Category Archives: College
Take some time to check out this online radio interview with Chris Pendergrast on his show “Echo Cast.” I talked with him for approximately 10 minutes about my inspiration for poetry, the process of writing poems, and the particulars of the poem “Fork,” which came from a story concerning my speech impediment.
I also discuss the “Fun Home” controversy, Roberto Jones’ haven for artists, the meaning of truth in poems, and upcoming projects.
Other artists are also featured, and you should listen to their music and interviews as well. To hear me, go to minute 40 and take a listen. I am very excited to have made connections on Soundcloud and have begun to find a wider audience for my spoken word poems. Enjoy and make sure to comment.
You can find the interview here:
Also, make sure to check out Chris’s music here: https://soundcloud.com/chris-pendergraft
And his art here: http://chrispendergraft.deviantart.com/
In late February, South Carolina Representative Garry Smith punished the College of Charleston for its choice of College Reads! book, which was Alison Bechdel’s tragi-comic Fun Home. Although the state’s funds did not actually fund the College Reads! Program, the state legislature chose to cut $52,000 in funding to the College. This caused quite the kerfluffle among CofC students, including myself, who began a series of protests against the legislature’s decisions. This coincided also with the appointment of Glenn McConnell as College president after a politically dubious search process. On Monday, we held another protest, as Fun Home the Musical came to Charleston. Having watched the show myself, I hope it great success and also hope that the play helps spread the message of how homophobia can destroy people’s lives.
I read the following poems at last Friday’s protests:
Several writers across the country have also spoken up about academic freedom, information for which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/outloudsc
Find media on the protests and controversy here:
dangling from his shoulder as he
stretches onto his side in the Cistern’s shadow mosaic,
his crisp blazer folded beneath his white crown.
When I approach to ask
if he might sign a petition for everyone
to start loving one another, he lowers his book and
wordlessly draws a pen from his breast pocket, and leans
forward to grab the clipboard.
Charleston Hype Launch Party at King Dusko this Saturday!
Last night, I performed my first feature poetry show in front of a healthy crowd of friends, middle schoolers, and talented strangers. Following the 30-minute performance came an open mic and poetry slam. Two close friends will be featuring next time. Unfortunately, we got zero video from the performance last night, but here are some videos from the previous Wednesday at Boone’s Bar. As a bonus, I’ve included a video from back in 2012. ” More videos will be posted on the blog soon, and until then, one may find them on my Youtube channel.
Bonus video I found on Youtube of me performing poetry in the twelfth grade at a Graduation Party:
On the morn of another Thirsty Thursday, students roll out of bed early—on average, ten minutes before class—to traipse across the Novembered campus en route to the nearest Starbucks. The wind pushes through the streets like a gaggle of British tourists, slapping students’ faces, rippling every Fraternity flag, and snatching piles of leaves into cyclical whirlwinds. The perfume of reefer, estrogen, and dead fish wafted against the historical buildings, which when campus tour guides spoke of them used almost visible quotation marks—”Historical Buildings.” At 11, the students still stand in a winding line out the door of Starbuck’s and down Calhoun, as girls file out the other end clutching Gingerbread Lattes, Caramel Brulee Lattes, Peppermint Mocha Lattes, Pumpkin Spice lattes, and occasionally an iced coffee.
Somewhere on the corner of campus, a man grills hotdogs. Somewhere beyond him, a hung-over professor packs his notes into a leather attaché case and sprints through the wind-scarred streets to class on the third floor of Maybank—where his students are absent, mired in a stuffy Starbuck’s across the road.
Everyone in the city smoked cigarettes, the orange-bright ends illuminating every stoop, park bench, and window. If we shut out the lights, cut the electrical lines, we might still be able to read by the glare of a million burning cigarettes, their ashes spilling into the crease between the pages. Many treated their cigarettes with ritual superstition—practicing traditions passed down from the Great War, from the Native Americans, and from the study-abroad semesters in Bulgaria. Each secreted upside down sticks in their packs—the lucky cigarette—absconding white lighters and lighting up with the ends of each others’ cigarettes. When finished, they tapped out the cigarettes in overflowing ash trays, some plastic, others glass.
The smoke, meanwhile, floated above their heads in lazy spirals—smoke took on a life of its own, an animated beast rising and swaying like a drunk ballerina in flats not yet broken in. The bearded man with glasses, reading Kant with a mix of pretentiousness and a sincere desire to understand, the freckled girl with a glinting nose ring—hell, the Catholic Father with his black shirt unbuttoned in the simmering summer heat. Here they sat, sharing communion: rather than a reminder of life, they acknowledged death, welcomed it into their lungs with breaths deep as love.
The priest took a drag on his cigarette, and I wonder why he smokes, if there is reason at all or if it seemed something to do when there was nothing else to do. Some of the people in the city, they rolled their cigarettes. The heathens of the Holy City smoked everything they could stuff into rolling papers, fitting their filters sloppily to the end.
Perhaps he liked smoking for its symbolism, its thematic properties. Cigarettes reflected the American desire for death, the necessity of it with our lives, because without death, we would not be able to justify our wasteful lives. If we were to live forever, then we would be forced to do something, but death had become our ultimate cop-out, our greatest excuse for failure. We could try, try to do something good and impactful, but then too late—you died too soon, oh well.
The embers died out, crackling like a campfire in the jumble of ash trays, and the city grew dark as the smokers fell one by one to sleep.
Four weeks later, the “Happy Birthday” Mylar balloon survives, defying gravity as it levitates beside his bed. When he wakes, he usually startles, peering into the darkness and waiting for IT to attack in his clownish terror. But the boy does not lay in his bed, but instead hunches over the desk writing on index cards, his arms, the walls, and his mind– any sort of memorization trick he can think of.
