In Defense of Fiction

BY JOHN S. OSLER III

It’s been bugging me for a long time that whenever I want to compare something I’ve written to another story, it’s almost invariably a movie or TV show. Ever since I read Stephen King’s On Writing and made a lot of oathes of dedication to the craft of fiction (which were, ironically, pretty poorly worded) I’ve been careful to spend more time reading than watching. But still, even when I’m conceiving a scene for something I’m writing, it’s usually in the language of film, working out the lightning, color palette, scenery layout, and audio. It’s usually a struggle to incorporate senses like smell, touch, or taste, senses you can’t see on the screen. And I can’t help but ask myself why.

Of course, there are plenty of innocuous explanations. You can watch seven or eight movies in the time it takes you to read a book, so of course more characters on film come to mind than those in print. And then there’s the fact that people talk more about movies and TV than about books, so they get reinforced mentally. But I think it’s important to know about your format when you’re telling a story or making art; knowing what it can do well, what it can’t do well, and what it simply can’t do. For too long I thought that I would be a writer because of a series of negatives and only one positive: I can’t draw, I can’t find a decent camera or boss people around to much effect, I can’t tell stressed from unstressed syllables upon pain of failing an English assignment, I want to tell stories, so that really only leaves one option open. There needs to be more to it than that, I know there does, and in this piece I’m going to try and find out what.

My knee jerk response to the prose-versus-film debate is that they’re just two different forms of communication: words and images. That sounds like a pleasant, if evasive, answer, but it doesn’t really work even on a superficial level. Because isn’t poetry more a format of words than prose? Poetry is meant to be read aloud, the sounds of the words matter more than they do in prose. The words themselves became the smallest unit of communication, rather than the sentences. There’s the argument that prose is more efficient for constructing a narrative, but narrative poetry is an ancient and ongoing tradition. From this perspective, prose is something of a neutral husk in a spectrum with the immersive images of film on one end and the musical language of poetry on the other. People turn still frames of movies into posters (I have quite a few hanging in my dorm), and even in our increasingly illiterate society people quote poetry. Cinematic book covers or quoting prose with the rhythm of poetry always makes it seem like it’s trying to fit it into a format that it’s not, to say that it would have been better off incarnated some other way.

I’m simplifying things. Movies have scripts, of course, and poetry is much more complicated than I’m making it out to be. The spectrum of art isn’t two dimensional, it has more axes than the human mind can comprehend. Still, I can’t help but ask, what does fiction prose have to offer?

I have a few answers. One is imagination. In both of the formats I described, what you see is essentially what you get. There is no imaginative work to watching a movie, what happens in each frame is an indisputable fact of the story (unless there’s some artsy twist) and there’s nothing past the edges of the frame but a studio lot. And even if a line from poetry brings to mind an evocative image, that image is inextricably linked to the words that spawned it. But written fiction is different. There are too many words to memorize or even remember fully when you move on to the next paragraph. The words work as a sort of outline, then, a framework from which you build a scene in your mind. Imaginary scenes aren’t as memorable as cinematic ones, but they have their advantages. One is that the reader gets a sort of ownership of them, and often that interpretation lets the text be a window into the reader as much as the writer. In the novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, the reader is inevitably posed the question of whether Kevin or his mother is responsible for his violence, a question that each reader has to answer alone (and many disagree on). This question is still there in the movie, but it’s not as strong or as poignant.

Another strength is that it can be more immersive. I haven’t actually seen any first person movies, but from what I’ve read they’re invariably disorienting and ineffective. Voice over monologues can achieve a similar effect, but that’s essentially a tactic from fiction appropriated by another genre. Poems from perspectives are common, but let’s be honest, no one talks in rhyme or meter or line breaks. No one thinks like that either, and that’s one of the real triumph of fiction: not just to put you in someone else’s position, but to insert you into their very brain. More than any other art form, fiction is about empathy, and its power is to force you to realize the humanity in anyone dreamt up by some scribbler.

