental based on the fine print, more open-minded, and more focused on how other people act/react rather than how they talk. Unique creative expression is still extremely important to me - but so is open-minded, non-judgmental discourse, in which we don't all have to feel the same way, act the same way, and talk the same way, etc....

On one hand, it bothers me that part of my brain might have below-average intelligence and even though I still feel similarly to the way I used to feel, I can't express certain things as well. On another hand, I'm glad I can still express my own thoughts and feelings and that I can still express myself creatively/poetically/artistically. And on another hand, my different brain seems to have shown me that sometimes people who use a lot of academic language might not understand (or might not care) that the main people they're communicating with are other people who use a lot of academic language - because a lot of other people don't even understand what they're talking about because of their language. (Of course "academic language" there could be replaced with all kinds of other words too, including "political" and including "poetic". I write a lot of poetry that a lot of people don't understand, because it's not there style of expression. I'm not criticizing poetry language or political language or academic language per se; I'm just pointing out that a lot of people don't understand certain kinds of language; and why be condescending towards or enraged by someone who doesn't understand things the same way you do? - unless they're unwilling to listen to or try to consider other points of view).

Back to looking up words, if you don't already know what it means, you might be interested in looking up the word "aphasia". I have a certain mild form of aphasia as a result of my brain damage. That might be a part of the reason why it seems like I post variations on the same things fairly frequently. Which also sort of embarrasses me, because what if almost everything I say is another variation of the same, a repetitive mess? What if I think I'm being uniquely genuinely creatively expressive but I've said it all before and before and before, ad infinitum (I was pretty sure ad infinitum made sense there, but I had to look it up to be sure.) ?

Back to political language, since I have a difficult time with that language these days, I sometimes wonder/worry if some people think I'm keeping my mouth shut about certain things because I'm conservative. Well I am most certainly not conservative, politically or otherwise. I am not someone who doesn't care about marginalized groups, marginalized voices or about marginalization (and I hope my posts don't give the impression that I'm marginalizing important/significant things, because that is certainly not my intent).

As I said, I'm not very good at expressing myself or explaining myself politically but I can try. I consider myself Independent/Democratic/Liberal but not extremist. I don't automatically "unfriend" people who have a different political (or other) point of view than me, although there are times I've been strongly tempted to. I think women's rights and minority rights are hugely important and even though I try to be open to different points of view, I have a hard time understanding and cannot at all relate to why anyone voted for Trump. I am extremely anti the "pro-life" movement or any movement that indicates that the government should have any control over people's bodies. I certainly don't think racism or sexism or LGBTQ-phobia should be ignored (or made worse) by the government. Police brutality disgusts me. But aside from attempting to express my own viewpoints like that, I'm not good at describing things in political language. Even though I'm not extreme or an activist, I don't discredit activism. I think it's very important and meaningful that some people are able to understand the details of larger scale movements and work hard in support of others.

Occasionally people seem to interpret my wall posts as attacking them or belittling their point of view, but I'm not trying to attack or belittle any individual or any particular group. I just don't like group attacks. I realize there are very valid reasons for some of them, but then they often start going all over the place and making it harder to identify with or understand the overall reasons, at least for me

9/15/17

12 or 20 (small press) questions with Juliet Cook on Blood Pudding Press

Here is a 16 question interview I recently participated in about my Blood Pudding Press. Thank you very much to rob mclennan for inviting me to answer his interview questions.

http://robmclennan.blogspot.ca/2017/09/12-or-20-small-press-questions-with_15.html


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And here's where you can get the latest Blood Pudding Press poetry chapbooks mentioned in my answer to question 16:


Cutting Eyes from Ghosts by Ariana D. Den Bleyker is HERE - https://www.etsy.com/listing/512469489/new-cutting-eyes-from-ghosts-by-ariana-d?ref=shop_home_feat_2


Thirsty Bones by Sarah Lilius is HERE - https://www.etsy.com/listing/522735584/new-thirsty-bones-by-sarah-lilius-2017?ref=shop_home_feat_1 


Fuck Cancer Poems by Michael Grover is coming soon!

9/11/17

Semi-panic and semi-beyond...