Periodically, he reaches for his laptop, opens up Facebook, wastes fifteen minutes reading a bland twitter feed. When he looks up to see the books and papers and notebooks stacked around him like a fortress, he closes the laptop and returns to work.
The boy is me, naturally, too lazy to use first person because after studying this much, can you even be sure that you inhabit your own body anymore? You’re a robot, a clone, that strange alien double agent sent into a high school to infect the student body as well as the teacher, but there are a few resistant students who team up and fight against you. Either that, or everyone’s losing their minds.
Studying might not be the right word, though. More like boarding up a house in Florida before hurricane season or gathering your army for war. Washington, I have crossed the Delaware. I have faced the enemy, and he is no Fuhrer or vaguely-racist-depiction of Communism, but final exams.
As much as I would like to say that these exams are why I haven’t blogged in so long, I can’t say that. After all, the Mylar balloon has been there the whole time, egging me. Write, write write, and no doubt, I have been writing. Perhaps a little more than a week from now, when the waiting and preparing ends, I can write more. Also, I will be putting up videos of poetry performances in the next few days, so look out for those.
2005 B.A. in Art History, Phoenix University
2006 A Week of Yoga Classes
Perfected the “breathing position”
June 2005- August 2005 Entrepreneur
Operated and financed a local-run Lemonade Stand
- Manufactured lemonade
- Sold lemonade
- Hand-painted signs
November 2010-February 2011 Beer Brewer
Operated homemade brewery
- Manufactured Eagle Tears Brew beer, an All-American corporation
- Financed beer brewery from parents’ basement
- Did I mention it’s made of Eagle Tears?
March 2011-Present Couch Model
Volunteers at local Rent-a-Room modeling furniture
- Displays how one might look laying, sitting, sleeping, standing, or dancing on couches
- Acts out daily functions of potential couch users
- Test-runs furniture to insure safety about damage, bullet holes, wine spills, etc.
September 2005-October 2010 Sociological Research
Lived as “homeless” and “impoverished” as well as “unemployed” for sake of personal sociological research
- Life experience
- Educated in the “University of Harde Knocks”
- Can carve weapons from nearly any piece of trash
- Expert scavenger
March 1997 Grew Beard
First person in Freshman class of high school to grow facial hair
- Once performed for Mrs. Harris’ first grade class during recess
Can Beat Mario World 3 in Less than a Day
- For reference, call Tommy Hulligan. He didn’t think I could do it.
In light of recent elections, I have heard chaos and turmoil. When the results were announced, the earth opened, lava pouring across the land destroying America values, destroying the homes of all hard-working, straight Americans. The flags burned symbolically and Barack Obama removed his clever prosthetic concealing his demonic horns.
Well, I mean, that happened metaphorically, right?
I mean, the Earth shuddered with sudden change.
Didn’t you feel that?
Time to honest: I wasn’t too worried about the election. Why?
Because it was a choice between moderates. I knew that it did not matter who won, not much would change. Now that Obama is president again, while I suspect his views to shift more liberally, I know that it’s not going to change the world. And not that I would mind America changing.
Whatever, I can adapt.
And if Romney won and I lost federal aid for college, I mean, that would be a change, but I could deal with it. It’s almost as if the election did not truly decide the moral and grandiose fate of the United States. And I’m not sure why anyone would want to move to Canada after this point? I mean, Canada is terrible. If you really wanted to get away from liberal policies, I don’t know– Are there any more conservative countries than us? I’m not sure.
Like waking from a strange and lurid dream, the election was over. No one mentioned the economy or “the media” as if it existed, an amalgam of demonic spirits. Over night, elderly couples had extracted the signs from their lawns, and my curse was lifted. The curse, I believed, meant I was nearly mad—or in comparison to others, sane. I became struck with an odd, creeping feeling, a horrific notion that perhaps everyone else had descended into insanity, jabbering gibberish and talking too loudly about subjects which did not seem to matter.
For months, they screamed in a language of “politics,” citing sources that didn’t exist to support arguments wholly metaphysical or hypothetical.
“What if,” the brain-washed inquired, “Barack Obama won and then aliens attacked? What would he do? Why hasn’t he addressed that problem?” Any attempt to swerve the conversation back to tangible and pressing issues proved ineffective against the hot-headed pollsters, the opinionated elite, who had “educated themselves.”
“Oh,” they would chide, “you should really get educated. Maybe do a little research into the truth about the elections.”
“What?” I implored them to tell me their secrets, if there was truly some conspiracy brewing. If Obama planned to murder children or if Romney plotted to destroy the university system from the inside, I wanted to be in the fold. I wanted to be the ringleader of resistance movements, ninja-leaping through the lawn of the White House to stop the Antichrist from initiating the Apocalypse. I wanted to put out buckets in my home to stop the leaking of lava through my singed roof.
But no matter I how fervently I tried to froth my mouth and gnash my teeth and cry in the midst of a tribal dance around a sacrificial fire, I could not feel as religiously as they for anything so trite. Instead, I kept in constant consciousness that the dance was an illusion, that we were not performing rituals to save the world (because this election would determine the future of human morality), but instead crass acts, calling it “politics.”
The worst shock was what people said—it’s certainly not quiet now. But those swearing in adoration or disgust are both marked as certified “crazies.” Anyone who still pursues, after this point, the cult of politics is considered a lunatic. But before, we were all lunatics, all these cloudy-eyed zombies repeating rhetoric we heard on the evening news.
What makes an election so volatile and consuming that we fall into such a trance, biting our fingernails at the drama as the ballots roll in. Today, however, the storm has settled into glass, the shudders quieting into rumbles and loud coughing and little sneezes, then finger snaps, then true and solid silence.
Perhaps the world has gone un-mad.