Which kind of blends into my final point. Say your parents are picking you up from college. You haven’t seen them for months and don’t know how to start to explain everything that happened in that time. What do you do? You don’t show them a video record of your life, you don’t spend hours laboring over the syllabic construction of every word. You don’t sing, you don’t dance, you don’t paint, you don’t do whatever verb goes with a multi-media experimental abstract expression campaign about the feelings of disillusion that come with growing up. You don’t write either, I guess, but you do tell a story. Maybe it’s character study searching for the impetus of your roommate’s violent radical political views, maybe it’s a tragic four-hour epic about your crippling anxiety, maybe it’s nothing more than a dirty joke you heard in the dining hall that you realize is probably out of bounds for family talk when the rest of the car ride home passes in silence. No matter what, it’s essentially prose. It’s the oldest type of storytelling, it’s the most basic to our nature and, damnit, I’ll come right out and say it: it’s the best.


12003007_1001022556622760_6551224101653223437_n-2jj.png

JOHN S. OSLER III is a sophomore at Grinnell College. He has written over two hundred satirical articles for his underground newspaper The Southern View, and a few for his high school’s legitimate newspaper, Zephyrus, on the side. He has published short stories in the Grinnell Underground Magazine, Sprout Magazine, The Phosphene Journal, Moledro Magazine, and Random Sample Review.

826 LA

Inklette’s blog shall be featuring organisations, groups and individuals from all across the world that work to promote creativity among children and underrepresented communities. 

We would like to thank 826LA for being a part of this initiative. Special thanks to Art and Photography Editor, William Higgins. 


 

From the Crazy World Down Here                      

Deisy Garcia

 

Dear grandma,

 

I miss you a lot and I wish we could be together right now. People from el rancho would tell my family, “Oh! She looks just like her grandma!” And I only saw you when I was eleven months old, basically a baby. I don’t have many memories of you.

I have a short, faint memory of you, grandpa, and your son—my dad—when I was running around in the summer where there were crops and dirt. You were all running around, you were giggling and laughing, and so was I. But I still love you a lot. Cancer dragged you out of this world and God knows why. And a couple of months later my dearly loved grandpa took flight and went to the wonderful paradise with you. I just miss you a lot, and I hope to see you one day and be with you forever and ever, and laugh and play with you and grandpa.

I wish that we were together, with grandpa too, and never ever be separated.

 

From the crazy world down here,                                   

Deisy ❤


Just One Day

Samuel Luis

 

All I know is that I used to be a nice kid that would do his work and was focused on his future. With time, that vision I had about myself faded away. Now it seems like I don’t care, but really, inside me I feel bad about myself. When I try to refocus and try to get back on track, it seems like it runs away from me and I go back to not caring. The teachers’ words come through one ear and come out from the other. My mom tries to talk to me but sometimes I just don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know what it is. I want to get back on that track of success. I argue with my mom a lot now and I feel bad for my mom because she has to deal with me. I feel sad and worried about my mom’s health, she works hard to support us since my dad left to Mexico, not caring about us. That’s why I just wish  I could go back in time and try to change stuff I did. Change something. Change what I did wrong. At least just change one little small thing that would change my future, my present, my past, change something in time. Then I think about it, maybe this is how my life is supposed to be. Maybe God decided to make my life take this path. On times when I’m sad I tend to believe maybe God doesn’t exist, maybe he is just fake. I have asked myself that question and can’t come to the conclusion of whether he exists or not. Why does my life have to be like this? Did I choose for my life to be like this? Maybe I’m looking at my life from the wrong perspective, maybe I need to think deeper. Just maybe I need to think better about my life. All I know is that I will one day change and will get back on that track of success that I seek, and will become that kid that I once was. Not the same but similar. Just one day I will seek what I’m seeking: peace between my thoughts and my feelings. Just one day all the arguing with my mom will stop and there will be peace. Just one day I will have peace. Just one day.


Blue Nail Polish

Nadia Villegas

 

Blue nail polish has a big meaning for me

To others it is just a color

To others it is just nail polish

Blue is my favorite color

After all, blue is the most popular color in the world

Yet that is not why I like blue nail polish

I believe that blue nail polish transcends gender and sexuality

I am surrounded by people wearing blue nail polish, whether they are a boy or girl

 

This is amazing because blue nail polish allows you to express yourself

No matter who you are

 

Yet there are ignorant people that think it’s not right for men to wear blue nail polish

How can such a small little jar of the color blue bring such discrimination?

