How to Read Poetry like You're In a YA Novel


Let's all be real about it for a second.

If you've been following this blog then you know I write poetry. Sometimes, I think I speak poetry better then normal dialogue. It's my soul-language, and possibly the art from I derive the most joy from.

But also, culturally, in the age group most likely reading this (millennials/gen Z), poetry has become somewhat of an aesthetic. And by that I mean this: we like to frame it on canvas and take photos of our doc martens and pretty socks and Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey, we read quotes by Virginia Woolf and tattoo T.S. Eliot on our arms, but, at least partially, I feel like it's all somewhat of a facade. Has anyone else noticed that YA characters typically read about 3000% more poetry than the average teen? And you wonder, how do all these kids my age know to quote Dickinson off the top of their heads? How many sixteen year old boys read Leaves of Grass on a whim? I don't know what sorts of high schools you go to, but I don't believe I've ever met a single teenage boy who read Leaves of Grass without any prompting and for the sheer fun of it. In fact, I don't know that I know a single teenager who's read Leaves of Grass in general, and that includes me (sorry Walt, Whitman, I promise I will as soon as I can).

Now, if you're like me, you don't want to admit that the reality is, poetry is more accessible as an aesthetic than as reading material. Poetry is confusing. It's hard to understand. It's written in a million different ways, and, although beautiful, often quite difficult to read with understanding. Why don't you want to admit this? Because you want to read it. You want to be the person who can quote Robert Frost and know that The Road Not Taken is actually not about choosing the right path, its about the absoluteness of choices. You don't just want to read Milk and Honey, you want to feel it, you want to call Rupi Kaur on the phone and ask her just how she so beautifully translated her soul onto these black and white pages. You want to be that YA poetry kid!! You want to be a cookie-cutter John Green character who reads Edna St. Vincent Millay and listens to music from Woodstock on your vintage vinyl record-player and goes on crazy adventures to understand just what poets mean when they write about dark woods and open skies and heartbreak and fleas and what do they mean?? How do we, as young-people, as what some people might call the brain-washed generation but I'd rather call the curious generation, who are full of advertising and report cards and soundbites, how do we rediscover history, and rediscover art, and find ourselves in poetry? How do we learn to read?

I'm learning too. But here's my tips, from one novice poetic adventurer to another:

Buy a poetry book. Go second hand. Take your best friend or your neighbor or nobody at all. Go to the used book store or the goodwill or the library sale. Or, even, Amazon. Just buy it. You don't have to understand it to buy it. Admit you don't understand it, don't pretend like you do, and buy it anyways!! Embrace the unknown!

personally, I recommend starting with: Dickinson, Frost, Kaur, Millay, Eliot, Williams, or any other that strikes your fancy. You could also consider getting a poetry book that includes a compilation of many poems. I'm thoroughly enjoying The Seagull Reader: Poems, which was a book I purchased for school but is easy to read and holds many prominent poets and poems with convenient biographies.

Read over once. Mark the text if you want (I am getting really into marking up poems). But, here's the most important one: if you don't get it, don't get mad at yourself. Don't consider yourself a fake fan of poetry. Don't stop! Admit you don't understand it! Be proud because you are one of the few people who doesn't have to pretend to be good at something right off the bat in order to enjoy it, and can be happy in the learning process! Remember, you don't have to read in order (unless the books is written to be read in order- if it's more of a collection of poems you're allowed to skip around).

it's your best friend
After you've read the poem once, search the poet. Read up on their life. I always find it super fascinating to read about poets (they live crazy art-filled lives). Reading about the artists always helps give insight into the art. Remember, poetry is, often, personal. It's not always meant to be understood on the first go. It takes some research sometimes.

Google: analysis of Robert Frost's "After Apple-Picking"
This isn't cheating. I promise. This is learning. Read as many analysis's as you can stomach. See if you agree. Often, finding your footing with the help of a few outside experts can help you to form your own opinions and interpretations of the poem.

Read again. Now that you have some interpretations of the poem under your belt, reading it will come so much easier and you will see all the beauty of the language. Mark it up again if you want. Find the metaphors! Make connections! Get excited because it's exciting to understand, to really, fully, read poetry. It's wonderful actually. I don't know if I've ever felt a joy quite the same as untangling another artist's meaning. As a poet myself, I always find it most meaningful to read with the poet in mind. Think back to the Wikipedia page and imagine how the poet themselves would've wanted you to read it (starting with the title? while listening to sad songs from junior high? on a beach chair in Hawaii?). More importantly, what message did the poet want you to take away from this? What emotion? What meaning?

