Category Archives: College

Cistern, 5pm

Cornflower yellow tiedownload (5)

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.

Upcoming Events in Charleston This Week

Tonight! Reblution at the Music Farm. Doors open at 8pm. Shows starts at 9pm.

 

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Tonight! Matt Foley releases his book “We Could Be Oceans” at the 827. Doors open at 7pm. BYOB.

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Tomorrow night! John Brown’s Body plays at The Pour House. Show starts at 10, doors: 9pm.

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Charleston Hype Launch Party at King Dusko this Saturday!

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Sunday, February 23, 2014: Big Gigantic at the Music Farm. Show starts at 9pm. Get tickets soon because they’re almost sold out.

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Monday, February 24, 2014: Susan Meyers reads from her new book “Dear, Dear Stagger Grass” at the East Bay Meeting House Open Mic.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014: Derek Berry releases his book “Skinny Dipping with Strangers” at the 827 Poetry Night. Followed by an open mic and party!

Snapshot 5 (1-3-2014 5-52 PM)

 

First Feature Success

1391638_239826529509783_738692741_nLast 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:

 

Thursday, at 11am

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.

Vignette: Cigarettes in the City

images (22)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.

The Desk

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.

Resume For A Job You Don’t Want

Education

2005                        B.A. in Art History, Phoenix University

2006                         A Week of Yoga Classes

Perfected the “breathing position”

Job Experience

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.

Related Experience

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

Talents

Burps ABC’s

  • 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 the Recent Elections…

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.

“The Beard” As a Symbol

Besides being a fashionable asset to any face, “The Beard” is a statement, usually that “I am a man and can grow a beard, so deal with my stubbly insubordinate nature.” In some cases, growing facial hair has become the calling card for indie band members, Canadian lumberjacks, and brutally masculine movie stars (see: Sean Connery, Jeff Bridges, Mr. T). But can beards symbolize something other than masculinity and what implications can growing a beard have on a person’s psychology?

Those are both very intriguing questions that I doubt anyone could answer without first delving into weeks of research in an academic library. Because I’m rather short on time, I’ll rely on my flimsy conjectures and access to Wikipedia.

Well-known theologian of the second century Clement of Alexandria wrote extensively about the importance of facial hair. A Christian philosopher, he deemed beards man’s “natural and noble adornment.” In fact, an inactive user on a Puritan forum I found on the vast internet shared similar sentiments with the quotes he posted (thanks to anonymous Puritan guys researching ancient texts):

“How womanly it is for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, and to arrange his hair at the mirror, shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them!…For God wished women to be smooth and to rejoice in their locks alone growing spontaneously, as a horse in his mane. But He adorned man like the lions, with a beard, and endowed him as an attribute of manhood, with a hairy chest–a sign of strength and rule.” 2.275

Not growing out your beard, Clement asserts, is womanly, which may come as quite an insult for bearded women.

“This, then, is the mark of the man, the beard. By this, he is seen to be a man. It is older than Eve. It is the token of the superior nature….It is therefore unholy to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairiness.” 2.276

These quotes reflect that to shave one’s beard rebels against God himself, yet in today’s society not-shaving, not not-shaving, signifies an aptitude for rebellion. We view beards as belonging to badass transgressors and terrorist anarchists. Sometimes, then, beards can be seen as a sign of obedience and sometimes as a sign of rebellion. It’s strange that tufts of facial hair could signify two such disparate ideologies. Naturally, we associate not shaving with Amish identity as well as the religious identities of other factions (Jewish and Islamist faiths being two prime examples).

That is the epitome of manliness

Then what is a beard by any other name other than nothing more than what it is?

Hair. On your face.

A beard can symbolize whatever you want it to symbolize. A beard, like many other universal symbols, can be used to instruct unconsciously in a myriad of ways and therefore are meaningless as well as full of meaning. Then, when you grow your beards, you get to choose what it means. Sort of like a tattoo. Perhaps you want to seem manly, or want to seem rebellious, or like my friend Andy can’t not grow a beard because your manliness refuses to hide itself.

The reason I’m contemplating beards: November is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. And to support awareness of a possibly awkward topic, men grow out their beards. Next time you shave, think about what you’re saying or not saying about yourself.

Htein Lin: Survival Art

{Last night, I had the good fortune of hearing distinguished artist Htein Lin speak about his work, life, and inspirations. Because I found it so profoundly moving, his story so incredibly interesting, I wrote up a brief summation of his lecture. If so inspired by future lectures, perhaps I will do the same to pass on some of the knowledge I have been learning at university. This post probably does no justice to the beauty this man espouses, but I have tried, in the plainest terms, to convey it.}

Born in Burma under a military regime, Htein Lin spent his life struggling as an artist suppressed by Burma’s government. He works in the mediums of painting, performance, and video, practicing what he calls “Survival Art,” which is to take the negative out of life and turn it into something positive. As Htein Lin put it, “making misery into art.”

He began his artistic career as a comedian while he studied law at the university. During this time, he joined an art organization that cultivated his artistic sensibilities but in the most conservative way possible. During his school term, he became involved in many protests which made him unpopular among the local regime. Because no social media existed in 1988, no Facebook or Twitter, the uprising that followed garnered little press coverage.

To fight for democracy, he needed to work outside of Burma, moving to India to work as an illustrator for a magazine. Soon after, he moved toward the border of China to join the “iunale.” These were peaceful rebels for democracy, carrying no guns, starting no conflict. The presence of guns would make them vulnerable to attack—they were safer without weapons, seeming to pose no real threat.

During his exile, he suffered many horrors, the least of which was nature. Each night, he taped his eyes shut in fear leeches would suckle his eyeballs just as they often latched onto his feet, arms, and back. After staying for a little while, the group split, one half accusing the other of being spies, including Htein Lin. They tortured the accused with freezing temperatures, by burning their skin, and by making incisions in their fingers.

15 of the accused escaped into China, only to be arrested again. This quickly blew over, though.

Htein Lin’s life as a captive truly began in 1998 when his name appeared on a circulating list of possible rebels. For this, he was sentenced to seven years in jail. According to Htein Lin, American and British prisons seemed like “a Bed and Breakfast.” He survived on a metal-mesh bed barely large enough to accommodate him while sitting cross-legged.

He continued, however, to work on his art. He used old prison uniforms on which to paint upon, paying off guards to smuggle in paints. For a brush, he used once a roller from a lighter, another time the tip of a hospital syringe. He became what he described as the “resident artist of the prison.” Despite being confined, his creativity bloomed.

After prison, he “fell in love with art,” marrying a British artist and moving to Britain.

He lived his life, transforming pain into beauty. When he broke his elbow in a car wreck, he used the plaster to create a sculpture. When

Source: http://saladtv.kr/?document_srl=104683
Depicted here is a Burmese prisoner who has cut off his fingers to avoid being sent to a labor camps.

tested for a deadly disease, he allowed the doctors to use a special micro-camera to snap pictures of his digestion system, swallowing the pill-like device. He used the images to create a video for Youtube, a living art piece.

Htein Lin’s art focuses on sampling simple things from his life to create sculptures or paintings or useful tools. He transformed his fears, his regrets into something others could learn from, something we could wonder at.

I encourage you to check out his artwork as well as research individually his remarkable biography (I have only given small details). Best of luck.

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