There is no law or rule anywhere that says men can’t wear blue nail polish

Yet people find it a problem

Why do stupid people start opening their big mouths by calling them gay?

Blue nail polish is freedom

Blue nail polish is expression

Blue nail polish is defiance

Blue nail polish is ignoring what other people think and staying true to yourself


Who Is “Pretty”?

Michael Rodriguez

 

To be “Pretty” takes responsibility,

Cute is Ugly’s best friend,

But Is Ugly really a thing?

You can not call another “Ugly” if you

Can not look at yourself as “Pretty”

Pretty is Perfection,

The real you, it is the best version of you.

Pretty is Reflection,

Reflection on any major events that make you unique.

Pretty is Effort,

The more effort you put to think you are “pretty.”

 

Pretty is Thoughtful,

Thinking of others can affect you more than another.

Pretty is Time,

It takes time to call yourself reliable.

Pretty is Youthful,

Unite with any generation showing purity and youth.


It Has No Meaning

Daniela Martinez

 

Have you ever had someone tell you, “You’re ugly!’’ or, “You are NOT pretty!’’?

Lies, LIES!!!

 

I mean no one, NO ONE, was born good looking or perfect.

“Pretty,” that word can make you feel better or sometimes worse. To me, the word “Pretty” really doesn’t mean a lot.

All the time, ALL THE TIME, I used to get bullied, and all because of that word.

People tell me that I am ugly, that no one will ever go out with me. I mean, some girls say, “Who needs guys anyways?!’’ I totally agree. Dating can wait.

But times change and people change. Time changes when you don’t expect it and people change when they hurt you verbally or physically.

 

I was too scared to go to school because I knew that once I stepped into class, I was going to get bullied. I always heard that they called me names behind my back. When I was at school the only thing I could think about was getting home. By the time I got home, I cried like a baby. And ‘til this day I feel that I am dead on the inside. Thanks to those people, I am shy around people, I am not social, and I am quiet. People that know me don’t know that. Now they know. I am just dead on the inside.

 

I can love my family and friends, but the people that hurt me—NOT EVEN ONE BIT!!! Every time I see them I feel like I want to torture them for every moment they made me suffer. I don’t want anyone suffering like I did. I just heard that my friend got beaten up by a tenth grader. I heard how they called him names. People that go through that: SPEAK UP!!! Don’t stay quiet the same way that I did. It is NEVER too late to say, “STOP!!!”


Who has the rough face now?

Lily Rodriguez

 

I was bullied when I was little for a lot of reasons. I hit puberty at a young age, especially acne. I never had the ability to control how my body was working. I never wanted all the other kids at school to make fun of me because my face was not as smooth as theirs. All the other kids would tell me, “You need some Proactive.”  I did in fact use Proactive, but it only made my face breakout even more. I tried all the acne products, like Proactive, Neutrogena, and even used a lemon. My mother told me to stop touching my face continuously. My mother eventually ran out of money to buy all these products and gave up for a while. It seemed like everywhere I would go I was never safe from these judgments. I began to think that it was not natural for a second grader to be taller than other children in the class, and to have a face that was rougher than all of the other children’s smooth faces. I even began to take birth control pills in the fourth grade! I had to follow so many rules, like not eating certain things at certain times. For example, not eating two hours before taking the pill and waiting thirty minutes after I took the pill to eat. I hated my skin. It was not natural. As I got older, my acne started to fade away; however, the scars still make an appearance.


Barbie

Ciro Benitez

 

I remember a time when I truly missed someone. It’s usually not a good feeling when your pet dies. There are times when you have bad days and all that cheers you up is your pet. My family had a guinea pig, our second one. We adopted her from Petco, four months after our first guinea pig died.

