a cork board


What Poetry Means To Me
PMpSat, 23 Jul 2016 12:26:41 +000026Saturday 1, 2010, 12:26 pm
Filed under: the ether, the mirror, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , ,

YogiWSMenu

A few years ago I was doing some solo grocery shopping at Fresh Co. I was in a hurry, in the zone wearing track pants and trying to grab some orange juice get home quickly. A lady walking with her daughter saw me and slowed down. She paused, half-tilted her head and grinned. She said “you’re a poet right?” I hadn’t performed in a couple of years and had all-but-forgotten about that part of my life. I said “yes, yes I am.” She said she saw me feature at Guelph Poetry Slam in November of the previous year (that was even almost 2yrs removed from performing) and loved my work. She said she bought both of my books and keeps them in her car. It left me feeling perplexed and very good. Wow, my words touched someone.

Last week I was at Starbucks ordering the closest I can get to fancy there, a Grande Americano. The cashier asked my name “Yogi, Y-O-G-I”. She paused, looked up and said “do you do spoken word?” I said “I used to.” Turns out, she used to manage a bar/restaurant where I used to perform at a lot in 2012. She knew my work pretty well. She asked me why I’d stopped. Truth be told, I put it down to focus on being a present father with my little ones. She paused again, “you were good, I remember. You should do it again.” I showed her my journal in hand and said I was working on it. It left me feeling confused. I actually said I used to. WTF? When did that happen?

Something happened in the years I stopped performing. I went through a few years of writer’s block. But I’ve gotten past that. In the last year I’ve been writing a lot, lot more. I’m not finishing anything, but I’m writing nonetheless. Good ideas, good wordplay. I’m getting back in the groove. I was in a really good place in 2012 when I stopped. I felt more comfortable on stage than I ever had before. I was churning out more new, quality poems. My stage voice had found legs to stands on and wings to fly with. But I wanted to be present and accounted for during bath time, story time, good night kisses and late night snuggles. I wanted to be there for it all and I didn’t wanna miss a thing. Spoken word/Poetry slam have been around for a while, it’ll be fine without me. It’ll welcome me back when I’m ready too.

What happened in the meantime was cynicism. It was skepticism. I began to wonder if words can ever really have an impact. Why bother? What legacy do these poems and performances really have? What are we really leaving behind? I still sit and wonder about it. You stand up for 3 minutes and 10 seconds, speak your truth and bare your soul and make some noise for a round of applause, some pats on the back, some much-needed personal release and that’s about it. It began to feel like it was just spinning wheels, like an exercise for the ego. Are we really awakening minds, or are we just another passing phase? Does what you say stick with someone when they wake up in the morning? I’ve been questioning the purpose and reason behind this spoken word thing for a while now and it began to make me jaded.

But then the universe had me cross paths with someone like I did that day at Starbucks or Fresh Co. Someone reminds me, hey your work really inspired me. I occasionally bump into a person who heard me speak my truth 4-6 years ago, and I’m still with them. My words uplifted them then and stayed with them. So I start to think that maybe there is some resonance. Maybe there is some staying power. Maybe there is something more to it than ego and glory and punchlines. Performing/Sharing poetry isn’t about immediate change. It’s about planting seeds. It’s about creating a spark. We may never see the tree take root or see the inferno blaze across the horizon, but it’s there. It’s a lot like karma, it takes time but it happens without fail.

IMG_0515

Poetry, for me, has always been very personal. I never excelled at tackling “issue poetry” unless I was able to relate myself into it. Standing on that stage, just you and the microphone. Just your voice and the audience. Just your gut and their ear drums. There’s something magical about that. The butterflies. The feeling that you’re going to fall…but then you take flight. I’ve gone to a couple of poetry slams in the last couple of months on account of my wife encouraging me. She gives me gentle little pushes into it and I’m taking her queue little by little. I don’t want to make a team and compete on a national stage, but I want my voice out there again. Because I finally realized, after all this time, that I have something to say…and it’s worth hearing.

 

 



How I Was Feeling Around The Time I Took a Break From Performing
PMpFri, 09 Jan 2015 16:27:13 +000027Friday 1, 2010, 4:27 pm
Filed under: poems, the ether, the mirror | Tags: , , , , , ,

I was combing through some of my poems that I’d written and hardly ever or never shared recently and I came across this. I read this and remember so many things. The way I was feeling then was just that I didn’t belong. I felt torn. I wanted to be home. I felt like everyone was fake, like I was constantly being judged, like people had these expectations of me that I felt I could never live up to. I wanted to retreat into corners like I used to. To be invisible. That’s convenient. In a few ways I’ve done that. I haven’t completely because I haven’t been living some shadow-filled, dark, angry life of a loner. I’ve been being a father, husband and working on being a good human being. I’ve been re-calibrating my sense of purpose and re-tuning my creative muscle. Anyway (I digress), I’m in a much calmer place now and to re-read this brings back a lot of memories. It was also a time when I started reaching into the farthest of places for metaphors and those places ended up being a little dark and surreal……

The Company of Eagles & Wolves

I’ve never been part of a crowd.