I might delete this post of mine soon because I don't know that there's a particularly legitimate point in semi-publicly posting it - but other than the poetry/art stuff, most of what I choose to share is focused on my own thoughts/feelings - and me thinking out loud to help me clarify my own thoughts/feelings, because that's what I've done for years, because if I'm not expressing myself on a one on one basis, then I'm trying to express myself by writing out some of my thoughts/feelings.
My brain has been too frequently on the brink of panic lately.
I don't think there's any particular reason for the panic, other than my own brain glitches. Or another way to put it is that even though certain things might accidentally catalyze my panicky feelings, once I suddenly/semi-randomly get into one of my more panic prone modes, it's nobody's fault. It's nobody's fault that sometimes my brain is more prone to panic than other times. It's not even my own fault, because I don't intentionally cause my brain to get panicky and I don't want to be so panic prone and I don't purposely focus on things that might trigger panic.
But I also don't want to just ignore things just because they might trigger panic. But sometimes I have to tone down my focus on certain things. And if that causes certain people to feel as if I'm not on their side and thus think less of me, then so be it. Most of us don't know all the details of all our online friends and how their brains work and why. I think some people seem to make assumptions too easily. I don't make assumptions quickly or easily at all. Maybe that makes me some sort of a screwball.
Once the panic starts, the panic is largely illogical. When I have an actual panic attack, the logical part of my brain still exists but has to use a large amount of energy to try to convince the illogical part of my brain that this isn't entirely real, that I'm probably not going to suddenly die or be killed. That my artery is probably NOT going to explode, have another aneurysm, and make me immobile, inexpressive, borderline non-existent to the point of being an un-real variation of the real me. I want to be the real me, flaws and all.
I try my best to stay logical (or logical in my own way). But I can't always control my own brain's defaults. For over 20 years, I've had these different time frames in my life where I'm more prone to more panic/panic attacks than usual. I could theorize about the reason(s), but I don't want to focus on that right now.
I will say that even though there's not very many people in my life that I can regularly talk to in terms of genuinely expressing myself on an ongoing, in-depth, one-on-one basis, about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I want to talk about, filled with glitches, contradictions, mixed feelings, speed racing thoughts, emotional outbursts, weirdo-isms, yelling jags, crying jags, giggle-fests, and an odd personality that most people probably wouldn't be interested in handling for very long, I am very glad that I have my main man who will listen to anything I have to say, anytime I want to say it, and who actually likes it
(There WAS a legitimate reason for this post. It took a while, but I went from feeling like I was on the brink of another panic attack to feeling smiley-faced about Darryl, even though he swears too much).

9/9/17

In my mind, POETRY is meant to be the opposite of destruction

In my mind, poetry is not meant to be a destructive force field nor a hazardous competition nor a playing field role reversal of right versus wrong.

I feel like some people in poetry land almost want to force other people in poetry land to pick a side and announce the side they picked and why.

I don't want to pick a side; I want to pick a poem.

I don't feel the need to unfriend someone, completely distance myself from them, and cut them down just because we're not on the exact same side - or semi-publicly slam somebody just because I disagree with parts of them - or lay out exactly how I feel about another person so that other people can narrow down which side I am or am not in support of.

If anyone wants to know how I feel about someone or something, then they can feel free to ask me one-on-one and I will probably respond - but I'm probably not going to get involved in some group attack that combines some legitimate points with a bunch of people making fun of a bunch of other people.

Sometimes it starts to feel like some sort of aggrandized agenda, but I'm not even sure where it's heading. To destroy people you disagree with? To destroy people you hate? To destroy people who hate you? To destroy people before they destroy you?

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By the way, this post isn't directed at any ONE or any particular THING or any particular SENTENCE or any particular CONVERSATION or any particular GROUP or any particular agenda. I don't have any particular agenda. I'm just expressing myself and this is directed towards how I feel IN GENERAL about poetry friendship. Of course, there are always exceptions to everything too.

I've had people try to control me before and I didn't like it at all. I will try my best to be myself AND listen to others. I will try my best to stay in control of myself without trying to control anyone else.

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I try to expel my own negativity (and all kinds of other feelings too) via creating my own poetry and art. Not by attacking other poets and artists or anyone else.

Here is a video of me reading some of my poetry this past May (part of the Take the Knight Off poetry reading in Canton, Ohio).

I just happened to encounter the video yesterday and thought I would share it today.

9/7/17

A photo of A Red Witch...

Jennifer E. Hudgens' photo of "A Red Witch, Every Which Way" by j/j hastain and Juliet Cook (Hysterical Books, 2016), nestled in between other poetry books.




9/4/17

NEW in Rag Queen Periodical! - Three collaborative poems by Michael Bernstein and me!

"I am a carnival horror show ride that was meant to be safe
for children but keeps snapping their necks
or breaking into their little heads accidentally
invading their brains with imagery that is not even
PG-13, I never will be. Or else I'm lying. I'm lighting
my hair and entrancing a freak show nose bleed."
Delighted to have three collaborative poems by Michael Bernstein and me appearing in the wonderful Rag Queen Periodical!

8/31/17

The New August Flock of Thirteen Myna Birds has Arrived!

The new August flock of Thirteen Myna Birds has finally arrived on the last day of August!
New poems by Charles CicirellaJennifer E. Hudgens, Alan Britt, Ali Jones, Eddy Jordan, and John Grey.
"His wide palms made it easy to hold his prey - I tried to climb out of the hole again - to dig my way out of losing - even background checks are shot full of holes - dripping from a corroded arrowhead - Was this what hell feels like - like blackened goblets - in red dawn - in love with sweetness and gore - turning comatose blue - I start to black out again - it's a side-effect of spirits - the shadows of trees moving back and forth - my head holds my predator's wisdom - We drag our dreams - the radio bleeds a sobbing tune -fluid and bloody - mouth jolts open, as if forced from within."
Partake of it all HERE - https://13myna.blogspot.com/

8/30/17