 

She was really cute. I loved her so much that at times it was torture for her. It felt amazing every time I held her, fed her, and overall being with her. When she was dying I felt as if my heart was torn out of my body and thrown into a chest, never to be opened ever again. I felt sad but my eyes didn’t even water. She was struggling to walk in her cage, she couldn’t keep her balance and her whole body would tilt over when she tried. I attempted to feed her but she couldn’t chew. My mom was by my side and maybe that’s why I didn’t shed at least one tear. I don’t like crying in front of others, not even my family. At some point, Barbie––that was her name––just stayed in one spot. She was still breathing but I knew she wouldn’t be moving from that spot. My mom put a big towel over the cage and I went to sleep that night in the same room where my guinea pig was. I will forever remember Barbie and of course every other pet companion I have had or will ever have.


My Thoughts on Prison

Nasim Zarenejad

 

Prison is a place with a lot of personalities. At first you only see delinquents and rebels roaming around the hallways trying to act tough and brave. But if you took a second glance and understood each and every person carefully, you can see that most of them don’t have a simple life but a complicated one. Each and every person has their own story, which brought them to that bad place known as prison. They all had a reason to come to that nightmare and they need help. They committed a crime because of a mistake they wish they had never done, or because of an urge for a pleasure because they couldn’t control themselves.  Regardless of whether they regret what they did or not, they all need help emotionally and mentally. I believe that prison should not be a punishment for their crimes or mistakes but a somewhat “school” where they all could learn to understand and fix their problems.


 

Top places I want to go to

Milanka Patterson

 

The top places I want to go to are Paris, Hawaii, New York, Florida, London, and Guatemala. There are probably many other places, but I want to go to those for now.

 

Paris:

 

Paris is such an amazing place and I want to got here because of all their amazing food and of course, to see the Eiffel Tower. I also know there’s lots of things about modeling in Paris, so that’s another reason to go!

 

Florida:

 

I want to go to to Florida because it’s very beachy and summery like Hawaii. I mostly want to go there because of Disney World and to go to Miami and see an alligator in somebody’s pool.

 

Guatemala:

 

I want to to go Guatemala because there are lot of volcanoes there and I really want to see a volcano! Plus, I have family there and I heard they have beaches with black sand––I want to see that! It also seems very adventurous and I love adventures!

 

Hawaii:

 

I want to go there SOOO BADLY! I will one day. It’s super beautiful––all the animals, the beaches, and all of the different activities. I can’t even explain how many things I would do, all the pictures I would take.

 

New York:

 

I also want to go to New York because all the headquarters for acting and modeling are there. Plus, all the lights! The fashion shows! Everything!!!

 

London:

 

I don’t really know why I want to go to London, but I do and I guess it’s because of the queens and kings. I think that’s cool.

 

How would I get there?

 

Whenever I travel, I go with my family. But as I get older maybe my family won’t want to be traveling all the time. So instead, I would want to go with my best friends! Imagine going on plane rides, staying in hotels, going on adventures in a city you’ve never explored before with the people you love! That is my ideal life and how I would want to spend it!


Mexico

Luz R.

 

Mexico is important to me and my family because Mexico is the place where my mom, dad, uncles, aunts, and cousins were born. My mom and dad were born in San Sebastian Tutla. They left when they got married, and haven’t seen their moms and dads in a long time. Whenever I go there they take the trip seriously because instead of them going to Mexico, they send us to visit the family. Whenever we go to Mexico they get sad because they would like to see their families.


The Lake

By Xavyer Fletes

 

There is a myth that people tell of the forest in Pikoro Village. They say in the heart of the forest is a big lake that is full of life, animals, and plants. The lake is said to have a magical essence of a celestial spirit who was once a king. He was the king of the Fiore region. He was the greatest king ever, he made sure the citizens were never in poverty. He made sure everyone was healthy. The kingdom was at the highest point of its renaissance, but the prince was jealous that everyone loved the king and had never paid attention to the prince. The prince took the king’s life, poisoning him with a box of vipers. He put it in the king’s bed and in the morning the king was dead. When the king died the spirits had given him a second chance, but in another form; he would be a lake and control what happens around it. The king wanted the people who drink from it to have some kind of power, so they can carry on his legacy and capture the people who are ill-hearted. To get there is a treacherous journey. Only people who pass are pure of heart, but the people who are tainted are usually not able to come back in one piece, mentally or physically. The king is able to tell who is pure of heart by making a series of challenges they have to pass. He can sense the essence of good-hearted and tainted-hearted people. The king makes sure if they are good-hearted by the test he lays out. The ones who do get through in one piece (which are tainted) would run at the chance of power and destroy everything at sight. The lake has one more defense of action. The sirens would drag the tainted-hearted to the deepest part of the lake and never let them go. The good-hearted people who drink from the lake are granted any power their heart desires.