Take your poetry with you. Wear your book pages thin and leave markings all over. Take the aesthetic photos of you and your Walt Whitman (because you finally read it! and you understood it!) laying in a field of grass with poppies braided in your hair or in the shoelaces of your sneakers. Tattoo your favorite lines on your skin (with sharpie or with needles, your choice). Go on grand adventures to the duck pond and to the beach and bring your poetry with you. Practice memorizing it if you want, so you can whip out your lines when you most need them for that aesthetic, poetic, romantic moment. Most importantly, remember art is not a competition. It's not a race. It's not a chart that you have to fill with gold stars. It's art. Let it be just that, and revel in it.

And you didn't even need to be a John Green character after all, did you?
(to be honest, I like you better than any John Green character I've ever read. sorry John Green)

If you're already a seventeen year old poetry protege, please forgive me for underestimating you. You are truly an inspiration to us all. Give us your recommendations and tell us how you came to possess such astounding poetic genius! We are your students. The comments are your classroom.

Everyone else:
Thank you for embarking on this post with me. Please tell me your favorite poets. And let me know if this post helped you/ inspired you/ encouraged you to read poetry.

lots of love <3

In Process

Ash covers these dimming streets
they only last a time until my petals will fall and I will bloom again
but this time under far-away clouds adrift in the same sky that now fills our lungs with half-clean air
only to the sensitive is it harmful but still I find that perhaps
I am the sensitive one.

I grow poetry out of my hands
but during that movie all I grew was unfallen tears and partly-burnt laughter
and a couple of sad sighs and an unnatural hum
my skull feels cracked and washed out and dizzy from turning circles and listening to the same five tapes over and over
on an old radio cassette in a beat-up volkswagen
my babysitter had an old car with wood paneling and I believe it was named Martha.

But it is after I return to this warm house that feels just barely too small
for the seven heartbeats that live here
that I find the prose within myself and
she left a pile of tangled up headphone wires on my desk and I tried to work out the knots so I could hear
hear whatever this soul is saying to me hear what’s
always talking.

Teenagers are hormonal and insensitive and risky and moody and they don’t realize consequences.

I am hormonal and ultra-sensitive and deathly afraid of risks and jealous of those who are not and inconclusively moody and reflective of what a mood means and I am always dwelling upon the imminent possibility of an unbearable consequence.

Therefore, how does one, such as myself who defies and conforms at once, listen to the advice of teen forums that give tips on sex, love, and breakups?
Pink is not my color unless it’s peach and I don’t speak bubble fonts my handwriting is too wobbly and that song never made sense and for God’s sake I don’t curl my eyelashes.

Am I being vulgar? I would like to think not because fruit is fruit and I do not overly equate myself or all of those who call themselves female as an orchard for we are artists but; even I must admit
there is blossoming in the spring.

But the thing is.

I can be tempted and I’ve been tempted and I try to follow my heart and my soul or whatever these confusing hedge-mazes are and they’ve gotten me to this point and I walk up that sidewalk and promise myself a lot of things but most importantly I remind myself
it’s all up to you and you don’t; have to do; anything you don’t want to.

And it’s so
so true and
that’s how I know it all must
on some level
smaller than I imagine it to be.

And I grow up and I will become
more of the
drifting palm
I was seeded to be
and yes I’m all
in process right now and a lot of things will feel new and
I’ll revel a little like fireworks in july glimmering over the face of a boy who probably could’ve loved me but I chose not to love because
I had my own back home.

I had my own back home and now I return to him whenever the clock sets to a lucky time and sometimes we hold hands and kiss foreheads and sometimes we breathe deeply into each others chests and try to understand what it’s like to have a heart in the opposite ribcage and sometimes we drift off to nearly asleep on the other side of a screen and the only things left in our ears are friendship and true love and gentle snores.

And these are all just buttons sewn on the back of a skirt I wear to market when it’s sunny
these are all just moments in a diary I write at night and in sad afternoons
these are all just how it feels to be a girl and be a sheep and be someone’s somebody.

And it’s better if I just let myself
write it out and sit in clear bathwater and daydream and have a bit of a crisis
instead of trying to work it all out; before the hour hand hits 11:11.

It’s two months later now
I’m still sleeping on my stomach and twisting my hair into knots and counting things down with my knuckles I’m still keeping score and keeping time and trying to keep it all together.
But maybe I’m just beginning to see the edges of the sunrise and the words it’s ok
maybe I’m starting to understand eucharisteo and gifts and grace
maybe I’m learning that it’s not really my job to sew patches over all the holes in my jeans.

And the only way to go in this life is forward and my grandma has been through a lot but now she spends her afternoons sewing me a quilt for me to take with me when I find myself drifting through lectures and late nights
keep stitching green thread over the canvas of my life
keep praying
keep lifting my face to the sun.