I never fit into any one place.

I bleed blue blood in blistered corners

of houses dispersed with red-blooded hounds

and cold-blooded hearts.

I could never be part of the crowd.

Moments where I felt like I was 

An eagle would come flying into the room

To pick his bones apart

So he could martyr himself in an effort

to remind me that I did not belong.

And I was bleeding myself dry.

Even here, on this stage, behind this mic,

I look some of you in the eye 

I know you don’t understand me.

Or even worse, you misunderstand me.

You think you have me figured out

and you never took me our for coffee.

You never asked me why the sky was red

or why I have these horseshoes

hanging out of my pockets.

I get trapped in the entangled

expectations you have of me,

of what you expect me to be.

And I’m left running in my head.

Screaming at the top of my lungs

while ripping the smirks off of

your disenfranchised faces.

Fuck you. For ever standing

on a mountain while I cast myself

into long, winding trails where

only I know the way out.

For thinking you have me all figured out.

For seeing the disillusionment

in the back of my eyes and

recoiling into frozen stances where

I’m made to think that I’m the problem.

I wish I could know the way the gears

turned in that pretty, little head of yours.

You can see me trying to read you,

and it scares you. I can see it

in the way you stare back

slack-jawed with captured eyes.

You tell me to be myself.

But that is something

I wrestled with for 30+ years.

To the point where my fingers are swollen

and my conviction feels discarded

like chicken bones picked clean

by the mouths of the starving.

I could pluck my ribs out one by one

in an effort to be a beautiful display of decay.

So that when you look at me

you will see what I’m made of.

So maybe I can fit into the

crowd of corpses of collapsed creedens

who once breathed the same oxygen

that betrays my every breath.

Go ahead and set the wolves loose on me.

Cut the ropes and send their ravenous mouths,

open and hungry, at my flesh.

I will hold these beasts with my bare hands

and tame them with affection and understanding.

After all of the isolation and

persistent pauses that

plagued our every interaction,

I finally see that I was never meant

to be part of any crowd.

All of the eagles with martyrdom complexes

could fly into the crowded rooms

from the windows of my face,

it’s okay, I’ll befriend them.

I will set those magnificent creatures free

and they will come back to me.

After I snap my ribs back into place

my heart will be intact and

every place I was ever meant to be

will be inside of me.

Because everything I’ve ever needed

is here.

An endless ocean

that crescendos with every inhale.

Scattered with your bones,

my blue blood and our indifference.

Where I keep a pack of wolves

and a flock of invisible eagles as pets.

Where the hearts that understand me

will always be.

Where every ounce of conviction

that I possess will hold me

high enough to kiss the sun.

Where the only place I need to fit

is within myself.



looking into the future
PMpWed, 23 Feb 2011 15:00:26 +000000Wednesday 1, 2010, 3:00 pm
Filed under: the ether, the mirror | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I’ve had a lot of things going through my mind this year. I’ve had so many ideas and intentions over the last couple of years. I’ve had projects fall by the wayside and other get started but never finished. I’ve even had some where I felt like it was out of my league. That’s the worst thing an artist with ambition can ever do is put him/herself down and not believe that it’s possible to achieve those dreams. The hard part of it is really to map it out and make it happen. Because ideas are just ideas and when you start to try to give that idea veins and blood and bones and life…the shit gets real.

 I turn 29 years old in 6 days and I’m approaching a more focused phase of my life, I can feel it. I am beginning to see things a little more clearly than I ever did before. I’m getting my life right day by day, the personal end, the spiritual end, the family and the artistry. I want to live my art. I want my son to look at me and know that if you have a God-given talent and you have that desire and that passion then nothing in the world can stop you from achieving your dreams. The only person that can ever stop you is yourself…and I have had enough of holding myself back.

 I have a lot of projects that are going to be on their way, one way or the other I am going to get them completed and finished. One by one they will happen. Before, I used to focus on the aftermath more than the project, but I’m about ready to stop making excuses. If there is anyone out there who has stood in my corner and waited to see what I can create, I wanted to thank you for standing by me. Thank you for believing me. My wife first and foremost, I owe that beautiful woman everything that I am today and will be tomorrow. She has watched me tear myself to shreds and she has helped me rebuild myself from the ground up. I’m looking into tomorrow and the endless possibilities. The fact is, I’m tired of bitching about things. If things are going to change, then I will make them change.

 So, thank you for sticking around. I hope I can manage to keep your attention and earn your respect if you’re reading this. God bless.