Venice Beach, California

Ashla Chavez Razzano

 

The salty sea air of Venice Beach, California drifts through the beach town’s streets and past my window. The sun is covered in gloomy marine-layer this morning, like every morning, until the warmth of the afternoon burns through the grey. I spend my time on my roof, balancing above the incline. Balancing above the longtime-locals that roam the streets, artists and surfer and skaters alike. On my roof, I gaze at the streets’ movement and distant buildings, trees, and mountains. At different times of day, the scene changes, reflecting the change in mood of the community. My favorite time to be here is dawn, when the fresh scent of day is soft and cold, and the dim blue sky is slightly illuminated by the oncoming sun (5:35 AM). Soon the morning becomes noon and the warmth of the day reaches its peak. Summer, and weekends, the crowds of locals and currents of tourists run through the neighborhood, holding skateboards and backpacks full of towels with sand stuck to their flip flops. This is when chatter fills the air, with my neighbor’s “oldies-radio” playing loud from their front yard. The day is anything but still (3:17 PM).

 

By the evening, my neighbor’s radio has been turned off, and behind my home I see other locals chain smoking on outside tables, holding conversation as the sky darkens and their windows’ lights create shadows under their tapping feet. With the dozen or so restaurants and bars and cafes on my street, there’s still a distant chatter. It’s calm and soft, but surrounded by movement (6:53 PM).


 

Did you know…

Estefania Flores

 

You grab

the ball, you dribble

and you shoot. You throw

the ball after you aim, and

eagerly watch the round sphere, hoping

it will go through the net. You can’t

travel or kick the ball. You

cannot even dribble with

two hands. Yes, I play basketball.    

I don’t look like the kind of

girl that plays a sport. But… I’m #14

on the court, don’t judge.


MISSION STATEMENT:  826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this in mind, we provide after-school tutoring, evening and weekend workshops, in-school tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. All of our programs are challenging and enjoyable, and ultimately strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.

Editor’s Note

Dear readers, contributors, and friends of Inklette,

We are thrilled to bring to you the fifth issue of Inklette magazine, themed on ‘Home.’ Home has come to mean so many different things for me over the course of these past few months. Here I am, living in the unstoppable city of New York, thousands of miles away from my hometown of Bhopal, India. As a stranger and a foreigner here, I have been trying to comprehend what home means and what it makes us learn, or forget.

I used to think homes are permanent. But the more I have grown and travelled, the more I have come to realize that sometimes our homes are not symbolic of who we are or where we come from, but what we choose to leave behind. Like most things, they are perhaps best experienced only in their absence.

I feel compelled to bring up the brutality of our homes. They can be politicized or discriminative entities, they can inflict pain or disappointment. But this summer, in Iceland, and now, in New York, I have found a home to believe in. I have found homes in the bodies we inhabit, the friends we make. I look for things that don’t change. I enjoy the color of water, and the tears that poetry brings. And that’s when I know I am nowhere but at home.

Our stellar staff members have worked incredibly hard to put this together. Without their passion and creativity, I am uncertain if I would have the kind of hope and love I am learning to take in. We received an overwhelming number of submissions from this issue and chose, with great care, the ones included in this issue to show to you. We hope you like this issue. We hope it allows you to look around, and love.

Sincerely,

Devanshi Khetarpal

Editor-in-Chief

Interview with Steve Klepetar

Read Steve Klepetar’s poems here. 