A hundred words and a hundred minutes and a hundred things to be thankful for
I’m in process, but that’s really the only place to be until I find my left foot joining my right in eternity.

Life Updates + Botanic Garden

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having lovely Februarys. I thought it would be nice to do a pleasant little life update post and check in with you all and see how your months are going. Here's what's up with me:

I actually did my school's poetry slam! And made it to the top four! It was terrifying but such an awesome experience. I feel so proud to have made it so far.

My family is moving in two weeks, so that's exciting. If you've noticed, my youtube is at a bit of a standstill. That's because I'll be getting a new art studio space at the new house, and am a little in transition as far as all my art goes. But don't worry, I'll be putting more videos up soon!

Valentine's day was lovely. These photos are from a the Botanic gardens, my boyfriend took me there as a special surprise. Poppies are my favorite, and they were all in bloom! So gorgeous.

I've been watching a lot of stuff. I saw the Black Panther premier on Thursday which was AMAZING. Highly recommend. Such a phenomenal superhero movie. I also just finished Planet Earth II, which so far is my favorite show of 2018 (i'm such a nerd don't judge me).

I'm all in transition right now, and it's a bit of a wild ride. But I'm doing all right. Let me know how you're doing. Keep blooming <3

January Book Reviews

Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This was a very well written fantasy novel. It was not incredibly fast-paced or thrilling, but it was thorough and detailed. The world-building was superb. My main complaints are that I had a somewhat difficult time relating to the characters. They felt a little flat at times. But other then that, it was incredibly nuanced and well done and an articulate, beautifully written book.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

This book had a good premise, it was about a girl who was discovering her sexuality and trying to come to terms with it in her small, very unaccepting town. However, it was poorly written. The writing was choppy, the characters felt forced and bland, and the town lacked the dimension to make it feel real. I think the main thing this book did well with was the conceptual pieces of what it is like for a person to find themselves and understand their sexuality. It did not try to put her experiences in a box, but instead focused on their growth and development and how she came to terms with the fact that she liked girls. That part was beautifully written. Overall, I wish the writing style had been better, because I think this book had a lot of potential.

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

This book did an extremely good job of describing what it is like to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety. As someone who has struggled with these mental health issues, it was spot on for how it feels. However, a few things confused me about this book. They never explicitly name her thought patterns as Obsessive Compulsive, although she is going to a therapist and is obviously OCD. Also, as someone who has been to therapy for OCD, I find it surprising that her therapist went straight to medication before recommending the standard solutions like sleeping and eating healthy and exercising. For someone with an intense condition they certainly may need meds, but I know from experience that doing these simple things can improve OCD a lot, and Aza was consistently up late, drank lots of soda and ate a lot of burgers, and didn't exercise as far as I could see. I wish they would've addressed the fact that OCD can be improved not just through meds (although they certainly help and should not be downplayed or ignored) but also through self-care. Finally, the book felt like it only focused on Aza's mental illness, and not the whole person. You can have OCD but you also can have a favorite color and a book you love and you can love random stuff. I don't even know what Aza looked like, she was described so basically. Her most interesting quirk was her love for her car. Finally, this book had the same amount of unnecessary and disconnected poetic stuff as any John Green book, and although Aza was consistently quoting poetry, she didn't actually appear to have any explicit interest in it or take the time to read any for fun. But, overall, if you want to better understand what it feels like to have OCD, this book is excellent.

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

This book was very well-written, with lovely descriptive language and unique formatting. The story concept was short and sweet, and kept me reading. There were times when character interactions seemed a tad unrealistic, but overall it was a concise and thought provoking story. I loved the strong themes of the ocean and books, both of which I relate to, and made this book very enjoyable. It also dealt with the concept of death in what I consider a good way.

Life is But A Dream by Brian James

I enjoyed this book. It was a quick and easy read, engaging and thought provoking. It dealt with schizophrenia in a unique and colorful way that was pleasant and real to read. The descriptive language was beautiful, but a tad repetitive. However, I didn't find anything incredibly profound in this book, and it seemed like a slightly less well-written version of Challenger Deep. However, I enjoyed the alternate perspective, and seeing how her experiences differed from those presented in the former. One of the things that annoyed me most beginning was the strange font and formatting, but overtime it did give me clarity into the dream-like state of her mind. I was also very glad that this book dealt with schizophrenia and it's challenges in a thorough and, as far as I can tell although I am no expert, accurate way.