Inklette: What do you call ‘home?’ Has poetry helped you find the answer

Steve: I was born in Shanghai, China, the son of Holocaust survivors and refugees, so I’ve always had a vexed notion of home. My parents brought me to the U.S. when I was an infant, and I grew up in New York City, but I’ve spent most of my adult life in Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where I taught at the local state university for over thirty years. I’ve lived in many places, including Chicago; Northumberland, England; Atlanta; Tucson; and Western Australia. I suppose in a sense I’m like a turtle, carrying my home with me as an emotional state, which helps me adjust quickly to new environments.

Inklette: What do you think about the politics of home in context of the current political scenario?

Steve:  Ugh! I am obsessed with following the news and every day I read The Guardian American edition and The New Yorker Daily, as well as most of the articles on the CNN web site. That probably accounts for my cheery disposition! I am appalled by the state of American politics, especially the self-serving and cavalier disregard for the environment and the climate crisis, and by the way the president has tacitly approved of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Inklette: Do you believe poetry and politics converge?

Steve: Yes, but for me it is almost always complicated. I have written some explicitly political poems. In fact, I recently published a chapbook called How Fascism Comes to America. But most of the time, politics leaks into my work in odd and indirect ways. That is true even of most of the poems in that very political chapbook. The poems I’m talking about express the deep sense of unease I’ve been feeling for the past year or so, a darkening of the political landscape, but these tend to work with the inner life rather than naming particular events or people.

Inklette: What drew you towards poetry when you first started writing it? What draws you towards writing poems now?

Steve: I was drawn to poetry, to rhyme especially, almost as soon as I could read and write. My teachers always kind of made me the poet laureate of the class, though all I could really do was keep a rhythm and make rhymes. I loved to draw, but I was terrible at it, so I found poetry a satisfying way to fill that need to create something. I really love writing, and I try (and fail) to do it every day. I actually get a pleasant physical sensation when I break through and the poem starts to flow. Another aspect of poetry writing involves the community of poets, something the Internet has helped to expand. I am in contact with quite a few poets, whose work I get to read and who read mine, and that has been a great pleasure for the past few years.

Inklette: Has poetry changed you?

Steve: I don’t know, I hope so. Maybe writing poetry has made me more attentive and more imaginative. Writing poetry has been an important part of my life for so long now that it’s hard for me to trace changes over time.

Inklette: Finally, which poems keep calling you back? 

Steve: There are so many great poems. Emily Dickinson’s “Wild Nights” won’t leave my head, and I go back to Yeats’ “Sailing to Byzantium” again and again. I love Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, and maybe his odd little poem “The Little Vagabond” is my odd choice, since that one doesn’t get anthologized very often. But if I had to choose one poem that I go back to again and again, it’s Wallace Stevens’ “The Snow Man.” I’ve been living in Minnesota so long that I guess I have a mind of winter.


STEVE KLEPETAR‘s work has appeared widely and has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. His most recent collections are Family Reunion, A Landscape in Hell, and How Fascism Comes to America.

On The Female Body

BY JOANNA CLEARY

A story: I volunteer to write a blog piece for Inklette on a hazy Wednesday evening and an idea appears, as they often do for me, seemingly out of nowhere. I want to write about the female body. No, a voice within me interjects. That’s too political. The voice is correct; bodies are political. This inner resistance is not a result of me wanting to shy away from my political beliefs, however, but more a result of me not wanting to be yelled at for being politically incorrect in a world, particularly a virtual world, where it is impossible to be politically correct to everyone.

I continue to stare at a blank Word document in hopes that another idea comes to me. Slowly, my gaze slides from my computer screen to my forearms, resting beside the keyboard of my laptop. They inexplicably appear stubborn, resistant. They seem to want to say something, but, being forearms, they can’t. I look at my hands next. Get typing, the voice inside my head says, having changed its (my?) mind. I do.

Being a Poetry Editor for Inklette, I spend an embarrassing amount of time writing and reading poetry. Here is a list of poems about the female body that each emotionally resonate with me. I acknowledge that there are as many different female bodies as there as females and that these differences can stem from life experiences, gender identity, ability, race, ethnicity, culture, and so on. This list does not attempt to capture all the complexities of the female body, as that would be impossible, but is rather the product of the nights I spend staying up reading poetry I haven’t read before instead of going to bed.

  1. Vagina Sonnet (Joan Larkin):

https://indian2006.wordpress.com/2009/05/01/joan-larkins-vagina-sonnet/

  1. Breasts (Erica Jong):

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/12/breasts-poetry-erica-jong

  1. Nurse (Dorianne Laux): 

https://player.fm/series/apm-garrison-keillors-the-writers-almanac-podcast-feed/nurse-by-dorianne-laux-sunday-may-14-2017-the-writers-almanac-with-garrison-keillor

  1. Beauty (Ariana Reines):

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/beauty

  1. Exclusively on Venus (Trace Peterson): https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/exclusively-venus
  1. Diminishment (Nancy Mairs): 

https://books.google.ca/books?id=PO2IAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120&dq=Diminishment+Nancy+Mairs+poem&source=bl&ots=8741sYX9aO&sig=lmohvPtrFaCvFCeQE7meFpq4HfM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj0z47Ntt7VAhUL3YMKHXZPABgQ6AEILjAB#v=onepage&q=Diminishment%20Nancy%20Mairs%20poem&f=false

  1. Women of Colour (Rupi Kaur): https://hungmduong232.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/women-of-colour-rupi-kaur/
  1. After the First Child, the Second (Mary Austin Speaker): https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/after-first-child-second

Enjoy. Read them in order. Pick one at random. Recite your favourite at a poetry slam. Write a response poem. Write a comparative essay and show it to your English teacher. I decided not to write any commentary concerning the poems themselves so that each one will come as a surprise. As you read, I have one request: remember to feel the poetry. We too often forget, or choose not to acknowledge, how things make us feel.

Go ahead. Be political. We don’t have a choice about that, for better or for worse. All bodies can be powerful and perhaps that power deserves to be used. I developed a rather complex formula when I was collecting poems for this article: meaning = feeling = power = politics = change/advocacy = progress. For good reason, progress is often seen as an illusion. I agree that it is, unfortunately, too often illusive, but I also believe it exists in some form. I see potential for progress to come about through these poems and the reading of them. So, read. See the power in the female body.


149460297287447.gif

JOANNA CLEARY has been part of the Inklette team since 2015 and is pathetically in love with poetry. Her work has previously appeared in Cicada Magazine, Inklette Magazine, Glass Kite Anthology, Parallel Ink, Phosphene Literary Journal, HIV Here and Now, and On the Rusk. She is the 2017 recipient of the 2017 University of Waterloo Creative Writing Society Award for Poetry

Period Dramas And Soul Food

BY SMRITI VERMA 

Recently, I was talking to a friend about how monotonous holidays can get at times, and she told me I needed “soul food,” and god knows what that even means, but I decided to heed to the advice and try to do things that would “feed my soul” on some foundational level I can’t fathom. Basically, I tried to be your unusual carpe diem Instagram aesthetic poster girl, delving into painting and journaling and nature photography and whatnot (none of this is to take that I’m somewhat criticizing or judging a particular way of living.) The happiness provided was fleeting, and I ended up focusing more on the watching good movies than most, and from movies I went to period dramas, and that reminded me of my long lost love for them.

There’s this shot in the little-known period drama called Bright Star wherein Fanny Brawne, the heroine, stares outside her window as in the wind blows in, the drapes rising and falling against the blinding sunlight. The shot is complimented with the tune of a violin, and as Fanny lays down on her bed, you can almost feel the dreaminess of the shot pervading through the screen, and the calm spreading over you. It’s beautiful, but not to a degree of hurting: just the right amount, the right music, the right shot, all of it coming together to create an effect so enrapturing and raw that you feel like you’re falling asleep.

I was around fourteen years old when I first saw Bright Star, still a starry-eyed teenager who indulged too much into Austen and those daydream fantasies for her own good. Period dramas can be way too fancy in their conception, cultivating the years-old adage of a hero and a heroine, both of them are oh so in love and are separated by the shackles of reality. The idea, of course, is to get you rooting for the couple – whether it’s through including scenes of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy standing in the rain, fighting and throwing carefully constructed dialogues at each other faster than we, the casual commoner, can think them in the 2005 version, or the way too many smirks given by Henry Tilney to Catherine Morland in the television film. Some of these effects end up being charming, some not so much.