January Playlist

Some new songs for all of you. Comment favorites :)

Homemade Dynamite- Lorde
Love You Madly- Cake
Take on me- a-ha
Devil In Me- Halsey
BITE- Troye Sivvan
Motion Sickness- Phoebe Bridgers
The First Time Ever I saw Your Face- Offa Rex
Mariner's Revenge- The Decemberists
The Outsider- Marina and the Diamonds
This Eve of Parting- John Hartford
She Will Be Loved- Maroon Five
Perfect- Ed Sheeran
Harsh Light- Nate Ruess
Youth- Daughter
All those friendly people - Funeral Suits
Only for you- Heartless Bastards
When the lights go out- Crybaby
Think of You- Bleached
Glazin’- Jacuzzi boys
Shelter song- Temples
Take Me Somewhere Nice- Mogwai
Twin size mattress- The Front Bottoms
Through Your Eyes- Blue Sushi
Peach Milk- Decade

p.s. do you guys like these playlist posts? Let me know if they bore you. I don't know if my music taste is actually good or not so XD

There Is Death In This Town

There is death in this town
And I am distant
Far away from where
Heartbeats and fingertips and nicknames and favorite flowers and the way she looked in that yellow dress
Were buried
They tell me my memory is not working and the time is
Sifting out of my skull like hour-glasses full of
Powdery ashes

There is death in this town
I sit and I smile
In plastic blue seats
These smiles are genuine
I laugh
There is laughter
There is green there is blue
There is the trickle of rain once thought beautiful and craved in a thirsty dry desert
Now deadly and dreaded
Over the rusted corners of drain-pipes like tears
Two day-old raindrops now
Left to be washed
Down the cement

There is death in this town
But my house is
Too many off-ramps away
To see the
Mud-graves of those lost
I do not know them
I cannot draw their faces or
Write their names
But they were close and they were alive and we never met
But now I know them and they will never
Know me

There is death in this town
I drive to my lesson once more
Sheet music sits in the passenger seat
Full of little black lines that translate to sounds full of melancholy
Flipping through
Crackling radio stations
I used to prefer the music
Now I listen to
Lipsticked and pressed-tie reporters
Grave voices and the slight
Drift in their speech like
A sad song from long ago
Now remembered
They count the closed eyelids and I
Wonder what I should feel

There is death in this town
I see it in the
Uncertain faces of my peers
We wait for
A news report or a
Carefully written editorial
An intercom announcement
Or a love letter sent home
A phone call a voicemail a left-over diary
Barely readable
Some of us know people
Some of us don’t
Some of us knew people
Some of us didn’t
Some of us are stuck
And we cannot get to them or to ourselves

There is death in this town and
The sun resurfaces
Helicopters fly over the
Stacked window-wall of my art classroom
I hold paint brushes in my hand and watch them go
Left to right to left and I hope
They’re carrying someone and I hope
There is breath in their lungs

There is death in this town and
I pray
But I’m
Not quite sure
What to pray for so
I just
Send a sad song to His gates and
A few hopes and few fears and
Ask for a map and that his lips and her cheeks would not be
To the touch

There is death in this town and
This is what

it is sad here. mudslides have left a lot of people lost and dead. maybe you've seen us on the news. it's been a tough season for my city. fires and floods and hurting people. i want to recognize those hurting. prayer is beautiful and heals and comforts. please pray.

Youtube Channel + Happy New Year!

Hello Followers! I hope you all had a lovely holiday, and have gotten some rest and relaxation from the usual busyness of life. I have been thinking of you all and am so thankful for all the ways all my lovely readers, followers, and friends have blessed me over the years. I have some very important (and long awaited) news, which is...

My Youtube Channel is finally up and running!

I am so excited to finally launch my very own art Youtube Channel so I can inspire and share with others not only through my blog, but also through a new platform, Youtube. It will change up my blog a little, but don't worry, I'm hoping to keep my presence equal on both my blog and youtube, and combine them in a collaboration. Here's what will happen:

My blog will contain:
-book reviews
-short stories
-lifestyle posts
-playlists and mixtapes

My youtube will contain:
sketchbook flip-throughs
-art supplies reviews
-studio vlogs/sketching vlogs

So basically, what I'm hoping to do is create a more visual arts oriented space on my Youtube and refine my blog into a more literature/prose focused space, while still keeping around my half-aesthetic life updates and attempts at photography. I invite you to follow both, or, if you prefer one or the other, to follow either my Youtube or blog. It's up to you. I'm so excited to share this adventure with you, as many people have been requesting more art-focused posts, I think this will be a great way to get you that content in it's best format.

Long term, if my Youtube is successful, an online art shop could be a possibility. A lot of you know it's long been my dream to open an Etsy, and I'm thinking that this might get my the publicity I need to make that a reality. Just saying.

Thank you for being patient with me as I worked out all the challenges of this project, I'm so excited to get it up and running. Lot's of love to all of you <3