Yet the naturalistic atmosphere, the subtle romantic feel, the empire waistline gowns, the formal manner of speaking – all of these give these movies a feeling of being unreal and reinforce the fact that these dramas are so far cut off from reality that the difference is out of this world. Hence, the experience is completely immersive – rather, in the first few period dramas I’d watched, I spent more time trying to decipher the dialogues than anything else. I’d say these dramas take themselves too seriously sometimes, but for me as a teenager, watching these was perhaps like watching my daydreams come to life. That part compounded the satisfaction, and my natural gravitation towards them.

I’ve always felt period dramas as a work of art, knowing how elitist, or narrow they might be. There is something to say about the manner in which Keira Knightley walks in the beginning sequence of Pride and Prejudice, or the image of Ben Whishaw climbing and lying on the treetops as John Keats in Bright Star, or the famous Colin Firth scene where we see Mr. Darcy go swimming, seeing him in an entirely new light (if you know what I mean). They’ll always be my favourite way of wasting time away, and if that puts them in the category of soul food, then I guess I can’t argue.


150126426218111.gif

SMRITI VERMA grew up in Delhi, India. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in The Adroit Journal, Coldnoon, B O D Y, Cleaver Magazine, Word Riot, Open Road Review, Alexandria Quarterly, Yellow Chair Review, and The Four Quarters Magazine. She is the recipient of the 2015 Save The Earth Poetry Prize and enjoys working as a Poetry Editor for Inklette and Poetry Reader for The Blueshift Journal.

Here’s Why Art Is Never Easy

BY NILESH MONDAL

If you thought it was going to be easy, it’s not. It never was.

When musicians are complimented on their compositions, it’s not their talent alone you’re applauding. You’re cheering for their story, you’re cheering for all those moments they split their hand open on the strings of their instrument, bathing its wooden body in their blood. This ritual is what makes up their music.

How a pint of blood loses life, turns into a mess which must be doused in industrial solvent to be removed, becomes a stain which looks like spilling wine on ebony, while the instrument slowly takes a life of its own, screeches and screams and tugs at our hearts like a newborn come into this watching world, that’s how music is born.

Art always had its story.

Every photograph, Polaroid or digital, plastic or gigabytes of memories and moments, it all came from a story. The story of a woman standing in front of a bulldozing crowd, with beating heart that trembles but never runs.

The belief that what she stands for is worth standing for, even in the face of a stampede or reckless bullets striving to find target. The story of a toddler smiling, eyes wide, cheeks wrinkled, the first moment one realises our bodies aren’t bodies but a circus of human emotions, that they can flex their muscles and make someone laugh along, stretch their throat into producing cries which brings people running to attend to their needs.

Years later when the toddler would grow up, they’ll learn how easy it had been all along to stand on trembling legs in front of a lover walking through the ruins of their spirit, how it feels to become a roaming tongue stroking sparks into fire.

Every poem tells a story.

Every brush stroke on naked canvas talks to you. You’ve only got to listen.

If you thought it was going to be easy, it wasn’t.

Nothing is.

Our love is an apartment on fire and we run around in circles trying to find an exit hatch, or a room in the basement where we’ll be safe when the flames run out. Our lives are struggles, to bear witness, to speak out, to stand for something which we believe is worth standing for. If you thought it is easy, it isn’t. But easy, isn’t always beautiful.

The artists will tell you that.


150001269352842.gifNILESH MONDAL, 23, is an engineer by choice, and poet by chance. His works have been published in various magazines and e-journals like Bombay Literary Review, Café Dissensus, Muse India, Inklette, Kitaab, Coldnoon Travel Poetics, etc. He was one of the winners of Juggernaut’s Short Story Contest in 2016. He currently works as a writer for Terribly Tiny Tales and Thought Catalog, as prose editor for Moledro Magazine, and is an intern at Inklette Magazine. His first book of poetry, Degrees of Separation, (Writers Workshop), was released in June 2017 and debuted at #2 of the Amazon Bestseller list of Poetry.